7 different issues of Phlius in Phliasia, Peloponnesus; Grecian Eden

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Plumbata, Jul 8, 2020.

  1. Plumbata

    Plumbata Well-Known Member

    Several years ago I stumbled across a Trihemiobol from a city I'd never heard of in a region I'd never heard of. Delightful, a new interesting mystery to investigate! The aesthetics were pleasing and price was right, so upon receipt I launched on a rather underwhelming quest for knowledge about the obscure polity. A few of you have presented nice writeups on Phlius to frame your own coins so I won't repeat it all. From wikipedia I learned that:

    "Phliasia was an independent polis in the northeastern part of Peloponnesus. Phlius' territory, called Phliasia (Φλιασία), was bounded on the north by Sicyonia, on the west by Arcadia, on the east by Cleonae, and on the south by Argolis. This territory is a small valley about 900 feet (270 m) above the level of the sea, surrounded by mountains, from which streams flow down on every side, joining the river Asopus in the middle of the plain."​

    Wow, what a beautiful landscape to imagine! Cole's "Arcadian State" became my romanticized archetype of this lovely little Greek Shangri-La; bucolic verdant paradise embraced and nourished and protected all around by the mountains; spine and forge of the strength and resilience of many Greek peoples. I became less interested in the minor contributions of 100 men here or 1,000 there from their tiny population of ~5,000 male citizens sent out of the valley to acknowledge the fact that they were indeed a part of a bigger world, and instead found myself daydreaming about how perhaps once, prior to the age of iron and fire, they lived happily cradled in the mountains, balancing the arts and sciences from outside with harmonious tender love of their bountiful landscape and home. A nice mental escape from the troubles of today!

    Phlius, as imagined by OP c. 1,500 BC:
    Arcadian Phlius.jpg

    Their wine was widely celebrated and likely a point of pride, as evinced by incorporation of bunches of grapes on their coins, but the almost ubiquitous "Butting Bull" motif on their coinage also suggests prosperity in raising livestock, and perhaps a statement to outsiders that in spite of their tiny population their people were tough as oxen and not to be trifled with!

    I fell in love, largely because I instinctively like going way off the beaten path in all facets of life, and here the mists of mystery and legend hung thickly around this forgotten mountain Eden. Many volumes may be filled with the history and accomplishments of Athens and Athenians, and for you INTJ "scientist" types that is understandably a more interesting and tangible or contextualizable collecting focus, but sometimes it's nice not knowing all the details so one's imagination can roam wide and free.

    I've yet to come across any of the universally rather rare Archaic issues in a condition and price that I like, but have managed to collect 7 different Classical/Hellenistic issues. The bronzes need to be upgraded if possible, but I'm extremely happy with all 4 silver issues.

    Starting clockwise with the bronze at 10:00 (attributions if present were lazily lifted from Wildwinds or elsewhere :D);

    1. 1.93g 13mm Chalkous, Bull butting left, head facing / Large Φ with a dot in each corner. BCD Peloponnesos 107; BMC 14. These are the most common bronzes.

    2. 2.16g 15mm Dichalkon(?), 400-350 BC Head of Athena right / Bull butting left, Φ above. Ugly but quite scarce.

    3. 1.47g 12mm Chalkous, Bull butting left, head facing / Φ within ivy wreath. Not much to look at but an evidently very rare issue aesthetically linked to their c. 280 BC silver drachms. Cost around 100 which is exorbitant for me for ugly little bronzes, but rarity doesn't usually come cheap and this is one of the very few polities I intend to build as comprehensive of a collection from as possible from.

    4. 1.21g 13mm Trihemiobol, Bull butting left, head facing "I" mark above / 4-spoked wheel with Φ and 3 clusters of grapes arranged around hub. At around 150.00 it was the most expensive piece of the collection.

    5. 0.83g 12mm Obol, ~400-350 BC, Forepart of bull butting left / Large Φ surrounded by four dots. SNG Cop 8-9. These are probably tied with the Hellenistic hemidrachms as the most "common" silver coins from Phlius, but those of you with examples know that attractive ones aren't very forthcoming.

    6. 1.18g 14mm Trihemiobol, ~400-350 BC, Bull butting left, head facing; I above / Large Φ surrounded by four bunches of grapes, all within incuse square. BMC 23; BCD Peloponnesos 120. My first and the one that started it all at a cost of 34.00 shipped!

