About TRISKELION in Greece, Magna Graecia, Thrace and Macedonia-meros Γ


Contempt brings sedition and conspiracies, as in oligarchies, where there exist many wielding no share in administration. The rich, even in democracies, despising the disorder and anarchy which forthcomes, hope bettering themselves by the same means. As a result of poor administration, the democracy was destroyed, as occured in Megara, where the power of the people disappeared through anarchy and disorder; the same came to pass at Syracuse prior to Gelon’s tyranny.


Greek civilisation spread throughout the ancient world via commerce, art, science, colonists and chaos, developing Hellenistic kingdoms amidst a gradually expanding network and suddenly surged full speed following the sword of Alexander the Great who extended boundaries beyond sight or expectation.

From European Greece, closely timed with Pamphylia, Aegina, a commercial state (now Aíyina), issued “turtle staters”, a triskelis worked into reverses — fifth century B.C. (Coins are viewable in Part 1). The British Museum catalogue presents further samples. The Island’s solid ties with Lydia may explain its early grasp of money, and its commerce with Asia Minor conceivably furthered the symbol’s presence. (Lycia similarly issued turtle staters 500-475 B.C.).
Aegina is conjectured the first minting state in European Greece, the activity dating as Lydia’s, in the mid seventh century according to the British Museum although other specialists announce the eighth century. The Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, possesses an Aeginetic stater placed about circa 700 B.C. We unfortunately do not have an image for this presentation.

Controlling Siphnos Island’s silver source, Aegina supplied currency throughout the Peloponnesus during several hundred years. However, disaster struck in the 5th century. Striving to preserve her war threatened commerce, the island bowed before Persia, an act wrathful Athens cruelly punished. Aegina lost not only the triskelis but also her inhabitants, becoming thereafter a plaything of the Fates, bandied from one dominating power to the other. It is considered the birthplace of Aristophanes.

Pausanias the wanderer wrote in the second century A.D. :

“Of the Greek islands, Aegina is the most difficult of access, for it is surrounded by sunken rocks and reefs which rise up. Although the Aeginetans rose to great power, so that their navy was superior to that of Athens, and in the Persian war supplied more ships than any state except Athens, yet their prosperity was not permanent but when the island was depopulated by the Athenians, they took up their abode at Thyrea, in Argolis, which the Lacedaemonians gave them to dwell in. They recovered their island when the Athenian warships were captured in the Hellespont, yet it was never given them to rise again to their old wealth or power.”

A coining pioneer, enterprising Euboea created the widely employed Euboïc coin standard along with weights and measures *5. “There is a text that states Pheidon struck gold coins at Euboea, that is at the Heraion; this text possibly reflects an effort to bridge the geographical gap between the Heraion and the island of Aegin.”. This is quoted from a most absorbing study: metrum.org /measures/heraion.htm. The long island’s bronze industry propelled it ahead neighbouring Greeks. Two major cities were Chalcis and Eretria, significant metropoli of antiquity. Euboean coins are frequently found around Attica, demonstrating their close bonds. Euboean Chalkidic records earliest known, eighth century Greek inscriptions.


One wonders whether Euboea’s Gorgoneion triskelions suggest clues regarding Sicily’s national emblem? Her colonies rose numerous in Thrace, Southern Italy and Sicily (See Roman Sicily herein). The British Museum catalogue provides the following information :

“The uninscribed archaic coins of the Euboïc standard with a diagonally divided incuse square bear on their obverses, usually within a linear circle, the following types: Owl, Horse walking, Hind part of walking horse, Forepart of prancing horse, Amphora, Triskeles, Astragalos, Wheel of peculiar form, Wheel of four spokes, Scarabaeus, Gorgoneion, Bull’s head to front.”

And of Corinth Pausanias wrote:

“When Bellerophontes migrated to Lycia it is clear that the Corinthians none the less were subject to the despots at Argos or Mycenae. By themselves they provided no leader for the campaign against Troy, but shared in the expedition as part of the forces, Mycenaean and other, led by Agamemnon.”

