Antiochus III, 223 – 187. Octodrachm, Antiochia 204-197, AV 34.16 g. Diademed head r. Rev. ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ – ΑΝΤΙ – ΟΧΟΥ Apollo seated l. on omphalos, holding bow and arrow; in l. field, AΓH. CSE 74 (this coin). SC 1040 (this coin).
Of the highest rarity, by far the finest of only two specimens known. A
Hellenistic portrait of enchanting beauty struck in high relief on
a very broad flan. Good extremely fine
Ex NFA sale XVIII, 1987, 326 (illustrated on the front and back cover page). From the Arthur Houghton collection.
For all but the Ptolemies – who for centuries had a virtually inexhaustible supply of gold – it was highly unusual for a sovereign to issue gold coins larger than a daric or stater. The Seleucid kings of Syria were no exception. The fact that a good percentage of the known Seleucid gold octodrachms were struck with dies that already had been used for silver tetradrachms suggests issuance of these large gold pieces was not always planned, but sometimes arose on the spur of the moment. Such would appear to be the case with the present coin, which was struck with the same obverse die as 1132.3b illustrated in Houghton and Lorber’s Seleucid Coins, part I. They attribute that tetradrachm to ”Uncertain Mint 68” in Northern Mesopotamia; except for this octodrachm, unknown to the authors at the time of publication, the production of this mint consisted entirely of silver drachms and tetradrachms. The reign of Antiochus III was warlike, and there were many victories that would have merited payment of a bonus to his soldiers, yet his gold octodrachms are remarkably rare: eight series were produced at Antioch and at four mints located in Mesopotamia or its bordering regions. Based upon its realistic portrait type, which shows the king as a middle-aged man, Houghton and Lorber attribute this issue to the period c.197-192/0 B.C., well after Antiochus had brought this region under his control. Indeed, when this octodrachm was struck, Antiochus and his family were leading a campaign against Ptolemaic forces in Asia Minor, advancing as far as Thrace, which they raided twice. Antiochus took command of the fleet and his sons accompanied the army on its overland trek. A great swath of land had come under Seleucid control during his reign, from the European continent to modern Afghanistan. Antiochus had triumphed over fellow Greeks and indigenous rulers to such a degree that his empire was beginning to rival that of the Persian kings and Alexander III. Aware of the magnitude of his accomplishment, by about 198 B.C. Antiochus began to call himself Basileus Megas (the ‘Great King’). But his invincibility was challenged in 192 B.C., when he invaded Greece and came into conflict with Rome, the emerging power of the Western Mediterranean. Over the next three years, Seleucid armies were defeated by Roman legions and their allies, and in 188 B.C. Antiochus agreed to the Treaty of Apamea, by which he ceded to Rome all of his territory north of the Taurus Mountains and committed to paying an enormous indemnity. Not long afterward, early in July of 187, this once-glorious king was killed by a mob in Elymais that was trying to spare a temple from being looted by Antiochus, who by then was desperate to raise the funds needed to appease Rome.
|Price realized||800'000 CHF|
|Starting price||240'000 CHF|