    7. (Center) 2.61g 15mm Hemidrachm (or light standard drachm?) ~280 BC, Bull butting left / Φ within ivy wreath. BCD Peloponnesos 143.6. I also have a 2.51g 18mm example obtained earlier but in comparison it's a nasty ugly slug, lol.



    And from a different light angle:


    Y'all know the drill, please share your coins from Phlius and its neighbors or allies, and of course school the noob with obscure phat numismatic references, thoughts/corrections or anything else you may know about the place!
    singig, ancientone, eparch and 11 others like this.
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  3. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter


    Phlius, Phliasia, The Peloponnesos
    Æ12, 1.8g; 400-350 BC
    Obv.: Bull butting left, head lowered and turned to front.
    Rev.: Large Φ surrounded by four pellets.
    Reference: BCD Peloponnesos 109 var, BMC 16
    Ex-BCD Collection, not in Leu sale, from GMRH, Aug 1981.

    ...comes from Phlius, supposedly named after the Argonaut and son of Dionysos, Phlias. The city was a Spartan ally and member of the Peloponnesian league.
    Like many other cities of ancient Greece, Phlius fell into civil strife between a democratic and an oligarchic faction during the 4th century BCE; the democratic faction initially gained control and exiled its opponents, but in 380 BCE a Spartan army under Agesilaus laid siege to the city for some twenty months, eventually forcing the Phliasians to capitulate and accept oligarchic government. -wiki
    These minute bronzes are evidently quite scarce - only a few on ACSEARCH as well.
    This coin is ex-BCD and comes with his round tag with typically neat, miniscule handwriting
    singig, ancientone, DonnaML and 5 others like this.
  4. Plumbata

    Plumbata Well-Known Member

    Thanks for sharing! I'll need to check the records but as I recall the seller of #6, the 1.18g 14mm Trihemiobol with Large Φ surrounded by four bunches of grapes, claimed that it was ex. BCD collection, however it didn't come with any of his Polaroid cutouts or tags. Wish I coulda ogled all of his Phliasian coins together before they were liquidated.
  5. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    That's a nice group. I especially like seeing the variety of reverses on the silver fractions. Regarding the bull butting, this is what's suggested in HGC 5:
    "The bull obverse is generally considered to represent the rushing waters of the Asopos River that flows through Phleiasia."

    I only have two, a silver and a bronze.

    phlious-b400.jpg PHLIASIA, Phlious
    AR Hemidrachm. 2.37g, 15mm. PHLIASIA, Phlious, circa 280 - 270 BC. HGC 5, 147 (S); SNG Copenhagen 11, BCD Peloponnesos 141-143 (Group 2). O: Bull butting left. R: Large phi within ivy wreath with 6 inner leaves, topped by rosette of five berries.
    Ex BCD Collection; ex Pegasi XXIX (6 Nov 2013), Lot 128

    PHLIASIA Phlious - AE Chalkous ex BCD 1039.jpg PHLIASIA, Phlious
    AE Chalkous. 1.8g, 12.1mm, PHLIASIA, Phlius, circa 400-350 BC. HGC 5, 172 (S); BCD Peloponessos 106-111. O: Bull butting left, head lowered and facing. R: Large phi surrounded by four pellets.
    Ex BCD Collection; ex Joseph J. Copeland Collection
  6. Plumbata

    Plumbata Well-Known Member

    Wonderful, thanks for the info and for sharing your examples Zumbly! I can't get enough of these coins, I love the crystallized kinetic dynamism of the butting bull motif and like collecting coins featuring it from elsewhere, but another reason I'm drawn to Phliasian coinage is the prominence of the Φ, which has always been hands-down one of coolest letters ever. :D
    DonnaML likes this.
  7. zumbly

    zumbly Ha'ina 'ia mai ana ka puana Supporter

    I like the Φ reverse too. Poor Heraia got stuck with boring old H.

    Arkadia Heraia - H 1048.jpg
    ARKADIA, Heraia
    AE Dichalkon (?). 2.28g, 14mm. ARKADIA, Heraia, circa 250-167 BC. HGC 5, 841 (R1); BCD Peloponnesos 1371.1. O: Head of Athena right, wearing Corinthian helmet. R: Large H with straight sides; ΘE (magistrate’s name) to right.
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