CILICIA, Aegeae. Hadrian.
|285, Lot: 219. Estimate $150.
Sold for $300. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.
AD 117-138. AR Tridrachm (24mm, 9.53 g, 1h). Dated CY 164 (AD 117/18). Laureate bust of Hadrian right, slight drapery / Diademed head of Alexander III of Macedon right; below, goat kneeling left, head right. Prieur 715; SNG Levante -; SNG France 2326. Near VF, minor porosity. Rare.
Some question has arisen regarding the identification of the portrait on the reverse of this issue. Prieur identifies it as Perseus, the hero who slew Medusa and rescued the princess Andromeda. SNG France, on the other hand, opts for Alexander the Great. While some coins from this region do use the portrait of Perseus as a type, his identifying symbols, the gorgoneion, the winged helmet, and, especially, the harpa, are always included along with his portrait. Apart from Prieur 717, these attributes appear nowhere on this issue. The diademed head is indicative of a Hellenistic ruler, and the portrait bears a remarkable similarity to the known portraits of Alexander the Great. It is possible that, since Cilician Aegeae was the namesake of the old Macedonian capital, the inclusion of Alexander’s portrait made an attractive, if not actual, reference to the Hellenistic past. At the same time, given that these coins were struck on behalf of the philhellenic emperor Hadrian, the connection between himself and the great Macedonian king would not have been missed. It is quite possible, given the great rarity of this type, that this was a special issue, perhaps struck while the emperor himself was visiting the region.