Rhegium (also spelled “Rhegion“) Modern-day Reggio di Calabria
It was an ancient Greek city located on the “toe” of the Italian peninsula, specifically in the region known to the Romans as Bruttium. Today, it’s the modern city of Reggio Calabria.
- Foundation and Early History: Founded in the 8th century BCE, possibly by Chalcidian Greeks, Rhegion, along with its Sicilian counterpart Messana (modern-day Messina), controlled the straits between the Tyrrhenian and Ionian seas, known as the Strait of Messina. This strategic location gave Rhegion considerable importance in the ancient world.
- Relations with Other City-States: Throughout its history, Rhegion found itself in various alliances and at odds with different powers, including its neighbor Messana and the tyrants of Syracuse. For a time, the city was under the rule of the tyrant Anaxilas of Rhegion, who also controlled Messana.
- Roman Period: By the 3rd century BCE, as Rome expanded its influence southwards, Rhegion came under Roman control. The city played roles in the Punic Wars against Carthage and the Social War against Rome’s Italian allies.
Coins of Rhegion:
Ancient coinage provides a glimpse into a city’s cultural, political, and economic life. Rhegion, given its strategic importance and Greek heritage, minted various interesting coins.
- Imagery: Many of the coins from Rhegion featured the imagery of the lion’s scalp, sometimes associated with Apollo and the god’s profile facing right. This reflects the city’s Greek roots, as Apollo was a prominent deity in the Greek pantheon.
- Material and Denominations: Like many ancient city-states, Rhegion produced coins in various metals, primarily silver and bronze. The denominations varied, but the most common types from the Greek period were drachmas and litras.
- Economic Significance: The presence of coinage in Rhegion points to its economic activity and trade and its interactions and alliances with neighboring city-states. Over time, as the Romans came to dominate the region, the coinage of Rhegion also began to reflect Roman influence in its designs and denominations.
In the modern era, these coins serve as tangible connections to the ancient world, often providing insights into the culture, religion, and politics of Rhegion. They are treasured by historians and collectors alike for the stories they tell about the ancient Mediterranean world.
Obverse: Lion’s Head
Reverse: Iokastos seated left, holding staff; all within olive wreath
Diameter: 26 mm
Silver-plated fine pewter