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Among the Finest Known

528571. Sold For $14500

KINGS of PARTHIA. Mithradates I. 165-132 BC. AR Tetradrachm (30mm, 14.74 g, 12h). Seleukeia on the Tigris mint. Struck circa 141/0 BC. Diademed and draped bust right, within bead-and-reel border / BAΣIΛEΩΣ MEΓ AΛO Y APΣA KOY ΦIΛEΛΛH NOΣ, diademed and beardless young Herakles standing left, holding skyphos in extended right hand and cradling club in lion skin-draped left arm; monogram in exergue. Sellwood 13.2; Sunrise 260; Shore 35. Lightly toned with areas of minor porosity. EF. Beautifully centered. One of the finest known.

Mithradates I was the first Parthian king to assume the old Achaemenid title King of Kings, an honorific fully justified by his accomplishments. Under Mithradates, the Parthian state grew from a small rebel satrapy into a multi-national empire strong enough to challenge and defeat the other Hellenistic kingdoms. Taking advantage of Seleukid weakness and disunity, in 141 BC he seized the great city of Seleukeia on the Tigris and turned its mint to his own use, producing tetradrachms of purely Hellenistic style bearing a powerful bearded portrait. The reverse image of Herakles, equating the mighty deeds of the demigod with those of Mithradates, is surrounded by legends naming him “Great King Arsakes” (the name of his ancestor and founder of the kingdom) and “Friend of the Greeks,” surely to mollify the Greek denizens of his newly conquered realms.