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A Hellenistic Masterpiece

782034. Sold For $7250

KINGS of MACEDON. Philip V. 221-179 BC. AR Tetradrachm (32mm, 16.53 g, 12h). Pella or Amphipolis mint; Zoilos, magistrate. Struck circa 184-179 BC. Helmeted head of Philip as the hero Perseus left, harpa over shoulder, in the center of a Macedonian shield / BASILEWS FILIPPOU, Club; monogram (of Zoilos) above, two monograms below; all within oak-wreath; star to outer left. Cf. Mamroth, Philip 24 (didrachm); SNG München -; cf. SNG Alpha Bank 1053 (didrachm). Superb EF, lightly toned. Unpublished as a tetradrachm.



From the Semon Lipcer Collection.

Philip V was the son of the Macedonian king Demetrios II Aitolikos. He was only nine at the time of his father's death in 239 BC, so the kingdom passed to his cousin, Antigonos III Doson, who ruled until 221 BC. The entirety of his reign was devoted to maintaining the supremacy of Macedon in Greece, which inevitably brought the kingdom into conflict with Rome, whose power in Greece was ascendant. Two major wars ensued, the First and Second Macedonian Wars, the latter culminating in the overwhelming defeat of the Macedonians at the Battle of Cynocephalae in 197 BC. Although Philip retained his kingdom, the influence of Macedon was considerably decreased, and Greece passed into the sphere of Rome.

This tetradrachm is from Philip's fourth, and final, series of silver coinage. The types employed were introduced in his second silver series. The obverse features the head of the hero Perseus in the boss of a Macedonian shield. Perseus was regarded as a common ancestor to both the Macedonian royal house and the Persians, and thus is a symbol of the Macedonian king's aspirations of world domination (see EHC, pp. 135-6). The reverse features the club of Herakles, a traditional ancestor of the Macedonian kings, surrounded by various monograms, within an oak wreath. The upper monogram on these issues belong to the mint master, with that on this particular coin being of Zoilos, who remained in office into the reign of Philip's son, Perseus.