Page III

Part II - Greece, Magna Graecia,
Thace and Macedonia.

Contempt brings sedition and conspiracies, as in oligarchies, where there exist many wielding no share in administration. The rich, even in democracies, despising the disorder and anarchy which forthcomes, hope bettering themselves by the same means. As a result of poor administration, the democracy was destroyed, as occured in Megara, where the power of the people disappeared through anarchy and disorder; the same came to pass at Syracuse prior to Gelon’s tyranny.


Greek civilisation spread throughout the ancient world via commerce, art, science, colonists and chaos, developing Hellenistic kingdoms amidst a gradually expanding network and suddenly surged full speed following the sword of Alexander the Great who extended boundaries beyond sight or expectation.

From European Greece, closely timed with Pamphylia, Aegina, a commercial state (now Aíyina), issued “turtle staters”, a triskelis worked into reverses — fifth century B.C. (Coins are viewable in Part 1). The British Museum catalogue presents further samples. The Island’s solid ties with Lydia may explain its early grasp of money, and its commerce with Asia Minor conceivably furthered the symbol’s presence. (Lycia similarly issued turtle staters 500-475 B.C.).

Aegina is conjectured the first minting state in European Greece, the activity dating as Lydia’s, in the mid seventh century according to the British Museum although other specialists announce the eighth century. The Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, possesses an Aeginetic stater placed about circa 700 B.C. We unfortunately do not have an image for this presentation.
Controlling Siphnos Island’s silver source, Aegina supplied currency throughout the Peloponnesus during several hundred years. However, disaster struck in the 5th century. Striving to preserve her war threatened commerce, the island bowed before Persia, an act wrathful Athens cruelly punished. Aegina lost not only the triskelis but also her inhabitants, becoming thereafter a plaything of the Fates, bandied from one dominating power to the other. It is considered the birthplace of Aristophanes.
  Pausanias the wanderer wrote in the second century A.D. :  
“Of the Greek islands, Aegina is the most difficult of access, for it is surrounded by sunken rocks and reefs which rise up. Although the Aeginetans rose to great power, so that their navy was superior to that of Athens, and in the Persian war supplied more ships than any state except Athens, yet their prosperity was not permanent but when the island was depopulated by the Athenians, they took up their abode at Thyrea, in Argolis, which the Lacedaemonians gave them to dwell in. They recovered their island when the Athenian warships were captured in the Hellespont, yet it was never given them to rise again to their old wealth or power.”
A coining pioneer, enterprising Euboea created the widely employed Euboïc coin standard along with weights and measures *5. “There is a text that states Pheidon struck gold coins at Euboea, that is at the Heraion; this text possibly reflects an effort to bridge the geographical gap between the Heraion and the island of Aegin.”. This is quoted from a most absorbing study: /measures/heraion.htm. The long island's bronze industry propelled it ahead neighbouring Greeks. Two major cities were Chalcis and Eretria, significant metropoli of antiquity. Euboean coins are frequently found around Attica, demonstrating their close bonds. Euboean Chalkidic records earliest known, eighth century Greek inscriptions.
One wonders whether Euboea’s Gorgoneion triskelions suggest clues regarding Sicily’s national emblem? Her colonies rose numerous in Thrace, Southern Italy and Sicily (See Roman Sicily herein). The British Museum catalogue provides the following information :
“The uninscribed archaic coins of the Euboïc standard with a diagonally divided incuse square bear on their obverses, usually within a linear circle, the following types: Owl, Horse walking, Hind part of walking horse, Forepart of prancing horse, Amphora, Triskeles, Astragalos, Wheel of peculiar form, Wheel of four spokes, Scarabaeus, Gorgoneion, Bull’s head to front.”

And of Corinth Pausanias wrote:

“When Bellerophontes migrated to Lycia it is clear that the Corinthians none the less were subject to the despots at Argos or Mycenae. By themselves they provided no leader for the campaign against Troy, but shared in the expedition as part of the forces, Mycenaean and other, led by Agamemnon.”
Mother of Sicilian Syracuse, Corinth, ever competed with Athens but Rome became her Nemesis. Star of the Peloponnesus, Strabo lauded her harbours and wealth whilst mythology sets Helios and Poseidon quarrelling for possession of the Isthmus. Meanwhile, the city-state industriously hauled ships over a stone access (diolkos) stretched across the Isthmus and settled a monetary system in the seventh century B.C., one of the first Greek cities striking coinage after Aegina and considered the first in mainland Hellas to initiate bronze coinage in the 5th century B.C.

