A BRONZE COIN OF LYSIMACHOS


Enlargement of a bronze coin of Lysimachos



The types employed on this bronze issue are typical for Lysimachos at his capital.  Athena was an obvious choice since Lysimachos appears to have paid much attention to the goddess as Nikephoros, the victory bearer.  Athena's cult was also popular among the Macedonians in general and she had been a divine patron of Alexander the Great.

The reverse type depicting the lion has been seen by numismatists as both a personal badge of Lysimachos and a civic symbol of Lysimacheia. According to ancient historians Lysimachos once saved the life of Alexander by killing a lion that attacked them in a Persian hunting park (paradeisos) in Syria.  In another, somewhat less credible, story, in a fit of rage Alexander is said to have locked Lysimachos in a cage with a hungry lion.  To avoid being eaten alive, Lysimachos wrestled with the lion and killed it by turning the animal inside out!

A more reasonable modern theory holds that Lysimachos used the lion as his emblem, not because of these remarkable acts of bravery and strength, but because the Macedonian royal seal had the image of a lion inscribed on it.

The lion may also represent the mint city of Lysimacheia, since that city frequently used the lion or its head as a civic symbol on both  the silver coinages of Lysimachos and of  the Seleukids.  This animal may have become the city badge as a holdover from the period before the coming of Lysimachos to the Thracian Chersonesos, when Kardia stood on the site that was later occupied by Lysimacheia.  The lion had been a popular image on the coinage of Kardia and throughout the Chersonesos.


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