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In the district called by the Greeks Messapia and Iapygia, and by the Romans Calabria, the only town which presents us with a continuous series of coins, extending from the earliest period down to its final cap- ture by the Romans is the populous and wealthy city of Tarentum. The other and less important towns only began to coin money at a later date, with the single exception of Aletium, if the didrachms reading FΑΛΕΘΑS and ΒΑΛΕΘΑS are correctly attributed to it.

Aletium or Baletium, about five miles east of the modern Gallipoli on the Tarentine gulf, is the town to which the following silver coins have been attributed.

SILVER. Circ. B.C. 350.

FΑΛΕΘΑS or ΒΑΛΕΘΑS, retrograde, on both sides of the coin.

Taras on dolphin.
[Cat. Martinetti-Nervegna, No. 235.]
Dolphin and crescent.
AR Didr. 122.3 grs.
Dolphin. [Ibid., No. 236.] Crescent.
AR Tetrob. 39.9 grs

The obverse type is Tarentine. That of the reverse is probably intended to symbolize the port of Callipolis. Cf. the coins of Zancle Siciliae.

Brundisium (Brindisi), the ancient rival of Tarentum, had long been eclipsed by the latter when, in B.C. 245, it was occupied by a Roman colony. The Appian Way was then extended to this port, which subse- quently became the chief place of embarkation for Greece and the East.

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It is now that the coinage begins. It falls into three series, which are to be distinguished by successive reductions in weight, the types being the same throughout.

Head of Poseidon crowned by Nike. ΒRVΝ Taras on dolphin.

Series I. B.C. 245-217. Consists of the Sextans ••, Uncia •, Semuncia Σ, ¼ Uncia C, 1/8 Uncia Old Italic ES (Nike, Rx, Dolphin).
Series II. B.C. 217-200. Consists of the Triens ••••, Quadrans •••, Sextans ••, Uncia •.
Series III. B.C. 200-89. Consists of the Semis S, Triens ••••, Quadrans •••.

The above dates are only approximate. The latest coins, which are of rude work, bear Roman magistrates’ abbreviated names (Berl. Cat. III. i. pp. 217 sqq.).

Graxa. The site of this town is not known. The coins are found on the coast of the gulf of Tarentum. They are small bronze pieces like those of Brundisium (which they resemble in style) and are among the latest Greek coins issued in southern Italy (B. M. C., Italy, 221; N. C., 1904, 291; Hunter Cat., I. 62).

Quadrans. Head of Zeus.
ΓΡΑ Two eagles on fulmen.
  „    „  
  „  One eagle on fulmen.
Uncia. Cockle-shell.
  „    „    „  
¼ Uncia.  „  
  „    „   ,,
  „    „     „  Dolphin.

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Hyria or Orra (Oria) was an inland city on the Appian Way, between Tarentum and Brundisium. Its coinage is all quite late, consisting of bronze coins of Uncial and Semuncial weight, B.C. 217-89.

Semis. Head of young Herakles; beneath, S. ORRA Fulmen; beneath, S, ΓΟR.
Quadrans. Same; beneath, ••• ORRA Fulmen; beneath, ΓΟR, •••

Quincunx. Bust of Aphrodite, sceptre over shoulder. ORRA Eros walking, playing lyre; behind, •••••
Quadrans. Same. ORRA Eros carrying taenia; in front, •••
Sextans. Same. ORRA Dove flying; beneath, ••
Quincunx. Helmeted head; beneath, ΑΛ(?). ΟRRΑ Eagle on fulmen; beneath, •••••

There are also coins of poor style resembling the last variety, but much lighter and without marks of value (Berl. Cat., III. i. 221).

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Neretum (Nardo). To this town Löbbecke (Z. f. N., xvii. 1 and xxi. 250) has attributed the small silver coins (half litrae ?) formerly given to

Arnae in Macedon (B. M. C., Mac., 62). They seem to belong to the earlier half of the fourth century B.C.

Head of Apollo. Ν-ΑΡ, ΝΑ-Ρ, or Ν-Α, Lyre.
Wt. 7 grs.

To these may be added the following bronze coin of Somewhat later date:—

Head of Apollo (?) (Z. f. N., xxi. Pl. VIII. 1). ΝΑΡΗΤΙΝΩΝ Apollo seated, holding on his knees lyre; in front, tripod.
Æ size .7


Sturnium (?). Site probably some twenty miles N.W. of Brundisium. Bronze of the second century B.C.

Cockle-shell (B. M. C., p. 159). ΣΤΥ Eagle on fulmen.
Æ size .65


Tarentum (Taranto). In the year B.C. 708 a colony of Lacedaemonians, called, from their illegitimate birth, the Partheniae, and said to have been led by one Phalanthos, established themselves, by order of the Delphic oracle, in Iapygia, on a little peninsula at the entrance of an inlet of the sea, about six miles long by two to tree in breadth. The new city thus commanded both the outer bay into which flowed the little river Taras, and the inner port now known as the Mare Piccolo.

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An ancient tradition tells how Taras, the founder of the first Iapygian settlement on this spot, was miraculously saved from shipwreck by the intervention of his father Poseidon, who sent a dolphin, on whose back he was carried to the shore.

The same story was subsequently transferred to Phalanthos, also mythical according to Busolt (Griech. Gesch., I. pp. 406 sqq.), who appears in a later age to have been confounded with Taras. (Cf. also the story of Arion’s voyage from Sicily to Corinth, Herod. i. 24.) The natural advantages of the site selected for the colony were considerable. The pasture lands in the vicinity produced excellent wool and a fine breed of horses, and the purple fish (murex) of the little land-locked sea soon became a source of wealth to the enterprising Greek colonists. To this day the fisheries of the Mare Piccolo afford a remunerative occupation to the inhabitants of the modern town of Taranto, for it abounds in innumerable kinds of shell-fish, many of which are not found elsewhere.

