Boy on Dolphin Nomos Pendant

Item #3515

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  • Obverse: Taras on Dolphin
  • Reverse: Youth on Horse
  • Date: 332 - 302 BC. Grade: Very Fine
  • Mint: Taras, Greek Italy
  • Silver Nomos Coin in 14k White Gold Pendant, Weight 14.1g
  • Framed Coin Size: 25mm Diameter, 8mm Bail Opening
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Taras, according to Greek mythology, was the son of Poseidon, the God of the Sea and "Earth-Shaker" of earthquakes. Legend has it that as a youth, Taras was saved from a shipwreck by riding a dolphin that was sent to him by Poseidon. The dolphin took Taras to shore upon his back and in honor of his rescue, he founded a city at the place where they landed.
Most Greek cities had foundation mythologies, which tell of the circumstances under which a city was founded. One of the most interesting of all is that of the South Italian city of Taras. It was originally populated around the 8th century BC by people from the Greek city of Sparta, but in Greek mythology it was founded with the help of the Gods. Taras became the most important Greek city in Southern Italy, but finally surrendered to the Romans in 272 BC.
The obverse of this ancient coin features the boy Taras riding on a dolphins back, while he is holding a distaff with his left hand and a galley plow is shown below. This is very similar to the image that is depicted on the modern city emblem today. The reverse side shows a nude warrior on horseback preparing to throw a spear with right hand, while holding a shield and two spears in left hand. The city of Taras was well known for the many equestrian athletic events held there.