Diodotus Tryphon, give 'em Hel'met/or The epic ancient Fail O' King...Tryphon "The soft"?!

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Ryro, Aug 15, 2019.

  1. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    I'll start with a HUGE thanks to @David@PCC! First, if he hadn't shared his Tryphon coin in the https://www.cointalk.com/threads/fo...m-if-you-got-‘em.300099/page-126#post-3615356 thread, I still wouldn't have known about this type nor the slightly obscure Seleucid ruler that it was minted for. And second, for hooking me up with this saweet coin!


    Tryphon, Diodotus
    Mint: Antioch
    141 BC
    Obvs: Head of Tryphon right diademed.
    Revs: BAΣΙΛEΩΣ TPYФΩNOΣ AYTOKPATOPOΣ, Spiked Macedonian helmet. Grain to left
    AE 18mm, 4.7g
    Order # G 139
    Ref: SC 2034.2b
    Ex-@David@PCC Coin talk

    Admittedly it is a bit of a digression from my recent Macedonian shield coin study...or is it? The reason that this coin sang so beautifully to my "eyears" was the wicked beauty of the Macedonian helmet on the reverse, of which the shield coins are littered with as well. It was this usurpers way of saying, "Hey, I'm Macedonian. And I am one bad dude. If you don't believe me, just check out the helmet." I had actually been told that Tryphon minted shield coins as well, but in my searches no such luck.
    Anywho, on with the story!


    To tell the story without going all the way back to Alexander the Great will take some short cutting. So here goes! Cue the 1980's montage music:
    After the Diadochi (Alexander's successors) split up the empire, Seleucus I Nicator "the conqueror" (reign 305-281 BCE) took the largest slice of the pie when he snatched up Syria and most of the Eastern land of the empire, ie. Babylon, Persia, Media, India etc.


    Fast forward through lots of brother/cousin/nephew killing and sister/cousin/aunt marrying ad nauseam, and we find ourselves in the middle of the 140s-130s BCE.
    Demetruis II (reign 145–138 BC) and Cleopatra Thea (reign 150 BC–126 BCE) were the King and Queen of Syria. However, due to the heavy handed ruling style and outrageous taxes there was no love loss between them and the peoples they ruled.


    Demetrius II
    AE19. Diademed bust
    right / BAΣIΛEΩΣ
    ΔHMHTPIOY, galley right, Phoenician inscription below

    Headquartered in Chalcis and taking advantage of the people's discontent with the current regime a former general turned usurper named Diodotus (reign 142–138 BCE) had a surprise up his sleeve.


    Diodotus just so happened to have Cleopatra Thea's son from her previous marriage to Alexander Balas , Antiochus VI Dionysius, and swiftly elevated the boy to king. This was a power play that would have long lasting repercussions. This gave Diodotus the ability to take the large cities of Apamea and Antioch, in 144 BCE, with ease as Demetrius II and Cleo Thea fled.


    SYRIA, Seleukis and Pieria. Apameia. Dated year Delta 0T left (year 304). = 49-48 BC. Litra. Head of Dionysos right, wearing ivy wreath, “ME” monogram in left field. / Thyrsos; date to inner left. RPC I 4347. 21 mm, 7,96 g good very fine. scarce

    Quickly other major cities like Cilicia and Palestine came under Diodotus and Antiochus VI. Judea was on board with reports that Babylon would follow suit soon...then, in 142 BCE, tragedy struck! The young new King Antiochus VI died, reportedly during a surgery that had gone wrong, though there were certainly accusations leveled that the power hungry Diodotus was the "surgeon" in charge.


    It was at this critical juncture that Diodotus gave himself the nickname "Tryphon" and pronounced himself King. The usual translation for Tryphon is "soft or delicate". Though the assumption here is that he was going with the less used translation of "magnificent", or so one would hope.
    Despite the set back the new king was in the driver's seat with much of the empire now backing him. There were now only 2 key Phoenician cities still under Demetrius II's control, Ptolemais and Tyre.
    Sit back and enjoy, as the stage is set for one of the ALL TIME GREAT bad luck epic ancient history fails:
    After Tryphon's army had routed some of Demetrius II's soldiers and were chasing them along the coast, a MASSIVE TIDAL WAVE swept Tryphon's army and all of his dreams of being a unified Seleucid King into the ocean.


    Though, Tryphon wasn't swept out to sea, he may as well have been. After this how could anyone not believe that the usurper had done something to anger the gods. He had the people, the power and momentum and now he was just all wet.
    Demetruis II, being viewed as in a weakened position, had to quickly head out to face the Parthians. While away his brother Antiochos VII Euegretes moved in and took over as king. Even going so far as to marry his brothers wife, Cleopatra Thea (yeah, that's her third husband/king. don't judge)!


    Antiochos VII Euergetes (Sidetes).