The possession of this commodious harbour, the only safe one on those coasts, necessarily brought Tarentum into commercial relations with all parts of the Mediterranean sea. The political constitution of the city in these early times was doubtless modelled on that of Sparta, and Herodotus (i. 136) mentions a king of Tarentum in the time of Darius. The worship of Apollo Hyakinthios at Tarentum was also clearly of Spartan origin.

Among the earliest coins of Tarentum are thin plate-like disks with the reverse-types incuse, similar in weight and fabric to the coins of the Achaean cities of Southern Italy and to the first issues of Rhegium and Zancle, &c. Tarentum must certainly at one time have been drawn into the circle of their pervading commercial influence; see, however, the remarks of G. Macdonald, Coin Types, pp. 12 sqq.

With regard to the origin of the silver standard or standards on which

Tarentum and the other cities of Magna Graecia struck their silver staters there has been much discussion. For the clearest statement of the theories of the leading numismatists of the last century see Hill's Handbook, pp. 61-2. But whether the so-called Tarentine standard, with its silver stater of 129 grs. maximum, divided into halves, ought to be distinguished from the almost identical standard of other S. Italian cities whose staters, like the Corinthian, are divided into thirds, is an open question. Hitherto the coins of the two systems have been con- veniently distinguished, the one as Tarentine, the other as Italic. It has, however, been recently shown by K. Regling (Klio, Bd. vi. Heft 3, pp. 504 sqq.) that no such distinction was known to the Greeks; and, what is still more important, that the Tarentine and Heraclean stater (and not the diobol) was called by the ancients the ‘Ιταλικος νομος.

The rare staters on which the obverse types are repeated in incuse forms on the reverse were probably, as Regling (op. cit., p. 515) argues from their somewhat lighter weights, not struck for local use in Tarentum itself, but for commerce with the Achaean cities of Magna Graecia. Their types are as follows:—

coin image
FIG. 23.
TARAS (retrogr.) Taras on dolphin. Taras on dolphin, incuse (Fig. 23).
AR Stater, wt. 123 grs.
TARAS Apollo Hyakinthios (?) naked, resting on one knee, and holding lyre and flower. [B. M. Guide, Pl. VII. 3.] Obverse type incuse, or Taras on dol- phin incuse.
AR Stater, wt. 111.6 grs.

The following types in relief on both sides may be contemporary with the incuse types described above, both classes belonging to the second half of the sixth century B.C. The inscription ΤΑRΑS is usually retro- grade. The fabric of these pieces is compact, and differs essentially from the thin plate-like incuse disks already mentioned.

Taras on dolphin. [B. M. Guide, Pl. VII. 5.] Wheel of four spokes.
AR Stater, wt. 122 grs.
Cockle-shell. Do.
AR diobol, wt. 20 grs.
  „    „   Do.
AR 1 obol (?), wt. 7 grs.
Wheel. Do.
AR ¼ obol (?), wt. 2 grs.

The meaning of the Wheel is doubtful. I would suggest that it may be agonistic, and that, on the well-known principle of the part stand- ing for the whole, the wheel may stand for a racing chariot. On the next succeeding class the wheel on the reverse is replaced by a hippo- camp, circ. B.C. 500 (A. J. Evans, Horsemen of Tarentum, (1889), Pl. I. 4).

Taras on dolphin
[B. M. Guide, Pl. VII. 6.]
AR Stater, wt. 124.5 grs.
Dolphin.   „  
AR diobol, wt. 20 grs.

coin image
FIG. 24.

Not much later than B.C. 500 the head of Taras, or a female head, possibly the local nymph Satyra, the mother of Taras, supersedes the wheel (Evans, Pl. I. 5, 6) on the larger denominations.

Taras on dolphin. Archaic head (Taras ?) within circle (Fig. 24).
AR Stater, wt. 122 grs.
Half hippocamp. Do.
AR Drachm, wt. 61 grs.
Cockle-shell. Dolphin in circle.
AR Litra, wt. 12.5 grs.
  „     „    „  
AR ½ Litra, wt. 5.6 grs.
Τ surrounded by ••• Obverse type repeated.
AR Trias or ¼ Litra, wt. 2.8 grs.

In the year B.C. 473 Tarentum sustained a crushing defeat at the hands of the Messapians, in which she lost the flower of her aristocratic youth. The result was a change in the constitution and the establishment of a democracy, under which the city soon regained all, and more than all, its ancient prosperity.

The money of this period, which may have extended down to about B.C. 420, is distinguished by a new reverse type, a seated figure, probably Taras or Phalanthos as oekist, usually but wrongly called Demos, holding in his hand an object symbolical of the commerce of the city, such as most frequently the distaff bound with wool.

Inscriptions: ΤΑRΑS, ΤΑRΑΣ, and later ΤΑΡΑΝΤΙΝΩΝ.

coin image
FIG. 25.

Taras on dolphin, variously represented, usually with marine symbols in the field. Male figure (Taras as oekist ?) naked to waist, seated, holding distaff, kantha- ros, &c., or offering a bird to a pan- ther’s cub (the last perhaps a Diony- siac variety) (Fig. 25).
AR Stater, wt. 122.9 grs.

On the coins of this series the style progresses rapidly from archaic to fine art.

Cockle-shell. Female (?) head.
AR Litra, wt. 13 grs.
  „     „  
AR ½ Litra., wt. 7-4 grs.


In B.C. 436 occurred the struggle between the newly founded Athenian colony of Thurium and Tarentum for the possession of the territory of Siris, which ended, B.C. 432; in the joint foundation by these two towns of Heraclea in Lucania.

