Julius Caesar in Antioch

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Sulla80, Aug 15, 2020.

  1. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    upload_2020-8-15_8-11-20.png In 66 BC, during The Third Mithridatic War (73-63 BC) between the Roman Republic and Mithridates VI of Pontus, Pompey “The Great” took command of the war. Tigranes II “The Great”, allied to Mithridates VI and married to Mithridates' daughter, surrendered Armenia and became a client state to Rome.

    Mithridates fled to Crimea, killing his oldest son and taking the throne of the Bosporan Kingdom. His younger son, Pharnaces II, led a rebellion against him, and Mithridates attempted suicide, and then ordered his friend and body guard Bituitus to kill him.

    In 64 BC, Pompey the Great, eliminated Philip II and Antiochus XIII, rivals for rule of the Seleucid Empire, and annexed Syria as a Roman province.

    Caesar’s Civil War
    Although Pompey and Julius Caesar had ruled together with Crassus as the First Triumvirate, Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon, and initiated civil war with Pompey leading the other side. Caesar defeated Pompey in 48 BC at Pharsalus and the city of Antioch declared their opposition to Pompey.

    Caesar spent the winter of 48-47 BC in Alexandria, and in the Spring, defeated Pharnaces II, who had tried to take advantage of the Roman Civil War as an opportunity to expand his rule.

    Caesar in Antioch
    Location of Antioch on Orontes on a Google map

    April 16, 47 BC, Julius Caesar arrived in Antioch on Orontes, by accident or intent he arrived the day after the anniversary of the founding of the city (the 23rd of the local calendar month, Artemisios). Caesar stayed 9 days, and he bestowed the gift of “Freedom” on the city. He also supported ambitious building projects in Antioch including a basilica, the Parthenon, a theater, an amphitheater, public baths and an aqueduct.

    He left his young relative, Sextus Julius Caesar behind as governor of Syria. A short time later, the Syrians, declared the start of a new Caesarean Era, backdated to October 49 BC, and began to date coins, still issued in the name of Phillip I Philadelphios, from this Era starting with year 3. This dating system continued until 14/3 BC when they were replaced with the coins of Augustus. These coins have this monogram concisely recognizing both AVT (autonomy of the city) and ANT (the city’s name).

    Bassus’ Rebellion

    In 46 BC Q. Caecilius Bassus, a supporter of Pompey, led a rebellion of the troops in which Sextus Julius Caesar was killed. (See Cassius Dio XLVII 26) This, as briefly as I can summarize, is the historical context for this coin – issued in Caesarean Era year 4 (see the Δ, delta, in exergue). If there wasn’t already enough going on – this is also the year before the assassination of Julius Caesar on the Ides of March 44 BC.
    Seleucid Julius Caesar Tet.jpg
    Syria, Seleucis and Pieria, Antiochia ad Orontem, Q. Caecilius Bassus, rebel governor, 46/5 BC, AR tetradrachm in the name of Philip I Philadelphos of Syria, recognizing the era of Julius Caesar, minted 46/5 BC, Year 4 of the Caesarean Era
    Obv: Diademed head of Philip I right
    Rev: BAΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΦIΛIΠΠOV ΦIΛAΔEΛΦOV EΠIΦANOVΣ, Zeus seated on high-backed throne left, holding Nike on outstretched right hand and sceptre in left
    Size: 26mm, 15.55g
    Ref: Seleucid Coins (part 2) 2491

    Here is an example of the coin that replaced this coin in Antioch starting in 14/3 BC.
    Augustus Tetradrachm Alexandria.jpg Seleucis and Pieria, Antioch, Augustus, 27 BC-AD 14, AR tetradrachm, dated year 30 of the Actian Era - dating from the Battle of Actium between Marc Antony and Augustus - and Cos. XIII (2/1 BC)
    Obv: ΚΑΙΣΑΡΟΣ ΣΕΒΑΣΤΟY, laureate head right
    Rev: [ETOVΣ] Λ (Actian era date) NIKHΣ, Tyche seated right on rocky outcropping, holding palm frond; below, half-length figure of river-god Orontes swimming right; in right field, monogram (=ΥΠΑTOY) and IΓ (consular iteration) above monogram (=ANTIOXIEΩN?)
    Ref: RPC I 4156, McAlee 185; Prieur 55

    I am a more than a little surprised that I can own these coins with such rich history, and both will certainly be top 10 for 2020. As always comments, corrections, additions, and references are all appreciated. Post your coins of Roman Antioch, coins of any of the rulers mentioned above, or anything else you find interesting or entertaining.

    Last edited: Aug 15, 2020
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  3. Magnus Maximus

    Magnus Maximus Dulce et Decorum est....

    Very nice tetradrachms!
    cmezner and Sulla80 like this.
  4. Alegandron

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

    Great write up, @Sulla80 . Great Tets, and I really like your second one. The Tyche reverse is really nice.


