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Corcyra

[British Museum Catalogue of Greek Coins, Thessaly to Aetolia, by P. Gardner, 1883.
Postolacca, A., Καταλ. των αρχ. νομ. Κερκυρας, κ.τ.λ., Athens, 1868.]

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The long series of the staters of this wealthy and enterprising maritime state begins about B.C. 585, when, on the death of Periander of Corinth, Corcyra became independent of its mother-city. The coins of Corcyra differ in fabric from those of any of the other states in European Greece which issued coins during the same period (sixth century B.C.), viz. Aegina, Euboea, Athens, and Corinth. It is true that the cow suckling her calf is the obv. type on coins of Carystus in Euboea (Babelon, TraitÚ, Pl. XXXII. 15), and we hear of the Euboean Eretrians as the earliest colonists of Corcyra; but neither in weight nor in fabric is there anything in common between the early Corcyrean and Euboean issues. The rev. type of the Corcyrean staters consists of two deep oblong punches each containing a stellate device, a conventional representation, according to Eckhel, of the gardens of Alkino÷s, the Corcyreans claiming descent from the Phaeakians and identifying their island with the Scheria of Homer (Thuc. i. 25). It is more probable, however, that this type on the didrachms is merely a duplication of the single stellate pattern which occurs on the drachms (Babelon, Pl. XL. 16-18) and that it is simply ornamental. Similar deep double oblongs and squares, sometimes containing star patterns, are met with on early electrum coins, and on silver coins of Miletus, as well as of Camirus, Ialysus, and Lindus in Rhodes, and of Cyrene (cf. Babelon, op. cit., Plates IX. 2, 11; XIX. 8, 10, 14, 16, 18; XX; XL. 14, 23;


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LXIII. 1, 2, 19, 20; LXIV. 8, 10). It is most likely, therefore, that the Corcyrean coinage was derived directly from commercial inter- course with Miletus, Rhodes, &c., and Cyrene, and not from Aegina, Euboea, or Corinth. The weight of the Corcyrean stater, originally c. 180 grs. (max.), and gradually falling to c. 160 grs., is considerably lighter than that of the Aeginetic stater, and was probably imported from Asia Minor. It is equivalent to 4 Corinthian drachms of 45 grs. and to 2/3 of the Attic tetradrachm.

The archaic staters above referred to seem, however, to have been preceded by a small issue of triobols, trihemiobols, and hemiobols, hitherto attributed to Phocis (B. M. C., Cent. Gr., Pl. III. 1, 2), having on the obv. a cow’s head to front and on the rev. a deep rough inc. sq. Their Corcyrean origin is not certain, but, as Mr. Earle Fox has pointed out (N. C., 1908, pp. 81 ff.), it is preferable to the older attribution, as the provenance of some specimens can be traced to the Woodhouse collection formed in Corfu.

The invariable type of the staters of Corcyra is—

coin image
FIG. 186.

A cow suckling a calf (Fig. 186). Two stellate patterns of elongated form, each enclosed, on the earlier speci- mens, in a separate oblong incuse and, on the later, in a linear square.
AR Stater.

In the archaic period the coins are anepigraphic, but from about B.C. 450 they are generally inscribed ΚΟΡ.

The origin of the obv. type is very obscure. The cow and calf, as Macdonald remarks (Coin Types, p. 80), is a reproduction of a design of very great antiquity, found on gems unearthed on ‘Mycenean’ sites, and occurring also on Egyptian and Assyrian monuments, as well as in Persia, long before the invention of coinage. On coins it is met with not only at Corcyra and her colonies but also in Euboea, &c.; but whether the Corcyreans derived it from Euboea or received it from elsewhere is uncertain.

The most frequent type of the drachm of Corcyra before B.C. 300, is—

Forepart of a cow. Stellate pattern, in incuse square [B. M. C., Thes., Pl. XXI. 3-5]
AR 86 grs., Drachm.

The half-drachms and quarter-drachms bear on the obverse, in com- bination with the Star on the reverse, sometimes a Head of Hera and sometimes an Amphora or a Kantharos. The obols have on the obverse a Bunch of grapes, and on the reverse a Ram’s head or incuse Swastika.

The types of the bronze coins are, with few exceptions, Dionysiac. For varieties see B. M. C., Thes., s. v. Corcyra, Pl. XXII.


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Circ. B.C. 338-300.

After the occupation of Corinth by Philip, B.C. 338, Corcyra, like many other Corinthian colonies, began to strike staters similar to those of Corinth, but with the inscr. ΚΟΡ, ΚΟΡΚΥΡΑΙΩΝ, or Κ (B. M. C., Corinth, &c., p. 112, and Imhoof, Gr. M., Pl. II. 24).

Circ. B.C. 300-229.

