317 BC SICILY, SYRACUSE - GOLD DECADRACHM
NGC Ch AU Strike: 4/5 Surface: 4/5Greek City-State of Syracuse Gold Decadrachm (or 50 Litrai) of Agathocles (317-289 BC) - Apollo and Charioteer in Biga. Strong symbolism adorns this ancient coin. This specimen gold coin more than 2,300 years old has an approximate weight of 4.26g, depicts the Laureate head of Apollo right facing on obverse. Apollo symbolizes the sun, truth, and prophecy in Greek mythology. The reverse features a charioteer driving a biga to the right, holding kentron and reins, triskeles below. The triskeles symbol representing Sicily consists of three curved lines with rotational symmetry.
Agathocles was born at Thermae Himeraeae (modern name Termini Imerese) in Sicily. The son of a potter who had moved to Syracuse in about 343 BC, he learned his father's trade, but afterwards entered the army along with his brother Antander. In 333 BC he married the widow of his patron Damas, a distinguished and wealthy citizen. He was twice banished for attempting to overthrow the oligarchical party in Syracuse. In 317 BC he returned with an army of mercenaries under a solemn oath to observe the democratic constitution which was established after they took the city. Having banished or murdered some 10,000 citizens, and thus made himself master of Syracuse, he created a strong army and fleet and subdued the greater part of Sicily.
War with Carthage followed. In 311 BC Agathocles was defeated in the Battle of the Himera River and besieged in Syracuse. In 310 BC he made a desperate effort to break through the blockade and attack the enemy in Africa. In Africa he concluded the treaty with Ophellas, ruler of Cyrenaica. After several victories he was at last completely defeated (307 BC) and fled secretly to Sicily.