It was probably about this time, or according to Evans even earlier (circ. B.C. 450), that a new type began to come into use on the Tarentine staters, alternating with that of the previous class with the seated oekist, viz. a Rider on horseback, who is represented in such a great variety of attitudes, and through such a long series of coins, that a de- tailed description of the almost endless modifications is here impossible. On some specimens he is a naked boy or ephebos crowning his horse, as if after an agonistic victory; on others he is a man in full vigour, now naked; and now armed with helmet, shield, and lances. Occasionally the horseman leads a second horse, in which case he is perhaps one of the famous Tarentine cavalry who, we are informed by Livy (xxxv. 28), went into action with two horses, ‘binos secum trahentes equos.’ On the whole, however, it is safer to regard all these types as illustrating the games in the hippodrome, and as being connected with agonistic festivals rather than warfare.

The silver staters of this ‘Horseman’ type and their subdivisions have been classified by Evans (op. cit.) in ten chronological periods as follows:—

Italic-Tarentine Standard, 123-120 grs.
I.Transitional.c. 450-c. 430 B.C.
II.  „  c. 420-c. 380  „  
III.Age of Archytas.c. 380-c. 345  „  
IV.Archidamus and the First Lucanian War.c. 344-c. 334  „  
V.From the Molossian Alexander to the Spartan Kleonymos.334-302  „  
VI.From Kleonymos to Pyrrhus.302-281  „  

Roman Six-scruple Standard, 105-98 grs.
VII.The Pyrrhic Hegemony.281-272 B.C.
VIII.The Roman Alliance, I.272 - c. 235  „  
IX.The Roman Alliance, II.c. 235-228  „  
X.The Hannibalic Occupation.212-209  „  

Gold coins were also struck at Tarentum during Periods IV, V, VI, and X. Some of these are perhaps the most beautiful coins in this metal of any Greek city (see infra).

The period between about B.C. 380 and 345, during which the philoso- pher Archytas was the chief of the state, was the culminating epoch of the prosperity of Tarentum. This was the age of Dionysius of Syracuse, whose wars against the Greeks of Southern Italy resulted in Tarentum being left without a single formidable rival in those parts.

Then followed the struggles with the barbarians, when the wealthy and luxurious Tarentine merchants, unable to cope with their opponents single-handed, called in the aid, first of Archidamus, king of Sparta (B.C. 338), next of Alexander the Molossian (330), and then of Cleonymus (314), after which they concluded a peace with their barbarous foes,

Messapians, Lucanians, and Bruttians; for a new and more powerful enemy than any they had hitherto met was slowly and surely advancing upon them.

In B.C. 302 the long impending conflict between Rome and Tarentum began. The Tarentines distrusting their own strength now called to their assistance king Pyrrhus of Epirus, B.C. 281. The events of the famous campaign of this soldier of fortune with his Macedonian phalanx, and his squadron of elephants, are so familiar that we need not dwell upon this well-known chapter of history. His effort was in vain, and a few years later (B.C. 272) the great Greek city of South Italy fell into the hands of all-conquering Rome, although as a free and allied city, civitas foederata, it appears to have been allowed to strike money down to B.C. 228 (Evans, Horsemen, p. 192).

The coinage of Tarentum between about B.C. 450 and 228 is, as might be expected, more plentiful than that of any other Greek city of Italy. It is of three metals, gold, silver, and bronze.

GOLD. Circ. B.C. 340-281.

The gold coins of Tarentum may be approximately classified in the following order:—

coin image
FIG. 26.

ΤΑΡΑΣ Head of goddess wearing stephane and veil hanging down behind her head, which is sometimes surrounded by dolphins (Fig. 26). (i) Taras as a child holding out his arms to his father Poseidon enthroned before him. (Evans, Pl. V. 1.)

(ii) Rider crowning horse.
ΚΥΛΙΚ, Σ, and shell; ΣΑ, star.

(iii) The Dioskuri; above, sometimes ΔΙΟΣΚΟΡΟΙ; magistrate, ΣΑ.

AV Staters. Wt. 133 grs. (max.).

The type of the Dioskuri is dated by Evans circ. B.C. 315.

ΤΑΡΑΝΤΙΝΩΝ Head of goddess with flowing hair, wearing stephane or with hair bound with cord; often with magistrate’s name, ΣΑ. ΤΑΡΑΣ Taras on dolphin; some- times with ├Η.
[B. M. Guide, Pl. XXXIII. 14.] AV Drachm. Wt. 66.3 grs.

TA. Head of Apollo; in front ΣΑ and dolphin. Herakles contending with lion, ├Η.
AV Diobol. Wt. 22.5 grs. (max.).


Head of young Herakles in lion- skin. ΤΑΡΑΝΤΙΝΩΝ Taras holding trident, driving biga.
AV Stater. Wt. 133 grs. (max.).

Head of young Herakles in lion- skin (later style). Same type, magistrate’s name ΝΙΚΑΡ...
[B. M. Guide, Pl. XXXIII. 13.] AV Stater. Wt. 132.7 grs.

Head of Zeus ΝΚ (in mon.). ΤΑΡΑΝΤΙΝΩΝ Eagle with open wings on fulmen; in field various symbols, e.g. two amphorae, &c., find magistrates’ names, e.g. ΝΙΚΑΡ, &c.
[B. M. Guide, Pl. XXXIII. 12.] AV Stater. Wt. 131.7 grs.

Head of Herakles. ΤΑΡΑΝΤΙΝΩΝ Taras in biga; magis- trate, ΝΙΚΑΡ.
AV Drachm. Wt. 66.2 grs. (max.).

Head of Apollo with flowing hair. ΤΑΡΑΝΤΙΝΩΝ Eagle on fulmen; magistrates, ΖΑ and ΑΡ (spear-head).
AV ½ Drachm. Wt. 33 grs. (max.).

