Thurii, Lucania (Italy)
Silver Stater, 400-350 BCE
weight: 7.5g; width: 1.99cm; die axis: 5h
OBV.: Head of Athena, wearing a crested Attic helmet adorned with a Skylla who is shading her eyes.
REV.: A bull pawing the ground, facing right, head down. "THOYPIWN" (Thurion, = "of the Thurians) inscribed above. Mullet-fish swimming right in exergue.
HFMA nr. 2006.010.028. Ref.: cf. Kraay (1976) p. 184 [nr. 731].
Thurii (Greek Thourioi) on the Gulf of Tarentum (map) was an Athenian colony, founded at the initiative of Perikles in 443 BCE at the site of the destroyed city of Sybaris. Among the first colonists were the historian Herodotus and the sophist Protagoras of Abdera who was commissioned to write the new city's code of law. Thurii rose quickly to importance as a rival to Tarentum. By way of compromise, both cities together founded a new colony, Heraclea, in contested territory in 432 BCE.
The coins of Thurii reflect the circumstances of its foundation. The head of Athena on the obverse is a reminder of its Athenian roots. The female sea-monster on the helmet, a Skylla, is shading her eyes to look out for skyla, "loot".
The bull on the reverse was the city badge of Sybaris, on whose ruins the new city was built, and had appeared on the reverse of Sybarite coins. The Thurian bull looks a lot more aggressive, though. Its new stance may be another pun because the Greek adjective thourios means "rushing". Since river gods were often represented with bull features, both the bull and the mullet, a fish that likes brackish water and was considered a delicacy, may be a reference to the nearby river Krathis.
Kraay, Colin M., Archaic and classical Greek coins. Berkeley; Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1976.
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. A Guide to the Catherine Page Perkins Collection of Greek and Roman Coins. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1902, p. 13.