Description:This rare 4th century BC coin was minted in the Greek city of Syracuse, which was located along the southeast coast of the island of Sicily. Syracuse was founded in 734 BC by Greek settlers from Corinth and the city soon flourished. This powerful city-state was famous for its rich Greek culture, grand amphitheatres and beautiful architecture, one of the most renowned capitals of antiquity. The most notable Syracusan was the mathematician and natural philosopher Archimedes, who was born here in 287 BC.
This bronze coin was hand struck during the rule of Dion, the tyrant of Syracuse from 357-354 BC. Dion, who was a disciple of Plato, used his wealth and connections to lead a revolt in 357 BC to seize power in Syracuse. However, Dion soon alienated the population with his arrogant behavior along with his financial demands and in 354 BC he was assassinated.
The obverse side of this ancient Syracuse coin features the laureate head of Zeus, who in Greek mythology, oversaw the universe and was the "Father of gods and men." He ruled as king of the gods on Mount Olympus and as god of the sky and thunder with the power to hurl lightning bolts as a weapon. Known for his escapades, Zeus fathered many godly and heroic children including Aphrodite, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Persephone, Dionysus, Perseus and Hercules. Two of the symbols of Zeus were the thunderbolt and the eagle, which are both depicted on the reverse side of this coin.