Head of Herakles. ΤΑΡΑΣ Taras on dolphin.
AV Sicilian Litra. Wt. 13.2 grs. (max.).

Head of goddess in stephane. ΤΑΡΑΝ Kantharos.
AV Obol. Wt. 11.25 grs. (max.).

Head of Helios full face, radiate. ΤΑΡΑΝ Fulmen. Magistrate’s name ΑΠΟΛ.
AV ½ Litra. Wt. 6.75 grs. (max.).

The types of this small gold coin are identical with certain coins bear- ing the name of Alexander of Epirus struck between B.C. 334 and 338 during his Italian expedition. The piece can thus be accurately dated.

GOLD. Hannibalic Occupation. Circ. B.C. 212-209.

Head of young Herakles in lion-skin, of quite late style. ΤΑΡΑΝΤΙ[ΝΩΝ] Taras driving biga; magistrate, API; symbol, fulmen.
[B. M. Guide, Pl. XLV. 14.] AV Stater. Wt. 132 grs.

Head of Athena in Corinthian helmet.
[Evans, Horsemen. Pl. X. 16.]
Taras in biga AV Tetrobol 44.2 grs.

The head of the goddess with stephane and veil on the earliest gold coins is an exquisite piece of workmanship. That of Zeus is full of expression, but betrays a somewhat later style of art. The eagle with expanded wings on the reverse of the latter piece is also a work of con- siderable merit. But by far the most interesting of all is the remarkable stater, on the reverse of which we see the boy Taras stretching out his arms to his father Poseidon. This type, probably the earliest in the whole group, has been referred to the appeal of Tarentum to Sparta which led to the expedition of Archidamus, B.C. 338. There can be no doubt that all these fine gold coins of Tarentum are earlier in date than

any other gold coins struck elsewhere in Italy, with the exception of a few small pieces of Etruria and Cumae.


The silver issues of Tarentum subsequent to the middle of the fifth century are classified in chronological sequence by Evans as follows:—

Period I. Circ. B.C. 450-430.

To this period may be assigned a few early specimens of the equestrian type which are evidently contemporary with some of the coins of the seated oekist type (Evans, Pl. II. 1-4). Obv. Naked horseman; Rev. Taras on dolphin. Inscr. ΤΑΡΑΝΙΤΙΝΙΩΝ, sometimes retrograde, and in one instance ΤΑΡΑΝΙΤΙΝΩΝΗΜΙ, which von Sallet (Z. f. N., i. 278) has explained as equivalent to Ταραντινων ειμι, a formula which refers to the official device, signet, or seal, stamped upon it. Beneath the dolphin on the reverse the sea is indicated either by naturalistic waves or by a shell or a polypus.

Period II. Circ. B.C. 420-380.

coin image
FIG. 27.

The break between Periods I and II is filled by a reversion to the preceding oekist type (cf. the later examples figured in Evans, Pl. I); but from B.C. 420 onwards the Horseman type is constant at Tarentum on the didrachms, though there is considerable variety of design. The rider usually carries a shield, and is sometimes seated sideways as a desultor about to vault from his steed (Fig. 27); sometimes he wears a conical helmet and chlamys, but, as a rule, he is naked. The horse is represented either cantering, galloping, or stationary and crowned by his rider, clearly as the winner of a horse-race. Taras, the dolphin-rider, on the reverses is also shown in varying forms, sometimes carrying shield and javelin, acrostolium, oar, &c. Abbreviated signatures also begin to appear about this time, e. g. Π, Σ, A, ΑΛ, Λ, ΛΕ. For details see Evans, op. cit., pp. 42 sqq.

Period III. Circ. B.C. 380-345.

coin image
FIG. 28.

The coins of this period of about thirty-five years, during which the philosopher-statesman Archytas was practically ruler of Tarentum,

include among them the finest issues of the Tarentine mint. The types, though in the main similar to those of Period II, exhibit greater variety and delicacy of workmanship, picturesqueness; and imaginative concep- tion. Evans (op. cit.) enumerates eighteen distinct types, the obverses of which refer to horse-races, the most frequent scheme being a jockey crowning the winning horse, or himself crowned by a flying Nike and leading by the bridle a second horse (Fig. 28). The reverses show Taras on his dolphin in various graceful attitudes and frequently spearing a fish with his trident. The inscription is simply ΤΑΡΑΣ. Nearly all the issues bear abbreviated signatures of from one to three letters, probably those of mint-officials, or of officinae of the mint.

Period IV. Circ. B.C. 344-334.

coin image
FIG. 29.

During Period IV the Tarentines, hard pressed by their semi- barbarous immediate neighbours, the Messapians on the east, in conjunc- tion with the still more formidable Lucanians on the west, were driven to turn for help to their mother city Lacedaemon,—in other words to employ and pay for Greek mercenary troops. This, of course, involved a considerable drain upon the Tarentine treasury, and was doubtless the cause of the first issue of gold money, for the payment of their imported allies. It is a mistake to suppose that the occasional issue of gold coins by Greek cities is indicative of peaceful and prosperous times. The contrary is the case. All the evidence goes to suggest that, in Greece proper and the West, silver was long regarded as sufficient for all ordinary commercial purposes in quiet times, and moreover that even silver money was chiefly in demand, or that at any rate the larger denominations were mostly issued, on special occasions, such as the fre- quently recurring agonistic festivals. Gold money, on the other hand, was only struck exceptionally, and in order to meet the extraordinary cost of maintaining or contributing to the support of an army or fleet in war time. The sporadic issue of gold coins at Athens (q. v.) may be cited in support of this opinion.

The gold coins struck at Tarentum circ. B.C. 340 are described above.

