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    Spectacular Mithradates VI Stater

    PONTIC KINGDOM. Mithradates VI the Great (120-63 BC). AV stater (21mm, 8.36 gm, 12h). NGC MS 4/5 - 4/5, die shift. Dated Pontic year 209 (89/8 BC). Diademed head of Mithradates right, with wind-blown hair /  BAΣIΛEΩΣ MIΘPAΔATOY EYΠATOPOΣ, stag grazing left; star and crescent to left, ΘΣ (date) and monogram to right; all within ivy wreath. De Callataÿ pg. 4 (D5/R8). SNG BM Black Sea 1028. Cf. SNG Copenhagen 233. (date). Extremely rare, particularly with this date! Very slight doubling discernable mainly on reverse, otherwise an extraordinarily handsome piece, struck on a broad, round flan and bearing a dramatic and lifelike portrait of this irrepressible ruler.

    The career of Mithradates VI resembles that of Saddam Hussein in that he was a consistent thorn in the side of the world's dominant power for decades, despite numerous defeats, until finally cornered and brought low in a titanic and costly war. Soon after coming to power in the relative backwater of Pontus, Mithradates showed signs of an ambition that the borders of his small kingdom could not contain. Frustrated that Rome controlled most of the territories he had marked out for conquest, he cannily observed the growing resentment that greedy Roman businessmen and magistrates were earning in Asia Minor and portrayed himself as the means by which the Greek world would gain its vengeance and freedom. He invaded Rome's Asia Province in 88 BC and massacred 80,000 Italian residents. He next invaded Greece proper, but was met there and defeated by Roman legions under Sulla. A revolution in Rome, however, forced Sulla to cut a quick deal with Mithradates and return to Italy. A decade later, Mithradates was at it again, attacking the Roman protectorate of Bithynia and drawing a response from the general Lucullus. Again Mithradates suffered humiliating defeat and again he slipped away to fight another day. The end finally came in 63 BC when, cornered at last by Pompey the Great, Mithradates fell on his sword to avoid capture. Mithradates' coinage deliberately evokes the memory of Alexander the Great, depicting himself as a semi-divine conqueror in the same mold. They represent the last great example of Hellenistic portraiture, and as such are highly prized.


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    Auction Dates
    January, 2017
    8th-9th Sunday-Monday
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