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Arkadia, Feneos 350 BC
AR Stater
Feneos lies at the foot of Mount Kyllene, the mythical birthplace of the god Hermes. Its shrines were important for the god and the annual festival of the Hermaea. The rare coins of Feneos were minted to pay mercenaries in the short period of freedom and prosperity for the city after the wars between the Boeotians (led by the general Epaminondas) and the Spartans and before the conquest of mainland Greece by Philip II and Alexander the Great. The obverse copies the popular Arethusa head of the Syracusan decadrachms. The reverse is original in that it shows the local hero Arkas, ancestor of the Arkadians, being rescued as a young child by the god Hermes. Arkas was the son of Zeus and the nymph Kallisote. Kallisote fell victim to the jealous rage of Zeus' wife Hera. Hermes took the infant before he would meet the same fate brought the child to his own mother, the nymph Maia, who lived in Mount Kyllene where Arkas then grew up. While mercenaries would be happy with payment in bullion it is obvious the citizens of Feneos opted to design and issue these beautiful coins out of great civic pride. The reverse makes one immediately thinks of the Hermes of Praxiteles statue that was sculpted c. 343 and is present in the museum in Olympia (see description). Obverse Demeter with a wreath of wheat ears. Reverse Hermes holding caduceus in his right hand looking back at the infant Arkas that he holds held on his left arm ΦΕ ΝΕ ΩΝ.
Mint: Feneos
Provenance: Courtesy Harlan J Berk, LTD

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