Ancient Greece -AR Didrachm - "Boy on a Dolphin" -Circa 280 BC

Denomination: AR Didrachm                                                   

Weight: 6.26 g

Mint: Calabria, Tarentum                                                                       

Date: Circa 281-240 BC

Grade: NGC (4372896-007 - Grade Ch XF Strike: 4/5 Surface: 3/5

Mount: Sterling Silver with 14K Prongs

Description: Taras – Boy on Dolphin. Calabria, Tarentum. AR Didrachm. Obverse: Youth on horseback right, crowning horse; ΣA to left, APE/ΘΩN in two lines below Obverse: Phalanthos, holding tripod, riding dolphin left; CAΣ below.

History:  Upon the obverse of this coin a young man is riding a dolphin. He is one of two mythological characters- Taras or Phalanthos. Likely two opposing versions of the founding story of the city- one more rooted in historical reality than the other.  Taras, was the son of Poseidon, god of the sea, and a Nymph. After angering his father, he was thrown into the sea to drown. But his father then took pity upon him and sent a dolphin to rescue him. It swam him back to land, and where he stepped onto the shore he decided he wanted to build a city that very spot. The opposing story is that of Phalanthos, who was a hero amongst his people. Born out of wedlock to a Lacedaemonian father and a Spartan mother during the Messenian war, he belonged to the outcast group of Parthenians, rejected by the Lacedaemonians for their illegitimacy. The Parthenians were driven out for their insolence, and they sought the guidance of the Oracle of Delphi. She told them of another land where they would soon come to found a city by the name Taras. So, around the year 708 B.C.E. the Parthenians sailed to the Italian peninsula and founded the colony of Taras. It is said that Phalanthos was shipwrecked before reaching land but was saved by a dolphin that carried him to the shore.