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Coin Portrait of Berenice II

Coin Portrait of Berenice II


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NGC Ancients: Bronze Coinage of Ptolemaic Egypt, Part 1

Choice and rare 'Bronzes' of ancient Egypt are eagerly sought by collectors.

Egypt under the Greek 'Ptolemaic' kings and queens produced a substantial coinage. In all metals, there are numerous designs, mint-designations and varieties that make the series both challenging and fascinating.

In two previous columns, we offered overviews of the gold and silver coinage of this Greek kingdom, and in the next two columns, we’ll examine the 'bronzes' of the Ptolemies. This first installment will take us from Ptolemy I through Ptolemy IV, covering about the first 120 years of the kingdom. The second (next month) will cover the approximately 175 years that remain.

We’ll start with an 11 mm bronze of the founder of the dynasty, Ptolemy I, who ruled from 323-305/4 B.C. as satrap and from 305/4-282 B.C. as king. It was struck at the chief mint of Alexandria sometime from c.311 to 306 B.C., shortly before he declared himself king.

Not surprisingly, it features the portrait of his deified predecessor, Alexander III 'the Great' (336-323 B.C.). It is paired with an eagle on a thunderbolt, a design which served as the 'dynastic badge' of the Ptolemies. It’s worth noting that the reverse bears the name of Alexander rather than Ptolemy.

Although stylistically different than the previous coin, this 17 mm bronze issued c.306-294 B.C. at the Alexandria mint, most likely was issued after Ptolemy I had assumed the title of king. It has the same principal types of the previous coin, yet the reverse now names Ptolemy rather than Alexander.

This 20 mm bronze of Ptolemy I, struck at Alexandria after c.294 B.C., features a portrait of Alexander III wearing an elephant scalp. The reverse features the badge of Ptolemy.

This lovely 16 mm bronze of Ptolemy I was struck at Paphos on the island of Cyprus. Showing the bust of the goddess Aphrodite and the Ptolemaic eagle-badge, it was struck after c.294 B.C.

Issued at the same time and at the same Cypriot mint as the previous coin, this 22 mm bronze features an entirely different vision of Aphrodite, who’s crowned with an ornamented polos.

We now move on to Ptolemy II (285/4-246 B.C.), the son and successor of Ptolemy I. This 23 mm bronze of Ptolemy II, struck at Alexandria sometime after about 265 B.C., looks much like the types introduced by his father some three decades before, as it features a portrait of Alexander III in an elephant scalp and the badge of the Ptolemaic dynasty.

Also struck for Ptolemy II is the 40 mm bronze, above, which belongs to a very large series the king initiated in about 265 B.C. or soon afterward. It bears what would become the iconic obverse design for Ptolemaic bronzes &mdash the head of the syncretic god Zeus-Ammon, adorned with a diadem and ram’s horn. In this case, he also has at the top of the diadem a design element that is believed to be a stylized crown of Ammon.

The reverse features two Ptolemaic eagles standing on thunderbolts, side by side. Though in some later cases two eagles indicate the joint-rule of two monarchs, at this time, Ptolemy II was the only reigning king, so we must presume they represent both the king and Zeus-Ammon.

Interestingly, this coin also bears another ‘trademark’ feature of most Ptolemaic bronzes struck from this point onward: a central cavity on both the obverse and reverse. Often, there are also strong traces of incised lines radiating outward from the center in a circular fashion. Both are diagnostic of their production rather than circulation damage.

It has been suggested that these new production features are tied to a monetary reform of the 260s B.C. in which earlier Ptolemaic bronzes were demonetized. This may have been linked to larger economic reforms that modified the Egyptian tax system.

This 31 mm bronze of Ptolemy II from c.265 B.C. or later bears the laureate head of Zeus and the badge of the Ptolemaic dynasty. Unlike the Ptolemaic bronzes we’ve seen thus far, it was not issued in Egypt, but at Ake-Ptolemais in Phoenicia, a prosperous region that in the Hellenistic era was hotly contested between the Ptolemies and their neighbor-kings, the Seleucids.

The two bronzes above, which range from 26 mm to 27 mm in diameter, also were not struck in Egypt. Indeed, they are believed to have been struck in about 264/3 B.C. in Sicily on behalf of Ptolemy II. Like the coin from Ake-Ptolemais, they bear the laureate head of Zeus and the Ptolemaic badge.

We continue our survey of Ptolemy II’s bronzes with this 21 mm coin struck in Cyrene, a region of North Africa to the west of Egypt. It was struck c.270-261 B.C. by that region’s ruler, Magas. It features the head of Ptolemy I and the thunderbolt of Zeus, above which the name of King Magas appears in the form of a monogram.

Ptolemy II also struck the above piece, a 10 mm bronze depicting his sister-wife Queen Arsinoe II (died 270/68 B.C.). With a standing eagle on its reverse, it is attributed to the mint of Byzantium, where the continents of Asia and Europe meet.

We now transition to the issues of King Ptolemy III (246-222 B.C.), the son of Ptolemy II and grandson of Ptolemy I. Above are two large and heavy coins of 33 mm to 35 mm from the Alexandria mint with the familiar Zeus-Ammon/Ptolemaic badge designs.

The 30 mm bronze of Ptolemy III, above, has the same types as the previous two coins. However, it was struck at the Phoenician mint of Tyre, as indicated by the club before the eagle.

Another common type of Ptolemy III is illustrated by the two specimens above, which offer a variation of the normal reverse with the eagles looking back toward a cornucopia set at their shoulders. They are from the Alexandria mint and are large pieces ranging from 37 mm to 39 mm in diameter.

An unusual reverse type for the Zeus-Ammon bronzes of Ptolemy III appears on the 16 mm coin, above. It was struck at Paphos on the island of Cyprus and shows a statue of the goddess Aphrodite.

We’ll round out our survey of the bronzes of Ptolemy III with those bearing portraits of living &mdash or once-living &mdash rulers rather than Zeus-Ammon. Shown above is a 12 mm coin that resurrects a type used by his father and grandfather, which pairs the head of Alexander III wearing an elephant scalp with the Ptolemaic badge.

The dynasty founder Ptolemy I is honored on the 22 mm and 26 mm bronzes shown above. The founder’s portrait is paired with the head of Libya, as these coins were struck in neighboring Cyrene, where she was recognized as the personification of the region.

Similarly interesting are the 19 mm and 20 mm bronzes above, which bear the distinctive portrait of Ptolemy III and the Ptolemaic badge. These issues are attributed to the mint of Corinth in Central Greece, where the Ptolemies had military interests.

A decidedly different portrait, also thought to represent Ptolemy III, occurs on this rare 16 mm bronze from the Ionian city of Lebedus, which at this time had been renamed Ptolemais. The reverse depicts the standing figure of Athena.

Our last bronzes of Ptolemy III bear portraits of his wife Berenice II, the daughter of Magas who ruled neighboring Cyrene. She died in 221 B.C., not long after her husband. The first of our three examples, the rare 16 mm bronze above, is attributed to the mint of Lebedus (Ptolemais).

Another portrait of Berenice II appears on this 25 mm bronze struck by her husband at a mint in Northern Syria. Its reverse shows a filleted cornucopia and bears an eagle countermark.

