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Lot 4072

Crete, Phaistos. Silver Stater (10.9g) struck ca. 300-270 BC. T - AΛ - ΩN. Naked Talos, wings spread, standing facing on exergual line, poised to throw rock in right hand, holding another rock in his left. Reverse: ΦAIΣTIΩN. Bull butting right on exergual line, head facing. Le Rider 62 (pl. XXIV, 4); Svoronos Numismatique 67 (pl. XXIV, 24); BMC 20. Light to medium antique silver-gray toning. An amazing example with an obverse of exquisite artistry. Extremely rare. Extremely Fine.

The ancient Cretan city of Phaistos was situated close to the island's southern coastline, west of its more powerful neighbor Gortyna. A settlement of great antiquity, Phaistos is best known for its Minoan palace and underlying pre-palatial village. The extensive coinage of the place commenced in the mid-fifth century BC and seems to have extended down to the early decades of the third century. The obverse of this late stater has a striking winged nude male figure advancing to front. The inscription names him as Talos, an enigmatic deity whose story is complex and shrouded in mystery. Likely a local, pre-Classical solar deity, Talos was said to be a winged giant made of bronze whose mission was to protect Zeus' beloved Europa while she was in Crete. To do this, Talos would circle the island three times daily, throwing rocks at any approaching ships. In some ancient sources Talos was given to King Minos by Hephaistos, who forged the bronze giant with the aid of the Cyclopes. The most popular version of Talos, though, is perhaps that told in the Argonautica of Apollonius of Rhodes. When Jason and the Argonauts arrive off Crete, Talos attempts to stop their landing by lobbing massive stones at them. Instead of blood in his body, the giant is filled with an ichor of molten lead traversing in only one vein from neck to ankle, which is bound shut by a single nail of bronze. To defeat Talos, Medea tricks him, and he loses his single nail. Europa in the myth was a Phoenician princess who was carried off to Crete by Zeus disguised in the form of a bull. A bull is of frequent occurrence on the Phaistian coinage in which form he represents Zeus.
Estimated Value $15,000 - 20,000.
The Hunter Collection: (Worthy of further pedigree research, as this coin was acquired for the Hunter Collection in the 1980's, and its ticket has been lost.).

Realized $52,900

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