Agesilaos Antik Sikkeler Nümzimatik

Greek Thebes | Boeotian Shield

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Antik Sikkeler

4 Şub 2022
This stater was struck at Thebes during the domination of the city by Sparta in the period of the Peloponnesian War [431-404 BC] and the Spartan hegemony over mainland Greece that followed until the end of the Corinthian War [395-387 BC]. The obverse depicts the ethnic symbol of Boeotia par excellence the Boeotian shield. Whereas most Greek hoplite shields were circular, the Boeotian shield with its somewhat oblong shape and cutouts on either side represents an evolution from the Mycenaean figure-eight shields of the Bronze Age.


The reverse features the image of the infant Heracles strangling a serpent in each hand. This type refers to the great hatred of Hera towards the son of Zeus and her attempt to kill him while he was still a small child. According to Greek myth, she sent two great serpents to slay Heracles in his crib, but when they entered his room the boy hero used his great strength to destroy them before they could do him harm. It is sometimes suggested that this Heracles type was symbolic of Theban opposition to Sparta on the assumption that it was used this way for an enigmatic alliance issue involving Byzantium, Ephesus, Iasos, Cnidus, Cyzicus, Lampsacus, Rhodes and Samos in 394 BC [it has also been interpreted as a pro Spartan alliance of 405/4 BC].

However, it seems much more likely that the type at Thebes simply reflects the role of the city in the myth of Heracles. Alcmene conceived the hero by Zeus while she and her husband Amphitryon were in exile at Thebes and Heracles grew up there before he was forced to undertake his famous Twelve Labors. Thus, Hera's attempts to kill him would have taken place while he still lived in Thebes.