Corinth. This ancient and illustrious city on the isthmus between Peloponnesus and the mainland of Hellas occupied the meeting-point of the great routes of commerce between the East and the West.
Like Chalcis in Euboea, Corinth derived her standard for weighing the precious metals from Asia Minor, the unit of weight being the light Babylonic stater of circ. 130 grs.
The system of division by 3 and 6 which prevails in the Corinthian coinage sufficiently attests its Asiatic origin.
The style and peculiar flat fabric of most of the early Corinthian silver coins distinguish them from those of all the other states of European Greece.
At what precise time this wealthy commercial city began to send forth her well-known Pegasos staters it is not easy to determine, but we shall not be far from the truth in placing the commencement of the Corinthian coinage as early as the age of Cypselus, B.C. 657-625.
As Aegina in those days commanded the commerce of the eastern side of the isthmus, so Corinth, by means of her port Lechaeum, on the gulf which bore her name, monopolized that of the western seas, and im- parted the use of the Corinthian standard of weight to her Colonies, Ambracia, Anactorium, Leucas, &c., on the shores of Epirus and Acarnania, and to the Achaean cities of Magna Graecia on the other side of the Ionian sea.
The connexion between the Corinthian standard with its system of divi- sion by 3 and 6 and the Achaean quasi-federal currency of S. Italy can be most satisfactorily proved not only by the weights of the coins of Croton, Sybaris, Metapontum, &c., but by their flat fabric, incuse reverse type, and by the fact that they are sometimes restruck on Corinthian coins of the archaic class.
The types of the Corinthian coins refer to the myth of Bellerophon and Pegasos, and to the worship of Athena Χαλινιτις, for she it was who assisted Bellerophon to subdue the wondrous winged horse. Pegasos on his part was regarded as the author of fountains of fresh water, which with a stroke of his hoof he caused to gush forth from the rocks; cf. the fountain of the Muses, Hippokrene, which Pegasos produced in this way; hence Pegasos is also the horse of the Muses. On the Acrocorinthus he was said to have alighted, and to have drunk from the fountain of Peirene, where Bellerophon sought in vain to take and tame him, until at last, while the hero lay asleep beside the altar of Athena, the goddess came to him in a vision and gave him a golden bridle, which on awakening he found beside him, and with this he easily subdued the winged steed. Another version of the tale makes Athena herself tame Pegasos, and it is she who hands him over to Bellerophon.
The worship of Athena at Corinth, it may be here remarked, was also connected with the cultus of Poseidon and with the sea (cf. Preller. Gr. Myth., i. 172).
The chief goddess of Corinth was, however, Aphrodite, and it is her head which on the drachms takes the place of that of Athena.
The Pegasos staters of Corinth, familiarly called πωλοι (Poll. ix. 6, 76), were the principal medium of exchange along all the coasts of the Corinthian Gulf, and even beyond the seas in Italy and Sicily, where the largest hoards of them have been brought to light. In its divisional system the Corinthian coinage possessed a practical advantage over both the Attic and the Aeginetic, which enabled it to pass current in the territories of its great rivals. Thus the Corinthian stater of about 130 grs. would pass as a didrachm side by side with the tetradrachms of Athens, while the Corinthian drachm (1/3 stater) of about 44 grs. was practically equivalent to an Aeginetic hemidrachm. The region in which the Corinthian money circulated was therefore at no time confined to the narrow isthmus and limited territory of the town of Corinth.
The following are, as nearly as may be, the periods into which the coins of Corinth seem to fall.
|Q Pegasos with curled wing.
[B. M. C., Cor., Pl. I. 1.]
|Incuse square divided into eight trian-
gular compartments, of which four are
in relief, as on the earliest coins of
Aegina, &c., which these coins re-
semble also in fabric [cf. B. M. C., Att.,
Pl. XXIII]. |
|Q Pegasos with curled wing (Fig. 220).||Incuse as above, gradually developing
into the so-called croix gammé or
swastika pattern [cf. N. C., 1890,
Pl. I. 8, and B. M. C., Cor., Pl. I.
AR Stater and Drachm.
|Q Half Pegasos.||Id. |
AR ½ Drachm
|Q Pegasos.||Id. |
|Head of Pegasos.||Id. |
AR ½ Obol.
The fabric of these coins is flatter than that of any other money of Greece proper. The Achaean mints of Southern Italy (Sybaris, &c.) seem to have been the only ones influenced by this early Corinthian method of striking coins. About the end of the sixth century the flat fabric is abandoned, the coins become smaller in module and more compact, and the head of Athena in an incuse square replaces the croix gammé.
|Q Pegasos with curled wing.||Incuse square, within which head of
Athena Chalinitis helmeted; pure
archaic style. |
AR Stater and Drachm.
|Id.||Incuse square. Head of Aphrodite(?) of
archaic style; hair turned up be-
|Q Half Pegasos with curled wing.||Id. or head of Athena. |
AR ½ Drachm.
|Q Head of bridled Pegasos.||Incuse square, containing large Δ.
|Q Pegasos with curled wings; symbol, trident.||Incuse square, within which Gorgon
head and Τ Ρ Ι Η. |
|Q Head of Pegasos.||Incuse square containing large Η.
