AE29. 18.40g, 29.4mm
MINTED: PONTOS, Amisos. Time of Mithradates VI, circa 105-85 BC
REF: HGC 7, 238; SNG Ashmolean 103
OBVERSE: Head of Athena in Attic helmet right.
REVERSE: AMI-ΣOY, Perseus standing facing, holding harpa and head of Medusa, corpse at feet gushing blood from neck stump; monogram to left and right.
Good Fine. Jet black patina with scattered shallow pitting.
This large and interesting bronze coin belongs to an organized series of several denominations issued by Mithradates at a number of cities under his control. By far, the most prolific of these mints was Amisos in Pontos. The remarkable reverse iconography here may reference Mithradates in the role of the hero Perseus, beheading the monstrous gorgon that represented Rome, the hungry and ever-expanding regional power that was systemically subjugating the Greeks.
Historical Notes:Between 88 BC and 65 BC, Mithradates VI of the Kingdom of Pontos waged three wars against Rome. At the height of his power, he was considered the most significant foreign threat faced by the Roman Republic.
When transforming his backwater Anatolian kingdom into a significant regional power, Mithridates sought to portray himself as a champion of Greek culture to the Greek cities he sought to influence. At the same time, he prominently advertised his dynasty's eastern roots as successors of the Persian Achaemenids in Asia Minor. As Greek tradition held that the legendary hero Perseus was the ancestor of both Herakles (and by extension Alexander the Great) as well as the rulers of Achaemenid Persia, the adoption of Perseus into the royal cult of the Mithridatids served the purpose of this propaganda well.
PONTOS, Amisos . Mithradates VI, 120-63 BC . AE29 . Perseus beheads Medusa
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