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Description

Rare Ephesus-mint Berenice Mnaeion

PTOLEMAIC KINGDOM. Berenice II, wife of Ptolemy III (ca. 244/3-221 BC). AV mnaieion or octadrachm (27.63 gm). Ephesus, ca. 241 BC. Diademed and veiled head of Berenice II right / BAΣIΛIΣΣHΣ BEPENIKHΣ, filleted cornucopiae; in left field, bee. Svoronos 899. SNG Copenhagen -. Extremely rare-- only a small handful of specimens known. Short scratches on obverse behind head. Nearly extremely fine.

One of the most formidable Ptolemaic queens, Berenice II's family background was unusually convoluted and bloody even by Macedonian standards. Born in 267 BC, she was the daughter of the Cyrenaican king Magas and his wife Apama. In 249 BC, upon the death of Magas her mother married her off to Demetrius the Fair, son of Demetrius Poliorcetes, who was invited to become king of Cyrenaica. Demetrius, however, was more interested in Apama than her daughter and, catching him in her mother's bed, Berenice stabbed him to death. Ptolemy III of Egypt married her in 244/3 BC and the duo became the foremost "power couple" in the world. Berenice appears to have ruled Egypt quite capably during her husband's long campaigns of conquest. She had six children, one of whom, Ptolemy IV, succeeded to the throne in 221 BC. Berenice originally ruled jointly with him but was soon murdered, probably at the instigation of her son. The extensive lifetime portrait coinage in her name includes this rare issue of Ephesus in Ionia, struck while the city was under Ptolemaic occupation during the Third Syrian War (246-241 BC).

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Auction Dates
January, 2012
2nd-3rd
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 3
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