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Phocis

[British Museum Catalog of Greek Coins, Central Greece, by B. V. Head, 1884.
Langton, N. Notes on some Phocian Obols, Num. Chron., 1903, pp. 197 sqq.
Svoronos, J. N. Nomismatikae ton DelphonΝομισματικη των Δελφων, Bull. Corr. Hell., 1896, pp. 1 sqq.]

The coinage of Phocis begins at a very early period, probably not much later than the middle of the sixth century. Like the archaic money of Arcadia it is distinctly federal in character.

The twenty-two confederate Phocian towns held their periodical sonedrionσυνεδριον in a building called Phokikon, near Daulis (Paus. x. 5. 1), and here, perhaps, rather than at any one of the Phocian towns, the federal mint may have been established. Money would be issued at this mint only on the occasions of the meetings of the sunedrionσυνεδριον, when it may be supposed that a concourse of people from all parts of the Phocian territory was gathered together, and that a fair or market was held for the exchange and purchase of commodities, as at Delphi during the Pythian festivals.

The weight-standard of the Phocian money is the Aeginetic, of which Triobols (48 grs.), Trihemiobols (24 grs.), Obols (16 grs.), and Hemiobols (8 grs.), occur.

The inscription on the archaic coins is Phi Ο, PhiΟΚΙ, or ΦΟΚΙ.

Circ. B.C. 550-421.
Bull’s head facing.
[B. M. C., Cent. Gr., Pl. III. 3-14.]
Female head in incuse square.
AR Triobols.
Id. or in profile.
[Ibid., Pl. III. 11-15.]
Forepart of boar in incuse square, some- times with mark of value Ο for obolosοβολος [N. C., 1895, 269].
AR Obols.
Bull’s head in profile.
[Ibid., Pl. III. 16.]
Helmet in incuse square.
AR Hemiobols.

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The bull’s head, sometimes bound with a sacrificial fillet, is perhaps symbolical of some special sacrifice in honour of the national eponymous hero, Phokos, to whom there was a temple called the Hero÷n of the hero Archagetas, where sacrifices were offered daily throughout the year; and, presumably at certain stated times, a great sacrifice on behalf of the whole people, when a prize bull may have been the victim (cf. Boeckh, C. I. G., 1688, where, in an Amphictyonic inscription, one particular bull sacrificed to the hero Neoptolemos is called o bous tou aeroosο βουσ του ηρωος). The head of the goddess on the reverse is probably intended for Artemis, to whom the boar may also allude (terpomenae kaproisiτερπομενη καπροισι, Od. vi. 104). Judging by style it would seem that no silver coins were issued in the name of the Phocians between the Peace of Nicias and the third Sacred War, B.C. 357.


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It is possible, however, that a few bronze coins may have been struck in this interval.

Circ. B.C. 371-357.

In this period of Theban supremacy in Central Greece bronze coins make their first appearance.

Head of Athena, facing.
[B. M. C., Cent. Gr., Pl. III. 17.]
Φ or ΦΩ in olive-wreath.
Æ .6

Circ. B.C. 357-346.

This is the period of the third Sacred War, during which the Phocians, under their successive strategi, Philomelus (357-354), Onymarchus (354- 352), Phayllus (352-351), and Phalaecus (351-346). held possession of the oracle of Delphi, and turned its sacred treasures into coin.

Head of the Delphian Apollo, laur.
[Z. f. N., xv. 41, Pl. III. 7.]
Φ Ω Lyre, the whole in laurel-wreath.
AR Drachm, 73 grs.
Bull’s head, facing.
[B. M. C., Cent. Gr., Pl. III. 18-20.]
ΦΩ Head of the Delphian Apollo; symbol, lyre or laurel-branch.
AR Triob. and Obol.
ΦΩΚΕΩΝ Three bulls’ heads.
[Ibid., Pl. III. 21.]
Τ in laurel-wreath.
Æ Trichalkon .85
Bull’s head, facing. ΦΩ in laurel-wreath.
Æ .65
Id. [Ibid., Pl. III. 24.] ΟΝΥΜΑΡΧΟΥ in wreath.
Æ .6
Id. ΦΑΛΑΙΚΟΥ in wreath.
Æ .6

Of this period more coins would doubtless have been preserved had not the Locrians at the end of the war collected the Phocian treasures and melted them down to make a silver hydria for dedication to Apollo at Delphi (Plut. De Pyth. Orac. xvi). The complete devastation of the land by Philip in 346 (Demosth. Fals. Leg. p. 361) put an end to all coinage in Phocis. On this subject see Hill, Hist. Gk. Coins, p. 90.

B.C. 339-146.

In B.C. 339 Athens and Thebes combined to reconstitute Phocis and to rebuild some of the ruined towns. The few remaining bronze coins are of careless execution:—

Bull’s head, facing. ΦΩΚΕΩΝ Head of Apollo.
Æ .8-.65

On some specimens over the bull’s head are the letters ΑΝ, ΕΛ. ΛΕ, or ΛΙ, which may stand for the Phocian towns Anticyra, Elateia, Ledon, and Lilaea (Imhoof, Mon. gr., 150).

