Ancient Greek Battle on the New Greek Coins

22 Jun 2020  Mon

Greece marks the 25th century since the Battle of Thermopylae with a circulating commemorative Euro 2 coin in 2020.

The Battle of Thermopylae was fought between an alliance of Greek city-states, led by King Leonidas I of Sparta, and the Achaemenid Empire of Xerxes I over the course of three days, during the second Persian invasion of Greece. It took place simultaneously with the naval battle at Artemisium, in August or September 480 BC, at the narrow coastal pass of Thermopylae ("The Hot Gates").

The Athenian politician and general Themistocles had proposed that the allied Greeks block the advance of the Persian army at the pass of Thermopylae, and simultaneously block the Persian navy at the Straits of Artemisium. The following year saw a Greek army decisively defeat the Persians at the Battle of Plataea, thereby ending the Persian invasion. Both ancient and modern writers have used the Battle of Thermopylae as an example of the power of a patriotic army defending its native soil.

The central field of the coin depicts an ancient Greek helmet. Inscribed along the inner edge are the words 2500 YEARS SINCE THE BATTLE OF THERMOPYLAE and the HELLENIC REPUBLIC. Also inscribed in the background are the year of issuance and a palmette (the Mint mark of the Greek Mint). Visible down and right of the helmet is the monogram of the artist (George Stamatopoulos).

The ringed-bimetallic coin has a copper-nickel core and copper-aluminum-nickel ring. The coin’s outer ring depicts the 12 stars of the European flag. The common reverse shows a map of the European Union.

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