Coinage of Pyrrhus of Epirus

08 Oct 2020  Thu

Pyrrhus, king of Hellenistic Epirus whose costly military successes against Macedonia and Rome gave rise to the phrase “Pyrrhic victory.” His Memoirs and books on the art of war were quoted and praised by many ancient authors, including Cicero.

Pyrrhus became king of Epirus in 306 BC at the age of 13, but was dethroned by Cassander four years later. He saw action during the Wars of the Diadochi and regained his throne in 297 BC with the support of Ptolemy I Soter. During what came to be known as the Pyrrhic War, Pyrrhus fought Rome at the behest of Tarentum, scoring costly victories at Heraclea and Asculum. He proceeded to take over Sicily from Carthage but was soon driven out, and lost all his gains in Italy after the Battle of Beneventum in 275 BC.

Pyrrhus seized the Macedonian throne from Antigonus II Gonatas in 274 BC and invaded the Peloponnese in 272 BC. The Epirote assault on Sparta was thwarted, however, and Pyrrhus was killed during a street battle at Argos.

The Coin issued under Pyrrhus depicts Head of Kore facing left, wreathed with grain, long torch behind. On the other hand, the reverse of a coin illustrates Athena Alkis advancing left, brandishing spear in right hand & holding shield on left arm, star before the face, thunderbolt in left field, E in right field; inscription BA?I?E?? ?Y??OY (of King Pyrrhus).

Image Source:

Knowledge Base