Dionysios I, Tyrant of Syracuse 405-367 BC
Berend 43.7, Superb Extremely Fine
Struck circa 396 BC. Head of Arethusa left, hair in ampyx and sphendone decorated with stars; star behind. Rev. Nude young Herakles strangling the Nemean lion, club below. The dating of 396 BC is suggested by Boehringer, citing Jenkins and Kraay’s analysis of the Avola Mammanelli Hoard, based on the obverse type of Anapos found on the half-denomination, the 50 litrai issue and it was that year that Dionysios achieved his great victory over the Carthaginians at the river Anapos. Gulbenkian 325.
One of the most famous of ancient tyrants transformed Syracuse into the most powerful outpost of Greece’s western colonies in southern Italy. Dionysios is remembered as a suspicious, cruel and vindictive despot. He had risen rapidly in the army to supreme commander by 406 BC and after defeating the Carthaginians he seized control of the city-state in 407 BC, becoming its tyrant, but his enemies returned to Sicily in the 390s, gaining control of a third of his kingdom by the time he died in 367 BC. Dionysios was one of the first Greek tyrants to be accorded divine honors in his lifetime, a theme suggested by the image of Heracles strangling the Nemean lion on this wonderful, very rare coin.