Silver Tetradrachm of King Demetrios II

SKU C.392

129 BC to 125 BC


1.125″ high

Gallery Location



Obverse: bearded, diademed head of Demetrios II facing right; pellet and reel border, surrounding
Reverse, ??????O? ?????????, right; TS?U ??????G?? II, left; Zeus enthroned left, holding Nike and scepter, centre; A, beneath.

The Seleukid Kingdom was established in Babylonia by Seleukos I, a general of Alexander the Great following his death in 323 BC and division of his empire. At its zenith the Seleucid Kingdom comprised almost all of Alexander’s eastern conquests. Demetrios II came to the throne in 146 BC, after killing the pretender Alexander Balas. His hold on the throne however was shaky and his rule confined to the cities of the Phoenician coast. He marched against the Parthians in 139 BC but was captured and held at court for a decade, before coming to the throne again in 129 BC. There is a marked difference between the coins of his first and second reigns. His early portraiture is construed in the highly stylized manner popularized by the successors of Alexander the Great. Later coins, as we see here, no longer show him as a clean-shaven youth but with long hair and beard in the Parthian fashion. The choice of Zeus on the reverse similarly follows the precedent set by Alexander and indicates the Seleucids reclaimed Zeus as their patron deity.

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