    RImp Sextus Pompey 42-38 BC AE As Janus Pompey Magnus - Prow Sear 1394 Craw 479-1
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  5. Justin Lee

    Justin Lee I learn by doing Supporter

    Here's a couple AEs from around that period:

    Augustus, 27 BC-14 AD, Antioch, Syria, AE26
    Obverse: IMP•AVGVST• – TR•POT, laureate bust of Augustus right.
    Reverse: Large SC within laurel-wreath of eight leaves fastened at top with pellet, between inner and outer borders.
    References: RPC 4247, McAlee 206b
    Size: 26mm, 14g

    Augustus, Ruled 27 BC-14 AD
    AE23, Syria, Antioch Mint
    Dated year 27 of the Actian Era (5/4 BC)

    Obverse: AΡXIEΡEI – KAIΣAΡ ΣEB, laureate head right.
    Reverse: AΡXIE/ΡATIKON/ANTIO/XEIΣ/ZK, legend and date in five lines; all within crown.
    References: RPC I 4251, McAlee 202
    Size: 23mm, 8.1g
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  6. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Nice adds of Pompey & Augustus, @Alegandron & @Justin Lee. Here's another Philip I Philadelphos for comparison - minted before Roman annexation by Pompey
    Philip I Philadelphos Tet.jpg Seleukid Empire, Philip I Philadelphos, circa 95/4-76/5 BC, AR Tetradrachm, Antioch on the Orontes mint
    Obv: Diademed head right
    Rev: Zeus seated left, holding Nike and sceptre; Π in exergue; all within wreath
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  7. Alegandron

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


    RImp Antony-Octavian Julius Caesar AR Denarius 41 BCE 3.65g 18.7mm Military mint Syria star Craw 528-2a Sear 1507
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  8. Cachecoins

    Cachecoins Historia Moneta

    Love that Augustus reverse.
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  9. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Aulus Gabinius Tet.jpg

    Ex Al Kowsky collection.

    Click images for a larger view.
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  10. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Thanks - I also like these Tyche/Orontes reverses - @Al Kowsky's example from a stunning example.

    Love your M. Antony from the reconciliation with Octavian - at the time that Mark Antony marries Octavia. Lepidus already a bit marginalized. Here's another M. Antony, after the Battle of Philippi, Mark Antony headed east where he would meet with Cleopatra.
    Mark Antony Sol Temple.jpg
    Mark Antony, Second Triumvirate, 42 BC, AR denarius, military mint traveling with Antony in Greece. Obv: M. ANTONI IMP, bare head right
    Rev: Facing head of Sol on disk within distyle temple
    Ref: Crawford 496/1, "Sol and Luna on the coinage of moneyers of 42, perhaps alluding there to the imminence of a new age"
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  11. Alegandron

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

    He was going for the money! Rich Eastern Provinces and Egypt.
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  12. Orfew

    Orfew Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus Supporter

    Here is one that once belonged to Michel Prieur and Richard McAlee.

    Augustus Phillip I CNG 272.jpg

    SELEUCIS and PIERIA, Antioch. Augustus. 27 BC-AD 14. AR Tetradrachm
    (27mm, 14.56 g, 12h).
    In the name and types of the Seleucid king Philip I Philadelphus. Dated year 26 of the Caesarean Era (24/23 BC).
    Obv: Diademed head of Philip I right within fillet border
    Rev: Zeus Nicephorus seated left; monogram to inner left and below throne, ςK (date) and thunderbolt in exergue; all within wreath.
    Prieur 19; McAlee 19 (this coin illustrated); RPC I 4142; SC 2491.16; HGC 9, 1360p. Toned, some porosity and surface striations.
    Fine. Rare, seven known to Prieur, and two in CoinArchives.
    From the Michel Prieur Collection, purchased privately from Richard McAlee.
    CNG E-Auction 451 Lot 272 September 4, 2019
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  13. Sulla80

    Sulla80 one coin at a time Supporter

    Amazing plate coin and provenance. I find it generally interesting that this type of Philip I Philadelphos continued for so long after his death - with the humorous thought "He was no Alexander the Great". Aulus Gabinus (see monogram on @Al Kowsky's Tetradrachm) was the one who as proconsul in 57 BC seems to have decided to continue minting coins of Philip I - maybe just because they were what people were used to and were the bulk of coins circulating (?).
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2020
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  14. Al Kowsky

    Al Kowsky Supporter! Supporter

    Sulla80, Regarding your thoughts on the long duration of the Philip I Tets, are right on ;). Why abruptly change the design on a coin that had universal acceptance throughout the Levant? Of course the design eventually did change, but the Philip I Tets did circulate for a long time even after the design change :).
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  15. Pavlos

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

    Great tetradrachms @Sulla80 and a nice write up! I enjoy the intriguing style of the Philip I Roman posthumous tetradrachms compared to the much uglier pre-Roman posthumous issues.

    This is my lifetime issue:
    Philip I Philadelphos (circa 95/4-76/5 B.C.) AR Tetradrachm. Antiochia on the Orontes mint, lifetime issue, circa 88/7-76/5 B.C.
    Diademed head of Philip I to right.
    Reverse: BAΣIΛEΩΣ / ΦIΛIΠΠΟΥ - EΠIΦΑΝΟΥΣ / ΦIΛAΔEΛΦΟΥ Zeus seated left, holding Nike in his right hand and long scepter in his left; to inner left, O.
    Reference: SC 2463
  16. Pavlos

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

    It indeed was a pure economic reason. When Philip I came to rule Antioch, he started to recycle the tetradrachms of his predecessors and reissued them with his own types, so there were barely any tetradrachms of his competitors circulating. Besides propaganda, he reissued them with a lighter weight of around 0.35g (hence the low eight of ~15.5g). By doing so, Philip’s treasury profited by about half an obol every time an older tetradrachm was recoined.
    Since the Philip I tetradrachms was the primary coinage that was circulating, it was a logic choice for the Romans to continue that coin type.
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