The Berenice II portrait bronze above, also issued by Ptolemy III at a mint in northern Syria, has a different reverse type, the iconic Ptolemaic badge.

We’ll end the first part of our Ptolemaic bronze survey with two issues of Ptolemy IV (222-205/4 B.C.), the son of Ptolemy III and Berenice II. The first, a coin struck at the Alexandria mint, has the familiar Zeus-Ammon/Ptolemaic badge designs and is a large piece, being more than 40 mm in diameter and tipping the scale at more than 68 grams.

From the same issue is this 33 mm bronze of Ptolemy IV. Though (as noted earlier) the central cavities were part of the manufacturing process of most Ptolemaic bronzes struck after c.265/0 B.C., the ones on this example are especially pronounced.

Interested in reading more articles on Ancient coins? Click here

Images courtesy of Classical Numismatic Group.

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Introduction

Berenice (c. 267-221 BCE), the daughter of the Macedonian dynast Magas and his Seleucid wife Apame, was born in Cyrene, a Greek city in Libya. Ptolemy I had installed Magas, a son of his fourth wife Berenice I by a previous marriage, as governor of Cyrenaica (the northern coastal region of Libya). Magas eventually wrestled a measure of independence from Ptolemaic sovereignty but still had to acknowledge their suzerainty – and betrothed his daughter to the son and heir of Ptolemy II as a diplomatic and dynastic assurance. His half-Persian wife Apame was the daughter of Antiochus I and Stratonice. After his death (c. 252/1 BCE), Magas’ widow married Berenice to the Macedonian prince Demetrius the Fair – who, however, offended the soldiers of the Cyrenean army and was assassinated in the bedroom of Apame. Whether this capture in flagrante delicto was a plot set up by Berenice in tandem with her mother or not remains a mystery. Cyrene briefly attempted to establish a republic (c. 250/49-249/8 BCE).


Octadrachm of Berenice II

Pulse para ampliar

Octadrachm of Berenice II of Egypt, in the name of Arsinoe II

Inv. 2016/31/1

Gold Salto de línea Berytos (present-day Beirut, Lebanon) Salto de línea 246-221 BCE

This striking gold coin was issued in the name of Arsinoe II of Egypt, in one of the most famous and spectacular series of the ancient world. However, the face is that of a different queen: Berenice II, wife of Ptolemy III.

The originally issued Arsinoe coins were minted by Ptolemy II, her husband, after her death c. 270 BCE, in gold and silver, with her portrait in veil and tiara, and on the reverse, a double cornucopia bound with a royal diadem, transmitting the message that the queen, and by extension the governing dynasty, was a source of wealth and life. The kingdom of Egypt issued coins with the image and name of Arsinoe for decades after her death, a kind of iconographic longevity which can be found throughouthistory in coins of great commercial, popular, and political prestige. This portrait of Arsinoe spread so widely in the Mediterranean world that it became the model of reference for depictions of women in powerful positions.

In this coin, very probably issued in the early years of her reign, Berenice is shown with the standardised details of the Arsinoe image, but her face, while idealised, is easily identifiable. She would later appear on coins under her own name and title, &ldquoQueen Berenice&rdquo, so this series can be interpreted as an intermediate step in a transition process, a strategy to assert her authority by imbuing her with the prestige of the late queen.

Berenice was not merely the consort of Ptolemy III but was a queen with effective power in Egypt, as Arsinoe had been their coinage is an important historical document on the public image of women rulers in the ancient world.


Queen of Chalcis Sister of the King of Chalcis

Berenice had already been the queen of Chalcis when she was married to her uncle Herod V and had been a princess of Judea from birth. She actively reclaimed these positions, serving as a co-ruler of Chalcis with her brother Agrippa II and going with him to Judea when he spent time there, both when she moved in with him after her uncle&rsquos death as well as when she moved back in with him after she left her third husband, Polemon. [5]

In Acts of the Apostles (26:28-31 NRSV), for instance, Berenice receives Paul the Apostle alongside Agrippa II. [6]

The Roman historian Cassius Dio (Roman History 65:15) similarly depicts Berenice as ruling alongside Agrippa her brother and travelling with him on official trips.


The Coin Portrait Types of the Empress Sabina

Fae Amiro is a PhD candidate at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Her research focus is Roman portraiture, and she is currently writing a dissertation on the portraiture of the Imperial house during the reign of the emperor Hadrian, which addresses broader questions of portrait type creation and the dissemination of sculpture throughout the Roman empire. She was a participant in the 2017 Eric P. Newman Graduate Seminar.

The empress Sabina is not a figure who is frequently given much attention, due in part to her lack of prominence in the literary record. She was wife of the emperor Hadrian and they are said to have had an unhappy marriage, but not much else is known. Her coinage, however, has received more scholarly attention, because it was issued in larger numbers than that of any previous empress and features a good deal of variety in its portraiture. The question of the true chronology of her coinage has been debated for ninety years. However, few have addressed the reasons behind the changes observable in the coinage, in particular the impetus behind its start date and the introductions of new types.

Fig. 1: Sabina aureus with turban portrait type, ca. 128–131 (ANS 1960.175.30).

In order to address these problems, I conducted a die study of the aurei which display the portrait of the empress Sabina. This had not previously been done and is the best way to form a relative chronological sequence for coinage. The die-link sequence confirms the following chronology for the portrait types which appear on the aurei. First is a type called the turban, dating to 128 C.E. (Fig. 1). The next type is Sabina’s main portrait type, the queue, which was probably introduced in the year 131 C. E. (Fig. 3). The Aphrodite type comes next, around 133/134, and was in use until her death and shortly thereafter. Following her death in 136/7, she was consecrated as a diva and a posthumous issue was created to commemorate this.

So, this answers the question of the true sequence of the types. The reasons for the creation of the last two types, the Aphrodite and posthumous types, are well understood. The Aphrodite is represented in a classicizing style, which is associated with Hadrian’s return to Rome after his trips in the east. The posthumous type was created to commemorate her consecration.

Fig. 3: Sabina aureus with queue portrait type, ca. 131–136 (ANS 1960.175.29).

The impetus behind the creation of the other types is harder to address. The motivation behind the start of coining for the empress in 128, eleven years into Hadrian’s reign, is unclear. Previously scholars believed that it was because Sabina gained the title of Augusta in that year, but this has been proven incorrect by Eck and the results of the die study. Most likely a number of factors came together at the right time to inspire this change: the ten year anniversary of a reign was a common time for coinage reform, the imperial couple had just returned from a trip abroad and were about to embark on another one, there were no other Augustae alive at the time, and Sabina’s presence on coinage may have helped advertise the family’s prestige, given her relation to the imperial family of the previous dynasty. This last point is supported by the style of the portrait, which resembles that of her mother, Matidia, who was Trajan’s niece (Fig. 2).

Scholars have previously believed that the queue type was introduced to form a visual connection between Sabina and her predecessor, Plotina. However, there are a number of problems with this assessment. This message would have been redundant, since the turban already showed dynastic continuity, and untimely, since Plotina had died eight years previous. A side by side comparison shows that the very assertion that they look alike has been overstated, especially given the prevalence of ponytail-style hairdos among women at this time (Fig. 4). The motivation for the creation of the type is more likely the opposite, that it actually represents a stylistic departure from the previous dynasty and the introduction of a uniquely Hadrianic style.

