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592788. Sold For $5500

KINGS of PARTHIA. Phraatakes, with Musa. Circa 2 BC-AD 4/5. BI Tetradrachm (29mm, 12.99 g, 12h). Seleukeia on the Tigris mint. Dated Daisios 31[...] SE (May, AD 1, 2, 3, or 4). BA[CIΛEΩC] to left, [BACIΛ] EΩN to right, diademed bust of Phraatakes left, wart on forehead; before, Nike flying right, crowning him with wreath; [...]IT on diadem pendant; quadrate Cs in legend / ΘCΛC OV P[ΛNIΛC MOVCHC] BΛCIΛICHC, diademed and crowned bust of Musa right; before, Nike flying left, crowning her with wreath; ΔΛΙ (month) over shoulder; quadrate Cs in legend. Sellwood Type 58 (unlisted month); cf. Sunrise 403 (for type); cf. Shore 323 (same). Toned, light porosity, scratch and graffiti on reverse. VF. Rare.

Ex Dr. Jay M. Galst Collection; Triton I (2 December 1997), lot 597.

Phraatakes was the son of the slave girl Musa, who was given to the Parthian king Phraates by the Roman Emperor Augustus in 20 BC, as part of the deal that saw Parthia return the Roman standards they had captured in 53 BC. A woman of great beauty and cunning, Musa soon became the favorite wife of Phraatakes and bore him a son, Phraatakes, around 19 BC. She quickly maneuvered her son into an unchallenged position to succeed the king, after which, like her later Roman counterpart Agrippina Jr., she had her husband poisoned in 2 BC. The historian Josephus claims Phraatakes then married his mother to secure her influence and legitimize his rule; modern historians have challenged this account, however, noting that there are no traditions in Parthian or Iranian culture in which a mother can marry her son. However, coins were issued starting in AD 2 with both their portraits, the first time a woman had appeared on a Parthian coin; she is named as “Heavenly Queen,” pointing to coequal or superior status in the regime. This proved intolerable to the Parthian nobility, who were also angered by the royal couple’s recognition of Roman suzerainty over Armenia. In AD 4, the nobles rebelled and placed a certain Orodes III on the throne. By some accounts, Musa and Phraatakes managed to escape and fled to Rome, where Augustus welcomed them.