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Wonderful Rendition of Aphrodite


CARIA, Knidos. Circa 350-330/20 BC. AR Tetradrachm (28mm, 15.01 g, 12h). Chian standard. Timasiphron, magistrate. Head of Aphrodite right, hair tied in the back, wearing single-pendant earring and pearl necklace / Forepart of lion right; ΤIMAΣIΦPΩN above, KNI below. Unpublished, but cf. Ashton, Late 5–6 (for an issue of similar style). Attractive light iridescent tone over lustrous surfaces, die wear and a couple of minor scratches on obverse. Good VF. Wonderful Hellenistic style.

Ex Künker 236 (7 October 2013), lot 98; Triton X (9 January 2007), lot 340.

An important city which comprised settlements on both the mainland and an adjoining island that was bridged by a causeway, Knidos was a partner in the Dorian Hexapolis, a federation of six regional cities of Doric colonization, which included Kos, Halikarnassos, Lindos, Ialysos, and Kamiros. Because of its connection with the trading routes along the Ionian coast, Knidos became an important and affluent trading center, and the city was adorned with numerous impressive public buildings, both within the city itself and in the surrounding countryside. Among these buildings were the Temple of the Triopian Apollo, where the members of the Hexapolis met and whose symbol was the lion; hence, the use of the lion as one of the civic badges on the coinage.

Because Knidos had been originally settled by Phoenicians prior to its Doric colonization, it also possessed a large temple dedicated to Aphrodite Euploia – the Phoenician Asherar-yam. As a result of the godessess’s importance to the city, the head of Aphrodite was included on the coinage. Because of the city’s connection with Aphrodite, in the fourth century BC, Knidos acquired a cult-statue of the goddess by the sculptor Praxitiles. After it was rejected by the citizens of Kos – for whom it had been commissioned – because it showed Aphrodite nude for the first time, Knidos purchased the statue, erecting it in an open air temple so that it could be viewed from all angles. As a result, it became a popular tourist attraction and the subject of numerous tales of all types.