Queens and Coins

Silver Coin in the name of Queen Philistis of Syracuse, Sicily, 240-214 BCE. 8-5473.

The obverse shows a young woman in profile facing left. The woman wears a veil and a band-like diadem. On the reverse the winged goddess of victory Nike drives a chariot drawn by four horses. The reverse legend reads BAΣІΛІΣΣΑΣ ΦІΛІΣΤІΔΟΣ, “of queen Philistis.” In antiquity the coinage of Philistis was known as the “Philistid(e)ion.” Philistis was the wife of Hieron II (274-215), king of Syracuse. Only the gods were represented on coinage before the Hellenistic Age. Considering the iconography of the earlier Syracusan coins (see the decadrachm from Syracuse), it may be argued that queen Philistis appeared as a new Arethusa, the city’s patron nymph. That idea may explain the appeal of this coin type. Proportionally, the coins of Philistis outnumber the silver issues minted in the name of Hieron, her husband.

-Diliana Angelova

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