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Area/Ruler: Sicily - Syracuse: Agathokles
Reigned: 317 BC - 289 BC
Denomination: AE 22mm
Obverse: Bust of Artemis, right, quiver at her shoulder. "ΕΩΤΕΙΡΑ"
Reverse: "ΑΓΑΘΟΚΛΕΟΣ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΟΣ" above and below winged thunderbolt.
Reference: GCV 1200
Weight: 8.2 gms
Diameter: 21.4 mm

SYRACUSE and AGATHOCLES

Colonists from the Greek city-state of Corinth founded Syracuse in 734 BC. In 485 BC Gelon, tyrant of Gela, made himself master of Syracuse, which then became his capital. Gelon acheived a famous victory over the Carthaginians at Himera in 480 BC.

He was succeeded by his brother Hiero I, a celebrated patron of the arts. In 466 BC the democrats expelled Hiero's brother and successor, Thrasybulus, and for 60 years Syracuse had a free and democratic government.

Hostilities with the city of Segesta led in 415 BC to a two-year war with Athens in which the Syracusans, with the help of the Spartans saw off invading Athenians and contributed decisively to the final Spartan victory (404 BC) in the Peloponnesian War.

The conquests of Carthage in Sicily at the end of the 5th century BC threatened Syracuse, but under Dionysius the Elder, who became tyrant of the city in 405 BC, Syracuse became the chief power in Sicily.

AGATHOCLES (born 361 BC) after being exiled twice for attempting to overthrow the government, succeeded in his third attempt in 317 BC and became tyrant of all Sicily. He continued waging war on the Carthaginians, and threatened the city of Carthage itself in 310 BC. He assumed the title of king in 304 BC, and later he formed an alliance with Ptolemy I of Egypt. He raided Italy and in 299 BC conquered the Greek island of Corcyra (now Corfu).

After the death of Agathocles in 289 BC, his mercenary troops, the Mamertines, seized Messina, leading to the Punic wars between Rome and Carthage. The same form of government continued during the reign of Hiero II. Hiero was a faithful ally of Rome against the Carthaginians, but upon his death in 215 BC the pro-Carthaginian party seized control of the city. The Romans captured Syracuse in 212 BC, even though the defences of the city had been strengthened by the machines of the Greek inventor Archimedes.

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