Features of the Boy and Dolphin, c. 281-240 BC, CALABRIA, TARAS, AR Didrachm, NGC ChVF:
Coinage Period: c. 280-240 B.C.
Obverse: Soldier riding horse
Reverse: Boy riding dolphin
Ancient Greece extended far beyond the borders of modern day Greece. In fact, the entire Mediterranean region was populated by Greek colonies and its civilization. The colony of Taras (also known as Tarentum; modern day Taranto) was founded by refugees of Sparta in Southern Italy. The commercial success of Taras resulted in the striking of large quantities of silver didrachms during the last two centuries before Rome destroyed Taras in 207 BC.
Taras was the son of Poseidon, god of the sea. The myth states that he was shipwrecked, and Poseidon sent a dolphin to save him. Taras rode this dolphin back to land, and where he landed, he founded the colony of Taras. Most coins of the city bearing his name show the patron deity riding on the back of a dolphin.
The other side of the coin is usually dedicated to the Tarentines' particular love of horses and horse racing. The "Boy and the Dolphin" coinage of Taras come in large variation of designs depicting the iconic Greek images.