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Area: Thessaly; Larissa
Period: Circa 356-342 BC
Denomination: AR Drachm
Obverse: Head of the nymph Larissa facing slightly left, with hair in ampyx (headband)
Reverse: Horse right, preparing to lie down. "ΛAPIΣ AIΩN" above and below
Reference: Lorber, Hoard, Phase L-III, 43 (same dies); BCD Thessaly II 316
Weight: 6.1 gms
Diameter: 20.2 mm

Thessaly; Larissa

Larissa is today the capital and largest city of the Thessaly region in the middle of the western side of mainland Greece.

According to Greek mythology it is said that the city was founded by Acrisius, who was killed accidentally by his grandson, Perseus. There lived Peleus, the hero beloved by the gods, and his son Achilles.

In mythology, the nymph Larissa was a daughter of the primordial man Pelasgus.

Larissa is thought to be where the famous Greek physician Hippocrates and the famous philosopher Gorgias of Leontini died.

When Larissa ceased minting the federal coins it shared with other Thessalian towns and adopted its own coinage in the late 5th century BC, it chose local types for its coins. The obverse depicted the nymph of the local spring, Larissa, for whom the town was named; probably the choice was inspired by the famous coins of Kimon depicting the Syracusan nymph Arethusa. The reverse depicted a horse in various poses. The horse was an appropriate symbol of Thessaly, a land of plains, which was well known for its horses.

Larissa was indeed the birthplace of Meno, who thus became, along with Xenophon and a few others, one of the generals leading several thousands of Greeks from various places, in the ill-fated expedition of 401 BC meant to help Cyrus the Younger, son of Darius II, king of Persia, overthrow his elder brother Artaxerxes II and take over the throne of Persia.

The constitution of the town was democratic, which explains why it sided with Athens in the Peloponnesian War. As the chief city of ancient Thessaly, Larissa was taken by the Thebans and later directly annexed by Philip II of Macedon in 344. It remained under Macedonian control afterwards, except for a brief period when Demetrius Poliorcetes captured it in 302 BC.

It was in Larissa that Philip V of Macedon signed, in 197 BC, a treaty with the Romans after his defeat at the Battle of Cynoscephalae, and it was there also that Antiochus III the Great, won a great victory in 192 BC. In 196 BC Larissa became an ally of Rome and was the headquarters of the Thessalian League.

Pompey sought refuge there after the defeat of Pharsalus.

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