Greece, Caria Islands off Caria, Rhodos, ca. 230 to 205 BCE. Silver tetradrachm. Obverse: Radiate, three-quarter facing head of Helios, head turned slightly right. Reverse: Rose with bud; prow to left, magistrate name in Greek below. Size: 0.95" W (2.4 cm)
Rhodos was one of the great Greek maritime ports, located on a spearhead-shaped island. Ancient myth held that the island was created by a union between the nymph Rhode and the sun god Helios; hence his depiction here. Helios was honored by the people of Rhodes not just on coinage. Using the proceeds from ironclad siege towers they took from the defeated Demetrius Poliorcetes ("The Besieger"), they built one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World: the Colossus of Rhodes. At 100 feet high, it was a rather more impressive depiction of Helios than this coin - but it snapped at the knees after an earthquake in 226 BCE, and this coin is still here, so maybe it is ultimately the better tribute.
Provenance: ex-New York, USA collection acquired before 2004
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Slabbed. NGC: VF