The Roman Empire
Mithradates VI

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Coin Details

Origin/Country: ANCIENT - GREEK EMPIRES (6th CENT BC - 5th CENT AD) PONTIC KINGDOM Mithradates VI, 120-63 BC
Design Description: Pontic Kingdom Stater
Item Description: AV Stater Alexander III/Athena Callatis. Lysimachus type
Full Grade: NGC Ch MS Strike: 5/5 Surface: 5/5
Owner: Kohaku

Set Details

Custom Sets: The Ancient World Collection
The Roman Empire
Competitive Sets: This coin is not competing in any sets.
Research: NGC Coin Price Guide

Owner Comments:

In early 3rd century BC, Mithradates I established rule over lands in northern Asia Minor near Pontos Euxeinos, the Black Sea. His Kingdom was comprised of Greek coastal cities to the north, abounding in fish and home to capital of Sinope, and Persian and native Anatolian communities south of the Pontic mountains, where lands were rich in natural resources such as woods, minerals, and metals.

For the next two centuries, the fertile Pontic Kingdom expanded under Mithradates’ successors, who frequently battled amongst themselves for power. During one such struggle around 120 BC, the young Mithradates VI (134-63 BC) went into hiding after his father was assassinated by poisoning. Endeavoring to avoid his father's fate, the prince spent his hiatus intentionally ingesting sub-lethal doses of various toxins, surmising that the effort would promote immunity. Satisfied with his improved tolerance, Mithradates returned to the political scene. He declared himself rightful heir to the throne, imprisoned his ruling mother and brother, and married his sister Leodice, the first of his (at least) six wives, not to mention concubines and mistresses.

Prolific in many ways - fluent in over 20 languages, and siring at least as many offspring - he earned the name Mithradates Eupator (the Great), and portrayed himself as protector of the Greek kingdoms against the barbarians of Rome. Such propaganda is consistent with this gold stater, modeled after the design of Lysimachus, a bodyguard of Alexander the Great who ruled Asia Minor in late 4th century BC. The obverse depicts the diademed head of Alexander, whose facial features resemble the Pontic King. The likeness reflects Mithradates’ claimed ancestry (the list of famous forebears spans from Cyrus the Great to the later Seleucid kings). The coin’s verso, also mimicking Lysimachus' designs, presents an enthroned Athena, holding Nike, with shield propped against her throne and spear over her shoulder. The details of both obverse and reverse reflect Hellenistic sensibilities, contrasting contemporary coins struck by the Romans.

Like Lysimachus two centuries earlier, Mithradates VI ruled not only most of Asia Minor, but also exerted influence over much of its surrounding demesnes. Inevitably, Pontus clashed with another growing superpower, i.e., the Roman Republic. For decades, Mithradates VI bitterly battled the Romans in several mighty wars, the details of which are well worth further study. In the end, the Romans were not to be denied, even if the effort drained their coffers. Finally defeated by the great Roman general Pompey the Great, the Pontic King tried to commit suicide via poison, but the effort failed due to his immunity. Mithradates was not, however, immune to the sword of his bodyguard, under orders to finish the deed.

Coin Details: PONTIC KINGDOM, Mithradates VI, 120-63 BC, AV Stater (8.34 g), Callatis, Lysimachos type, 88-86 BC, NGC Grade: Ch MS, Strike: 5/5, Surface: 5/5, Obverse: Diademed head of deified Alexander III right, Reverse: Athena enthroned left, holding Nike, shield propped against throne, transverse spear in background, HP monogram to inner left, ornamented trident in exergue, Reference: Müller 226.

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