More work needs to be done, but the results so far show that Sabina’s life events, particularly in association with Hadrian’s imperial travels, had an effect on the appearance of her coin portraits.


Art and royalty in Sparta of the 3rd century B.C.

The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that a revival of the arts in Sparta during the 3rd century B.C. was owed mainly to royal patronage, and that it was inspired by Alexander's successors, the Seleukids and the Ptolemies in particular. The tumultuous transition from the traditional Spartan dyarchy to a Hellenistic-style monarchy, and Sparta's attempts to regain its dominance in the Peloponnese (lost since the battle of Leuktra in 371 B.C.), are reflected in the promotion of the pan-Peloponnesian hero Herakles as a role model for the single king at the expense of the Dioskouroi, who symbolized dual kingship and had a limited, regional appeal.

Spartan influence in the Peloponnese was dramatically reduced after the battle of Leuktra in 371 B.C. (1) The history of Sparta in the 3rd century B.C. is marked by intermittent efforts to reassert Lakedaimonian hegemony. (2) A tendency toward absolutism as a means to that end intensified the latent power struggle between the Agiad and Eurypontid royal houses, leading to the virtual abolition of the traditional dyarchy in the reign of the Agiad Kleomenes III (ca. 235-222B. c.), who appointed his brother Eukleides as co-king, thus dislodging the Eurypontid line, at least temporarily. (3) This struggle had an impact on the art and coinage of Sparta, which is particularly noticeable in the reigns of Areus I (309-265 B.C.), Kleomenes III, and Nabis (207-194 B.C.).

HERAKLES IN SPARTAN COINAGE

The dominance of individual Spartan kings, following the model of other Hellenistic monarchs, is reflected in the messages imparted by their coinage. The drive to reclaim their lost influence in the Peloponnese led the kings of Sparta to issue coins in order to finance their mercenary armies. The very first coins of the Lakedaimonians were the silver tetradrachms struck by Areus I in 267-265 B.C.: the intended recipients were his mercenaries during the Chremonidean War. (4) The legend, naming King Areus as the issuing authority (basileos Areos), clearly imitated the coinage of Alexander's successors, with the title basileus carrying dynastic connotations beyond the local significance of Spartan kingship. Not only was this coinage issued exclusively in Areus's name, ignoring the other king of Sparta, the Eurypontid Eudamidas II (ca. 275-244 B.C.), it also pressed home its message by adopting a coin type used by Alexander the Great, with a youthful head of Herakles on the obverse and a seated Zeus on the reverses. (5) Alexander's posthumous silver tetradrachms were the most reliable legal tender at the time and their intended recipients more often than not were mercenaries. (6) The Chremonidean War thus prompted Areus to put an end to the traditional Spartan ban on coinage and at the same time overlook the Lakedaimonian aversion toward Alexander. This presented no problem, since the recipients of the coins would have been foreign mercenaries.

Herakles and his symbols would henceforth become a fixture of Spartan coinage until the reign of Nabis at the turn of the 2nd century B.C. (7) It is remarkable that the coins of 3rd-century Sparta are either anonymous (bearing the legend AA or RAKE) or issued in the name of a single king, and few of the Hellenistic kings of Sparta minted them. An anonymous group of bronze obols with a head of Herakles in a lionskin cap on the obverse and a club flanked by the stars of the Dioskouroi on the reverse (e.g., Fig. 1) was minted either by Areus around 265 B.C. or by his immediate successors in the decade 260-250. (8) The bronze coins of Kleomenes III adopted a similar type, but with a youthful Herakles. (9) His club remained on the reverse of another series of bronzes issued by Kleomenes, which introduced the piloi and stars of the Dioskouroi on the obverse. (10)

The Dioskouroi had been the traditional symbol of the Eurypontid-Agiad dyarchy since the Archaic and Classical periods. (11) Even though their presence on 6th-century Lakonian pottery is uncertain, (12) they were nevertheless represented on the throne of Apollo at Amyklai (13) and in the bronze reliefs in the temple of Athena Chalkioikos. (14) In addition, the tomb of Castor was shown to visitors near the agora of Sparta. (15) As for official art, we need look no further than Lysander's dedication of a bronze statuary group of his naval commanders, set up at Delphi after his victory at Aigospotamoi in 405. (16) It is significant that his image stood alongside those of the Dioskouroi, which were decorated with gold stars. The disappearance of these stars before the battle of Leuktra in 371 was taken as an omen of Spartan defeat. (17)

By the 3rd century B.C., however, the potency of the Dioskouroi as the model for Spartan royalty par excellence had weakened: their symbols on the bronzes of Kleomenes III and his successors, and later those of Nabis and his predecessors (Fig. 2), (18) were always complementary to those of Herakles. Both royal houses of Sparta claimed Herakles as ancestor. (19) He was prominent in the Archaic art of Lakonia, primarily in depictions of his labors. (21) On the basis of a Lakonian bronze statuette of Herakles in armor and some depictions of the armored hero in Lakonian pottery, John Boardman has argued that Herakles in Sparta served as a paradigm of the warrior hero and hoplite0 king. (21) Pausanias (3.15.3) saw a temple of Herakles adjacent to the city wall of Sparta, not far from the sanctuary of Helen. (22) He remarks that the cult statue of Herakles wore armor on account of his fight against Hippokoon and his sons. That the kings took their Heraklean ancestry seriously is indicated by Plutarch (Cleom. 13.2,16.4), who reports that Kleomenes III was perceived by Aratos and other visitors to his court as the only descendant of Herakles. This remark is best interpreted in the domestic context of Kleomenes' struggle with the other royal house of Sparta, which also claimed Heraklean ancestry, rather than in a broader context involving rival Hellenistic monarchs: of Kleomenes' contemporaries only his ally Ptolemy III Euergetes claimed to be the progeny of Herakles. (23) It is interesting that Kleomenes' noble conduct was attributed by his contemporaries to his Heraklean blood. (24)

The persistent appearance of Heraklean imagery on the coins of Hellenistic Lakedaimon suggests that the hero came to be preferred to the Dioskouroi as a symbol of Spartan royalty, not only in conscious emulation of Alexander the Great, who also claimed Herakles as an ancestor, (25) but also because the hero conveniently symbolized monarchy rather than dyarchy. The fact that Herakles was the hero of the philosophers as well (26) may have particularly appealed to Kleomenes III, who was a pupil of the Stoic philosopher Sphairos. (27)

STATUES ERECTED FOR AND BY AREUS I

In addition to introducing coinage, 3rd-century B.C. Spartan kings seem to have encouraged the erection of statuary, primarily their own portraits, at home and abroad. In this they were anticipated by Lysander, victor of the Peloponnesian War, who set up bronze groups with the spoils of his victory at Aigospotamoi in the sanctuaries of Apollo at Delphi (27) and Amyklai. (29) At Delphi, in addition to the bronze portrait that formed part of the naval victory monument, a second portrait of Lysander in marble, with long hair and beard, stood within the Treasury of the Akanthians, together with spoils taken from the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War in the Chalkidike. (30) There were two portrait statues of Areus I at Olympia, the first presented by the Eleans, the second by Ptolemy II, his ally in the Chremonidean War. The latter was probably set up in 266 B.C., and was strategically positioned not far from portraits of Ptolemy I, Antigonos the One-Eyed, and his son, Demetrios Poliorketes. (31) Areus was also active at Delphi, where he received promanteia and other honors in 267 B.C. (32)

During the reign of Areus I a bronze statue of the Eurotas River by Eutychides, the pupil of Lysippos, was set up in Sparta. (33) Eutychides' fame rested mainly on his statue of the Tyche of Antioch, commissioned by Seleukos I around 300 B.C. for the newly founded city. (34) Local personifications as symbols of cities became common in the Early Hellenistic period, and we may tentatively attribute the bronze Eurotas to the personal initiative of Areus I, as part of his program of civic renewal.

