Agesilaos Antik Sikkeler Nümzimatik

Greek Cyclades Naxos

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Antik Sikkeler

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Greek Cyclades Naxos [ΝΑΞΟΣ]



In the eleventh century BC, the Cycladic island of Naxos was colonised by Athenians who founded a city of the same name on the ruins of a Mycenaean settlement they found there. The city grew important through its export of local marble and wine.

Naxos competed with the neighbouring island city of Paros for domination of the Cyclades, but by the end of the sixth century BC Naxos had won out, dominating most of the Cycladic islands and commanding a powerful fleet. Unfortunately, Naxos was politically unstable, with frequent conflict between democratic and oligarchic factions. A democratic revolution in the city at the end of the sixth century proved to be a decisive event for Greek history as a whole. The oligarchic leaders driven out by the revolution fled to Miletos [ΜΙΛΗΤΟΣ] where they convinced Aristagoras, the local tyrant, to misuse a Persian fleet to restore them to power. However, when his attempt to restore the Naxian exiles failed, Aristagoras feared that the Great King Darius I would depose him. In a desperate attempt to hold onto power, Aristagoras orchestrated the great Ionian Revolt [499-494 BC]. A decade after the revolt was crushed, Naxos was captured and destroyed by the Persians, but by then potent historical forces had been set in motion. The Ionian Revolt sparked by Naxian internal politics brought mainland Greece to the attention of Persia and ultimately led to the failed punitive expedition of Xerxes I against the Greek city states in 480-479 BC.

This expedition created the conditions for Athens to establish a naval empire, which in turn led to the Peloponnesian War in 431-404 BC. Taking a long view, Naxos really was the powder keg of the Greek world. One can only imagine what different course history would have taken if the oligarchs had never been exiled or if Aristagoras had successfully restored them when they were. This stater was struck at Naxos shortly before the pivotal democratic revolution and reflects the place of the island in Greek myth. Theseus escaped to Naxos with Ariadne after she helped him to survive the labyrinth and slay the monstrous Minotaur on Crete. Although Ariadne had been instrumental in orchestrating his escape, Theseus seems not to have been the most grateful of Greek heroes and abandoned her as she slept on the beach. When Ariadne awoke to see Theseus sailing off into the sunset without her she was filled with despair. The wine-god Dionysos, however, saw what had happened and took her to be his wife. Her wedding stephane was subsequently hung in the heavens as the constellation of the Corona Borealis. This attractively toned archaic stater alludes to this mythological tradition by depicting the attributes of Dionysos the grapes from which wine was made and the kantharos from which wine was drunk. For the sake of completeness, an ivy leaf also appears above the kantharos. Ivy was the plant regularly used for wreaths worn by Dionysos and his human worshippers.

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