The silver didrachms of this period rival in beauty those of Period III (cf. the selections figured in Evans, Horsemen, Pl. III and IV). Among them may be mentioned the pictorial types, one boy crowning his horse while another kneels beneath it examining its hoof (Fig. 29; Evans, Pl. IV. 3); the victorious horse welcomed and embraced by a naked athlete or by Nike (Ibid., Pl. IV. 5-8; cf. Fig. 31, infra).

The coins as a rule bear a single letter on either side, but some of the finest are signed ΑΡΙ and ΚΑΛ, identified by Evans with Aristoxenos and Kal..., whose signatures occur upon coins of the neighbouring city of Heraclea, and are supposed by him to be engravers’ names (Fig. 30).

coin image
FIG. 30.

Period V. Circ. B.C. 334-302.

The next class of Tarentine didrachms is certainly contemporary with the Italian expedition of Alexander of Epirus, who came to the assistance of the Tarentines B.C. 334-330. It is characterized by the addition in the field of the reverse, of the Molossian symbol, an eagle seated with closed wings (cf. Evans, Pl. VI. 1-4). The obverse type of the didrachms is almost always a naked horseman lancing downwards, a type which rarely occurs after B.C. 302. The dolphin-rider on the reverses is at this time assimilated to an infant Iacchos carrying a distaff. Between B.C. 330 and 302 the Horseman and the Dolphin-rider exhibit greater variety (Evans, Pl. VI. 5-12), the most remarkable obverse type being Phalanthos (?) on a prancing horse and carrying a large round shield ornamented with a dolphin (his badge or arms). As in the previous period, initials of the mint-officials (?) (one to four letters) are usually conspicuous on both sides.

Period VI. Circ B.C. 302-281.

To this period of about twenty years belong an the didrachms of full weight bearing on the obverses magistrates’ names, for the most part unabbreviated, with the addition on one or both sides of other signatures consisting of two or three letters in the field. The magistrates’ names are ΑΡΕΘΩΝ, ΣΩΚΡΑΤΗΣ, ΦΙΛΙΑΡΧΟΣ, ΚΡΑΤΙΝΟΣ, ΛΥΚΙΑΝΟΣ, ΦΙΛΩΝ, ΦΙΛΟΚΛΗΣ, ΑΝΘΡΩΠ, ΔΕΙΝΟΚΡΑΤΗΣ, ΛΥΚΩΝ, ΑΛΕΞΑΝ, ΝΙΚΩΤΤΑΣ, ΝΙΚΩΝ, ΝΙΚΟΔΑΜΟΣ, ΑΡΙΣΤΙΑΣ, ΕΥΑΡΧΙΔΑ[Σ]. The other signatures, e.g. ΣΑ, ΣΙ, A-Rho, ΕΥ, ΖΟΡ, &c., &c., now occupy positions of secondary importance to those of the chief civic magistrates. The types of the didrachms, though more varied than in the previous period, still exhibit the same general designs of the rider as a jockey or as an armed cavalier. The horse in one instance (Evans, Pl. VII. 4) is welcomed and embraced by Nike, a scheme which seems to have been copied from a didrachm of Period IV (Ibid., Pl. IV. 7). On the reverse of the same coin Taras is seen rising from the back of his dolphin, upon which he kneels with one knee.

For drachms of this period see infra, p. 68.

Campano-Tarentine Didrachms.

To this period also, B.C. 302-281, we may perhaps refer the first issues of a peculiar class of Tarentine didrachms, the weight of which, 116 grs. max., corresponds with coins circulating, under Neapolitan influence, outside the Tarentine territory in the Samnian and Apulian districts hitherto dominated by the Campanian weight-standard. It

would appear, therefore, that the coins of this series, although struck at Tarentum, must have been intended for extra-territorial circulation, for, among numerous finds of Tarentine coins made at or near Taranto, Evans observed no specimens of this class. The types are as follows:—

Female head; hair diademed or in sphen- done as on coins of Neapolis. TA Boy-rider crowning his horse; beneath, dolphin, and in field some- times changing symbol.
Wt. 116-105 grs.

It is doubtful when Tarentum began to issue didrachms on this Cam- panian standard (116 grs.) and how long she continued to do so after it had been partially superseded in Campania by the introduction (accord- ing to Haeberlin circ. B.C. 312) of the Romano-Campanian didrachm reduced in weight to 105 grs., equivalent to 6 Roman scripula of 17.5 grs. Evans (Horsemen, pp. 132 and 170) argues that most of the issues of the Campano-Tarentine coins belong to the post-Pyrrhic period, after B.C. 272; but it is difficult to reconcile this theory with Haeberlin's opinion that the reduction of the Romano-Campanian didrachm from 116 to 105 grs. took place soon after B.C. 312, and that even in Tarentum itself a corresponding reduction of weight was effected circ. B.C. 281.

The Campano-Tarentine didrachms lack the originality and variety of detail which is so characteristic of most of the other coins of Tarentum. Their types represent a combination of the familiar contemporary obverses of the didrachms of Tarentum and of Neapolis; the more distinctively local reverse types being set aside in each case. These facts, taken in conjunction with the weight-standard employed, lend colour to the assumption that they were issued as Federal coins in a monetary alliance between Tarentum and Neapolis.


Period VII. Circ. B.C. 281-272.

coin image
FIG. 31.