It is no surprise to find stylistically uniform coinage in her colonies following the Corinthian monetary system when her official silver staters portray the symbol [
15 ], alike a close neighbour, Phlius of Phliasia in the 6th century B.C. — a territory described by Pausanias, and homeland of sage Pythagoras. 16 ]

Having opposed Rome in 146 B.C. Corinth suffered complete destruction. She remained as a ghost wandering the Isthmus till 46 B.C. when Julius Caesar revived the city as a Roman colony but the ashes of her destruction flew away with memories we would have preferred keeping.
“Speed royal Helen, away and away,
To Argos home, to the royal bay.”
Ascertained Greece’s second oldest city, Argos, land of the flute, south of Corinth and Phlius, witnessed the childhood of goddess Hera and that of the famed sculptor and bronze master, Polycletus (Polykleitos). Birthplace of many famed personages such as Perseus, the inhabitants, were once called Argives, a Homeric term likewise designating all Greeks. Mythology ties this city-state to Lycia and asia minor with Proetus 1 receiving military aid from his father-in-law the Lycian King and Sthenelus II sailing against Troy (13th century B.C.) *4. Amphilochus I, equally active midst this famed and furious battle, meets death within Soli, a Cilician town. Plutarch describes ambitious Pheidon, King of Argos (8th or 7th century B.C.) set upon breaking Corinth’s power. Under this ruler, 750 B.C., Argos dominated the Peloponnesus whilst Phoenician alphabetic script adapted itself thereto.

The streamlined “A” silver triskelis specie of unknown value (5th century B.C.), mirrors an age of Argolic revival and silver issues. [
14 ] This series shows the letter “A” striding differing symbols, such as: a crescent, a dolphin, the Dioscuri, a club, an eagle, and a trident whereunder the magistrate’s name, “DAMP” takes shape. Foregoing the Persian wars, Sparta crippled Argos in determinate defeat. Contrary to many triskelis sites, this one lives on midst the cloud-reaching steps of an ancient theatre. A present-day town encloisters whispering ancient secrets.
Opposite Aegina and formerly her possession, Salamis sits one nautical mile from Piraeus. Homer called Salamis “Salam” or “Chalam” meaning peace or calm and his Illiad introduces Salamis-born Ajax the Great. The island is also the birthplace of Euripides and its bronze coinage reveals a triskelis.

After the Battle of Thermopylae (the “Hot Gates”) 480 B.C. Persian troops burned Athens whilst helpless Athenians sought refuge upon Salamis, just an eye-view from Athens. [
73 ] Themistocles, heeding Delphian counsel, led the allied fleet toward victory that same year. Thirty-one Hellenic League States partook in this war.
We find the Attica triskelis though artefacts and drawings such as upon shields. Inevitably we encounter the symbol witnessing the Trojan war. A potter’s work details the image adorning Achilles’s shield, circa 520-510 B.C. Weilding a triskelis shield with his free arm, Achilles drags demised Hektor behind his chariot.This image is viewable at: The hero was born in the Myrmidones, in Phthia, Thessaly, yet this ware is Attican.*9
An early Athenian triskelis is studied in the 1966 work of Kraay, C. and Max Hirmer : Greek Coins, pl.144, coin no 340, catalogue entry page 325 [ 45 ]. Interestingly, the didrachm displayed and dated circa 570-550 B.C. closely resembles the 6th century Phlius didrachm above, number 16. *16
Certain researchers mention a bronze Olympia tripteral alongside early Athenian triskelis coins as symbolizing the cult of Athena; elements of panathenaea. Processions took place once every four years. Such a theory ties together triskeles observed elsewhere, Aspendos or Syracuse for example, but nowise clarifies other appearances adorning tombs, towers, battle-shields or the shield Enceladus carries deflecting Athena’s spear. His shield is conspicuously emblazoned with a triskelis. The Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, offers this image of Enceladus whose life seems forfeit beneath Athena’s menacing lance. The  scene portrays the Gigantes battle against almighty Olympians *10. When through with him, Athena despatches Enceladus unto burial beneath Sicily.*11 Would Sicily’s symbol originate with such mythological concepts? A protective Medusa-Gorgoneion after all adorned Athena’s shield when she found it expedient.
Shield of Enceladus
Next page
Page [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [Home] [Annex]