For illustrations of the above coins see B. M. C., Cor., Pl. II. 1-18.
|Q Pegasos with curled wing.||Incuse square. Head of Athena of tran-
sitional style (eye in profile), some-
times with symbol (usually a trident)
|Q Bellerophon, naked and bare-headed, riding on Pegasos. ||Incuse square, in which Chimaera to r.
|Q Pegasos with curled wing.||Incuse square, within which head of
Aphrodite l., hair rolled. |
|Ο Pegasos with curled wing; symbol, vine-branch.||Incuse square. Pegasos prancing, to
front, Inscr. ΔΙΟ. |
For the above see B. M. C., Cor., Pl. II. 19-26, and C. Oman, in Corolla Num., pl. XI.
|Q Pegasos, usually flying, with pointed wing (Fig. 221), but occasionally standing or walking, with curled wing, or attached by a cord to a ring fixed in the wall above him; on some few specimens he is represented as drink- ing.||Head of Athena, of fine style, in Co-
rinthian helmet over large neck-flap.
In the field a magistrate’s symbol,
which was changed perhaps annu-
ally; sometimes also there are one
or more dolphins in the field, which
cannot be regarded as magistrates’
|Q Pegasos with pointed wings.||Head of Aphrodite variously repre-
sented; often with adjunct symbol.
|Q Half Pegasos with curled wing.||Head of Aphrodite; her hair variously
AR ½ Drachm.
|Q Pegasos with curled wing.||Pegasos with curled wings, prancing or
trotting; sometimes with dolphin or
inscr. ΔΙΟ. |
|Q Pegasos with pointed wings.||Gorgon-head with mouth closed.
|Q Pegasos with curled or with pointed wings.||Cross of Swastika form. |
|Q Id.||Trident. |
|Q Head of Pegasos.||Trident. |
For illustrations see B. M. C., Cor., Pls. III-V.
1 The trihemidrachms on which Bellerophon wears a petasos and chlamys belong to a later period, circ. B.C. 338. They usually have the letters ΔΙ in the field. [B. M. C., Cor., Pl. XII. 28.]
Some of the smaller denominations mentioned above might, with almost equal probability, be attributed to the period before B.C. 400, but they were not superseded by bronze coins until after the middle of the fourth century.
Next in order, though in part contemporary with the series above described, there follows a large class of staters, drachms, &c., with magistrates’ letters or monograms in the field of the reverse, in addition to the adjunct symbol. These series, like the others, always have the letter Q on the obverse.
Although it is very difficult to speak with assurance as to the chrono- logical sequence of these lettered coins, the following dates may be perhaps accepted as approximately correct. The list includes only such specimens as I have myself seen (cf. A. Blanchet, in Rev. Num., 1907).
|Before B.C. 400||Ξ||Symbols: Shell (on obv. Pegasos of archaic style, with curled wing).|
|Circ. B.C. 400-350||ΑΛ||„ Trident.|
|,,||Ε or Ε||„ Forepart of bull; torch; rose; bow; poppy-head; star. (Pega- sos on obv., often walking.)|
|„||ΕΡ||„ Nike holding thymiaterion.|
|„||ΕΥ||„ Naked figure holding fillet; tripod. (Pegasos on obv., sometimes walk- ing.)|
|,,||ΕΥΒ||„ Rose and dolphin.|
|,,||ΕΥΘ||„ Double-bodied owl; chimaera; bell (?).|
|,,||ΕΥΤΥ||„ No symbol. (Pegasos on obv. with curled wing, attached to ring by cord.)|
|„||ΙΔ||„ Dolphins around.|
|,,||Κ or ΚΑ||„ Trident.|
|,,||Σ or Σ||„ Dolphin (cf. Imhoof, Gr. M., p. 24).|
|Circ. B.C. 350-338||Α||„ Shield, on which trident; bee; oak-wreath; astragalos; harpa; sword; helmet with broad flap; stork.|
|,,||ΑΛ||„ Wheel; apple; bearded mask; three crescents; cuirass; trophy.|
|,,||ΑΥ||„ Figure holding torch and cornu- copiae.|
|,,||Δ||„ Dionysos standing; krater; ivy- wreath; vine-wreath; head of Helios; wolf; cuirass.|
|„||Λ||„ Nike and dolphin; astragalos; kausia; trophy; thyrsos and tympanum crossed; trophy and ivy-leaf.|
|,,||Ν or ΝΙ||„ Corn-wreath; three crescents in circle; kantharos; Ares(?); prow; oenochoë; cock’s head; bucra- nium; term; Macedonian helmet.|
