The Engraver named Eumenes

Reverse: Head of Arethusa to right, with 3 dolphins

Obverse: Chariot or quadriga galloping left.

The coins minted in Sicily — and by the ancient city of Syracuse in particular — during the 5th Century BCE are admired as the most beautiful, iconic and influential ever struck. This reputation was established by the work of just a handful of engravers, Phrygillos, Euainetos, Eumenes, Eukleidas and Kimon, true masters of their art. These celators were so highly regarded that they were permitted to place their own signature onto the dies they had created.

Item 492 was struck from not one but two dies attributed to the famous Eumenes. 

AR Tetradrachm (16.91 g) Head of Arethusa to right on reverse, her hair bound tightly around her head, signed Eumenes, obverse quadriga galloping left, crowned by Nike.  Circa 415-405 BCE. Ch XF, Strike: 4/5, Surface: 3/5, Fine Style.

Eumenes signature is EYMENOV below Arethusa’s reverse (front) portrait. She is shown submerged in her fresh water spring. Her hair is tied in an elaborate coiffure, loose curls falling onto her neck and forehead. Her earring is “S” shaped, in contrast with another known die representing an anchor. Three playful dolphins frame the image as they play around her. The legend above her head reads SURAKOSIWN (of Syracuse).

The obverse (back) has a charioteer racing left in a four horse chariot. The rider is shown holding reins and goad as he leans forward to urge his horses faster. The goddess of Victory is shown above, descending from the heavens to crown the charioteer with a laurel wreath.

Please refer to ArtAncient at this URL for a separate coin of the same subjects, with different dies, also by Eumenes of Syracuse, 415 BCE: https://www.vcoins.com/en/stores/artancient/218/product/signed_tetradrachm_by_eumenes_of_syracuse__415_bc/1011914/Default.aspx

The designs show the influence of the newly developed Classical style of art. The chariot is shown charging chaotically forwards, displaying a genuine sense of motion while Arethusa is seen as an idealized, elegant young woman, her eye set in profile and her hair depicted in detail. 

Celators were much sought after and every city of any size minted coins, based on the precedents established in Sicily. Greek colonies in Sicily influenced subsequent coinage in Athens, in what is Greece today, locations in today’s Turkey and along the edges of the Black Sea. This blossoming of the art was further stimulated by the exploits of Alexander the Great III in lands to the east. More about that later.

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