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Mithridates the Poison King!


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KINGS OF PONTOS. Mithradates VI Eupator (Circa 120-63 BC). Tetradrachm. Pergamon. Dated February 87/6 BC.

Obv: Diademed head right.
Stag grazing left; star-in-crescent to left, A (date) and monogram to right; E (month) below.

.Weight: 16.72 g.
Diameter: 32 mm.

WhatsApp Image 2024-02-26 at 5.49.11 PM.jpeg

WhatsApp Image 2024-02-26 at 5.49.11 PM (1).jpeg

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Posted · Supporter

WoWiE! That's a showstopper there!

I recently read, and enjoyed, The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates, Rome's Deadliest Enemy. I highly recommend it to any fans of the late Hellenistic or Roman Republic periods. 

No silver here, but I'll share some bronzes:



PONTOS, Amisos, c. 125-100 BCE (under Mithradates VI) AE 17. 3.83g, 17mm.
Obv: Bare-headed bust of Perseus right
Rev: AMI-ΣOY, cornucopia between caps of the Dioscuri, stars above each.
SNG BM Black Sea 1129-33; BMC 65.
From the Erworben collection.


Mithradates VI Eupator

Pontus, Amisos. 120-63 BC. AE19 (8.11 gm) 85-65 BC. Head of Gorgon on aegis / Nike standing with palm. SNG.BM.1177v. VF


Mithradates VI Eupator

PONTOS, Amisos. Circa 85-65 BC. Æ 20mm (7.98 g, 12h). Helmeted head of Ares(?) right / Sword in sheath; monograms flanking. SNG BM Black Sea 1154-5; SNG Copenhagen 150. VF

Former Savoca


PONTOS, Amisos. Circa 85-65 BC. Æ (28mm, 19.42 g, 12h). Struck under Mithradates VI. Helmeted head of Athena right / Perseus standing facing, holding [harpa] and head of Medusa; body of Medusa at feet, monograms to left and right. Near VF.

This coin depicts two figures from the legend of Medusa, who was once a beautiful young maiden. Medusa’s hair was turned into hissing serpents and condemned to turn every living thing which gazed upon her to turn to stone. Perseus, son of Zeus and the mortal Danae, was given the task of slaying this monster. He was aided, in part, by Athena who gave her shield to him for the task. In the context of the period which this coin is from, Perseus and Medusa could be representations of Mithradates VI and Rome, respectively.

Edited by Ryro
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L' historie des guerres Mithradatiques vue la par monnaise....Francois de Callatay 1997

You should find our coin type in there and other information on Mithradatic coin types of the Mithradatic wars. Essential reading, even if it's in French!  Sadly I cannot read French, so most of it was beyond me.

Edited by NewStyleKing
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1 hour ago, ominus1 said:

...Terrence, this is Stupid stuff'...a e housman mentions him...dandy silver coin!...i've a bronze type...:)


Mithridates, his father poisoned, didn't want to end up the same: "There was a king reigned in the East...he gathered all that sprang to birth from the many-venomed earth...he sampled all her killing store...they put arsenic in his meat...they poured strychnine in his cup — I tell the tale that I heard told.Mithridates, he died old."  (abbreviated text from AE Houseman, Terrence, This Is Stupid Stuff)

A beautiful coin @CassiusMarcus.  I have his likeness here on a coin of Cappadocia - a reminder to anyone interested that Ariarathes IX had a powerful father that you should not provoke.



Edited by Sulla80
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A much less "factional" account of Eupator is Philip Matyszak "Mithradates the Great". I do wish there was a book that told of which cities and such were  pro Mithradates or pro Rome  and for how long.  When you look up Mithrades's tetradrachms most say Pergamon Mint even those that are impossible. Remember Fimbria whipped Mithradates Junior, and turfed Senior out of Pergamon and pursued him so he had to be rescued by pirates whilst Sulla was still in Central Greece. I think...a time line of where and when the central characters where would be a great help too

In other words, a fully expanded book on Eupator! eg, How did the cities of Crete react to the toppling of Roman influence?  Arados, Tenedos, Ephesos, Pergamon, Athens.Chios. Mytilene , Egypt, Bithynia, Cappadocia etc etc etc....

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A recent striking numismatic discovery provides the final piece of evidence. In 2003 a previously unknown coin of Magnesia on the Maeander came to light.38 Another was discovered and auctioned in 2008.39 The coin in question is a didrachm, weighting circa 6.04g, issued probably between 88 and 85 BC. Bust of Artemis with earring, metal band in her hair, bow stylized in the shape of stag’s head, and quiver on her back, is featured on the obverse. A grazing (drinking?) stag, standing on a narrow strip of meandering pattern with a triangular monogram between his legs, is on the reverse. The legend reads ΜΑΓΝΗΤΩΝ (reverse, above, interrupted by a star between Η and Τ), and ΜΑΙANΔΡIΟΣ ΑΡΤΕΜΙΔΥ – the name of the monetary magistrate (reverse, below, in exergue).40 The iconography of the coin is alien to the Magnesian tradition and shows strong influence of Mithridates’ coinage. The bust of Artemis is different from the earlier civic Artemis-imagery, being modeled after the Pontic bronze and silver coins. The grazing stag is a complete oddity in the local coinage: it is a borrowing from the contemporary gold and silver Mithridatic issues struck at Pergamum.41 This silver issue is paralleled by several issues of bronze coins, known before but not fully understood until recently.42 If the suggested interpretation is correct,43 it could only mean that Magnesia on the Maeander joined the Pontic king willingly, and publicly –––––––– 36 Cic. Pro Flacc. 57. 37 Plut. Praec. ger. reipub. 14 alludes to these preparations. 38 Ph. Kinns, A New Didrachm of Magnesia on the Maeander, The Numismatic Chronicle, 166, 2006, pp. 41-47. 39 R. Ashton, The Use of Cistoforic Weight-Standard Outside the Pergamene Kingdom, in: P. Thonemann (ed.), Attalid Asia Minor: Money, International Relations and the State, Oxford, 2013, p. 250, n. 17. 40 The same city official is mentioned in I.Magnesia 100b, 43-44 (=Syll. 3 695b, 91-92): ἡρέθη ἐπὶ τῆς ἀναγραφῆς | τῶν ψηφισμάτων Μαιάνδριος Ἀρτεμιδώρου (the end of the 2nd century BC). 41 Ph. Kinns, op. cit., pp. 41, 46-47 (cf. pl. 13). 42 Ibid., pp. 42-46. 43 It is accepted as such by P. Thonemann, The Meander Valley: A Historical Geography from Antiquity to Byzantium, Cambridge, 2011, p. 39. N. Vujčić, A city that resisted Mithridates, ŽAnt 67 (2017) 61–70 69 celebrated the decision. Not only does Magnesia ad Sipylum now seem to be “the more likely option” as the stronghold of resistance,44 but the latest evidence also serves to round up what was already a compelling case for the Lydian city

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Coming back to the Silver tetradrachm, can I ask where did you get it from? Is that yellowish colour a reflection?

Sadly the monogram doesn't tell us anything, the order of the intpretation may be or maybe incorrect, and what does it reference? A name, a personal name, mint who knows. One thing is that it isn't the well known monogram of Pergamon that appears on the year 1 gold staters of Mithradates. Other silver tetradrachms with Pergamene regnal years , via Roma archive, ac search, don't have this monogram, but L' historie would need to be consulted. I like anything to do with the Mithradatic times and I cannot understand why the period is not so well collected because, without doubt, the 3 Mithradatic wars against the Romans sounded the death knell of the real Greek world.

Edited by NewStyleKing
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