|Circ. B.C. 338||Γ||Symbols: Thyrsos; dove in wreath.|
|,,||Ι||„ Nike with fillet; cock on club; star; bow in case; owl.|
|,,||ΚΑ (in mon.)||„ Crested Macedonian helmet.|
|Circ. B.C. 338-300||ΑΡ||„ Boar; ivy-leaf; plough; aegis; Palladium; chimaera; helmet; cornucopiae; eagle; Triton ? (Helmet of Athena, on this series always laureate.)|
|,,||ΔΙ||„ Cow and calf; wreath; Zeus seated; Athena, holding Nike, or with spear; Artemis, huntress; Arte- mis with torch; term with cornu- copiae; amphora—the last on trihemidrachms of the Bellero- phon type.|
|Circ. B.C. 300-243||Β||„ Grapes; term.|
|,,||Λ||„ Naval standard.|
|,,||Var. Mons.||„ Term; eagle; helmet, &c.|
|Q Pegasos with pointed wing.||Trident with various symbols and letters
in the field. |
|Head of Athena, wearing crested Corin- thian helmet.||ΚΟΡΙΝΘΙΩΝ Trident, often with
letter in the field. |
|Head of Athena as above.||Κ Pegasos with pointed wing. |
|Head of Poseidon with hair falling in heavy locks, and bound with wreath of marine plant, as on the coins of Antigonus Gonatas, or Doson.||ΚΟΡ or Ο, and various letters. Bellero-
phon mounted on Pegasos and strik-
ing downwards with his spear.
|Head of bearded Herakles, wearing wreath.||Q and various letters. Forepart of
Pegasos flying r. |
|Young male head l. laur.; behind, ap- lustre.||Q Pegasos with pointed wing to l.
[Hunter Cat., Pl. XXXVI. 19] |
Corinth, although occupied by a Macedonian garrison from B.C. 338-243, when it was delivered by Aratus, does not seem to have been deprived of the right of coinage, for its Pegasos staters continued to be struck, though much less plentifully than of old, until it became a member of the Achaean League. But in B.C. 223 Corinth was surrendered by the League to Antigonus Doson, and between this time and 196, when it was again set free by the Romans and reunited to the League, it does not appear to have been allowed to strike money, unless indeed the bronze pieces with the heads of Poseidon and Herakles are to be assigned to this period.
For illustrations of many of the above-mentioned coins see B. M. C., Cor., Pls. VI-XIV.
[B. M. C., Cor., xxxiii-xlvi and Plates XV-XXIII.]
From its destruction by Mummius in B.C. 146, Corinth remained a heap of ruins for the space of one hundred years. In B.C. 44 Caesar sent a colony there (Colonia Laüs Iulia Corinthus), and the city became once more a flourishing place, as, from the natural advantages of its position, it could hardly have failed to become. Henceforth it struck bronze coins with Latin legends, LAVS IVLI CORINT, CORINT, or COR, which, down to the death of Galba, usually bear the names of Duoviri.
Of these annual Duoviri there are at least twenty-three pairs or single names which occur on coins in the ablative case, accompanied by the title IIVIR, sometimes with the addition of ITER[um] or QVIN[quen- nalibus]. The title QVIN. appears to have been added only in the years in which the Census was taken, on which occasions the Duoviri were entitled ‘Duoviri censoria potestate quinquennales.’
For a list of the Corinthian Duoviri see Earle Fox in Journ. Int. d'arch. num., 1899, 89 f., and for the arrangement of the names upon the coins see Froehner in Rev. Num., 1907, pp. 164 ff.
Vespasian, A. D. 69, withdrew the privileges which Nero had granted to the Greeks and reconstituted Achaea as a Senatorial province. Henceforth until the reign of Domitian (A. D. 81) no coins were struck at Corinth. But in his reign a new series of coins begins, one of which expressly states the fact that it was issued PERM[issu] IMP[eratoris] (Imhoof and Gardner, Num. Comm. on Paus., Pl. B. XXI).
From the reign of Domitian to that of Gordian III the legends are COL. IVL. FLAV. AVG. COR., COL. IVL. COR., or C. L. I. COR, while the magistrates’ names are discontinued.