Anticyra. On the Corinthian gulf, north-west of Medeon. Bronze of the second century B.C. or later, with ΑΝ and ΦΩΚΕΩΝ as above, or with local types.

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Head of Poseidon with trident at his shoulder. [Zeit. f. Num., vi. 15.] ΑΝΤΙΚΥΡΕΩΝ Artemis huntress.
Æ .9

Cirrha (?). The seaport of Delphi. Mr. Earle Fox (N. C. 1903, p. 205) attributes to this town some rare obols with the ordinary Phocian types,


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after circ. B.C. 480, but with Ι Κ instead of PhiΟΚΙ. The inscr. appears to be complete, but the attribution cannot be accepted as certain.

Delphi. The chronology of the coinage of Delphi has been discussed in detail by J. N. Svoronos in B. C. H., 1896, where, on Pls. XXV-XXX, all the following coins are figured. He divides the autonomous issues of silver coins into the following periods. They follow the Aeginetic standard.

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Circ. B.C. 520-480.

Tripod. Θ (phiale), in incuse square.
AR Obol.
Ram’s head. Id.
AR ½ Obol.
Ram’s head; beneath, dolphin. Bust of goat in incuse square.
AR 1½ Obol.
Id. Two dolphins, in incuse square.
AR 1½ Obol.
Id. Goat’s head facing, between two dol- phins, in incuse square.
AR 1½ Obol.
Id. Busts of two goats face to face, in incuse square; above, sometimes, dol- phin.
AR 1½ Obol.
Head of negro (Delphos). Ram’s head, beneath, dolphin; in incuse square.
AR ¾ Obol.
Id. Two rams’ heads in juxtaposition, in incuse square, as on tridrachm infra.
AR ¾ Obol.
Id. D Α Goat’s head facing, in incuse square.
AR ¾ Obol.
Bull’s head facing. D Α Similar.
AR ¼ Obol.

Circ. B.C. 480.

coin image
FIG. 191.

DΑΛPhiΙΚΟN Two rams’ heads in jux- taposition, faces downwards; above, two dolphins (Fig. 191). Four deep incuse squares resembling lacunaria, in each of which a dolphin and flower.
AR Tridrachm, 279 grs.
Same inscr. Ram’s head; beneath, dol- phin. [Babelon, TraitÚ, Pl. XLII. 19.] Similar; but stars in the four deep squares.
AR Didrachm, 191 grs.

Also Trihemiobols and Obols, as above, but the incuse squares more regular in form.

Circ. B.C. 480-460.

Trihemiobols only, with ram’s and goat’s head in incuse square, as on the earlier coins.


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Circ. B.C. 460-448.

Trihemiobols as above, but with inscr. DΑΛ; also—

Head of negro (Delphos) in dotted circle. symbol in incuse square.
AR ¾ Obol.

Circ. B.C. 448-421.

During this period Delphi, deprived of political autonomy, struck no coins.

Circ. B.C. 421-355.

After the Peace of Nicias (B.C. 421) Delphi, once more independent, resumed the issue of small silver coins in its own name.

Ram’s head; beneath, dolphin. ΔΑΛ or ΔΕΛ Goat’s head facing, be- tween two dolphins, in slightly incuse circle.
AR 1½ Obol.
Head of negro (Delphos) in dotted circle. symbol in slightly incuse circle
AR ¾ Obol.

The object represented on the earliest coins is probably the sacrificial φαλη with a boss or ομφαλος in the centre (patera umbilicata), which is especially appropriate on the coins of Delphi, as symbolical of the libation and sacrifice to the Pythian Apollo (N. C., 1895, p. 320).

The ram’s head (καρνος) is a symbol of Apollo as the god of flocks and herds, Καρνειος. The goats’ heads recall the story told by Diodorus (xvi. 26), that some goats feeding on the brink of the chasm in the rock, over which in after-times the oracular tripod was placed, became intoxi- cated by the fumes which issued from the opening, and by their strange antics first made known the existence of the oracle to the herdsmen ou charin aixi malista chraestaeriazontai mechri tou non oi Delphoi.ου χαριν αιξι μαλιστα χρηστηριαζονται μεχρι του νον οι Δελφοι.

The dolphins refer to the cultus of Apollo Delphinios, who assumed the form of a dolphin (Homeric Hymn to Apollo, l. 390). Cf. Steph. Byz. s. v. Delphoi:—eklaethaesan de Delphoi, oti Apollon sunepleuse delphini eikstheis.Δελφοι:—εκληθησαν δε Δελφοι, οτι Απολλον συνεπλευσε δελφινι εικσθεις. The negro’s head has been supposed to represent the mythical founder of Delphi, by name Delphos, the son of Poseidon by the nymph Melaine (Panofka, Delphos und Melaine, p. 7).

Between B.C. 355 and 346 the Phocians held Delphi and struck money there in their own name (see p. 339).

