The Roman intervention in Korkyra

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Pavlos, Dec 10, 2020.

  1. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Romans were aware of the danger to the Adriatic coast of Italy from seaborne attack. In 246 B.C. a colony of Roman citizens settled at Brundisium on the edge of the Italian Peninsula, keeping a watch on the Ionian gulf. After the First Punic war trade increased across the Adriatic sea and Illyrian ships had engaged in privateering against Italian merchants. When Roman envoys arrived in Illyria to an Illyrian queen name Teuta, one of the envoys, Coruncanius, was put to death by Teuta's orders. News of this caused the Romans to prepare for war. Legions were enlisted and the fleet assembled under the command of Lucius Postumius Albinus and Gnaeus Fulvius Centumalus.


    In the meanwhile, Teuta had ordered south a large naval expedition with most of the ships heading to attack Korkyra. The Korkyraeans sought assistance from the Leagues of Greece. Ten Achaean ships were engaged by the Illyrian fleet off the island Paxos south of Korkyra. By superior tactics the Illyrians managed to win this battle and capture five ships. Korkyra surrendered and was occupied, a garrison led by
    Demetrios of Pharos, an ally of Teuta, settled on the island. The Illyrians were now on the point of controlling all of the coastline north of the Gulf of Corinth, including all of the sea routes to Sicily and Italy via Korkyra.

    Almost immediately in 229 BC, the Roman consul Gnaeus Fulvius Centumalus sailed with 200 ships to Korkyra. Demetrios had fallen out of favor with Teuta and welcomed the Romans and surrendered it's garrison. Korkyra became a 'friend of Rome' and would from now on rely on Roman protection against the Illyrians. Korkyra was from now on a Roman naval base on a strategic position in the Ionian sea. Around 189 BC it was governed by a Roman prefect and in 148 BC it was attached to the province of Macedonia. Korkyra kept it's autonomy and was allowed to issue both silver as bronze coins.

    This is an example of a bronze coin issued during the Roman rule, fitting perfectly in my Greek islands subcollection:
    Islands off Epeiros, Korkyra. Roman rule, circa 229-48 BC. AE.
    Ivy-wreathed head of Dionysos to left.
    Reverse: K-O Amphora; above, grape bunch.
    Reference: BMC 428-30. HGC 6, 82 corr (kantharos).
    5,78g; 18mm
    From the Vineyard Collection, privately purchased from Classical Numismatic Group in December 1998 (inv. no. 708814).

    Post your coins from Korkyra!
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  3. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Basileus Megalos

    Very cool article and nice coin. I had never heard of Korkyra
    Pavlos likes this.
  4. ominus1

    ominus1 Supporter! Supporter

    .i'm wif ach on all points :)
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  5. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Thank you both!
  6. Orielensis

    Orielensis Supporter! Supporter

    That's an interesting part of history I didn't know about. Thanks very much for the enlightening write-up!

    I have a single, much earlier coin from Korkyra that I have shown in another thread recently. Yet, I hope you forgive me if I post it again since it fits this thread so nicely:
    Griechen – Korkyra, Korkyra, Hemidrachme, Amphore und Stern.png
    Korkyra, Korkyra, AR hemidrachm, ca. 450–400 BC. Obv: amphora; above, crescent. Rev: eight-rayed star; crescent in field. 14mm, 2.46g. Ref: BMC 76; SNG Evelpidis 1876.
    ancientone, Pavlos, Ryro and 6 others like this.
  7. nicholasz219

    nicholasz219 Well-Known Member

    @Pavlos: Very nice write up and an excellent coin. I wonder if Queen Teuta had any second thoughts about executing a Roman envoy after that.
    Pavlos likes this.
  8. Alegandron

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

    Great posting, @Pavlos . And a really great coin. Thank you for the info.
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  9. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    Fantastic new coin and write up! Amazingly Korkyra was also pivotal in the outbreak of the Peloponnesian war! Sadly, I too lack any coinage from this important little Greek island. But thanks for sharing yours!
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  10. NewStyleKing

    NewStyleKing Beware of Greeks bearing wreaths Supporter

    Korkyra was a city on the island now known as Corfu. Also famous for the short sojourn of the Durrell family whose exploits were the basis for stories by the youngest of the brood Gerald Durrell. His Corfu trilogy books have been adapted several times into TV adaptions. My Family and other animals was the first. His eldest brother was the author Lawrence Durrell , a famous author.
    Gerald became a famous naturalist and conservationist who opened his own zoo.
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  11. Everett Guy

    Everett Guy Well-Known Member

    Great info, you all are giving me the best education. Such a cool story, think to live in those times, to hold these coins, look at them and imagine where they have been and who has held them.
    Pavlos likes this.
  12. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Very nice hemidrachm! Thank you for sharing.

    After Korkyra, the Romans invaded Illyria itself (see the 'Illyrian Wars'). A lesson for Teuta and the Illyrians.

    Thanks you @Alegandron!

    Thank you @Ryro! Sadly there are not any shield coins from Korkyra :D:p

    Thanks for the extra information. For me and Greeks it is still called Kerkyra. Corfu is from Italian.

    That is the greatest from ancient coin collecting. The coins itself are already beautiful, but the story behind them and what it could have been used for makes it so much better.
    NewStyleKing likes this.
  13. Roerbakmix

    Roerbakmix Well-Known Member

    Interesting story! What happened to Terra? She sounds like a person not to mess around with... are there coins minted in her name?
  14. Andrew McCabe

    Andrew McCabe Well-Known Member

    Roman quinarius struck in Corcyra with Corcyra mintmark at left under Dioscuri. At right the letters AG may be the mint magistrate. One of the very few Roman Republican coins with place mint marks Screenshot_20201211-234842_Flickr.jpg
  15. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    She actually surrendered to the Romans in 228 B.C., as they conquered Illyria, just a year later after the Roman Intervention in Korkyra. After that she was a nobody.
    I do not think there are coins minted in her name.
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