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Description

Wonderful Hellenistic Portrait

Antimachus I Theos (ca. 180-165 BC). AR tetradrachm (35mm, 16.65 gm, 12h).  Diademed, draped bust of Antimachus right, wearing kausia / ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΘΕΟΥ ΑΝΤΙΜΑΧΟΥ, Poseidon standing facing, resting right hand on trident and holding palm branch in left, NO monogram low in inner right field. Bopearachchi Série 1D. SNG ANS 276. Struck on an immense flan. With a wonderful, character-filled portrait! NGC Choice VF 5/5 - 4/5.

To the obscure Bactrian King Antimachus I Theos ("the God") belongs the honor of striking perhaps the most distinctive and character-filled of all Hellenistic numismatic portraits. Of the man himself we know next to nothing. Scholars are divided as to whether he was a member of the family of the foundational Bactrian ruler Diodotus I, or of his successor, the successful usurper Euthydemus I, or was entirely independent of any previous royal houses. How he came to power is likewise unknown -- was he a trusted vizier who usurped the throne from the boy king Euthydemus II, or was he appointed to rule a portion of the huge, unwieldy kingdom along with his contemporaries Agathocles and Pantaleon, whose coins seem to date from the same 10 to 15-year span early in the second century AD? The only non-numismatic record of his reign is a surviving tax receipt which names him as king, as well as another ruler of the same name (likely his son) and a third named Eumenes, for whom no coins have survived. We do know Antimachus thought rather a lot of himself, as evidenced by the self-satisfied smile he sports on his coins and the title he adopted -- Theos or "The God," an unprecedented reach for a living ruler even in an age of overpowering egos.  Despite the grandiosity of his title, he wears the humble Macedonian felt sun hat, the kausia, which serves to humanize him, and there is something kindly and fatherly in the fleshy contours of his face, rendered with astonishing skill by die engravers more than 1,500 miles removed from the Greek homeland. The adoption of Poseidon, god of the sea, as a patron deity on the reverse is likewise puzzling, as the Bactrian realm was almost entire land-locked.

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Auction Dates
April, 2013
18th-23rd
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 2
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