Among the types deserving of special mention on the coins of Corinth as a Roman colony are the following:—Bellerophon holding or subduing Pegasos. Bellerophon standing beside Pegasos while he drinks from a stream at the foot of the Acrocorinthus. Bellerophon mounted on Pegasos contending with the Chimaera. Pegasos leaping from the point of the rock of the Acrocorinthus. Other frequent types refer to the myth of Melikertes or Palaemon, in whose honour the games called Isthmia were celebrated at the Isthmus. Such are the boy Melikertes lying on the back of a dolphin under a pine-tree (Paus. ii. 1.3); the body of Melikertes lying on a dolphin, which is placed on an altar beneath a tree with Isthmos as a naked youth holding a rudder, or Poseidon with his trident standing by; Palaemon standing or riding on the back of the dolphin; circular temple of Palaemon, sometimes with sacrificial bull in front; Ino holding her child Melikertes in her arms, before her, some- times Isthmos seated on a rock, with a dolphin representing the sea; Ino throwing herself from the rock Moluris with Melikertes in her arms, in front, dolphin, or sea-god stretching out his arms to receive the child. The following types are also worthy of note:—
Isthmos personified as a naked youth, either seated or standing, and holding one or two rudders, in allusion to the two ports of Corinth, inscr. in one instance ISTHMVS. The two ports Lechaeum and Cenchreae as nymphs holding rudders, legend sometimes LECH, CENCH, or as re- cumbent male figures with the Acrocorinthus between them. The port
For numerous other types, which we have not space to mention, see Imhoof and Gardner, Numismatic Commentary on Pausanias, in the Journ. Hell. Stud., 1885; and Earle Fox, in Journ. Int. d'arch. num., 1899, 89 f., and 1903, 5 f., B. M. C., Cor., xlvi, and Z. f. N., xxiv. p. 56.
Marks of Value. Some of the Corinthian bronze coins of Imperial times bear marks of value, e.g. those of the Duoviri, Inst.... and L. Cas...., of which the larger specimens are countermarked A (= As) and the smaller S (= Semis), although these latter were issued as quadrantes, as they bear the letter Q in the field (B. M. C., Cor., p. xl). A still smaller coin (E. Fox, op. cit., 1899, 99) is countermarked with three globules (= Quadrans). The letters SE on certain other coins (B. M. C., xl) may also stand for Semis.
Tenea, originally a village about six miles south of Corinth, issued bronze coins as a member of the Achaean League. It rose in importance after the destruction of Corinth, and in Imperial times struck a few coins with heads of S. Severus and Domna. Inscr. ΤΕΝΕΑΤΩΝ; Types, Tyche; Dionysos standing (B. M. C., Pelop., 57; Z. f. N., 1874, 319).
[B. M. C., Cor., pp. xlviii-lxviii and Plates XXIV-XXXIX.]
Under this general heading it is convenient to classify all those copies of the Corinthian Pegasos staters which are without the letter Q. They were issued by various towns in Acarnania, Corcyra, Epirus, Illyricum, Sicily, and Bruttium.
(b) In Corcyra:— (circ. B.C. 338-250), Κ, , , and ΚΟΡ, or ΚΟΡΚΥΡΑΙΩΝ
(c) In Epirus:—
(d) In Illyricum:—
(e) In Sicily:—
(f) In Bruttium:—
Of the above cities which adopted the Corinthian stater, Anactorium, Leucas, and perhaps Ambracia appear to be the only ones which did so before the close of the fifth century, for of these towns alone, in addition to Corinth, are staters extant of the transitional and early fine style.
Epidamnus, Argos-Amphilochicum, and Alyzia followed their example at a somewhat later period, but it was not until after the middle of the fourth century that the Corinthian stater came into general use in the western parts of Greece, in Bruttium, and in Sicily. From this time until the middle of the third century the Pegasos staters continued to be issued in large quantities, chiefly, it is to be inferred, for the purposes of trade with Italy and Sicily, where the largest finds of this class of coin have been brought to light.
The Pegasos coinage, common though it undoubtedly was to many cities, is not to be confounded with a federal coinage properly so called, such as that of the Achaean League, as there is no reason to suppose that it was adopted in pursuance of reciprocal treaties between Corinth on the one part, and the towns participating in the coinage on the other. The various cities would seem rather to have selected the Corinthian types independently of one another, and for their own individual con- venience and profit, much in the same way as many Asiatic cities, long after the death of Alexander, copied the Macedonian tetradrachm, which his conquests had raised to the rank of an international coin, familiar in all the markets of the Greek East.
In the outset no doubt the Corinthian coinage may have been imposed either by choice or by necessity upon Anactorium and Leucas by the mother city, Corinth; but from these mints the system appears to have spread naturally enough throughout the Acheloüs district among towns which, as members of the Acarnanian League, were quite beyond the influence of the ‘city of the two seas'.
Thus, as Imhoof-Blumer (Acarnania, p. 12) has pointed out, the Pegasos staters within the limits of Acarnania became a quasi-federal Acarnanian coinage, while outside those limits they would circulate freely side by side with the staters of Corinth herself, Ambracia, Syracuse, &c., as a generally recognized international currency.