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Research Coins: Feature Auction


The Famed Epaminondas

Sale: CNG 78, Lot: 570. Estimate $500. 
Closing Date: Wednesday, 14 May 2008. 
Sold For $800. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

BOEOTIA, Thebes. Circa 395-338 BC. AR Stater (12.11 g). Epa(minondas), magistrate. Struck circa 364-362 BC. Boeotian shield / Amphora; EΠ-ΠA across field; all within incuse concave circle. Hepworth, Epaminondas pl. 3, 2; Hepworth 34; BCD Boiotia 540. VF, toned. Well centered.

From Collection C.P.A. Ex Classical Numismatic Group 58 (19 September 2001), lot 458.

There are times when some of us wonder what the world would be like today if Alexander the Great had lived to a ripe old age. The same kind of "What if ..." thinking could be applied to Epaminondas. His premature death on the battlefield of Mantineia in 362 BC deprived Thebes of its greatest statesman and soldier, signalling the start of Thebes' rapid decline into obscurity. If Epaminondas had lived to reap the benefits of his Mantineian victory he would have undoubtedly proceeded to unite all Greece under his leadership. The next step would be to turn to the North and face Philip who, instead of finding a divided Greece ready for the taking, would think twice before attempting to invade Thessaly. Whether then there would be a clash between the two emerging superpowers or a truce between them, is anybody's guess. Perhaps Philip would remember the years he spent as a hostage in Thebes and his respect for the Theban statesman would prevail. The conquest of Asia would then materialize sooner and in a more permanent manner. But, like most great soldiers, Epaminondas thought nothing of leading his men into battle and, instead of capitalizing on his genius, Thebes paid the price for his recklessness.