COIN PORTRAITS OF KLEOMENES III

The services of Eutychides were not the only feature of Hellenistic Sparta borrowed from the Seleukids. In addition to introducing sweeping social reforms and extending his influence throughout the Peloponnese by force of arms, Kleomenes III was also the first Lakedaimonian king to place his own portrait on his coins, although he refrained from naming himself in the legend (Fig. 3). (35) In the portrait, contrary to Spartan custom, he wears the royal diadem of the Successors, an element that forms a sharp contrast with the austere lifestyle attributed to him by Plutarch (Cleom. 13). The coin portrait was very likely inspired by that of Antiochos I (281-261 B.C.) (Fig. 4). (36)

The influence of the Seleukids upon Kleomenes is readily explained. Not only did Seleukid coins circulate in Sparta at the time, (37) but Kleomenes' father, Leonidas II, spent many years prior to his accession at the Seleukid court, presumably as a high-ranking mercenary, and strove to imitate the lifestyle of the eastern monarchs, thus making himself unpopular at home. (38) His son obviously learned his lesson well, but retained such aspects of regal pomp as were useful for conveying his message to the outside world, especially to his mercenaries. (39)

From 226/5 to 223/2 B. c. Kleomenes' mercenary army was subsidized by Ptolemy III. (40) This relationship had a direct impact on the bronze coinage issued by Kleomenes from 226 to 223, which showed an eagle on a thunderbolt on the obverse and a winged thunderbolt on the reverse (Fig. 5): as the eagle and thunderbolt were used on the reverse of Ptolemaic coins, the design of Kleomenes' bronzes may be taken as a tribute to his patron's coin types. (41) In addition, Ptolemy demanded Kleomenes' children and their grandmother as hostages, with fatal consequences for the dynasty. (42)

CULT STATUE OF PTOLEMY III

A slightly under-life-size portrait head of Ptolemy III in Parian marble (Fig. 6) must date from the same period (226/5-223/2 B.C.). (43) This is the first sculpture in Parian marble found in Lakonia that postdates the Late Archaic period. (44) The figure was probably completed in wood and plaster according to a well-known technique employed in Ptolemaic ruler portraiture. (45) Such statues were usually produced in Alexandria and often exported to various destinations in the Ptolemaic Aegean. The head is crowned by a royal diadem wings grow from the hair, indicating assimilation to Hermes. (46) The representation of Ptolemaic rulers with divine attributes may indicate ruler cult, as attested not only in Egypt itself but also in Egyptian dependencies. (47)

The Ptolemies began to assume the symbols of Hermes probably in the reign of Ptolemy III: some bronze coins of Abdera may depict his winged head on the obverse. (48) The symbolism of Hermes as a patron of merchants and communications, as well as a harbinger of peace, is obvious. (49) The association of the Ptolemaic rulers with Thoth, the Egyptian Hermes, is documented by the priests' decree of 196 B.C. honoring Ptolemy V inscribed on the Rosetta Stone. (50) In this decree Hermes-Thoth is the dispenser of justice who triumphs over his enemies. The Seleukids may in fact have anticipated the Ptolemies in assimilating the ruler to Hermes. A portrait of Antiochos II with wings over a diadem appeared on coins issued by his Hellespontine mints. (51) Antiochos Hierax (242?-227 B.C.), a contemporary of Ptolemy III, placed a posthumous portrait of Antiochos I with similar attributes on his coins issued in the Troad (Fig. 7). (52)

Ptolemy III may also be assimilated to Hermes-Thoth on a clay sealing from Edfu, where he holds a caduceus and wears a lotus leafs. (53) He also holds a caduceus on coins of Marathos in Phoenicia (Fig. 8). (54) It is interesting that these coins were minted by the city, not the king it is therefore probable that the Ptolemies chose to emphasize the assimilation to Hermes for the purpose of foreign relations. A small bronze group of wrestlers in the Istanbul Museum, depicting the winner with wings and a lotus leaf on his head, has been interpreted as the triumph of Ptolemy III over a barbarian enemy variants of the group show the winner with an Egyptian headdress. (55) A bronze figurine of a seated Hermes in Paris, with wings on his head and wearing a lotus leaf, has also been interpreted as Ptolemy III. (56)

The head of Ptolemy III in Sparta (Fig. 6) is usually considered a private dedication, not an official portrait. But what constitutes an official portrait? And what is the significance of the divine attributes unless the head belonged to a cult statue? Ptolemy's financial support usually came at a price, as the hostages demanded from Kleomenes show. In 224/3 B.C., about two years after he struck his financial bargain with Kleomenes, Ptolemy was made an eponymous hero of Athens and received cult in exchange for his support against the looming threat of Antigonos Doson. (57) Statues of Ptolemy III as an eponymous hero of Athens were erected both in the Athenian Agora and at Delphi. (58) On the evidence of the Spartan portrait statue with divine attributes, the establishment of a cult of Ptolemy III in Sparta, following the example of Athens, is a distinct possibility. It may have been founded by one of his officials: a parallel is offered by the cult of Ptolemy III and Berenike II set up on Thera by Artemidoros of Perge. (59)

The acrolithic technique of Ptolemy's portrait was employed in a nearly contemporary colossal bearded head of Herakles, about half a meter high and also in Parian marble, now in the Sparta Museum (Fig. 9). (60) In light of Herakles' political significance for the Hellenistic kings of Sparta, a colossal statue of the hero from this period can only be a product of royal patronage. Its findspot is uncertain, as it was donated to the museum in the 19th century by the Manousakis family, which owned land in various parts of Sparta and its suburbs. (61)

The size suggests that the hero was seated. His neck is contoured for insertion. The rear is flat, rough picked, and forms a jagged edge on top for the application of plaster (Fig. 9, right). He did not wear a lionskin cap, however, as his curly hair is modeled at the top and sides. The bottom of his beard, now lost, was made of a separate piece of marble and pinned on. The marble piecing may have been due to a flaw in the stone on the other hand, it may be evidence that a larger piece is missing, perhaps including the hand of Herakles resting on his chin. His upward gaze indicates that the head was tilted toward the sky. The torso would have been completed in plaster and wood, only his head and limbs being made of marble.

