Reproduction Hieron II Gold Drachm
Obverse: Head of Persephone to right, wearing wreath of grain ears with eight petal flower behind.
Reverse: Nike driving fast biga (two-horse chariot) right, holding kentron in right hand and reins in left. Text in exergue IERWNOS.
History: Persephone was a Greek goddess, Demeter’s daughter by Zeus, wife of Hades, and queen of the underworld. By the second century she replaced the image of Arethusa on Syracuse’s coins. The depiction of her on coins ties Syracuse to the entire island and the city’s desire to dominate all of Sicily.
Hieron II, a tyrant, assumed power of the city of Syracuse, Sicily in 275 BC. He battled against the Mamertines who eventually called in the aid of Rome, forcing him to retreat. As a skilled politician, he switched sides at the right time early in the 1st Punic War and he too allied himself with Rome, a clever move that safeguarded his kingship for the rest of his long life. As an ally of Rome, Heiron II furnished money and fighting forces against Carthage in the Punic Wars. Hieron was over ninety years old when he passed away in 215 BC, making his reign one of the longest of any ancient king.
Date: Struck Syracuse, Sicily, 275-215 BC