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    Description

    Sibling Lovers

    PTOLEMAIC EGYPT. Ptolemy II Philadelphus, with Arsinoe II, Ptolemy I, and Berenice I (285-246 BC). AV mnaieion or octodrachm (26mm, 27.75 gm, 12h). NGC AU 5/5 - 2/5, smoothing. Alexandria, ca. 285-261/0 BC. Jugate busts of Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II right; Ptolemy is diademed and draped, Arsinoe is diademed and veiled; AΔEΛΦΩN above, shield to left / Jugate busts of Ptolemy I and Berenice I; Ptolemy is diademed and draped, Berenice is diademed and veiled; ΘEΩN above. Svoronos 603; SNG Copenhagen 132. Light smoothing on obverse cheek, otherwise boldly struck and attractive.


    Ptolemaic Egypt was the only Greek-ruled kingdom to strike large quantities of enormous gold coins weighing nearly an ounce, the distant ancestor of today's double-eagle. This impressive denomination, today usually called an octodrachm, was worth 100 silver drachms, or one mina, a small fortune in ancient times. The Greco-Egyptians called the 100-mina piece a mnaieion (min-EYE-on). Calculating its buying power in modern terms is difficult, but a rough equivalent might be around $4,000. Mnaieions were first struck under Ptolemy II (282-246 BC), who built the famous Library of Alexandria and towering Pharos lighthouse. In 279 BC he married his sister, the beautiful and ambitious Arsinoe, in the manner of the old Egyptian pharaohs. The sibling marriage scandalized Greek society, which gave Arsinoe the nickname Philadelphus, or "brother-lover." The first mnaieions carried four royal portraits -- Ptolemy II and his sister-wife on the obverse with the epithet adelphon ("sibling lovers"), backed with the portraits of his parents, Ptolemy I Soter and Berenice I, now identified as theon ("gods").


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    January, 2017
    8th-9th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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