Featured Sibling rivalry, Parthian-style, Part II: In Bronze

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Parthicus, Feb 12, 2020.

  1. Parthicus

    Parthicus Well-Known Member

    It's been nearly two days since I last posted a Parthian coin, so enjoy this:

    Mithradates III.jpg
    Parthian Kingdom. Mithradatkart mint. Mithradates III (Sellwood, Shore) aka Mithradates IV (Assar) (c. 57-54 BC). AE tetrachalkous (3.20 g, 17 mm). Obverse: Diademed bust of king left. Reverse: Pegasos flying right, 8-line Greek legend around, Mithradatkart mintmark under front of Pegasos. Sellwood 41.18-19v. (different mintmark). This coin: Pars Coins Auction 4 (December 23, 2019), lot 85.

    (Note: Historical background section below contains reused text from a previous post. What do you expect from a sequel?)

    Mithradates III (renumbered Mithradates IV in recent work) and Orodes II were two sons of the Parthian king Phraates III. In 57 BC, they teamed up to assassinate their father and take over the throne. The assassination part worked, but unsurprisingly the two brothers soon quarreled, and Mithradates was forced to flee to Roman Syria. (Mithradates was said to have been "cruel", but that hardly distinguished him from most rulers of the time.) In Syria he sought the help of the Roman governor, Aulus Gabinius. Gabinius and his troops marched with him to the border at the Euphrates, but at that point received a more tempting offer to help restore Ptolemy XII to the Egyptian throne, and abandoned Mithradates. Despite the loss of Roman assistance, Mithradates was able to capture territory in Mesopotamia, including Babylon and the capitol city of Seleukia on the Tigris. The troops of Orodes, led by a great general known to history only by his family name of Surena, eventually reconquered all of Mithradates' territory and captured him alive. Mithradates was executed in either very late 55 or early 54 BC. Despite his short reign, he did leave a lasting legacy in setting a precedent of sons assassinating their father to take the Parthian throne; this pattern would continue for a long time in Parthian history.

    While this coin is far from perfect, it is actually better preserved than a lot of Parthian bronze coins I've seen- at least the main details of both sides are clear, even with the roughness in the fields and hard-to-read reverse legends. (There are several slightly different forms of reverse legend known for Mithradates III coins of Sellwood type 41, and I am not certain which is on this coin, which is why I did not include a transcription/translation in the coin description.) This is also an unlisted mintmark variety; Sellwood lists the type with no mintmark (41.18, attributed to Ekbatana) or with a Rhagae mintmark (41.19), but this coin clearly has a Mithradatkart mintmark. (Mithradatkart was the fortified citadel of the city of Nisa, in modern Turkmenistan just over the Iranian border, and is a fairly common Parthian mint.) However, this type with Mithradatkart mintmark is shown on the Parthia.com website (http://www.parthia.com/mithradates3.htm , scroll down to find the coin), so I am not the first person to discover the existence of this variety. Regardless, this is still a decent example of a Parthian bronze, and at $45 final bid the price was good. Please post your coins of Mithradates, or whatever else is related.
    Theodosius, eparch, Shea19 and 9 others like this.
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  3. Pellinore

    Pellinore Supporter! Supporter

    In the past I was much interested in AE Parthians, but I haven't paid much attention to them auctionwise, didn't acquire many new coins in the last three or four years. The condition is seldom excellent. But here are a few of the same period.

    5144 Sellwood 39.19.jpg

    Phraates III (70-58). AE17. Obv. King’s head to the left with a tiara studded with little deer. Rev. Horse jumping to the right squared with 7 lines of text. 17 mm, 3.94 gr. Sellwood 39.19.

    5146 PT.jpg

    Orodes II (57-38). Tetrachalkous. Obv. Bust to the left. Rev. Deer with large antlers, monogramme top left and lower right. Mint Rhagae. 16 mm, 4.00 gr. Sellwood 45.39 var. (with monogramme, but see Parthia.com for this uncommon type).

    This one is 250 years later:

    5164 Sellw 85.4.jpg

    Osroes II (c. 190). AE. Obv. Portrait to the left with tiara, something around it. Medium long square earflap, round decoration behind the head, pearl edge. Rev. Ram galloping to the left. 13 mm, 1.93 gr. Sellwood 85.4.

    In fact I find the Elymais coins often more attractive, like this one. They are usually a lot cheaper, too. Elymais was a subordinate kingdom in the Parthian empire.

    5212 Ely 3 3.23.jpg

    AE drachm Elymais. Obv. King’s profile t.l. with high cap, adorned with anchor. To the right, crescent and dot, and an anchor. Rev. Small bust t.l., cornucopia right, in stipple circle. 3.23 gr.
    DBDc80, Johndakerftw and Parthicus like this.
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