Colossal acrolithic heads with a stepped rear surface for the application of plaster are found mainly in the 3rd and 2nd centuries B.C. Two examples, also in Parian marble, may be associated with Ptolemaic ruler portraits and dated to the reign of Ptolemy III: a posthumous head of Ptolemy I Soter, now in Copenhagen, (62) and a head, probably of Berenike II, from the Athenian Agora. (63) The style of the Herakles head in Sparta points to a date in the second half of the 3rd century B.C., but is hard to pin down more closely. It draws on Lysippan prototypes, especially the seated types of Herakles Epitrapezios (64) and Herakles Resting after Cleaning the Augean Stables (in Taranto). (65) The latter supported his head on his hand and gazed up, as does the Herakles in Sparta. (66) This type is now mainly known from miniature copies in which Herakles rests his right cheek on his hand, but there is a variant reproduced on a bronze statuette in Paris and on a gold quarter-stater of Herakleia in Lucania, dated ca. 281-278 B. C., (67) in which Herakles' hand is placed directly on his chin in a gesture similar to the one suggested for the Spartan head.

The Herakles in Sparta, then, probably sat on a rock, looking up, chin resting on his hand. The Lysippan connection does not necessarily mean that the sculptor was a close follower of Lysippos, since the master's Her akles types were popular all over the Greek world. The acrolithic technique, mixing stone with plaster and wood, indicates that the statue stood in a sheltered position, and the colossal size suggests a cult statue. The fact that only the head and limbs were of stone equally suggests that his torso was not naked. He may well be associated with the Herakles in armor seen by Pausanias (3.15.3) in his temple near the city wall.

Because Nabis was thought to be the first Spartan ruler to reproduce a seated Herakles on coinage (Fig. 10), (68) the head in the Sparta Museum has been assigned to his reign. The statue was tentatively reconstructed following the coin type, with the figure seated on a rock, right hand resting on club, left placed on the rock. (69) We have seen, however, that the head of Herakles in the Sparta Museum probably followed the iconographic scheme of the Lysippan Herakles in Taranto, gazing up, chin resting on hand. Moreover, Nabis was not the first to mint coins of the seated Herakles type. A group of tetradrachms with a seated Herakles on the reverse and the head of Athena on the obverse (e.g., Fig. 11), not carrying Nabis's name, is now attributed to his predecessors, Lykourgos and Machanidas (219-207 B.C.). (70) The Athena head was inspired by a gold stater of Alexander with Nike on the reverse it may, in fact, have reached Sparta via an imitation coin type issued by Antiochos 11. (71) A similar coin type with the head of Athena on the obverse and Nike on the reverse was minted by Side in the early 2nd century (Fig. 12). (72) More to the point, the seated Herakles on the Spartan coins is not a statuary type. It was copied after a coin type used in the mints of Antiochos I at Sardis (or Smyrna) and Magnesia ad Sipylum, and in the mints of Antiochos II at Temnos(?), Myrina, Kyme, and Phokaia (Fig. 4). (73) It is interesting that the coin type of seated Herakles issued by Antiochos II was adapted by Euthydemos of Bactria as well (Fig. 13), possibly around the same time as the Spartan coins (ca. 208-206 B.C.). (74)

The dissociation of the Herakles head in Sparta (Fig. 9) from the coin type of Nabis (Fig. 10) allows fresh speculation as to possible patronage. Given the insistence of Kleomenes III that he was the only progeny of Herakles, and his un-Spartan interest in art (as indicated by the plundering of the statues and paintings of Megalopolis), (75) he might well have commissioned a cult statue of Herakles as a paradigm of the soldier king. The fact that he took the unprecedented step of introducing royal portraits to Spartan coinage signifies that he understood well the value of propaganda abroad, while the dedication in Sparta itself of a colossal cult statue of Herakles as his royal ancestor points to a systematic manipulation of the arts to convey domestic political messages as well.

The preceding survey has made clear that, in an effort to reclaim sovereignty over the Peloponnese, a handful of 3rd-century B.C. Spartan kings adopted un-Spartan policies aimed at the outside world, following current political and artistic trends in other Hellenistic kingdoms. Some of these policies had been anticipated by Lysander, victor of the Peloponnesian War. The Hellenistic kings of Sparta imitated Alexander's successors in their patronage of the arts and in the dissemination of royal portraits, both on coins and in statuary erected in Panhellenic sanctuaries. Sculpture from 3rd-century Sparta provides evidence of ruler cult (albeit imported) and the promotion of Herakles as the divine ancestor of the royal line.

(1.) For the battle of Leuktra and its consequences, see Cartledge 2002, pp. 251-259.

Early versions of this paper were presented at the 106th Annual Meeting of the Archaeological Institute of America held in Boston in January 2005 (under the title "Keeping Up with the Seleucids and the Ptolemies") and at the international conference "Sparta and Laconia from Prehistory to Premodern," held in Sparta in March 2005. I am grateful to Graham Shipley and Ellen Millender for inviting me to participate in their Spartan colloquium at the AIA meeting Andrew Meadows of the British Museum Coin Room for access to the coins discussed in this article and for numismatic advice Catherine Lorber for sharing her views on a possible portrait of Ptolemy III on coins of Abdera Stella Raftopoulou for information on the heads of Herakles and Ptolemy III in the Sparta Museum and Paul Cartledge and Ellen Millender for historical advice. I am also indebted to Charles Watkinson for his encouragement, and to the two anonymous Hesperia reviewers for their constructive criticism.

The coins illustrated in this article are not reproduced to scale.

(2.) On the history of Sparta in the 3rd century B.C., See Oliva 1971, pp. 201-318 Shimron 1972 Cartledge and Spawforth 2002, pp. 28-79.

(3.) Plut. Cleorn. 11.3. The dyarchy officially came to an end under the Eurypontid Lykourgos in 217 B.c.: Cartledge and Spawforth 2002, p. 64.

(4.) On the coinage of Sparta, see Grunauer-von Hoerschelmann 1978 Morkholm 1991, pp. 149-150, pls. 24,25.

(5.) Grunauer-von Hoerschelmann 1978, pl. 1, group I. On the significance of Areus's Alexandrine coinage, see Cartledge and Spawforth 2002, p. 35.

(6.) Morkholm 1991, p. 36 Price 1991, pp. 155-166 (Peloponnesian Alexanders) Meadows 2001, p. 56.

(8.) Grunauer-von Hoerschelmann, 1978, pl. 1, group 11 Morkholm 1991, pp.149-150.

(9.) Grunauer-von Hoerschelmann 1978, pl. 4, group VI.

(10.) Grunauer-von Hoerschelmann 1978, pl. 4, group VII.

(11.) Cartledge and Spawforth 2002, p. 63.

(16.) Plut. Lys.18.1 Mor. 395B, 397F Paus.10.9.7-8 Syll. (3) 115. Jacquemin 1999, p. 338, no. 322. On the naval battle of Aigospotamoi, see Cartledge 2002, p. 225.

(18). Grunauer-von Hoerschelmann 1978, pl. 4, group VIII, pl. 5, group VIII, and pl.7, group X.

(19.) Huttner 1997, pp. 43-64. The earliest source is Pind. Pyth. 10.1-4. On Herakles as role model for royalty, see huttner 1997, pp.221-323.