In B.C. 282 Pyrrhus of Epirus was invited by the Tarentines to come to their aid against the Romans. Evans (Horsemen, p. 139 sq.) has pointed out that Tarentum, so long as Pyrrhus was in Italy, was called upon to defray a large part of the war expenses incurred by him on its behalf, and he adduces evidence to show that it was during the period of the Pyrrhic rule that the Tarentine didrachms were definitely reduced in weight, the adjunct symbols, Pyrrhic elephant, &c., clearly indicating the date of their issue. It would seem, however, that the actual cause of the reduction in the weight of the Tarentine didrachm or nomos is to be sought not in Pyrrhus’s intervention, but rather in the commercial relations of Tarentum with the various Greek and Italian mints as, one

by one, they, sooner or later, came under the growing influence of Rome, whose silver staters, issued primarily for circulation in Campania, had been reduced in weight, as early as B.C. 312, from about 117 to 105 grs. (=6 Roman scripula of 17.5 grs.) (cf. Haeberlin, Die Systematik desältesten römischen Münzwesens, p. 67). Tarentum was the last of the cities of South Italy to admit the necessity of accommodating her silver coin- age to the Roman six-scruple standard. It is true that, de facto if not de iure, her silver coins had been gradually sinking in weight down to the Roman standard of 105 grs. during the previous period, but contem- poraneously with the Pyrrhic wars the minimum weight of the Tarentine nomos as hitherto issued appears to have been definitely fixed as the maximum weight of the subsequent issues.

The obverse types of the silver staters of Period VII are: Horseman lancing downwards; Boy-rider on horse, received and crowned by naked youth, as on an older coin of Period IV (Fig. 31); Boy-rider crowning his horse or crowning himself; Armed warrior cantering; Naked youth on cantering horse, sometimes as a desultor seated sideways; Naked youth holding torch, on horse cantering or galloping; The Dioskuri on cantering horses.

The reverse types show Taras on his dolphin in various attitudes and holding various objects, e.g. bow and arrow; Nike and cornucopiae; Nike and trident; Nike and distaff; Nike, shield, and two lances; two lances, and aiming another; trident; kantharos and trident, kan- tharos and palm; grapes and distaff; akrostolion and distaff, &c.

The signatures of magistrates and moneyers (?) and the symbols on obv. and rev. are as follows :—

Obverse. Reverse.
ΓΥ ΑΡΙΣΤΙΠ ΔΙ Elephant (Fig. 31).
ΙΩ ΝΕΥΜΗ A-Rho Elephant.
ΙΩ ΝΕΥΜΗ ΑΡΙΣ Two stars.
ΙΩ ΝΕΥΜΗ ΠΟΛΥ Two stars.
A-Rho ΔΑΜΟΚΡΙ No letters or symbol.
ΕΥ ΑΠΟΛΛΩ Two amphorae. ΘΙ, or Β and ΘΙ
├Ι ΑΠΟΛΛΩ Two amphorae. ΘΙ
├Ι ΖΩΠΥ Squatting figure holding horn.
ΖΩ ├Ι ΑΠΟΛΛΩ ΑΝΘ or AN Laurel spray, coiled ser- pent, corn-spike, or no symbol.
ΕΙC ΖΩ ΑΝΘ No symbol.
ΙΩ ΖΑΛΟ Ionic capital. ΑΝΘ or AN No symbol.
ΕΥ ΖΩΠΥ ΘΙ Crested helmet.
Ζ ΖΩΠΥ ΘΙ Crested helmet.
├ΗΡΑ Chi-Rho and Ζ Kantharos.
├ΗΡΑΚΛΗΙ Α Kantharos.

For the Drachms, &c., of this period see infra, p. 68.


Period VIII. Roman alliance, 272-circ. B.C. 235.

Pyrrhus left Italy in B.C. 274, and in 272 Tarentum surrendered to the Romans, but she seems to have continued to strike her own coins as a civitas foederata. Evans (Horsemen, pp. 163 sqq.) divides the post- Pyrrhic issues, on the evidence of a large hoard found at Taranto in 1883, into an earlier and a later class struck during the period of the Roman alliance (VIII) 272-circ. 235 and (IX) circ. B.C. 235-228. To the first of these periods he would also assign the majority of the so-called ‘Campano-Tarentine’ coins above referred to, chiefly on grounds of style, but also because some of the adjunct symbols are common to the Cam- pano-Tarentine and to the purely Tarentine issues.

The Tarentine didrachms of the Post-Pyrrhic issues, especially those of Period VIII, are somewhat smaller in module, of more careless workman- ship, and of more monotonous design than the coins of the preceding classes.

The obverse-types, omitting details, are as follows:— Boy-rider crowning horse, sometimes crowned himself by flying Nike; Boy-rider on stationary horse; Naked horseman lancing downwards or carrying palm; Helmeted warrior on stationary, cantering, or galloping horse; The Dioskuri on cantering horses.

The reverse-types show Taras on his dolphin, holding in his right hand Nike, kantharos, cornucopiae, grapes, tripod, hippo camp, flower, or thymiaterion, &c.; and in his left, distaff, trident, or cornucopiae.

The signatures of magistrates and moneyers, together with the symbols, on obv. or rev. are the following :—

Obverse. Reverse.
ΑΡΙΣΤΙΣ Anchor.  
├ ΑΓΕΑC Cornucopiae. ΠΟΛΥ
ΦΙΛΩΤΑΣ Cornucopiae. ΠΟΛΥ
Same. ΑΡΕΥ
ΕΥ ├ΙΣΤΙΑΡ Grapes.
AV ΚΥΝΩΝ Bearded mask.  
ΕΥ ΦΙ ΞΕΝΕΑΣ Corn-spike.
ΔΙ ΑΡΙΣΤΟΚΛΗΣ Head of nymph.
AV ΝΙΚΟΚΡΑΤΗΣ Ionic capital, or no symbol.
├Ι ΦΙΛΗΜΕΝΟΣ Bucranium.
├ΗΡΑΚΛΗΤΟΣ E hook Thymiaterion.
ΦΙ ├ΗΡΑΚΛΗΤΟΣ E hook Flower.


Obverse. Reverse.
├ΙΠΠΟΔΑ ΔΙ Amphora.

For the drachms, &c., see infra, p. 69.

