Ancient cities chose symbols for their coinage that represented the founding mythology, a pun on the city’s name, a characteristic feature of the economy or the city’s devotion to a particular deity.
Syracuse in Sicily was founded by Ancient Greek Corinthians and Teneans. It grew to a very powerful city-state, was allied with Sparta and Corinth and exerted influence over the entirety of coastal areas of Southern Italy. Described by Cicero as «the greatest Greek city and the most beautiful of them all», it equaled Athens in size during the fifth century BC. The octopus as a feature is probably due to the city’s proximity to the sea, fishing or the brisk trading in its port.