Featured Coinage of Demetrios I Poliorketes

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by CoinDoctorYT, Jun 27, 2020.

  1. CoinDoctorYT

    CoinDoctorYT Well-Known Member

    Poliorketes is an often forgotten historical figure. Most historians would regard him as a boring historical figure, but by the end of reading this you will start to love him a bit more. He was a historical badass and his coinage reflects those accomplishments. Poliorketes was the second ruler of the Antigonid dynasty. The Antigonid dynasty was a dynasty full of Hellenistic kings who ruled an area of Macedon, after Alexander the Great, from 294-168 BC. The group that split up Alexander’s kingdom were called Diadochi (Διάδοχοι). The Antigonid was one of the four dynasties fought for by other Διάδοχοι that descended from Alexander’s conquered land.

    The whole dynasty originates from one of Alexander’s best generals, Antigonus I Monophthalmus. Antigonus attempted to re-claim parts of Asia Minor and Syria. He was defeated by Demitrios I in the battle of Ipsus. The first true ruler of this dynasty was Demitrios I Poliorketes. He won the war against Antigonus and became the leader of a new dynasty. The last ruler was Perseus of Macedon.

    In total, there were seven true rulers of the Antigonid: Demitrios I Poliorketes (294–287 BC), Antigonus II Gonatas (276–239 BC), Demetrius the Fair (250 BC), Demetrius II Aetolicus (239–229 BC), Antigonus III Doson (229–221 BC), Philip V (221–179 BC), and Perseus of Macedon (179–168 BC). I will focus on the two most important leaders for the sake of this novel.

    Demitrios I Poliorketes minted many unique and very rare Tetradrachms. There are four major Tetradrachm varieties that were issued. I love his coinage, but I thought to just mainly focus on his Tetradrachms in this post.

    Demitrios tended to have a fondness of the god Poseidon of the sea. Of his major Tetradrachm varieties, two show a similar representation of the sea god. The reason for this representation is, when sailing, he would decide which enemy ships would sail and which would sink. So placing the god on his coins demonstrated his reputation while sailing out to sea. He was The Godfather of the sea, the judgement before death.
    His name, Poliorketes, directly translates to “the besieger of cities,” because he laid siege to Athens along with countless other powerful and rich cities. Because of his success in conquests, he regarded himself as a godly figure. After the battle of Ipsus, he tirelessly conquered small islands until he had rebuilt the kingdom of Macedonia. His demise came when he was captured by the Syrians. In 283 BC, he died in confinement.

    Now for his coins, which is why I made this post.

    On his first variety there is a small bull horn on the obverse diademed head of the coin that shows Demitrios’ association with Poseidon. The bull is often considered the animal of Poseidon and is widely portrayed on many coins outside Macedon.

    On the reverse we see Poseidon Pelagaios, seated on a rock, holding an apulstre or an aphlaston in his right hand and a trident in his left.

    Demitrios I Poliorketes
    Diademed and horned head right
    Poseidon Pelagaios seated left on rock, holding aphlaston and trident (306-283 BC)

    This next one is a very unique variety because it does not feature the portrait of Demitrios. The obverse shows Nike, the god of victory, blowing a trumpet. He is holding a stylis on the prow of a galley, or ship.

    On the reverse Poseidon is featured, once more, preparing to throw his trident. The legend appears as king Demitrios (BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΔHMHTΡIOY).

    There are many monograms and control marks for this type. A few common marks include a star and a dolphin, Z above ME, Δ above O, ΦAT, and just a star.

    Screen Shot 2020-02-02 at 6.17.11 PM.png
    Demitrios I Poliorketes
    Nike, blowing trumpet and holding stylis, standing left on prow of galley left Poseidon Pelagaios standing left, preparing to throw trident; tripod to left; to inner right, Δ above O
    (306-283 BC)

    Jut like the first variety, the obverse head of Demitrios on this third coin is horned to represent the sea god. The head is diademed and faces right.

    On the reverse we see Poseidon Pelagaios once more, but this time standing on the rock with his right foot. He is holding his trident in his left hand with his right hand rested on his thigh. The legend reads BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΔHMHTΡIOY.

    Screen Shot 2020-02-07 at 10.57.47 AM.jpg
    Demitrios I Poliorketes
    Diademed and horned head right
    Poseidon Pelagaios standing left, foot on rock, holding trident (288 BC)

    Similar to the varieties struck under Alexander the Great, this last coin was struck under Demitrios featuring the same design. The way we can distinguish these varieties from those struck under Alexander is the greek letters DHMHTRIOU on the right side of the reverse. Some similar designs struck under Demitrios feature only ALEXANDROU, for Alexander, which we then look at the monograms to decide who it was struck under. Common control marks include: エ, エ and lightning bolt, MP (and bipennis), and vertical line Δ.

    Screen Shot 2020-02-12 at 2.47.07 PM copy.png
    Demitrios I Poliorketes
    Head of Herakles right, wearing lion skin headdress
    Zeus Aëtophoros seated left
    MP in circle monogram
    (290-286 BC)

    Thank you for reading if you made it this far. Post some of your Diadochin Empire Tetradrachms.