    138-129 BC. Æ (17mm, 6.35 g, 3h). Contemporary imitation. Uncertain mint, imitating Antioch. Lion's head right / Vertical club downward. SC 2073 (this coin referenced and illustrated); HGC 9, 1097. very fine

    In 138 BCE Antiochos VII moved quickly and defeated an on the ropes Tryphon. And while on the run back to his home base, Apamea, Tryphon was either killed or committed suicide.
    And so ends one of the strangest rags to riches usurper stories you are likely to hear.

    Here is a second Tryphon coin I couldn't help myself but pick up in a recent auction. Again, due to the awesomeness of that reverse helmet!


    Tryphon, Diodotus
    Antioch, 141 BCE, AE 18mm, 4.7g
    Obvs: Head of Tryphon right diademed.
    Revs: BAΣΙΛEΩΣ TPYФΩNOΣ AYTOKPATOPOΣ, Spiked Macedonian helmet. Grain to left
    Order # G 139
    SC 2034.2b Ex:Savoca

    Please post any coins of the players in this story, Seleucids, cool helmets, epic ancient fails or anything else you feel!
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  3. Andres2

    Andres2 Well-Known Member

  4. David@PCC

    David@PCC allcoinage.com

    Always happy to help expand the Seleucid sphere of influence! Great write up @Ryro
    Another example of one you posted.
    Alexander II
    Mint: Apamea
    AE Serrate
    125 to 123 BC
    Obvs: Head of young Dionysos r. wearing ivy wreath.
    Revs: BAΣIΛEΩΣ AΛEΞANΔPOY, Tyche standing left with right hand on tiller and holding cornucopia. Control mark above cornucopia
    18mm, 6.1g
    Ref: SNG Isr 2367, SC 2242.3c

    Tryphon only minted a few types, but none with a shield.
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  5. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Great story! Man, I love story coins :)
  6. Alegandron

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

    Way cool coins and super write-up, @Ryro The Great!

    Best I can do for Tryphon the Typhoon!


    Seleukid Seleukos I 312-280 BCE AR Tet 14.46g Seleucia on Tigris. Zeus - Athena driving a quadriga of 4 horned elephants SC 130

    Seleucid Seleukos I 312-280 BCE AE 20 Athena-Elephant Spaer 129

    And, a bottle cap left on the shore after the tidal wave...

    Seleukid Demetrios I Soter 162-150 BCE AE 17 serrate 16.8mm 3.9g Antioch on Orontes mint Horse Hd L - Elephant Hd R- SC 1646 SNG Spaer 1299-1304
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  7. Shea19

    Shea19 Supporter! Supporter

    Great coins and write-up, @Ryro . I don’t have any Seleucid coins from that time, but I can add a small footnote to the story of Demetrius II (and his ridiculous inbreeding).

    This is Ariarathes V, the King of Cappadocia from 163-130 BC.
    KINGS OF CAPPADOCIA. Ariarathes V Eusebes Philopator, 163-130 BC. (AR Drachm, 17 mm, 3.99g), Eusebeia-Mazaca, circa 131 B.C. Diademed head of Ariarathes to right. Rev. BAΣΙΛΕΩΣ APIAPAΘOY EYΣEBOYΣ, Athena standing left, holding Nike, spear and shield set on ground.

    Around 160 BC, Seleucid king Demetrius I Soter tried to arrange to have his sister, Laodice, marry Ariarathes V. Ariarathes declined, which did not go over well, and helped start a war in Cappadocia. Demetrius I supported the rebel, but Ariarathes V ultimately prevailed, and ruled in Cappadocia for another 30 years. There is some disagreement about what happened next, but many sources tell it like this.

    After his sister Laodice was rejected by Ariarathes, Demetrius I did the most logical thing any Seleucid king could do...he married his own sister Laodice himself. He and his sister then had two sons together, Demetrius II and Antiochus VII, the two rivals of our hero Tryphon. That is some serious inbreeding, and it means that Demetrius I would have been the father AND uncle of Demetrius II.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2019
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  8. ominus1

    ominus1 Supporter! Supporter

    you & me both, esp. if they're as well told like Ryros...:D
    Ryro likes this.
  9. ominus1

    ominus1 Supporter! Supporter

    you & me both, esp. if they're as well told like Ryros...:D
    Ryro likes this.
  10. Ryro

    Ryro They call me the 13th Caesar Supporter

    Umm, @Andres2 knows whats up with that saweeeet Herakles MSC:cool: And excellent Antiochos VII Tet:jawdrop:! plus, good reminder of one of my favorite bronzes of the Diadochi of possibly ATG wearing the winged cap! Here is mine in dire need of a reshoot:

    Seleukos I Nikator
    312-281 BCE. Æ (15mm, 2.48 g,). Uncertain mint. Winged head of Medusa (Alexander III?) right / Bull butting right; controls not visible.
    Former SAVOCA coin

    Thanks @David@PCC! I was wondering what Scott C was talking about when he said Tryphon had shield coins. I've been hilt deep in them lately and had never heard of it. He must've been confusing shield for helmet. Thanks for the kind correction on my ID. I purchased the Alexander II in a John Anthony auction a while back and just love the type. Great smile on yours.

