IONIA. Priene. Pseudo-autonomous issue. Hemiassarion (Bronze, 17 mm, 4.35 g, 8 h), time of Titus and Domitian, 79-96, but possibly 79-83. BIAC Bearded bust of Bias to right, wearing himation. Rev. ΠPIHNEΩN Mên standing front, head to left, wearing Phrygian cap and with crescent behind shoulders, holding pine cone in his right hand and long scepter in his left. BMC -. L. Büchner: Griechische Münzen mit Bilder historischer Privatpersonen, in: ZfN IX (1882) pl. IV, 18 (same obverse die, only the obverse illustrated). Imhoof-Blumer, KM, 4. RPC -, cf. IV online 1364 (later style and differing legend arrangement). SNG Copenhagen -. SNG München -. SNG von Aulock -. Extremely rare and of great historical interest. Light deposits, otherwise, nearly extremely fine.
Bias of Priene was a 6th BC century philosopher and one of the Seven Sages of Greece. Little is known about his life other than a few anecdotes and quotations, but he was widely regarded as one of the most eloquent rhetors in history and was worshipped by his home town in a heroon called Bianteion, which is attested by a number of inscriptions from the 1st century BC onward. As is often the case with pseudo-autonomous issues, the dating of our coin is not without problems. The legend arrangement and close stylistic similarities place it among an issue from Priene naming the archon Eraton, who the authors of RPC II tentatively dated to the time of Vespasian through a coin bearing the unspecific legend AYTOKPATΩP KAIΣAP ΣEBAΣTOΣ and a barely recognizable imperial portrait (RPC II 1143), while Barclay V. Head in BMC identified the head as that of Nero (BMC 54). However, there can be little doubt that our coin, the coins of Eraton from Priene and issues from Hydisus (RPC II 1195), Mylasa (RPC II 1197-9), Iasus (RPC II 1200-1) and Aphrodisias (RPC II 1221-5) are from the same artist's hand. This dates them all to the middle to late Flavian time, as the coins bearing imperial names are of Titus and Domitian (and in Aphrodisias, they also show Domitian and Domitia), but not of Vespasian.