(21.) Kassel, Staatliche Museen Br. 17: Boardman 1992. I am grateful to John Boardman for drawing my attention to this publication.

(22.) The location of this temple is unknown.

(23.) Theoc. Id 17.26 OGIS 54 Huttner 1997, pp. 124-129. The Antigonids only assumed a Heraklean persona under Philip V (221-179 B.C.): Huttner 1997, pp. 166-174.

(24.) Plut. Cleom. 13.2, 16.4 Huttner 1997, p. 54.

(25.) Palagia 1986, pp. 138-142 Huttner 1997, pp. 86-123.

(27.) Plut. Cleom. 11.2 Shimron 1972, p. 33. On Kleomenes III and Stoic philosophy, see Erskine 1990, pp. 123-149.

(31.) Paus. 6.12.5,15.8 Syll. (3) 433.

(34.) Overbeck 1868, nos. 1530-1531 Meyer 2000 Andreae 2001, pp. 67-68 Schmalz 2002.

(35.) On the reign of Kleomenes, see Cartledge and Spawforth 2002, pp. 4958. For anonymous silver tetradrachms with a royal portrait attributed to Kleomenes III and dated to the years of his military campaigns in the Peloponnese (227-222 B.C.), see Grunauer-von Hoerschelmann 1978, pp. 7-16, pl. 2, group III Morkholm 1991, p.149, pl. 34, no. 505. Areus had issued coins in his name but they did not feature his portrait. Nabis was the only king of Sparta who dared to do both: see below, Fig. 10, and Grunauer-von Hoerschelmann 1978, pl. 6, group IX, no. 17.

(36.) As shown on his own coins and those of Antiochos II (261-246 B.C.): Houghton and Lorber 2002, pls. 18-20,22,23. On the Seleukid overtones of Kleomenes' coin portrait, see Grunauer-von Hoerschelmann 1978, p. 8 Cartledge and Spawforth 2002, p. 55.

(37.) Tetradrachm of Antiochos II found in Sparta (hoard buried ca. 222 B.C.): Thompson, Morkholm, and Kraay 1973, no. 181.

(38.) Plut. Ages. 3.6, 10.2. Cartledge and Spawforth 2002, p. 238, n.10. The date of his exile is uncertain. Plutarch says that he lived in the court of Seleukos I (312-281 B.C.) but Antiochos I (281-261 B.C.) is more likely. Kleonymos, the father of Leonidas II, had acted as regent to Areus I: Paus. 3.6.2 Cartledge and Spawforth 2002, p. 30. His defection to Pyrrhos in 272 may have precipitated his son's exile: Plut. Pyrrh. 26.9 Mor. 219F.

(39.) Grunauer-von Hoerschelmann 1978, p.11 Cartledge and Spawforth 2002, p. 55.

(40.) Cartledge and Spawforth 2002, p. 54 Holbl 2001, pp. 52-53.

(41.) Grunauer-von Hoerschelmann 1978, pl. 3, groups IV and V Bringmann and Noeske 2000, pp. 238-240.

(43.) Sparta, Archaeological Museum 5366. Rumpf 1963 Kyrieleis 1975, pp. 34, 145, 169, no. C 8, pl. 24:1.

(44.) On Late Archaic sculpture in Parian marble from Lakonia, see Palagia 1993.

(45.) Kyrieleis 1975, pp. 130-136 Laronde and Queyrel 2001, pp. 757-759.

(46.) The wings were mistaken for bull's horns and Ptolemy was interpreted as a new Dionysos by Rumpf (1963), followed by Kyrieleis (1975, p. 169).

(48.) I am grateful to Catherine Lorber for explaining her reasons for identifying the ruler on the Abdera coins as Ptolemy III. He had previously been identified as Ptolemy II: see Svoronos 1904, p. [sigma]l[sigma][tau],, no. 929, with arguments to the contrary in Ashton 1998. On Ptolemy III assimilated to Hermes, see Svoronos 1904, p. [sigma][xi][gamma] Kyrieleis 1973.

(49.) Cf. Laubscher 1992, p. 320.

(50.) OGIS 90 Kyrieleis 1973, p. 143 Holbl 2001, p. 165, n. 38.

(51.) Houghton and Lorber 2002, p. 177, nos. 490-492, pl. 23. On Seleukid coin portraits with wings, see also Fleischer 1991, pp. 21-22.

(52.) Houghton and Lorber 2002, pp. 306-309, nos. 871, 872, 874-877, pl. 41.

(53.) Milne 1916, p. 91, no. 68, pl. 4.

(54.) Svoronos 1904, p. [sigma][xi][gamma], nos. 1073-1088, pl. 31.

(55.) Istanbul, Archaeological Museum 190. Kyrieleis 1973.

(56.) Paris, Louvre Br 4305. Laubscher 1992.

(57.) Habicht 1997, p. 182 Holbl 2001, p. 52.

(59.) Hiller von Gaertringen 1899, p. 172 1904, pp. 100-101 Bagnall 1976, p.134 Palagia 1992, p. 171, n. 5.

(60.) Sparta, Archaeological Museum 52. LIMC IV, 1988, p. 790, no. 1312, s.v. Herakles (O. Palagia) Damaskos 2002. The head was damaged by fire. The acrolithic technique was also employed in colossal statues of the Roman period from Lakonia: examples include a head of Helen in Taygetos marble (Sparta, Archaeological Museum 571: Palagia 2001, pp. 291-295, fig. 5) and a head of Dionysos (Sparta, Archaeological Museum 728: Damaskos 2002, p. 118, figs. 3-5).

(61.) A findspot on the acropolis of Sparta is proposed by Damaskos (2002, p. 117), whereas Kourinou (2000, p. 205, n. 695) tentatively suggests the area of Psychiko.

(62.) Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek 2300. Kyrieleis 1975, p. 165, no. A 3, pls. 4,5.

(63.) Athens, Agora Museum S 551. Stewart 1998 Palagia, forthcoming.

(64.) LIMC IV, 1988, pp. 774-775, nos. 957-979, s.v. Herakles (O. Palagia) Moreno 1995, pp. 140-147, 347-351.

(65.) LIMC IV, 1988, pp. 773-774, nos. 927-940, s.v. Herakles (O. Palagia) Moreno 1995, pp. 281-288, 374-379. The original was taken to Rome in 209 B. c.: LIMC IV, p. 773.

(66.) The head of Herakles in Sparta is considered a variant of the Taranto type by Moreno (1995, p. 286).

(67.) Bronze statuette: Paris, Cabinet des Medailles 558. LIMC IV, 1988, p. 774, no. 938, s.v. Herakles (O. Palagia). Gold quarter-stater: LIMC IV, 1988, p. 773, no. 930, s.v. Herakles (O. Palagia) Van Keuren 1994, pp. 38-39, 88, pl. 22, no. 124 Moreno 1995, p. 284, fig. 4.41.2.

(68.) Grunauer-von Hoerschelmann 1978, pl. 6, group IX, no. 17. A portrait of Nabis is on the obverse, his name on the reverse.

(69.) Damaskos 2002, pp. 119-120.