Mother of Sicilian Syracuse, Corinth, ever competed with Athens but Rome became her Nemesis. Star of the Peloponnesus, Strabo lauded her harbours and wealth whilst mythology sets Helios and Poseidon quarrelling for possession of the Isthmus. Meanwhile, the city-state industriously hauled ships over a stone access (diolkos) stretched across the Isthmus and settled a monetary system in the seventh century B.C., one of the first Greek cities striking coinage after Aegina and considered the first in mainland Hellas to initiate bronze coinage in the 5th century B.C.
It is no surprise to find stylistically uniform coinage in her colonies following the Corinthian monetary system when her official silver staters portray the symbol [ 15 ], alike a close neighbour, Phlius ofPhliasia in the 6th century B.C. — a territory described by Pausanias, and homeland of sage Pythagoras.[ 16 ]
Having opposed Rome in 146 B.C. Corinth suffered complete destruction. She remained as a ghost wandering the Isthmus till 46 B.C. when Julius Caesar revived the city as a Roman colony but the ashes of her destruction flew away with memories we would have preferred keeping.

“Speed royal Helen, away and away,
To Argos home, to the royal bay.”


Ascertained Greece’s second oldest city, Argos, land of the flute, south of Corinth and Phlius, witnessed the childhood of goddess Hera and that of the famed sculptor and bronze master, Polycletus (Polykleitos). Birthplace of many famed personages such as Perseus, the inhabitants, were once called Argives, a Homeric term likewise designating all Greeks. Mythology ties this city-state to Lycia and asia minor with Proetus 1 receiving military aid from his father-in-law the Lycian King and Sthenelus II sailing against Troy(13th century B.C.) *4. Amphilochus I, equally active midst this famed and furious battle, meets death within Soli, a Cilician town. Plutarch describes ambitious Pheidon, King of Argos (8th or 7th century B.C.)set upon breaking Corinth’s power. Under this ruler, 750 B.C., Argos dominated the Peloponnesus whilst Phoenician alphabetic script adapted itself thereto.
The streamlined “A” silver triskelis specie of unknown value (5th century B.C.), mirrors an age of Argolic revival and silver issues. [ 14 ] This series shows the letter “A” striding differing symbols, such as: a crescent, a dolphin, the Dioscuri, a club, an eagle, and a trident whereunder the magistrate’s name, “DAMP” takes shape. Foregoing the Persian wars, Sparta crippled Argos in determinate defeat. Contrary to many triskelis sites, this one lives on midst the cloud-reaching steps of an ancient theatre. A present-day town encloisters whispering ancient secrets.


Opposite Aegina and formerly her possession, Salamis sits one nautical mile from Piraeus. Homer called Salamis “Salam” or “Chalam” meaning peace or calm and his Illiad introduces Salamis-born Ajax the Great. The island is also the birthplace of Euripides and its bronze coinage reveals a triskelis.
After the Battle of Thermopylae (the “Hot Gates”) 480 B.C. Persian troops burned Athens whilst helpless Athenians sought refuge upon Salamis, just an eye-view from Athens. [ 73 ] Themistocles, heeding Delphian counsel, led the allied fleet toward victory that same year. Thirty-one Hellenic League States partook in this war.


We find the Attica triskelis though artefacts and drawings such as upon shields. Inevitably we encounter the symbol witnessing the Trojan war. A potter’s work details the image adorning Achilles’s shield, circa520-510 B.C. Weilding a triskelis shield with his free arm, Achilles drags demised Hektor behind his chariot.This image is viewable at: http://www.temple.edu/classics/troyimages. The hero was born in the Myrmidones, in Phthia, Thessaly, yet this ware is Attican.*9


An early Athenian triskelis is studied in the 1966 work of Kraay, C. and Max Hirmer : Greek Coins, pl.144, coin no 340, catalogue entry page 325 [ 45 ]. Interestingly, the didrachm displayed and dated circa 570-550 B.C. closely resembles the 6th century Phlius didrachm above, number 16. *16


Certain researchers mention a bronze Olympia tripteral alongside early Athenian triskelis coins as symbolizing the cult of Athena; elements of panathenaea. Processions took place once every four years. Such a theory ties together triskeles observed elsewhere, Aspendos or Syracuse for example, but nowise clarifies other appearances adorning tombs, towers, battle-shields or the shield Enceladus carries deflecting Athena’s spear. His shield is conspicuously emblazoned with a triskelis. The Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, offers this image of Enceladus whose life seems forfeit beneath Athena’s menacing lance. The  scene portrays the Gigantes battle against almighty Olympians *10. When through with him, Athena despatches Enceladus unto burial beneath Sicily.*11 Would Sicily’s symbol originate with such mythological concepts? A protective Medusa-Gorgoneion after all adorned Athena’s shield when she found it expedient.

