The magistrate Polyphantos is otherwise known from Abderite silver issues and may have been a priest of Dionysus (or Apollo), since the holders of this magistracy regularly gave their names to the years at Abdera. On the assumption that the names on Abderite coins represent the annually chosen eponymous priest, Polyphantos is usually dated to c. 323 BC. If this dating is correct, then this remarkable and unique gold stater is likely to have been struck in the emergency context of the turmoil that erupted in Greece once it was learned that Alexander the Great had died. In 323 BC, a coalition of Greek cities led by Athens and the Aetolian League embarked upon the Lamian War (323-322 BC) in an attempt to throw off the yoke of Macedonian domination. Hamstrung by the number of Macedonian forces in Asia and faced with a looming succession crisis, the Macedonia regent Antipater was initially unable to quell the Greeks. The Macedonians were defeated in battle at Thermopylae and the survivors were besieged at Lamia. The situation reversed itself after the Athenian general Lasthenes was killed and Macedonian reinforcements arrived, allowing Antipater to regroup and defeat the Greek allies at Crannon in 322 BC. Although there is no literary or epigraphic evidence for Abdera’s involvement in the Lamian War, it seems a remarkable coincidence that the city should suddenly produce a gold coinage at about this time. However, there is no way to know whether the gold stater of Polyphantos was struck because Abdera had joined with the other Greek cities against Macedonia or because it was contributing to Macedonian efforts to repress the uprising. Participation in the Lamian War on the Greek side seems more probable since the stater features civic types and employs the local Abderite weight standard, rather than the imperial types of Alexander the Great and the internationally recognised Attic weight standard. The latter were appropriate for hiring foreign mercenaries while the former was appropriate for the emergency needs of the city. Like all of the coins struck under Polyphantos at Abdera, the obverse of this unique stater features the traditional griffin badge of the city on the obverse and the head of Apollo on the reverse. The short coiffure of the god is reminiscent of that worn by Apollo on the popular gold staters of Philip II that continued to be struck under Alexander the Great and his early successors.
Laureate head of Apollo right
EΠI ΠO ΛΥΦΑΝΤΟΥ
Griffin crouching left
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