Period IX. Roman alliance continued, circ. B.C. 235-228.

The later coins issued during the period of the compulsory alliance of Tarentum with Rome are distinguished by Evans from those of Period VIII by their somewhat larger module and by their more minutely elaborate style and execution. Another characteristic feature of the coins of this small class is the frequent occurrence of a complicated monogram in the field of the obverse.

The obverse-types are as follows:—Naked youth at full gallop, hold- ing torch behind him; Boy-rider at full gallop, with his body thrown back; Hippakontist at full gallop, hurling javelin; Boy-rider crowning stationary horse, or holding palm and cantering; One of the Dioskuri on horseback; Warrior crowned by Nike, on cantering horse.

On the reverses Taras on his dolphin usually holds; in his right hand, kantharos, hippocamp, rhyton, trident, or Nike; and, in his left hand, trident or cornucopiae. A specially beautiful variety shows Taras turning round on his dolphin and holding his chlamys like a sail behind him (Evans, Pl. X. 7).

The signatures and symbols on the coins of Period IX are the following :—

Obverse. Reverse.
ΙΩΠΥΡΙΩΝ Bucranium ΣΩ Head of Pan, E hook
Wreath ΟΛΥΜΠΙΣ Tripod.
Amazonian shield ΟΛΥΜΠΙΣ AK Cuttle-fish.
monogram Lambda E ΦΙΛΟΚΛΗC Dolphin. Two amphorae.
monogram pilos ΙΕΝΟΚΡΑΤΗC Cuttle-fish and waves.
monogram  „     „  

For drachms see infra, p. 69.

Period X. Hannibalic occupation, circ. B.C. 212-209.

Evans (Horsemen, p. 191 sq.) argues that it was about B.C. 228 that Tarentum must have been deprived by Rome of her rights of mintage, and that henceforth the Victoriatus of 3 Roman scruples became the unit of

currency throughout S. Italy. In any case there is a very distinct break in the Tarentine series, and, after an interval, a short renewal of autonomous issues both of gold and silver. These latest Tarentine issues must in all probability be assigned to the few years during which Tarentum regained her autonomy in virtue of her treaty with Hannibal (Livy xxv. 8).

For the gold coins see supra, p. 58. The largest silver coin, now reduced to 59 grs. max. [1], though resembling in type the demonetized 6 scruple staters, approximates in weight to the Illyrian drachms of Apollonia, Dyrrhachium, &c. (56 grs. max.), as also to the earlier Victoriati of 3 Roman scruples (53 grs.) which, in the interval between B.C. 228 and 212, had replaced the autonomous Tarentine issues.

Notwithstanding their types, the Tarentine silver coins of Hannibal's time were practically drachms rather than staters, though it is quite possible that they may have been popularly designated nomoi.

The obverse-types are as follows :—Boy-rider crowning horse, some- times holding palm, or himself crowned by Nike; Hippakontist galloping, hurling javelin; Helmeted horseman carrying palm.

The reverse-types are:—Taras on dolphin, holding (in r.) akrostolion, Nike, trident, or kantharos, and (in l.) trident, cornucopiae or Nike.

The signatures, &c., are the following :—

Obverse. Reverse.
ΚΡΙΤΟΣ EK monogram

Of the last mentioned moneyer half-units are also known weighing circ. 27 grs.


The subdivisions of the stater ranging in date from Circ. B.C. 520-420: diobols, litrae, obols, and their fractions, together with a rare drachm of the Hippocamp series (circ. B.C. 500), have been already mentioned. Among the later subdivisions, belonging mainly to the fourth century, are the following :—

DIOBOLS, wt. 22.5 grs. (max.).

Head of Athena.
Head of Herakles.
Herakles strangling the lion or per- forming one of his other labours, often with the legend ΤΑΡΑΝΤΙΝΩΝ at length or abridged. The later speci- mens have letters and symbols in the field.

1 Mr. Macdonald has suggested to me that, if these Tarentine coins were struck under Hannibal’s influence, they might have been intended for drachms of the Phoenician standard, which would speedily become, in Italy, indistinguishable from the prevalent Roman standard.

Free horse. ΤΑΡ Taras on dolphin.
Two horses’ heads. Two horses’ heads.
Club and bow. Distaff in wreath.

The diobols, especially those of the Herakles type, are very abundant. These little coins formed the staple of the common currency in the Tarentine fish-markets, as well as in the rural districts subject to Tarentum, and even beyond its territories,—in Apulia and Samnium for instance. They are identical in type with the diobols of Heraclea, the meeting-place of the federal congress of the Italiot Greeks, and they should in point of fact be regarded as federal rather than as local issues.

That the Tarentine diobol exchanged for 10 ounces of bronze, we gather from the circumstance that the obol commonly bears the mark of value •••••, as we shall presently see. If, therefore, the obol was equal to the bronze quincunx, the diobol must have been equivalent to the dextans, which, as struck in Apulia (see Teate and Venusia), was called a Nummus.

The name Nummus may, therefore, have been applied, in Apulia, first of all to the silver diobol as the federal unit of account at Heraclea and Tarentum, and may then have been transferred to its equivalent, the unit of bronze consisting of 10 ounces.

In the Tabulae Heracleenses, however (Boeckh, Corp. Inscr. Gr., 5774, line 123), a distinction is drawn between the silver and the bronze num- mus, for a fine of 10 nummi, δεκα νομως αργυριω, is ordered to be paid by the tenant of certain lands who shall have omitted to plant the full number of olive trees specified in his contract. The fine was 10 silver nummi for each plant, παρ το φυτον εκαστον; the addition of the word αργυριω was intended to secure the payment of the sum in silver, and we now know from a recently discovered inscription that the νομος ‘Ιταλιωτικος therein specified was the stater or didrachm and not the diobol (Regling, Klio, Bd. vi, p. 504).

