Roma Numismatics Ltd > Auction XXIIIAuction date: 24 March 2022
Lot number: 146

Price realized: 11,000 GBP   (Approx. 14,502 USD / 13,177 EUR)   Note: Prices do not include buyer's fees.
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Lot description:


Kingdom of Macedon, Philip II AR Tetradrachm. Amphipolis, circa 355-348 BC. Laureate head of Zeus to right / ΦΙΛΙΠΠΟΥ, Philip on horseback to left, raising hand; M below. Le Rider Group IB, 67 (D32/R58); SNG ANS 467; HGC 3.1, 861. 14.42g, 24mm, 1h.

Fleur De Coin; highly lustrous metal, an excellent example of the early lifetime coinage of Philip. Very Rare in such exceptional condition, among the finest to come to auction in the past decade.

Ex Roma Numismatics Ltd., Auction XX, 29 October 2020, lot 129.

Philip, despite Athenian opposition to his participation in the Olympics on the grounds that he was a non-Greek, went on to become an Olympic victor three times in 356, 352 and 348 BC. On the first occasion, Plutarch reports that upon having conquered Potidaia Philip was informed that his horse had won its race, and that this day he also learned of the victory of his general Parmenion against the Illyrians, and that his wife Myrtale had given birth to a son, Alexander. In commemoration of his Olympic victory, Philip decreed that his wife should henceforth be known as Olympias, and he caused coins such as this to be struck, proudly displaying both he and his horse in victorious stance upon the reverse.

The presence of Zeus's head on the obverse of Philip's coinage was a novelty in Macedonian coinage, and its sudden appearance is closely connected with both types of Philip's tetradrachms - both the more mature, cloaked rider (as depicted here), and the younger, nude rider holding a victor's palm - as well as his other denominations. While in his extensive work Le Rider identifies the mature horseman seen on the reverse of this type as the king himself, he makes no attempt to explain the young rider holding the palm branch as seen on lot 150. Caltabiano (the identity of the two horsemen on Philip II's coinage, Ancient Macedonia, Sixth International Symposium, vol. 1, p. 201) however proposes that the use of the heads of Zeus and Apollo on Philip's coinage, as well as the older and younger horsemen, suggest an important father-son relationship: that of Philip and his heir Alexander. Isokrates proposed that Zeus here represents "the conceit of a royal power" whose right to rule, as theorised by Isokrates, comes directly from Zeus, and whose continuity is assured by the hereditary principle. This interpretation is reinforced by the heroon that Philip built in the Sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia after his victory at Chaeroneia, in which were contained the statues of Philip and Olympias, his parents Amyntas and Eurydice, and his son Alexander. The latter, whose chryselephantine image stood in an eminent position, had played a glorious and distinguished role in the battle, breaking and routing the Greek right flank with his cavalry. Thus, if we are to see in the cloaked older rider the figure of Philip himself, we must see in the younger rider a representation of his son Alexander. If we may accept Caltabiano's hypothesis as quite likely, then the present coin potentially affords us one of the best preserved depictions of Philip II of Macedon, who is undeniably one of the most influential figures in all of recorded history around whose life and death and legacy pivoted the fate of the known world.

Estimate: 10000 GBP