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Research Coins: Feature Auction


One of Two Known

Triton XIX, Lot: 245. Estimate $30000.
Sold for $20000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

CARIA, Knidos. Circa 200-150 BC. AR Tetradrachm (30mm, 16.61 g, 12h). Head of Apollo right, wearing laurel wreath / Artemis Hyakinthotrophos standing facing, head left, holding phiale in extended right hand, her left arm resting on the statue of an archaic deity with a sheathed body and wearing a polos; to lower left, forepart of stag standing left, upon which drips liquid from Artemis’ phiale; KИIΔIOИ to right. G. Le Rider, “Un tétradrachme hellénistique de Cnide” in Essays Thompson, pp. 155–7 and pl. 18, 1 = BN inventory FRBNF41778907 (same dies). EF, lightly toned, some fine marks, slight doubling on reverse. Extremely rare, apparently the second known, the other in the BN.

The appearance of the head of Apollo on this extremely rare tetradrachm is not unusual, since that god was one of the principal deities of the area. As tutelary of Doris in Asia – a federation of six (later expanded to seven) Doric-founded cities in Karia – his sanctuary at Triopion near Knidos served as the federation’s religious center. The reverse shows Artemis Hyakinthotrophos, whose cult was introduced into Knidos in 201 BC following her epiphany there during the unsuccessful siege of that city by Philip V of Macedon (IG XII.4). The epithet Hyakinthotrophos (lit. nurse of Hyakinthos), used for Apollo, alludes to the myth of Hyakinthos, a Dorian youth and eromenos of Apollo, whom the god killed accidentally. The pre-Hellenic origin of the name Hykanthos, however, when taken in the context of the myth, may signify a Dorian divinity whose function was taken over by Apollo. The use of Hyakinthotrophos for Artemis, however, is unusual, since she appears nowhere in the traditional myth of Hyakinthos, although the goddess does appear briefly in a Spartan version. Given Apollo’s importance to Knidos, the use of the epithet associates her with Apollo Hyakinthotrophos and places her on a par with the god as one of the chief protectors of the city. Imhoof-Blumer’s argument (KM, p. 228, 3) that the archaïzed figure of Artemis on this issue was an allusion to the ancient Palladion of Troy, a view supported by the similar self-conscious archaïzing of the ethnic, suggests an attempt on the part of the Knidians to connect Artemis Hyakinthotrophos and her festival – the Hyakinthotrophia – with similar festivals in the region.