Agesilaos Antik Sikkeler Nümzimatik

Greek Messenia Messene

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Antik Sikkeler

4 Şub 2022
Fresh from defeating the Spartans at Leuktra, in 370/69 BC, the Theban general Epameinondas detached the region of Messenia from Spartan control and established it as an independent state with its own capital city of Messene. Messenia had been subjugated by Sparta and its people condemned to a life of serfdom to support the Spartan military machine since the seventh century BC, but Epameinondas now gave them their freedom and country in order to weaken Spartan power in the Peloponnesos. Unfortunately, the new autonomous Messenia had difficulty holding its own against its menacing neighbor after the decline of Theban hegemony in Greece. From the late fourth to the second century BC, as a matter of security, the Messenians frequently found themselves forced to ally themselves with the greater powers of the period, including Macedonian kings as well as the Aitolian and Achaean Leagues. Messenian support for the Aitolian League, which had been a good thing when the League was an ally of Rome against Philip V in the First Macedonian War [214-205 BC], quickly became a nightmare after the disgruntled Aitolians turned against the Romans and encouraged the Seleukid king Antiochos III to invade mainland Greece in 192 BC. Although the Messenians had not actually participated in the war, their pro-Aitolian sympathies guaranteed their punishment. After centuries of effort to preserve its autonomy, Messene was forcibly incorporated into the Achaian League.

A decade later, in 182 BC, the Messenians revolted and even managed to capture Philopoimen, one of the greatest strategoi of the Achaian League. He was put on trial for his perceived crimes against Messene and executed. Unfortunately, not long after this, Messene was once again besieged by Achaian forces and compelled to rejoin the league. The capital of Messene also suffered the great indignity of being stripped of many of its dependent towns, which were subsequently enrolled as independent members of the Achaian League. The present tetradrachm was struck during the brief Messenian revolt against the Achaian League and advertises the resistance of Messene in both type and weight standard. The use of the Attic weight standard, rather than the Symmachic or reduced Aeginetic standard which dominated Peloponnesian [primarily Achaian League] silver coinage in the second century BC, clearly indicates that the Messenian tetradrachms were produced to hire foreign mercenaries to defend them against the League. It is notable what when Messene struck staters in the fourth century BC, these did adhere to the Aiginetic standard preferred in the Peloponnesos. The reverse type depicts Zeus Ithomatas, the god of Mount Ithome in Messenia. He symbolizes the Messenian will to resist enemies and looks back specifically to the events of 464 BC. In this year, the Messenians [still helots to the Spartans] took advantage of an earthquake to revolt against their Spartan masters. Many of the rebels took up their abode in a fort on Mount Ithome and took to raiding the Spartans. Unable to remove the Messenians from Ithome by force, the Spartans were forced to permit the Athenians to resettle them as free men in Naupaktos. When Epameinondas chose the site for the city of Messene, he chose that of Ithome due to its defensibility and especially due to its symbolic value.