OBOLS, wt. 11.25 grs. (max.).

Female head. Kantharos ••••• wt. 9.2 grs.
Kantharos ••••• Kantharos ••••• wt. 9.7 grs.
Kantharos ••••• Bucranium wt. 8.4 grs.

Five dots is the usual mark of value of the obol. There are, however, various other little coins, some of which have only two, three, or four dots, though in weight they might pass for obols. To what system, if any, these dots refer is doubtful. In some cases they may represent fractions of the litra (or tenth part of the stater, the obol being the twelfth), a coin which was distinguished at Tarentum by its type, the pecten or cockle-shell.

LITRAE, wt. 13.5 grs., and HEMILITRA 6.7 grs. (max.).

Shell (pecten). Head of Herakles.
  „   Female head.
  „   Taras on dolphin.
  „   Dolphin, with various symbols.



Four-legged seat ••• Four-legged seat •••.
wt. 14 grs.
Four-legged seat. Lyre.
wt. 15 grs.
Female head. Dolphin.
wt. 10.6 grs.
Kantharos. Torch-head.
wt. 9.7 grs.
Female head. Dove-cot.
wt. 9.5 grs.
Horse’s head. Horse’s head.
wt. 8.9 grs.
Prancing horse. Taras on dolphin.
wt. 7.6 grs.
Head of Herakles. Dolphin.
wt. 5.5 grs.
One-handled vase. Olive wreath.
wt. 4.6 grs.
Two crescents. Two crescents.
wt. 3.7 grs.


For convenience of reference I have preferred to describe the Tarentine drachms of the owl type together in this place rather than at the end of the several series of staters to which they chronologically belong. For the space of about 200 years (circ. B.C. 500-300) Tarentum does not seem to have struck any half-staters, the stater or νομος and the small silver coins having doubtless been sufficient for all requirements.

It was not until shortly before the time of Pyrrhus, that is, before the definite reduction of the Tarentine stater from 120 grs. to 105 grs., that Tarentum began to issue drachms. Although all the owl-type drachms appear to follow the reduced standard, the signature ΖΟΡ, which is common to the earliest specimens of the class and to full-weight staters of Period VI (B.C. 302-201), proves that the issue of drachms began before the legal reduction of the standard; and as it is extremely unlikely that contemporary staters and half-staters would have been struck on different standards, as Evans (Horsemen, p. 126) suggests, we are driven to the conclusion that the drachms of Period VI which have hitherto been discovered are merely specimens of deficient weight, as indeed were many staters of the same period. It has already been explained that the reduction of the weight of the stater (circ. B.C. 281) from 120 grs. to 105 grs. was probably only a legitimation of the already current coins of deficient weight and an accommodation of the Tarentine standard to the Roman six-scruple standard which had been gradually creeping into general use in South Italy.

The types of the Tarentine drachms (weights 56-50 grs. max.), omitting details, are as follows:—

Period VI. Circ. B.C. 302-281.

Obv. Head of Athena with Skylla on helmet; rev. Owl with closed wings on olive-spray. Signature ΖΟΡ.

Period VII. Circ. B.C. 281-272.

Similar types; but the owl has sometimes open wings and stands on fulmen or serpent. Among the signatures which also occur on con-


Period VIII. Circ. B.C. 272-235.

Similar types; but owl usually with closed wings and standing on olive-branch; fulmen, anchor, bucranium, Ionic capital, &c. The signatures occurring also on staters of this period, and as a rule ac- companied by the same symbols, are ΑΡΙCΤΙC Anchor; ΑΡΙΣΤΟΚΡΑΤΗΣ Term; ├ΗΡΑΚΛΗΤΟΣ Kantharos; ├ΙΣΤΙΑΡΧΟΣ Grapes; ΛΕΩΝ; ΝΙΚΟΚΡΑΤΗΣ ΑΝ Ionic capital.

Period IX. Circ. B.C. 235-228.

Similar types. Owl with closed wings on olive-spray. Signature ΟΛΥΜΠΙΣ Wreath.

Period X. Circ. B.C. 212-209.

For the drachms (?) with didrachm types of this period see supra.

BRONZE COINS. Circ. B.C. 300-228.

The bronze coinage of Tarentum was of no great importance and may be all attributed to a late period; see M. P. Vlasto, Journ. Int. d'Arch. Num., 1899, 1 sqq. The following are the chief types:—

Head of Zeus. ΤΑΡΑΝΤΙΝΩΝ Nike standing holding fulmen, or crowning trophy.
Æ size .9
Head of Athena. ΤΑΡΑΝΤΙ Herakles strangling lion or at rest on rock.
Æ .8-.6
Shell (pecten). ΤΑΡΑΝ Taras on dolphin.
Æ .55
  „   ΤΑ Two dolphins.
Æ .4
Kantharos. Kantharos.
Æ .5
Head of Athena. Kantharos Æ .35
Forepart of hippocamp. Horse’s head Æ .5
Head of Athena. Two crescents.
Æ .4

Uxentum (Ugento). This town is not mentioned in history. It was situated near the extremity of the Iapygian promontory. No coins are supposed to have been struck there before the Roman period. Those that are known are all of bronze and usually bear marks of value which, when the weights are also taken into account, show that they follow the semuncial system, dating therefore from circ. B.C. 89.

As. Janiform head of Athena ? or Roma ? ΟΖΑΝ Herakles standing resting on club and holding cornucopiae; above, Nike crowning him.
Æ size .85
Semis. Head of Athena? or Roma?, S. Similar, without Nike, S.
Æ .7
  „  Same (without S) Same.
Æ .5
Eagle on fulmen. Α—Ο Kantharos and two stars.
Æ .4

For varieties see Berl. Cat., III. i. p. 310.