    Aw, shucks:happy:. Thanks @TIF. I wish I had the know how to tell the story and post it on YouTube like you did with those magical Melita coins. Someday.

    Thanks @Alegandron! Tryphon the typhoon!:hilarious: Nice. How didn't I think of that one. And as always fantastical coins. I like the Seleucid elephant stampede:wideyed:.

    Yeeeeeuuuusssss! Wonderful coin and follow up story @Shea19:cigar::artist::pompous:
    Having a father uncle could create some real mental issues both emotionally and literally:cyclops:
    Speaking of the strange power couple: Part of the reason that Cleopatra Thea (I have a coin of hers but was disappointed to find that I never took the time to take a pic of it:confused:) was married to so many kings was the power that marrying her garnered. She being the daughter of Ptolemy VI Philometor and his wife/sister Cleopatra II (that's right folks. BOTH Demetrius II and Cleopatra Thea's parents were brother and sister!!!:yack::yuck::vomit:).

    Ptolemy VI Philometor
    (180-145 BCE)
    Bronze (Obol). Approx. 176-170 BC Salamis.
    VS: Head of Zeus Ammon with diadem right.
    RS: Eagles with wings placed on the lightning bundle to the left; Left in the Lotus Blossom field.

    Cleo Thea was engaged to her uncle Ptolemy VIII Physcon, translates to fatty or potbelly (you can't make this stuff up folks), but he ended up marrying his sister Cleopatra III:facepalm:.


    PtolemyVIII/Euergetes II
    (Physcon), Second Reign, 145 - 116 B.C.E. Bronze, Svoronos 1646, Cyprus mint, diademed bust of Zeus-Ammon right; reverse ΠΤΟΛΕΜΑΙΟΥ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ, eagle standing left, head left, wings closed, LMA (year 41) over lotus before ;Ptolemy VIII only one who had a Year 41. Very Rare.

    Awww geeee. A compliment so nice it had to post twice. Thanks @ominus1. I don't remember who said it, but a good story tells itself.:bookworm:

    Attached Files:

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  11. Pavlos

    Pavlos You pick out the big men. I'll make them brave!

    Nice coins @Ryro! Welcome to the dark side of the Seleukid Coins ;) I hope to see more posts of you regarding the cool Seleukids (they are one of my favorites :rolleyes:).

    My Tryphon coin:
    Diodotus Tryphon (142 - 138 B.C.). Æ Denomination B/C, Antioch mint.
    Diademed head of Tryphon right.
    Reverse: BAΣΙΛΕΩΣ TPYΦΩNOΣ AYTOKPATOPOΣ (“of King Tryphon, the Self-Empowered”); Spiked Macedonian helmet with cheek guards facing left, adorned with wild goat's horn above visor.
    Reference: SC 2034

    The Macedonian helmet on the reverse is actually nothing more than (smart) propaganda. It could be, as you mentioned, a reflection of his claim that he held the kingship according to Macedonian custom. But I actually think he did it for another reason.
    Demetrios II arrived in Syria with a mercenary army and crushed Alexander I Balas near Antioch-on-the-Orontes in 145 BC. He, or the mercenary commanders who surrounded him, seem to have been concerned about the loyalty of the Syrian army to the new regime. Almost as soon as Demetrios II was on the throne he took the ill-advised step to disband and disarm the troops who had served the Seleukid house for generations.

    Apamea-on-the-Orontes was the major Seleukid arsenal and military settlement in Syria, it may very well have been the place to which many of the disaffected soldiers had returned. These soldiers served, as I mentioned before, the Seleukid house for generations, in Macedonian style. Many of these soldiers had forefathers of the old military class that made up the Syrian army in the time of Seleukos I (and perhaps even Alexander the Great).
    This proud military character is also reflected on the coinage of Apamea, see Zeus holding a Macedonian helmet:
    Alexander I Balas (152/1 B.C. - 145 B.C.) Æ Denomination B (double). Apameia on the Orontes mint. Dated 150/49 B.C.
    Diademed head of Alexander I right.
    Reverse: AΠAMEΩN; Zeus standing left, holding helmet and sceptre; monogram and ΓΞΡ (date) to left;
    Countermarked by Demetrios II: palm fond within incuse rectangle.
    Reference: SC 1804a; HGC 9, 904; DCA 133.

    Tryphon made use of these angry soldiers and proclaimed Antiochos VI as king and raised the disaffected soldiers in revolt against Demetrios II. On his coin (and even the coins of Antiochos VI, see his drachms) he did a big Macedonian helmet to show is support and affection to these disaffected soldiers (wonderful propaganda ofcourse). This is how Tryphon managed to become so powerful with many followers.
  12. 7Calbrey

    7Calbrey Well-Known Member

    Here are a couple of Tryphon's coins.
    DiodTryp O SNG 1825ff.jpg DiodTryphon  Spaer.jpg
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