Schlagwort-Archive: Leukippos

Magnesia – of heroes and horses

UnbenanntRecently acquired, I believe this tiny coin to be one of the first emissions of the Ionian city of Magnesia. While the coin dealer presumed the fraction to have originated in Olynthos in Makedonia, the obverse has a strong connection to the later Magnesian coins, depicting an armed horseman attacking. Wheihing 1,22 grams, the fraction might be considers as a Phokaian standard Diobol.The obverse shows a well built man on the right, standing in a frontal position, leading a frontal standing horse on the left.

Unbenannt2On the reverse we find the flying eagle, apparently the heraldic animal on early Magnesian coins (just compare the various eagle and eagle-head depictions on the Themistokles coins), as a symbol for Zeus. Beyond the eagles head might appear the rest of the coins legend, but the letter is far to worn to be identified. Only one similar Obol (0,88 grams) was sold at CNG, showing Leukippos pulling his horse right even stronger ( The muscular chest and the strong calves are remarkable and clearly characterize the person as a (mythical) hero. Both nominals must be parts of an early series of Magnesian fraction, for stylistic reasons issued by the Polis even before Themistokles takeover (soon after 470 BC).


Picture courtesy of CNG

In my opinion, the man leading the horse – in association with the eagle as the Magnesian emblem – depicts Leukippos, the mythical founder of Magnesia. First of all, he bears a speaking name: Leukippos consists of the two components Λευκὴ (leuke, „white“), and Ἵππος (Hippos, „horse“), meaning „the one/man with the white horse“. According to a scholion to Apollonios of Rhodos, Leukippos was a Karian from Crete, a successor of Bellerophon. Drachms and further nominals from the time about 300 BC show Leukippos, riding right, attacking, wearing a helmet and cuirass, holding couched lance. This early impression of the Magnesia Hero show him rather peacefully, guiding or perhaps taming his horse, similar to early Euboian coins. Perhaps the taming of a wild, white horse was part of a lost Magnesian foundation legend…