Selinunte was a rich and extensive ancient Greek city on the southwestern coast of Sicily in Italy. It was situated between the valleys of the Cottone and Modione rivers. It now lies in the comune Castelvetrano, between the frazioni of Triscina di Selinunte in the west and Marinella di Selinunte in the east.

The archaeological site contains many great temples, the earliest dating from 550 BC, with five centred on an acropolis. At its peak before 409 BC the city may have had 30,000 inhabitants, excluding slaves. It was destroyed and abandoned in 250 BC and never reoccupied.

Artist: Annalisa Masini


Depicts the Temple of Hera at Selinunte (Temple E); below the name of the engraver between two details from the reverse of an incuse Greek coin.

Temple E dates to 460-450 BC. Its current appearance is the result of anastylosis (reconstruction using the original material) carried out – controversially – between 1956 and 1959. The peristyle is 25.33 x 67.82 metres with a 6 x 15 column pattern (each 10.19 metres high) with numerous traces of the stucco which originally covered it remaining. It is a temple characterised by multiple staircases creating a system of successive levels: ten steps lead to the entrance on the eastern side, after the pronaos in antis another six steps lead into the naos and finally another six steps lead into the adyton at the rear of the naos. Behind the adyton, separated from it by a wall, was the opisthodomos in antis. A Doric frieze at the top of the walls of the naos consisted of metopes depicting people, with the heads and naked parts of the women made of Parian marble and the rest from local stone. Temple E was dedicated to Hera as shown by the inscription on a votive stela but some scholars deduce that it must have been dedicated to Aphrodite on the basis of structural parallels.



Depicts a metope detail of the Temple C of Selinunte, representing the myth of Perseus and the Medusa dated 5th Century B.C. (now in Palermo, Regional Archeological Museum). Above it the mintmark (R); on the left, detail from the reverse of an incuse coin, the same of the obverse; at right the date. The value is in exergue.

In Greek mythology, Perseus is the legendary founder of Mycenae and of the Perseid dynasty. He was, alongside Cadmus and Bellerophon, the greatest Greek hero and slayer of monsters before the days of Heracles. He beheaded the Gorgon Medusa for Polydectes and saved Andromeda from the sea monster Cetus. He was the son of Zeus and the mortal Danaë, as well as the half-brother and great-grandfather of Heracles (as they were both children of Zeus, and Heracles' mother was descended from Perseus).

Medusa was the only one of the three Gorgons who was not immortal. King Polydectes sent Perseus to kill Medusa in hopes of getting him out of the way, while he pursued Perseus's mother, Danae. Some of these myths relate that Perseus was armed with a scythe from Hermes and a mirror (or a shield) from Athena. Perseus could safely cut off Medusa's head without turning to stone by looking only at her reflection in the shield.



5 Euro

KM# 361
Type Commemorative Issue (Non-circulating)
Material Silver
Fineness 0.925
Weight 18 g
Diameter 32 mm
Thickness -
Shape round
Alignment Medal
Italian State Mint and Polygraphic Institute (IPZS)

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