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729754. Sold For $1750

SYRIA, Seleukid Kings. Tryphon. 142-138 BC. AR Drachm (4.27 gm). Antioch mint. Diademed head right / BASILEWS TRUFWNOS AUTOKRATOROS, Macedonian helmet with cheek-pieces left, adorned with spike and ibex horn; control mark in left field. Houghton -; Newell, SMA 267; SNG Spaer -; Seyrig, ANSNNM 119, 18. EF. $1750.

CNR XXVII, June 2002, lot 43.

In 144 BC, a hardened born-soldier by the name of Diodotos defeated the young Demetrios II Theus Philadelphos, a youth of about sixteen years age. The revolt had errupted in Apamaea where Demetrios was unpopular for his lack of control of the military, which was pillaging the country it was supposed to be protecting. Demetrios II did not entirely end his reign, but rather retreated to the Phoenician coast to rule locally. Diodotos held an "ace" in his political game, this expedient being a little boy -- the orphaned son of Alexander Balas, who was kept in hiding in the hills under the protection of an Arab chieftain. (Balas was killed only shortly before, assasinated as a result of attacking Demetrios II, who had been installed by Ptolemy VII). This child, perhaps only two or three years old, was installed as the new king Antiochos VI Dionysos. His new protector and mentor, the aforementioned Diodotos, became popularly known as Tryphon. Tryphon served as regent for the understandably incapable ruler, who was still preoccupied with the task of being a growing boy.

Tryphon became very powerful in his office of regent for Antiochos VI. He is easily branded as treacherous, if not a megalomaniac, biding his time and waiting for the moment to strike in a bid for absolute power. His ambitions became increasingly apparent, as the letters TPY and the characteristic Macedonian helmet with a single Ibex horn began to replace any Dionysaic reference (to Antiochos). Realizing the support he had in his troops, Tryphon ordered the death the five-year-old Antiochos VI, and thereby ascended to the throne himself. Tryphon continued to identify himself with his unusual helmet motif, but also desisted in using the Seleukid era dating, beginning fresh with his own regnal years. This signaled the death of the mainline Seleukid Empire and its rebirth in a new form, or so Tryphon hoped. Unfortunately for him, his popularity waned (or specifically the veneer of his legitimacy), and he came to be regarded as a usurper. During the last several reigns, an Antiochos who was a brother of Demetrios II was growing up in Side in the country of Pamphylia. When he turned 23, Antiochos learned that his brother was captured in Media. He prudently chose to fill the vacuum of a legitimate Seleukid monarch, and entered Syria. The people, now weary of his reign, deserted Tryphon so that he had no military or popular support. He fled the capital and led the life of a fugitive, until he found this lifestyle unsavory and realized the odds piled against him, and committed suicide. The young man Antiochos who was acclaimed in Syria became the rather more successful king Antiochos VII Euergetes.