    Last edited: Jun 27, 2020
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  3. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter


    While shown before, my poor coin of the second type amazes me with the high relief of the ship hull. These were produced from several mints. I am unsure of my mint.
    Edessa, svessien, Ryro and 3 others like this.
  4. CoinDoctorYT

    CoinDoctorYT Well-Known Member

    That type was produced at both Pella and Amphipolis mint. I can't see the monograms to be sure which mint. Nice coin, by alexandrian I meant coins of the diadochin empires. just edited it. lol.
  5. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

    nice write up Coindoctor (whats in a name ?)

    Here's my Demitrios:

    P1150356 (5).JPG
  6. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    Just a stunning display of his silver coins!:singing:
    Here are some green and black bronzes of the Besieger!
  7. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    Demetrios I Poliorketes. 306-283 BC. AR Drachm (4.0 gm, 1h, 18mm). Uncertain mint in Euboia. Struck circa 290-287 BC. Obv: Diademed and horned head right. Rev: Poseidon Pelagaios standing left, r. foot on pile of rocks; Α Γ ligate monogram in outer left. Newell 154a; Weber 1257. VF, but rough surfaces. Once extremely rare; "three known to Newell, all in museums," but a few more have appeared in recent times.
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2020
  8. PeteB

    PeteB Well-Known Member

    KINGS of MACEDON. Demetrios I Poliorketes. 306-285 BC. AE (13mm; 1.40 gm; 2h). Uncertain eastern mint mint. Obv: Nike on prow of galley left, blowing trumpet. Rev: BA left, Poseidon, nude but for cloak over arm, advancing left, brandishing trident; two monograms to right. Cf Newell 62; cf. AMNG III pg. 181, 7; SNG Copenhagen__; SNG Alpha Bank__. Black patina. Two very small hard green deposits on obverse. VF. Rare.
    Edessa, Andres2, DonnaML and 3 others like this.
  9. dougsmit

    dougsmit Member Supporter

    In addition to those two, CNG has sold coins attributed to Ephesos, Salamis and Tarsos. My coin strikes me as Tarsos (uneducated guess).

    Now that someone else has left tetradrachms, we can mention that the type comes in drachm and bronze versions. My AE13 is also without mint ID at present. It is harder to find online information on small bronzes that sell for less than 10% of the silver. The sales that supply online resources do not specialize in AE13's whether the coins are common or rare. I suspect that there are relatively few of these compared to the tetradrachms but the demand is minuscule.
    Edessa, Andres2, NewStyleKing and 4 others like this.
  10. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    The Nike and Poseidon coin is amazing. Both sides clearly show a common statuary motif, both of which still exist in original forms.
    I do not know if the extant statues were the prototypes for the coins, but the resemblance is striking.
    Winged Nike of Samothrace. Current state and reconstruction:

    Artemision Zeus or Poseidon. I can only find this one low quality image in the same side view as the coin:

    What I find most interesting is that the coin seems to definitively solve the question of whether the Artemision bronze is Zeus or Poseidon. Every since discovery scholars have debated whether it depicts Zeus holding a lightning bolt, or Poseidon holding a trident.
    Proponents of the Zeus theory say that a trident would block the view of the statue's head from the side, and therefore it must not be a trident, among other evidences such as vase depictions of the trident not being found in this orientation.
    The coin very clearly depicts a trident.
    Also, it solves the question of what the statue is doing with its left hand.
    Zeus theorists say that the hand is in that position to help the god "aim" his lightning bolt.

    But, the coin again clearly shows Poseidon holding up some fish.

    Looks like this mystery is pretty clearly solved, thanks to this spectacular coinage.
    Edessa, Johndakerftw, Bing and 4 others like this.
  11. Magnus Maximus

    Magnus Maximus Dulce et Decorum est....

    Demetrius and his father, Antigonus I, were some of the greatest generals of the hellenistic age. They almost would have put Alexander's empire together had it not been for a man named Seleucus I Nikator!!
    The main reason why I think Seleucus deserves to be in his own tier when compared to the other diadochi, is that he successfully fought of both Demetrius and Antigonus with a numerically inferior army and WON!
    Stunning coins everyone, btw!
    Seleucus I Nikator
    AR Stater
    311-281 BCE
    Babylon mint
    Edessa, Bing, Johndakerftw and 2 others like this.
  12. CoinDoctorYT

    CoinDoctorYT Well-Known Member

    I think that is the same thing with Zeus Aetophoros, Athena Alkidemos, and Athena Promochos. All statues that were used in coin making. That is very cool. It would be neat to bring an example of that coin in the museum those statues are in and compare the two.
    hotwheelsearl likes this.
  13. hotwheelsearl

    hotwheelsearl Well-Known Member

    My profile avatar is a "original", archaizing Roman version of Athena Promachos found in Herculaneum! Unfortunately, the big daddy of Athena Promachoi (the 40-foot bronze my Phiedias) is long since lost to time. Real bummer
  14. CoinDoctorYT

    CoinDoctorYT Well-Known Member

    Hey I saw you commented in the other thread too. I cleared things up so if you are offended or something like the others please go read it.
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