From:Teece Museum of Classical Antiquities
Name/TitleCoin, silver tetradrachm, King Mithridates VI Eupator
About this objectThis tetradrachm was produced in the latter years of the reign of King Mithridates VI of Pontus, who ruled over Asia Minor from 120-63 BC. The obverse side of this coin depicts the head of Mithridates with flowing hair, a portrait similar to those on coins depicting Alexander the Great. Mithridates was said to have admired Alexander and attempted to imitate him in physical appearance. A bust in the Louvre of Mithridates wearing a lion skin cap distinctly recalls Alexander’s heroic image and his own associations with Heracles.
Mithridates VI ascended the throne of Pontus after ousting his own mother, who had controversially taken power after the murder of Mithridates’ father, Mithridates V. Mithridates VI was said to have drunk different poisons in small portions in order to become immune, in case he became the target of a coup like that which dethroned his father. He went on to lead successful campaigns against Rome in what became known as the Mithridatic Wars. However, the Third Mithridatic War ended in victory for the Roman leader Pompey. Mithridates fled and eventually committed suicide.
The reverse side of this tetradrachm displays several elaborate symbols. The fruited ivy wreath surrounding the imagery signifies the god Dionysus, whose name Mithridates adopted as his own surname. The grazing stag at the centre may be the mint mark of Ephesos where the coin was likely produced. The sun and moon symbols, to the left of the stag, were a dynastic badge of the kings of Pontus.
Date Made74/73 BC
Place NotesAsia Minor, Pontos
Medium and MaterialsMetal; Silver
Inscription and MarksInscriptions read ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ (BASILEŌS, "King") above, ΜΙΘΡΑΔΑΤΟΥ / ΕΥΠΑΤΟΡΟΣ / Δ (MITHRADATOU / EUPATOROS / D; the delta indicates the fourth month) below and ΓΚΣ (meaning 223 in the Bithynian era, i.e. 74/73 BC) to the left of the stag. Mint marks also appear below the Delta and to the left of the stag.
Diameter ca. 32mm
Subject and Association KeywordsAnimals in art
Subject and Association KeywordsInscriptions, Greek
Subject and Association KeywordsPlants in art
Subject and Association KeywordsKings and rulers in art
Named CollectionThe James Logie Memorial Collection, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
Credit LineDonated by M.K. Steven
Object TypeExchange Media
Copyright LicenceAll rights reserved