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Dolphin Rider


Ancient Roman Coin

Circa 272-240 B.C.

Phalanthos on Dolphin on the obverse

Warrior on Horseback on the reverse

Silver coin set in 14k Gold

Measurements: 1.75"x.75"


According to tradition, Taras was founded in 706 B.C.E. by colonists from Sparta.  The story of its foundation is reflected in its most familiar coin type, a figure riding on a dolphin.  Some identify the figure as Phalanthos, the leader of the Spartan colonists who was shipwrecked before he had reached Taras but was saved by a dolphin that carried him ashore.  Phalanthos was worshipped as a hero in the city of Taras.  Others identify the figure as the mythological Taras, the local hero for whom the city was named.  A son of the sea god Poseidon, Triton was also saved from a shipwreck by a dolphin sent by his father.  According to the account of Pausanias, both Phalanthos and Taras, as well as the helpful dolphin, were featured in a fifth-century statuary group set up by the Tarantines in the sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi to commemorate a victory over barbarians from the north.