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553908

Outstanding Late Hellenistic Portrait

553908. SOLD $2250

SELEUKID EMPIRE. Demetrios II Nikator. Second reign, 129-125 BC. AR Tetradrachm (30mm, 16.67 g, 12h). Damaskos mint. Dated SE 184 (129/8 BC). Diademed and bearded head right / Zeus Nikephoros seated left; Ξ over Δ under throne, ΔΠΡ (date) in exergue. Schwei Group 2, 36 (A5/P23); SC 2181.2b; HGC 9, 1116d; DCA 223. Well struck, slight porosity in obverse field. Choice EF. With a remarkable portrait of the king post-Parthian captivity.


After establishing himself in power over the Seleukid Empire by rather brutal means, Demetrios II undertook to reclaim his eastern territories from the Parthians in 138 BC. At first successful, his forces were ambushed in the Iranian mountains and Demetrios was taken prisoner by the Parthian King Mithradates I. He remained in captivity for eight years, during which time Mithradates treated him honorably and even married him to a Parthian princess. He was released in 130 BC to sow discord within the ranks of the invading Seleucid army of his brother and successor, Antiochus VII. However, Antiochus was killed in the ensuing military debacle, leaving Demetrius II as sole ruler for the second time. His years among the Parthians had changed him visibly -- he emerged with a long, flowing beard, much against Greek fashion of the day. His pro-Parthian policies made his countryman regard him suspiciously, leading to his overthrow in 125 BC. Despite his troubled regime, his coin portraits from the second reign are some of the best in the entire Seleucid series, as evidenced by this splendid tetradrachm of the Damaskos mint.