MACEDONIA, KINGDOM OF
Alexander III the Great, 336-323 BC
AR Tetradrachm. 17.06g, 24.5mm
MINTED: Babylon mint, circa 311-300 BC. Posthumous issue struck under Seleukos I
REF: Price 3704
OBVERSE: Head of Herakles to right, wearing lion skin headdress.
REVERSE: AΛEΞAN∆POY / BAΣIΛEΩΣ, Zeus seated left on low throne, holding long scepter in his left hand and eagle standing right with closed wings in his right; to left, monogram within wreath; below throne, H.
Well-centered but on a compact flan. Bold portrait. A few spots of encrustation on reverse. Tetradrachms of Alexander continued be struck by numerous Greek cities and Hellenistic rulers for almost two hundred years after his death. This one was struck a decade or two after his death at Babylon by Seleukos Nikator, who would in the ensuing wars of the Diadochi become one of Alexander's most powerful successors.
Alexander III of Macedonia (336-323 BC) easily ranks amongst history's greatest conquerors, generals, and military strategists. He was tutored by the great philosopher, Aristotle, and ascended to the throne at the young age of 20 after his father Philip II was assassinated. After a quick consolidation of power and suppression of several revolts amongst his Thracian, Illyrian and Greek subjects, he embarked upon his storied conquest of Persia in 334 BC. Within a period of 4 years, Alexander had utterly defeated the armies of the Persian king Darius III and occupied all the major cities of the once mighty Empire, including its capital Babylon. Not satisfied with this achievement, Alexander continued to march his troops through Central Asia and towards India, in a quest to unify under his rule as much of the known lands of both the west and east.
In 326 BC, Alexander fought and defeated Porus, the Indian king who ruled over the region of what is now the Punjab. He was next going to send his army against the Nanda Empire to the east, but when his war-weary veterans refused to march and threatened to mutiny against him, and Alexander finally agreed to allow them to reutrn home. Alexander himself marched with some of his troops back to Babylon, where he based himself for the next few years. In 323 BC, he was planning an invasion of Arabia when he fell ill with a fever and died, at the age of 32. He was undefeated in battle and had created one of the largest empires in history, one over 5 million square kilometres in land area and stretching from Greece to northwestern India.
The iconic tetradrachms of Alexander III of Macedonia were minted at over two dozen cities spread throughout his vast empire during his lifetime. They served primarily to pay soldiers in his armies, and they uniformly featured the head a youthful Herakles wearing a lion-skin headdress on the obverse and Zeus Aëtophoros enthroned on the reverse. So powerful was Alexander's legacy that for more than two hundred years after his death, these tetradrachms bearing his name continued to be struck and used in numerous kingdoms and cities, even when they ceased to be part of the Macedonian Empire.
MACEDONIAN KINGDOM . Alexander the Great, 336-323 BC . Tetradrachm . Babylon
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