SICILY. Leontini. Circa 466-460 BC. Tetradrachm (Silver, 28 mm, 17.14 g, 7 h), with dies by the Demareteion Master. Quadriga, driven by a male charioteer wearing a long chiton, moving slowly to the right; above, Nike flying left to crown the charioteer; in exergue, lion running to right. Rev. ΛΕΟΝΤΙΝΟΝ Laureate head of Apollo to right, his long hair braided and tied up at the back of his head; to left, right, and above Apollo's head, laurel leaf; below neck, lion running to right. Basel 348 (same dies). Boehringer, Münzgeschichte 28. Gulbenkian 211 (same dies). Kraay & Hirmer 19 (same dies). Rizzo pl. XXII, 14 (same dies). SNG ANS 217 (same dies). Very rare. Sharp, well-struck and attractively toned – a most pleasing coin. Traces of overstriking on the reverse, otherwise, about extremely fine.
Ex Giessener Münzhandlung 48, 2 April 1990, 81 and Sternberg XIX, 18 November 1987, 40.
Leontinoi had been captured by Hippocrates of Gela during the 490s; after his death its rule was taken over by his cavalry commander, Gelon. Gelon's brother Hieron succeeded him, and, in 476, made Leontinoi even more important by moving the populations of Naxos and Katane there as well. This coin, however, was almost certainly struck as part of the commemoration of Hieron's foundation of Aitna. In many ways it is quite an astounding coin, a real masterpiece of the art from that short interval at the end of the Archaic and the beginning of the Classical period. The head of Apollo follows the so-called severe style
of Classical art, but it still retains some Archaic features, such as the frontal eye, which now is, however very slightly approaching the profile. A very close parallel for the head of Apollo on this coin is the near contemporary Charioteer of Delphi, dedicated by Hieron's brother Polyzalos of Gela.