Collection Highlights: Heberden Coin Room
Head of Dionysus / Silenus
Greek, silver tetradrachm, 29 mm diameter, Naxos, c.460 BC.
Naxos in Sicily was a centre of viticulture: this coin celebrates the fact with a finely engraved head of the wine-god Dionysus wearing an ivy wreath, and a drunken figure of Silenus gazing at his cup. The treatment of the foreshortened leg has no parallel in Greek die engraving. Hieron, the tyrant of Syracuse, had destroyed Naxos and moved its people to Leontini. This spectacular coin, for which only one set of dies was cut, may commemorate the subsequent return of the people of Naxos to their own city.