Golden Sibling LoversPTOLEMAIC EGYPT. Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285-246 BC), with Arsinoe II, Ptolemy I, and Berenice I. AV half mnaieion or tetradrachm (20mm, 13.94 gm, 12h). NGC MS 5/5 - 4/5, Fine Style. Alexandria, ca. 270/65-261/0 BC. Jugate busts of Ptolemy II, draped and diademed, and Arsinoe II, diademed and veiled, right; AΔEΛΦΩN above, Gallic shield behind / Jugate busts of Ptolemy I, diademed and draped, and Berenice, diademed and veiled, right; ΘEΩN above. Svoronos 604. SNG Copenhagen 133. A near-perfect example, sharply struck from dies engraved by a masterful hand.
Ptolemy II (282-246 BC), second king of the Macedonian Ptolemaic dynasty, was a brilliant ruler 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. While the marriage scandalized the Greeks, Ptolemy declared that he and his sister were gods, and not subject to the taboos of mere mortals. To mark the occasion, he introduced gold coins portraying himself and Arsinoe together on the obverse, while the reverse depicts their parents, Ptolemy I and Berenice I, founders of the dynasty, for a total of four royal portraits. The Greek legend ΘΕΟΝ ΑΔΕΛΦΟΝ translates as "To the Sibling Gods." These types came in several denominations, including the huge mnaieion, weighing nearly an ounce, and its half, a coin of just under 14 grams, of which this and the next four lots comprise superb examples.
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