Sicily, Mamertinoi, Hexas

The issuers of this hexas were the Mamertines. They played a decisive role in the outbreak of the First Punic War between Carthage and Rome.

The Mamertines were mercenaries of the tyrant of Syracuse. After his death (289 BC) idle, unemployed, and unpaid, they captured the city of Messana and began preying the lands. Finally they became a nuisance even for Syracuse itself. Hieron, the new tyrant of Syracuse, prepared for war against them, but withdrew when the Mamertines received help from Carthage.

After this success, however, the Carthaginians were unwilling to leave Messana again. The Mamertines now appealed to Rome for help, and entered into an alliance with the Romans. With both Rome and Carthage battling for Messina, the situation quickly escalated to war.

On their coins the Mamertines celebrated their martial qualities. The obverse of this hexas depicts the Italic war god Mamers (the Roman Mars), whose name the Mamerines had adopted. The reverse shows the Greek goddess Athena in battle.