Shield of Enceladus

Megara (Megaris), a definite maritime presence pioneering commercial sea-routes, positioned between Attica and Corinth’s Isthmus, circulated coinage applying Euboïc standards, offering a fourth century B.C. hemidrachme with an Apollo obverse accompanying a triskelis reverse. Experts suggest Megara minted early sixth century B.C. having increased trade and defence fortifications allowing its emergence as a city-state (circa 800 B.C.) quasi simultaneous with Athens. An era of Queens, Tyre’s Princess Elissa-Dido founds Carthage — apparently Jezebel’s grandniece (814-813 B.C.) — whilst Sammuramut ruled Assyria, 810-805 B.C.
Following custom, Megarians created colonies: Heraclea (Crimea), Thracian Byzantium (657 B.C.) and another seventh-century Sicilian colony, Megara Hyblaea, established near Syracuse. Byzantium found itself named after a distinguished Megarian navigator, Byzas. The Peloponnesian War (431-404 B.C.)heralded Megara’s downfall and subjugation to Athens.

Boasting over 200 tribes, the who’s who of “harsh-wintered” Thrace presents complex routing. Herodotus(425 BC), equally bemused, wrote: “The Thracian people are the most numerous of the world”. Wild Thrace, north of Greece and Macedonia, formerly spread over areas of modern Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. Unlike the Macedonians, Thracians ignored Greek culture. Gold mines represented its great asset. We shall settle for the few fine threads relating to the symbol, whilst pointing out Euboea (above) possessed many colonies therein.
This triskelis Odomanti silver specie forthcame ca. 500-480 B.C.[ 17 ] We know Cyrus’ Persians overran Thracian Lydia up to southern Marmara shores. Darius I, launched in 512 what developed into the king’s strangest battle, pursuing Scythian shadows. En route he suffered attack by Odomanti Thracians in fear of losing their independence. Eventually this did not prevent Persian or Greek domination controlling the Thracian peninsula. Such events put forward both Eastern and Grecian origins backing Thracian triskeles.
A Macedonian tetrobol reverse of Acanthus circa 500, seems similarly stylised to number 17 above.[ 55 ] North of Hellas and west of Thrace, a turbulent, violent land dropped as pupil centering the Cyclone’s eye, Macedonia, once reigned in by sagacious Philip (382-336 B.C.), next whirled out beneath his phalanx.
Afterdays, a Thracian Macedonian would astound the world: Alexander the Great.

It is believed Ionians of Asia Minor amongst the first inhabitants of Chios (Hios / Khios) and that Homeric epics sourced inspiration from this Northern Aegean Island famed for its school of bards. One theory (but only a theory) explains the name “Chios” as Phoenician for the word mastic.
The process of iron soldering apparently was discovered by Glaucus (Glafkos) of Chios in the 7th century B.C. Possibly a leader in the theory of democracy Chians established around 600 B.C. a Law titled Megali Ritra or “Great Clause”. From this text democracy would blossom . Later, Hippocrates of Chios would establish a foundation for geometry , circa 470-410 . The Island’s procession of exceptional sculptors point to one in particular, Achermos, designated as the creator in stone of Nike, winged goddess of victory, often accompanying triskelions. * 22
Famous for mastic and wine, Chians welcomed Alexander the Great’s rule and Macedonia’s influential head-of-Herakles coin having Zeus enthroned on the reverse. Minted during Alexander’s lifetime and decades thereafter as international coinage, these were struck throughout the empire, some with triskelions as in Perga and Phaselis noted here. A series of “Alexanders” as we call them, were issued on the Island of Chios, one such bearing the triskelis beneath Zeus’ outstretched arm [ 73 ] *21. After Alexander’s death Chios formed part of the Macedonian State. Theopompos, Chio’s renowned historian had joined Alexander, recording his deeds.

The pearls adorning Magna Graecia’s ampyx were Greek settlements sprouting in Italy, appearing around the eight century B.C, but oftentimes these hung as pearls of tears and discord.

