Agesilaos Antik Sikkeler Nümzimatik

Lesbos Methymna

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Antik Sikkeler

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The city of Methymna on Lesbos was founded by Aeolian Greek colonists from the mainland already in the tenth century BC. It expanded its power on the island in the sixth century BC by destroying the neighbouring city of Arisba and absorbing its territory. However, the overthrow of the Lydian kingdom by Cyrus the Great and the Persians in 547 BC caused Methymna to offer its submission to the new master of western Asia Minor. The navy commanded by Methymna together with those of the other cities of Lesbos contributed to the Persian conquest of Lemnos and a failed attempt to dislodge Polycrates, the powerful dynast of Samos. Nevertheless, like many of the Greek cities, Methymna chafed under Persian domination and participated in the Ionian Revolt [499-493 BC].

Once the revolt was crushed, the Persians began to mete out punishment to the main actors as well as those cities who had only aided from a distance. Methymna suffered the full wrath of Darius I and was destroyed for its direct involvement in the rebellion. The city was soon rebuilt and repopulated, but when Xerxes' failed invasion of Greece [480-479 BC] broke Persian naval power, the Methymnians quickly and not very surprisingly joined the other Greeks in taking the offensive against Persian authority in western Asia Minor. Methymna became a founding member of the Athenian-led Delian League, which was formed to defend member cities and continue the war against the Great King, and remained a staunch Athenian ally even after the League became a tool of Athenian imperialism.

The present didrachm is executed in a wonderful archaic style and depicts a boar on the obverse and the head of Athena on the reverse. The boar, which is shown at just the moment before he charges, is sometimes considered to be the civic badge of Methymna, but this is uncertain, since the animal only occurs on the archaic issues of the first half of the fifth century BC. Athena, however, is a staple feature of Methymnian coinage and appears down to the third century BC. This early representation is remarkable for the ornamentation of the helmet. The volutes on the bowl are reminiscent of the vegetal motif on the helmet worn by the goddess on contemporary tetradrachms of Athens. The frontal Pegasus ornament is a remarkable addition and may perhaps refer to the mythological tradition in which it was Athena who first broke the winged horse and made him rideable by mortals like the hero Perseus.

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