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DAMARETEION (Δαμαρέτειον νόμισμα), a Syracusan coin, concerning which there has been much dispute. According to Diodorus (11.26), after Gelon's victory over the Carthaginians at Himera, in B.C. 480, he granted them a peace at the intercession of his wife Damarete: the Carthaginians in gratitude gave her a gold wreath weighing 100 talents. In consequence, proceeds Diodorus, she struck the coin called from her Δαμαρέτειον, containing 10 Attic drachms or 50 Sicilian litrae. Other writers vary the account by making the coin the proceeds of the melting down of ornaments by Damarete and her ladies. Following the ambiguous statements of Pollux (9.85) and Hesychius (s. v.), Boeckh and other metrologists have supposed the Damareteia to be gold coins of the value of 10 Attic drachms of silver; but they are now universally recognised in the Archaic Syracusan coins of silver, of the weight of 10 Attic drachms or 50 litrae [see LITRA]; that is to say, weighing about 675 grains English, of which several specimens are still extant. (See Head, Coinage of Syracuse, p. 8, pl. 1.10.) These pieces must from their style be long to about B.C. 480, whereas none of the gold coins of Syracuse can be given to an earlier time than B.C. 412; and their unusual size and beauty seem to indicate some special occasion of mintage. [P.G]

Damareteion of Syracuse.

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    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 11.26
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