About B.C. 300 it would appear that an assimilation took place between the Corcyrean and the Corinthian standards. The staters of 160 grs. ceased to be issued, while the former drachms of 80 grs. now became didrachms, the drachm being made identical in weight with the Corinthian drachm of 40 grs. (see B. M. C., Thes., Pl. XXII. 17, 18; XXIII. 1 , 2).

ΚΟΡΚΥΡΑΙ Forepart of a cow. Double stellate pattern.
AR 80 grs., Didr.
Cow and calf. ΚΟΡ Single do.
AR 40 grs., Dr.
Amphora. ΚΟΡΚΥΡΑΙ Star.
AR 40 grs., Dr.
Head of young Dionysos. Κ Thyrsos and grapes.
AR 13 grs., Diob.

As in the previous period the types of the bronze coins are most fre- quently Dionysiac. There is, however, an interesting series—

Forepart of galley. ΚΟ Kantharos.
Æ .7

The peculiarity of these coins is that the name of the galley is inscribed upon it, e.g. ΑΛΚΑ, ΕΛΕΥΘΕΡΙΑ, ΕΥΚΛΕΙΑ, ΕΥΝΟΜΙΑ, ΘΗΡΑ, ΚΟΡΚΥΡΑ, ΚΩΜΟΣ, ΚΥΠΡΙΣ, ΛΑΟΝΙΚΑ, ΝΕΟΤΗΣ, ΝΙΚΑ, ΠΑΛΛΑΣ, ΠΡΩΤΑ, ΣΩΤΕΙΡΑ, ΦΑΜΑ, ΦΩΣΦΟΡΟΣ, &c. Gardner has pointed out (Journ. Hell. Stud., ii. 96) that the galley figured on these coins is an agonistic type, having reference to galley races held in Corcyrean waters on the occasion of festivals of Poseidon, of Dionysos, or of the Actian Apollo.

Circ. B.C. 229-48.

In B.C. 229 Corcyra surrendered to the Romans, under whose protection it was allowed to retain its autonomy. The silver coins of this period are of the following types. They all bear the monogram of Corcyra (monogram or monogram).

Head of young Dionysos bound with ivy. Pegasos [Brit. Mus. Guide, Pl. LV. 19].
AR 80 grs., Didr.
Head of Dione veiled. Id. in wreath [B. M. C., Thes., Pl. XXIV. 4].
AR 48 grs. (Victoriatus).
Head of Aphrodite. Pegasos.
AR 38 grs., Dr.
Id. Id. [B. M. C., Thes., Pl. XXIV. 6-10].
AR 28 grs. (½ Victoriatus).
Head of Apollo. Id.
AR 28 grs.
Head of Dionysos. Id.
AR 28 grs.

The bronze coins have heads of Dionysos, Dione, or Poseidon. Rev. Kantharos or Amphora, Bull’s head, Prow, Trident, Aplustre, Ear of corn. These are followed by another series of bronze coins bearing the names


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of the Prytaneis of the city of Corcyra, as is clearly proved by the occurrence of no fewer than half of the number of known names with the title Prytanis in Corcyrean inscriptions of the same age as the coins (Boeckh, C. I. G., 1870). The commonest types are—

Head of Herakles. ΚΟΡΚΥΡΑΙΩΝ Prow and name of Prytanis.
Æ .8

Names of Prytaneis, ΑΡΙΣΤΕΑΣ, ΔΑΜΟCΤΡΑΤΟC, ΗΡΩΔΗC, ΜΕΝ- ΑΝΔΡΟΣ, ΝΙΚΑΝΩΡ, ΣΤΡΑΤΩΝ, ΣΩΣΙΓΕΝΗΣ, ΣΩΣΤΡΑΤΟΣ, ΦΑΛΑ- ΚΡΟΣ, ΦΙΛΩΝ, ΦΙΛΩΝΙΔΑΣ, ΦΙΛΩΤΑΣ, &c. (B. M. C., Thes., Ph XXIV. 18).

B.C. 48-A.D. 138. Julius Caesar to Hadrian.

Throughout this period the city of Corcyra continued to strike autono- mous bronze coins on which the deities ΖΕΥC ΚΑCΙΟC and ΑΓΡΕΥC, with their names in full, and Ares, are frequently represented. The first is usually in the attitude of Zeus seated on a throne. Agreus is a standing bearded figure, clad in a long chiton, and holding a cornucopiae (B. M. C., Thes., Pl. XXV. 7). The worship of this pastoral god was related to that of Aristaeos.

A.D. 138-222. Antoninus Pius to Geta.

The Imperial coins of this period have the Emperor’s head. The reverse types are Zeus Kasios, Agreus, Ares, Galley under sail, Pegasos, Dionysos on panther, &c. (B. M. C., Thes., Pl. XXVI).