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    Mighty Mithradates

    PONTIC KINGDOM. Mithradates VI the Great (120-63 BC). AV stater (19mm, 8.45 gm, 12h). NGC MS 5/5 - 3/5. Pergamum, dated Pergamene Era Year 2 (88/7 BC). Diademed head of Mithradates right, with wind-blown hair / BAΣIΛEΩΣ MIΘPAΔATOY EYΠATOPOΣ, stag grazing left; star and crescent to left, B (date) over ΠΕΡ (for Pergamum) monogram to right; all within ivy wreath. HGC 7, 334. De Callataÿ pg. 4 (D7/R2). DCA 689. Exceedingly rare, with fewer than 10 specimens of this date. Light scuff on cheek and slightly abraded surfaces, otherwise a remarkable Hellenistic portrait, crisply struck from dies of exceptional style.


    Mithradates VI was a consistent thorn in the side of Rome for several decades. Soon after inheriting the throne of Pontus, Mithradates displayed an ambition his small kingdom could not contain. Observing growing resentment to Roman greed, he portrayed himself as the leader of resistance against Rome's suffocating hand. He launched a five-year war against Rome in 88 BC by invading Asia Province and massacring 80,000 Italian civilians. This led to a vigorous response led by the Roman general Sulla, but on the verge of victory, Sulla was forced by political turmoil at home to sign a treaty restoring the pre-war status quo. A decade later, Mithradates launched another attack on the Roman protectorate of Bithynia, but was repelled by general Lucullus. His career finally concluded in 63 BC when, defeated by Pompey the Great, he was besieged in Panticapaeum by his own rebellious son and forced to commit suicide. After failing to kill himself via poison (to which he had become immune by taking small doses over many years), Mithradates induced a loyal Gallic officer to slay him. Mithradates' gold coinage falls into two groups: A mass mintage of gold staters imitating the types of Lysimachus of Thrace from more than two centuries earlier, and a much smaller and more carefully produced issue of dated gold staters with his name and portrait. The imagery deliberately evokes the memory of Alexander the Great, depicting himself as a semi-divine conqueror with flowing, windswept hair. These rare and desirable coins represent the last great example of Hellenistic portraiture in gold, and as such are highly prized.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    August, 2017
    3rd Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 5
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