The colonies following Corinth’s monetary system were: Syracuse, Ambrakia (Arta), Anactorium, Dyrrhachium (Durazzo) and Terina. *6
Fourth and third century B.C. tetradrachmas of Syracuse place Nike, goddess of victory alongside a trophy, a triskelis hovering aloft. Additional issues poise her whipping forth a galloping quadriga beneath the symbol seemingly in chase. Certain such coins show it appearing to tight-rope race along Nike’s horse-whip [ 18 ].The Arnoldi Forni Catalogue terms this triskelis: a “triquetra of legs”. The following Treviri issue exemplifies Celtic styling of the galloping quadriga, a favourite amongst Celts. *7 [ 19 ] Stepping behind her leading Corinthian sister [ 15 ] comes a Syracusian silver stater shown here by permission of Guy Clark — http://www.ancient coins.com [ 21 ]


A Corinthian colony founded 734 B.C., Syracuse in Cicero’s opinion stood finest and largest of all Greek cities. Fondly remembered is her imaginative citizen Archimedes. The Syracusian’s famed “ quadriga “ above (18), similarly appeared throughout many Sicilian cities such as Himera, Agrigentum and Camarina. Such issues blossomed under deft-fingered fifth century master engravers (celators) : Mai, Exakestidas, Plynaenus and Phrygillos…..the list is long.
Part 1 shows a Syracusian coin of the Agathokles period, 317-289 B.C. This silver tetradrachm datedcirca 305-295 B.C. portrays a wreathed head of Kore while the reverse sees Nike erecting a trophy. Triskeles occasionally position themselves elsewhere rather than topping the trophy and furthermore Tinoleontic bronze litras (344-336 B.C.) see the symbol take a primary role, completely filling certain reverses behind obverse laureate heads of Zeus.

The Cleveland Museum of Art describes an exhibition ceramic bowl , ca. 610-600 B.C. as follows:

“This deep bowl for the mixing of wine was made in Gela, but the inspiration for its shape and decoration derives from an Eastern Greek model. The bottom of the bowl’s exterior depicts the triskeles, a Near Eastern motif composed of three bent legs converging in a circular area at the center.” *8


Befittingly, the bowl described reposes midst the inventory of Agrigento’s Regional Archaeological Museum. Pindar in the fifth century praised this city’s beauty. [ 42 ] Beneath Gela’s touch it belatedly arose 581 B.C. and was named Akragas (Akracas). Desipite this delay, the colony developed nevertheless into one of the wealthiest, vying with Syracuse and Athens. Confirming this success Akragas proudly “stamped” Zeus’s majestic eagle upon local coinage. South of today’s Agrigento (Agrigentum), a sixty kilometres bird’s flight from Gela, lays the Akragas Unesco heritage site. Its circa 154 A.D. bronze triskelis currency appears unusually late under Roman rule, Agrippa’s head dominating obverses.
The first Punic War brought Rome victory over Carthage following a six month siege of Agrigentum, undertaken 262 B.C. The Romans dispossessed and enslaved Agrigentum’s entire population, the colony’s definitive end, presaging Rome’s control over Sicily.
Gela and the Island of Rhodes founded Akragas. Gela in turn was founded (according to Thucydides)680-690 B.C., through Crete and Rhodes. Though outmatching Syracuse (600’s B.C.), positioned at cross-spears between Greeks and Carthaginians brought about Syracusian rule and later that of Carthage. Obtaining silver via grain exports, Gela emerged as a minting city around 490 (the British Museum suggests the 6th century B.C) a considerable advantage when paying Greek mercenaries warding off Carthaginians who destroyed it nevertheless, in 405. [ 57 ] 282 B.C. the Mamertini from Messana destroyed the city.

Panamoros, (Panormus and several other spelling variations) grew into a city Phoenicians colonized. We know it today as Palermo, a name derived from its later Arab name. Proof Magna Graecia records a civilization rather than political cohesion, this city resisted numerous attacks her covetous neighbour Syracuse initiated, yet the triskelis was common to both [ 22 ], Rome maintaining it thereafter. (see Rome below). Nearby Iaetia issues commenced circa 210 B.C. Their bronze coins with triskelis display a Gorgoneion head [ 23 ]. An example is the full-legged figure heading this exposé.
Sicilian museums : http://www.sicilynet.it/articles/Museums.htm


The seventh century B.C. witnessed Greeks colonizing Italy’s southern mountainous yet fertile regions, adventurously founding numerous cities. However they progressively succumbed either to self-inflicted internecine strife or to non-Greek Samnium Lucanians. These were Oscan-speaking Samnites originating from Central and Southern Italy. Periodically enjoying acceptable terms with Greek and Phoenician Colonies, Lucanians caught the art of striking coins in the 4th century B.C.
Specialists state prosperous Sybaris one of the first to issue coins. Italy’s Achaean colony and Velia’s staunch ally, founded say some by Rhodians, others by Poseidon’s sunken Helike (Helice) about720 B.C., collapsed when Croton attacked 510 B.C. A policy of liberty had characterized Sybaris whose inhabitants were Achaeans, Troezenians and others. Finally, 443-446 B.C., Pericles accepting their request readied a fresh expedition chosing mixed Greek colonists, future founders of Thourioi (Thurii) nearby destroyed Sybaris. On board arrived a famed immigrant, Herodotus, “father of History” who probably encountered thence, fellow thinkers such as Empedocles of Akragas and Protagoras.