Circ. B.C. 346-339.

coin image
FIG. 192.


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Head of Demeter of Anthela veiled and crowned with corn (Fig. 192). ΑΜΦΙΚΤΙΟΝΩΝ Apollo in long chiton, with lyre and laurel-branch, seated on Delphian omphalos, over which hang fillets.
AR Stater 187.3 grs. and
AR Drachm 84 grs.
Id. [Rev. Num., 1860, Pl. XII. 8.] ΑΜΦΙΚΤΙΟΝΩΝ Omphalos, round which is coiled a serpent.
AR Triobol, 44 grs.
Horse prancing. Large Θ (phiale).
Æ size .6

These remarkable coins seem to have been first issued on the occasion of the reassembling of the Amphictyonic Council at the close of the Phocian war (B.C. 346). At each meeting (pulaiaπυλαια) of the Council markets or fairs were held, called pulatides agoraiπυλατιδεσ αγοραι, for which such coins may have been struck, but the great Pythian festival of B.C. 346 is by far the most probable date of issue.

Imperial Times.

From this time until the reign of Hadrian there appears to have been no mintage at Delphi. That emperor’s strenuous endeavours to reanimate the ancient religion of the Greeks, together with the influence of Plutarch, who was a member of the Amphictyonic Council, and held the office of Priest of the Pythian Apollo at Chaeroneia, the duties of which must have brought him into frequent relations with the neighbouring oracle of Delphi, doubtless added much to the importance of Delphi about this time. The right of coinage was now restored to the city, and numerous pieces were struck, quasi-autonomous and Imperial, in honour of Hadrian and the Antonines, among which two may be here selected as worthy of especial mention. Of these one bears the unusual inscription ΑΝΤΙΝΟΟΝ ΗΡΩΑ ΠΡΟΠVΛΟΙ ΑΜΦΙΚΤΥΟΝΕC, rev. Tripod over omphalos and legend, ΙΕΡΕΥC ΑΡΙCΤΟΤΙΜΟC ΑΝΕΘΗΚΕΝ (Zeit. f. N., xiii. Pl. IV. 3; Photiades Cat., 365). The other, without the emperor’s name, may be thus described :—

Apollo Kitharoedos.
[Millingen, Recueil, T. II. 11.]
ΠVΘΙΑ The three mountain-peaks of Mt. Parnassus.
Æ 1.0

For many other Imperial coins of Delphi see Svoronos (op. cit.) and Imhoof-Blumer, Zeit. f. N., i. 115, especially with regard to the famous Delphian ΕΙ. Cf. Plutarch, peri tou ΕΙ, tou en Delphoisπερι του ΕΙ, του εν Δελφοις. This mystic word is represented on a coin by a large Ε placed within a temple.

Elateia. The authenticity of the following coin, assigned in the first edition of this work to the unimportant Elateia in Thessaly, has been questioned, and it must be acknowledged that its Thessalian origin is inadmissible. It may, however, be accepted, on stylistic grounds, as genuine, if removed to the far more important Elateia in Phocis, which, like Delphi, may have asserted its independence of the Phocian league, and, on the occasion of some local festival, struck coins in its own name some time after the Peace of Nicias, B.C. 421.

Free horse. [Prokesch, Ined., 1854, Pl. I. 25, now in the Berlin cabinet.] ΕΛΑΤΕΟN round a female head within an incuse square.
AR Drachm.


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The head of the goddess on the reverse is almost identical with that on the coins of the Phocian League.

No other coins of Elateia are known until the second century B.C.

Among the noteworthy objects in this town Pausanias (x. 34. 7) mentions an archaic bronze statue of Athena and a temple of Athena Kranaea. The statue on one of the following coins is perhaps the one referred to.

Second century B.C.
ΕΛ Bull’s head facing.
[B. M. C., Cent. Gr., p. 237.]
ΦΩΚΕΩΝ Head of Apollo.
Æ .65
ΕΛ Bull’s head facing bound with fillet. [N. C., 1898, Pl. XIX. 6.] Athena charging.
Æ .6
Bearded head.
[B. M. C., Cent. Gr., Pl. IV. 26.]
ΕΛΑΤΕΩΝ Stiff archaic statue of Athena in fighting attitude; symbol, bull’s head facing.
Æ .75

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Ledon (see supra p. 339), Æ of second century B.C., with ΛΕ and ΦΩΚΕΩΝ.

Lilaea, about a day’s journey from Delphi, seems to have struck obols and diobols, circ. B.C. 480-421, with Phocian types; but reading Λ Ι in place of Phi Ο (N. C., 1844, p. 124, and 1903, p. 200); and in the second century B.C. some bronze coins with ΛΙ and ΦΩΚΕΩΝ (p. 339 and Num. Zeit., 1870, p. 268).

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Neon. Silver of archaic style.
Phi Ο Bull’s head facing.
[Imhoof, Mon. gr., p. 150.]
NΕ Forepart of boar in incuse square.
AR Obol.