(70.) Grunauer-von Hoerschelmann 1978, pl. 6, group IX, nos. 1-16 Morkholm 1991, p. 150.

(71.) Gold staters issued by the mints of Antiochos II at Sardis and Tarsos: Houghton and Lorber 2002, p.184, no. 517, pl. 25 p. 198, nos. 559-560, pl. 26. Alexander's Athena type: Morkholm 1991, p. 50, pl. 3, nos. 38,47 Price 1991, pls. 1-4.

(72.) Franke, Leschhorn, Muller, and Nolle 1988, pp. 24-31, pl. 1 Morkholm 1991, p. 143, pl. 33, no. 481.

(73.) Grunauer-von Hoerschelmann 1978, p. 27 Houghton and Lorber 2002, pp. 122-123, nos. 313, 318, pp. 178-182, nos. 497, 500-501, 503-505, 509-512, pls. 17-18, 23-25.

(74.) Grunauer-von Hoerschelmann 1978, p. 27 Morkholm 1991, p.121, pl. 25, nos. 383-386 Holt 1999, p. 131, pls. 24-25.

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Ashton, R. 1998. "Hellenistic Bronze Coins of Abdera with a Male Portrait," in Studies in Greek Numismatics in Memory of Martin jessop Price, ed. R. Ashton and S. Hurter, London, pp. 17-21.

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Bringmann, K., and H.-C. Noeske. 2000. Schenkungen hellenistischer Herrscher an griechische Stadte und Heiligtumer 2.1: Geben und Nehmen: Monarchische Wohltatigkeit und Selbstdarstellung im Zeitalter des Hellenismus, Berlin.

Cartledge, P 2002. Sparta and Lakonia: A Regional History, 1300-362 RC, 2nd ed., London.

Cartledge, P, and A. Spawforth. 2002. Hellenistic and Roman Sparta: A Tale of Two Cities, 2nd ed., London.

Damaskos, D. 2002. "Ein kolossaler Herakleskopf aus Sparta," AntP 28, pp. 117-124.

Erskine, A. 1990. The Hellenistic Stoa: Political Thought andAction, Ithaca.

Fleischer, R. 1991. Studien zur seleukidischen Kunst 1: Herrscherbildnisse, Mainz.

Franke, P R., W. Leschhorn, B. Muller, and J. Nolle. 1988. Side: Munzpragung, Inschriften, und Geschichte einer antiken Stadt in der Turkei, Saarbrucken.

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Houghton, A., and C. Lorber. 2002. Seleucid Coins: A Comprehensive Catalogue 1: Seleucus I through Antiochus III, New York.

Huttner, U. 1997. Die politische Rolle der Heraklesgestalt im griechischen Herrschertum, Stuttgart.

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Laubscher, H. P 1992. "Ein Ptolemaer als Hermes," in Kotinos: Festschrift fur Erika Simon, ed. H. Froning, T. Holscher, and H. Mielsch, Mainz, pp. 317-322.

Meadows, A. 2001. "Money, Freedom, and Empire in the Hellenistic World," in Money and Its Uses in the Ancient Greek World ed. A. Meadows and K. Shipton, Oxford, pp. 53-63.

Meyer, M. 2000. "Bronzestatuetten im Typus der Tyche von Antiocheia," Kolnjb 33, pp. 185-195.

Milne, J. G. 1916. "Ptolemaic Seal Impressions," JHS 36, pp. 87-101.

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Coins and Coinage at Euesperides1

The coinage of Euesperides was always minor in comparison with that of Cyrene, or even of Barca. But its sporadic issues do have an interest of their own. At this session we are also concerned with the city, and I wish to suggest what we can learn from the numismatic evidence — not just from the coins struck there, but from the coins of other mints which have been found there.

It is preferable to speak generally of the ‘coinage’ of Euesperides rather than of its ‘mint’, for it seems certain that some of the issues bearing the city's name were actually produced at Cyrene, as indeed were also some issues of Barca. The coinage of Euesperides was always small in comparison with the older and much richer coinage of Cyrene. It is instructive that the catalogue proper of Robinson's BMC Cyrenaica requires 90 pages to list the autonomous and Ptolemaic coins struck at Cyrene, 18 for those of Barca, just 4 for Euesperides.

For Euesperides there are no archaic tetradrachms, the denomination so prominent in a variety of types at Cyrene. The earliest Euesperidean coin in BMC , a drachm of types silphium/dolphin, is assigned by Robinson to before 480 BC.


The Coin Portrait Types of the Empress Sabina

Fae Amiro is a PhD candidate at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Her research focus is Roman portraiture, and she is currently writing a dissertation on the portraiture of the Imperial house during the reign of the emperor Hadrian, which addresses broader questions of portrait type creation and the dissemination of sculpture throughout the Roman empire. She was a participant in the 2017 Eric P. Newman Graduate Seminar.

The empress Sabina is not a figure who is frequently given much attention, due in part to her lack of prominence in the literary record. She was wife of the emperor Hadrian and they are said to have had an unhappy marriage, but not much else is known. Her coinage, however, has received more scholarly attention, because it was issued in larger numbers than that of any previous empress and features a good deal of variety in its portraiture. The question of the true chronology of her coinage has been debated for ninety years. However, few have addressed the reasons behind the changes observable in the coinage, in particular the impetus behind its start date and the introductions of new types.

Fig. 1: Sabina aureus with turban portrait type, ca. 128–131 (ANS 1960.175.30).

In order to address these problems, I conducted a die study of the aurei which display the portrait of the empress Sabina. This had not previously been done and is the best way to form a relative chronological sequence for coinage. The die-link sequence confirms the following chronology for the portrait types which appear on the aurei. First is a type called the turban, dating to 128 C.E. (Fig. 1). The next type is Sabina’s main portrait type, the queue, which was probably introduced in the year 131 C. E. (Fig. 3). The Aphrodite type comes next, around 133/134, and was in use until her death and shortly thereafter. Following her death in 136/7, she was consecrated as a diva and a posthumous issue was created to commemorate this.

So, this answers the question of the true sequence of the types. The reasons for the creation of the last two types, the Aphrodite and posthumous types, are well understood. The Aphrodite is represented in a classicizing style, which is associated with Hadrian’s return to Rome after his trips in the east. The posthumous type was created to commemorate her consecration.

Fig. 3: Sabina aureus with queue portrait type, ca. 131–136 (ANS 1960.175.29).

The impetus behind the creation of the other types is harder to address. The motivation behind the start of coining for the empress in 128, eleven years into Hadrian’s reign, is unclear. Previously scholars believed that it was because Sabina gained the title of Augusta in that year, but this has been proven incorrect by Eck and the results of the die study. Most likely a number of factors came together at the right time to inspire this change: the ten year anniversary of a reign was a common time for coinage reform, the imperial couple had just returned from a trip abroad and were about to embark on another one, there were no other Augustae alive at the time, and Sabina’s presence on coinage may have helped advertise the family’s prestige, given her relation to the imperial family of the previous dynasty. This last point is supported by the style of the portrait, which resembles that of her mother, Matidia, who was Trajan’s niece (Fig. 2).

