Featured "A Hard-Nosed Career Soldier"

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Trebellianus, Apr 8, 2019.

  1. Trebellianus

    Trebellianus VOT I MVLT II

    To my considerable regret, I've lately been too busy with personal negotium to post much — I'm never too busy to spend too much money on stuff I don't need, though. In that vein, I present my recentest acquisition, from last month's Roma auction:


    Eucratides I Megas, c. 170-145BC: O: draped, cuirassed, diademed, helmeted bust right, bead-and-reel border / the Dioscuri mounted right, each holding lance and palm, ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΜΕΓΑΛΟΥ ΕΥΚΡΑΤΙΔΟΥ, monogram in right field. Seller's photo.

    Absolutely impeccable style on this one, I feel — the portrait lacks the charming cragginess of some specimens but it's quite perfectly rendered to my eyes.

    This will be a very short post because I think one would have to be rather brave, or foolhardy, to venture much about this fellow — for all his numismatic fame his biography is (to put it mildly) fairly obscure.

    He was, we can say for certain, a powerful monarch of the Bactrians. His dates, as conventionally given, are circa 170 to 145 BC. The date of his accession comes from the brief, confused account of his reign given by the late Roman historian Justin. The end date comes from archaeology — excavations at what is thought to have been his capital city turned up an object dated to year 24 of someone's reign (and surely only he was so long-lasting) in the destruction stratum. So start at about 170 and count forwards about 25 years.

    He was a successful general and a minor collateral member of the Seleucid dynasty, or of the Euthydemid dynasty, or both, or neither. He launched a coup against the ruling Euthydemid king (Demetrius I, or Demetrius II, or someone else), made himself master of Bactria, and from there pushed into India. In India he may have fought the famous Menander I Soter: if he did, he was either beaten by him, or was forced to retire back into Bactria to confront rebellions and foreign invasions there. In the end, he was killed and posthumously humiliated by his own son (Eucratides II, or Plato, or Heliocles I, or none of these), or possibly by the son of one of his rivals (Demetrius II, avenging Demetrius I?), or that story may be a fantasy and he died in a completely different way.

    His capital was, or wasn't, the city of Eucratidea, which was, or wasn't, the same city as the ephemeral Alexandria on the Oxus, which is or isn't the same site as the modern Ai-Khanoum. Excavations there turned up the "year 24" fragment mentioned above.

    Moving back into the present day, the packaging this came in was sehr swanky:




    And this is the end of my ramble. Post your Graeco-Bactrians or Graeco-Indians or whatever works for you (or, in the spirit of this history, post something else entirely, or nothing)

    Edit: quote in the title is from Frank Holt, I forgot to mention — his Lost World of the Golden King is a highly informative (and frequently amusing) trip through the relevant scholarship.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2019
    DBDc80, frank008, NLL and 36 others like this.
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  3. Finn235

    Finn235 Well-Known Member


    One of his tetradrachms is on my bucket list; I'll have to finish some sets and take a sabbatical of a year or two before I'm ready to seriously pursue Greek tets, however.

    I did own a nice bronze of his, which I sold no-reserve for regrettably about half of what I figured it ought to have...

  4. David@PCC

    David@PCC Well-Known Member

    That's a nice piece for sure. One day I will get one, but for now I'll be happy with my 1/24th tetradrachm.
  5. TheRed

    TheRed Well-Known Member

    Congrats on the awesome coin @Trebellianus that is a gorgeous tetradrachm of Eucratides. The tets of Eucratides are some of the most iconic of Hellenistic coins. I have always wanted to add one of his coins to my collection. The only Indo-Greek coin I have is a drachm of Menander I, which I have shown before.
    Menander I Soter AR Drachm 155-130 BC. 18mm, 2.46 g.
    Obv: Diademed heroic bust left, seen from behind, wearing aegis and brandishing spear.
    Rev: Athena Alkedimos advancing left, holding shield and thunderbolt; monogram to right.
    Bopearachchi 7A
  6. John Anthony

    John Anthony Ultracrepidarian Supporter

    Superb coin, thanks for posting! Sehr swanky packaging indeed - I've gotta get me some of those.
  7. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    Unlike Finn, I am not tempted to sell my square AE hemiobol (7.97g) of Eukratides for half or double what I paid. I paid too much but nothing approaching what those tetradrachms are bringing these days!

    I agree. Many of these have a barbarous look and there are no small number of fake ones making the rounds. A good one with no problems is a joy to behold. These have quite an array of control marks but my best book covering them is Mitchiner and I am less than certain I am matching properly when I read my coin as Chach. Does anyone have a handle on these marks?
  8. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    Very nice! I have an obol of Eukratides, not nearly as much heft but still a very attractive design:
    Bactria Eukratides I obol.jpg
  9. Agricantus

    Agricantus Allium aflatunense

    Congrats on your win! Excellent coin and presentation. Do all coins from prestigious auctions come in such fancy packaging?
    Trebellianus likes this.
  10. Alegandron

    Alegandron "ΤΩΙ ΚΡΑΤΙΣΤΩΙ..." ΜΕΓΑΣ ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ, June 323 BCE Supporter

    Very nice @Trebellianus ! Super capture.

    I do not have a lot from Baktria...

    Greco-Baktrian Kingdom
    Eukratides I Megas
    170-145 BCE
    AE Quadruple Unit

    Indo-Greek Baktria
    Menander I Soter BC 155-130
    AR Tet 26mm 9.6g
    Athena Alkidemos tbolt Gorgon shield
    SNG ANS 764-767

    Apollodotos I 180-160 BCE
    Square AR Drachm 20mm 2.4g
    SNG ANS 324-327
  11. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    Thats a beautyfull coin congrats Trebellianus.

    Here are 2 drachmas , came in a lot I bought , mediocre coins:

  12. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    o wow sehr nice!... i dig the hat lookin' helmet on these type coins and am seeking one meself..:)
    Trebellianus likes this.
  13. Archilochus

    Archilochus Active Member

    Hahahaaa you had me LOL'ing! Posts like these are why I keep coming back to CoinTalk.

    Does anyone know the brand of the frames Roma is using? I've found this kind (also on Amazon & eBay) but I don't know if it's the same. Anyone have battle-tested recommendations?
    Trebellianus likes this.
  14. ominus1

    ominus1 Well-Known Member

    they look like the same ones we got from China on ebay for about a buck and a half...i got a couple and sent some out as stocking stuffers
    Trebellianus likes this.
  15. ancient coin hunter

    ancient coin hunter Just a guy making his way in the universe

    Great coin @Trebellianus - I need to add one of these to the collection.
    Trebellianus likes this.
  16. Trebellianus

    Trebellianus VOT I MVLT II

    Great coins everyone! @Alegandron 's square drachm is particularly adorable.

    I'm far from an expert on these matters but, as I understand, current thinking has the monograms on Graeco-Bactrian coins as denoting magistrates or mint superintendents rather than mints — there's thought to be too many different symbols for each one to correspond to a different location. The hoard evidence is (I believe) thus far unhelpful towards tying down particular monograms to particular areas where, in theory, these magistrates would have resided.

    A tetradrachm reverse die was dug up at (probably) Ai-Khanoum, but the monogram on it is rarely found on coins dug up around Ai-Khanoum, to further confuse matters. The point is far from decided, at any rate.

    I wrote this facetiously, of course, but legitimately this area abounds with known unknowns and unknown unknowns (as one of the Graeco-Bactrians of our era once said). Which means most of the fascinating discoveries are still ahead of us, at any rate (hopefully)!
    Alegandron and ominus1 like this.
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