Thourioi soon prospered, attracting new settlers particularly Peloponnesians striking a 443-425 coin portraying the popular galloping biga and charioteer, with a triskelis. Later issues (425-400 B.C.) present a Gorgoneion centred triskelis while third century issues place the symbol hovering behind enthroned Nike. By 390 trouble started with the Lucanians who defeated the colonists. Worse came when Hannibal gutted the city (204) leaving Thourioi a depopulated shell. Though thought buried beneath a Roman colony, the city’s original location is left suspended to conjecture.

Starbo notes, Silarus, named after the river, niched in the Tarentum Gulf, took shape under Troezenian and Achaeans rehabilitating the destroyed Sybaris site. Herodotus describes Silarus as an enterprising city towards 540 B.C. when nearby Velia came about. Lucanians eventually overcame the place, exceptionally allowing Greek immigrants to remain.
Poseidonia, a daughter colony of Sybaris founded during the seventh century B.C., just twenty miles from Velia, conceived a triskelis coin as a note in their Poseidon series. [ 41 ] Early fourth century, the city fell to the Lucanians and thereafter, named Paestum. Malaria and ninth century Arab raids presumably caused this city’s disappearance. [ 56 ]

Velia pairs a lion of its Eastern origins with triskeles. The symbol this occasion rotates ankle-winged. [ 40 ]The coin represents the venerable town founded circa 540 B.C. by Greek Phocaeans escaping Persian rule or so certain historians believe and according to Herodotus, those initiating navigation about Adriatic, Tyrrhenian and Iberian coastal waters *15. Phocaeans competed with Etruscans in seamanship and weapon production. Ultimately, the foregoing, using their Phoenician alliance, destroyed Phocaean trade-expansion.
Apparently the new colonists transplanted their own Asian weight system (the Phocaic standard) having early grasped the new Lydian art of coining money when still occupying their city of origin, Phocaea, forty miles north of Smyrna. Stylistically their art and coins direct towards Asia Minor. Unlike their unlucky sister-cities, Velia suffered no Lucanian takeover.

Bruttium is neither Lucania nor Magna Graecia after a term, yet the triskelis likely emerged hither through Terina founded under Croton but overtaken around 356 B.C. by the Bruttians. These were Italy’s original inhabitants as were Lucanians from whom they separated around 356. Roughly representing today’s Calabria, they overtook certain Greek colonies, adopting Greek speech and culture including coin production. Terina’s coinage, initiated around 480 B.C., depicts a local water-Nymph Terina, a triskelis[ 52 ] behind her neck, while Nike dominates reverses, holding a dove. A Kaulonia silver diobolcirca 500-480 B.C. offers a lanky-legged triskelis entirely filling its reverse. [ 70 ]
Set against Roman expansion Lucanians stiffly resisted but lost footing 272 B.C. Determined, they strove anew in 216 B.C., joining Phoenicia’s Hannibal. Strabo noted: Sulla would never rest till all Samnites disappeared; he would leave none alive bearing a Samnite name. Sulla stated: “Romans would have scarce peace were such a race to remain in Italy.”

“We have compelled all lands and seas to open paths for our valour and have everywhere planted eternal memorials of our friendship and our enmity” wrote Thucydides (460-400 B.C.) .


SOURCE  http://pguyou.free.fr/

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1 Response to About TRISKELION in Greece, Magna Graecia, Thrace and Macedonia-meros Γ

  1. Unknown says:

    This is an interesting and very well-informed account of the cities of Greater Greece, and the details about pre-Classical developments (including coinage) were largely new to me. Of course, there are many debates over aspects of this period of history (in many respects, \’pre-history\’), and the available evidence is susceptible to numerous interpretations. The author and other readers of this site may conceivably be interested in the speculations about 6th century BC Akragas, and particularly its legendary bronze bull, offered in the course of a recent novel (see http://www.eloquentbooks.com/Perilaus.html).

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