Scholars have previously believed that the queue type was introduced to form a visual connection between Sabina and her predecessor, Plotina. However, there are a number of problems with this assessment. This message would have been redundant, since the turban already showed dynastic continuity, and untimely, since Plotina had died eight years previous. A side by side comparison shows that the very assertion that they look alike has been overstated, especially given the prevalence of ponytail-style hairdos among women at this time (Fig. 4). The motivation for the creation of the type is more likely the opposite, that it actually represents a stylistic departure from the previous dynasty and the introduction of a uniquely Hadrianic style.

More work needs to be done, but the results so far show that Sabina’s life events, particularly in association with Hadrian’s imperial travels, had an effect on the appearance of her coin portraits.


Contents

Cyrenaica had been incorporated into the Ptolemaic realm in 323 BC, by Ptolemy I Soter shortly after the death of Alexander the Great. The region proved difficult to control and around 300 BC, Ptolemy I entrusted the region to Magas, son of his wife Berenice I by an earlier marriage. After Ptolemy I's death, Magas asserted his independence and engaged in warfare with his successor Ptolemy II Philadelphus. Around 275 BC, Magas married Apama, who came from the Seleucid dynasty, which had become enemies of the Ptolemies. [2] Berenice II was their only child. When Ptolemy II renewed his efforts to reach a settlement with Magas of Cyrene in the late 250s BC, it was agreed that Berenice would be married to her cousin, the future Ptolemy III, who was Ptolemy II's heir. [3] [4]

The astronomer Gaius Julius Hyginus claims that when Berenice's father Magas and his troops were routed in battle, Berenice mounted a horse, rallied the remaining forces, killed many of the enemy, and drove the rest to retreat. [5] The veracity of this story is unclear and the battle in question is not otherwise attested, but "it is not on the face of it impossible." [6]

Queen of Cyrene Edit

Around 250 BC, Magas died, making Berenice ruling queen of Cyrene. At this point, Berenice's mother Apame refused to honour the marriage agreement with the Ptolemies and invited an Antigonid prince, Demetrius the Fair to Cyrene to marry Berenice instead. With Apame's help, Demetrius seized control of the city. Allegedly, Demetrius and Apame became lovers. Berenice is said to have discovered them in bed together and had him assassinated. Apame was spared. [7] Control of Cyrene was then entrusted to a republican government, led by two Cyrenaeans named Ecdelus and Demophanes, until Berenice's actual wedding to Ptolemy III in 246 BC after his accession to the throne. [4] [8]

Queen of Egypt Edit

Berenice married Ptolemy III in 246 BC after his accession to the throne. [8] This brought Cyrenaica back into the Ptolemaic realm, where it would remain until her great-great-grandson Ptolemy Apion left it to the Roman Republic in his will in 96 BC.

Ruler cult Edit

In 244 or 243 BC, Berenice and her husband were incorporated into the Ptolemaic state cults and worshipped as the Theoi Euergetai (Benefactor Gods), alongside Alexander the Great and the earlier Ptolemies. [8] [11] Berenice was also worshipped as a goddess on her own, Thea Euergetis (Benefactor Goddess). She was often equated with Aphrodite and Isis and came to be particularly associated with protection against shipwrecks. Most of the evidence for this cult derives from the reign of Ptolemy IV or later, but a cult in her honour is attested in the Fayyum in Ptolemy III's reign. [12] This cult closely parallels that offered to her mother-in-law, Arsinoe II, who was also equated with Aphrodite and Isis, and associated with protection from shipwrecks. The parallelism is also presented on the gold coinage minted posthumously in honour of the two queens. The coinage of Arsinoe II bears a pair of cornucopiae on the reverse side, while that of Berenice bears a single cornucopia.

Berenice's Lock Edit

Berenice's divinity is closely connected with the story of "Berenice's Lock". According to this story, Berenice vowed to sacrifice her long hair as a votive offering if Ptolemy III returned safely from battle during the Third Syrian War. She dedicated her tresses to and placed them in the temple at Cape Zephyrium in Alexandria, where Arsinoe II was worshipped as Aphrodite, but the next morning the tresses had disappeared. Conon of Samos, the court astronomer identified a constellation as the missing hair, claiming that Aphrodite had placed it in the sky as an acknowledgement of Berenice's sacrifice. The constellation is known to this day as Coma Berenices (Latin for 'Berenice's Lock'). [13] It is unclear whether this event took place before or after Ptolemy's return Branko Van Oppen de Ruiter suggests that it happened after Ptolemy's return (around March–June or May 245 BC). [14] This episode served to link Berenice with the goddess Isis in her role as goddess of rebirth, since she was meant to have dedicated a lock of her own hair at Koptos in mourning for her husband Osiris. [15] [12]

The story was widely propagated by the Ptolemaic court. Seals were produced depicting Berenice with a shaved head and the attributes of Isis/Demeter. [16] [12] The poet Callimachus, who was based in the Ptolemaic court, celebrated the event in a poem, The Lock of Berenice, of which only a few lines remain. [17] The first century BC Roman poet Catullus produced a loose translation or adaptation of the poem in Latin, [18] and a prose summary appears in Hyginus' De Astronomica. [5] [13] The story was popular in the early modern period, when it was illustrated by many neoclassical painters.

Panhellenic Games Edit

Berenice entered a chariot team in the Nemean Games of 243 or 241 BC and was victorious. The success is celebrated in another poem by Callimachus' Victory of Berenice. This poem connects Berenice with Io, a lover of Zeus in Greek mythology, who was also connected with Isis by contemporary Greeks. [19] [12] According to Hyginus, she also entered a team in the Olympic games at some unknown date. [5] [8]

Death Edit

Ptolemy III died in late 222 BC and was succeeded by his son by Berenice, Ptolemy IV Philopator. Berenice died soon after, in early 221 BC. Polybius states that she was poisoned, as part of a general purge of the royal family by the new king's regent Sosibius. [20] [8] She continued to be venerated in the state ruler cult. By 211 BC, she had her own priestess, the athlophorus ('prize-bearer'), who marched in processions in Alexandria behind the priest of Alexander the Great and the Ptolemies, and the canephorus of the deified Arsinoe II. [6]

With Ptolemy III she had the following children: [21]

Name Image Birth Death Notes
Arsinoe III 246/5 BC 204 BC Married her brother Ptolemy IV in 220 BC.
Ptolemy IV Philopator May/June 244 BC July/August 204 BC King of Egypt from 222 - 204 BC.
A son July/August 243 BC Perhaps 221 BC Name unknown, possibly 'Lysimachus'. He was probably killed in or before the political purge of 221 BC. [22]
Alexander September/October 242 BC Perhaps 221 BC He was probably killed in or before the political purge of 221 BC. [23]
Magas November/December 241 BC 221 BC Scalded to death in his bath by Theogos or Theodotus, at the orders of Ptolemy IV. [24]
Berenice January/February 239 BC February/March 238 BC Posthumously deified on 7 March 238 BC by the Canopus Decree, as Berenice Anasse Parthenon (Berenice, mistress of virgins). [25]

The city of Euesperides (now the Libyan city of Benghazi) was renamed Berenice in her honour, a name it retained until the Middle Ages.

The asteroid 653 Berenike, discovered in 1907, also is named after Queen Berenice. [26]


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