About This Artwork

Romano-Greek, mint moving with Antony

Denarius (Coin) Portraying Mark Antony and Queen Cleopatra VII, Ptolemaic Period, (about 32 BC)
Reign of Cleopatra VII, 51–30 BC

Diam. 1.9 cm; 3.36 g
"Antony, with Armenia being conquered"
"For Cleopatra, Queen of kings and of her sons, being kings"

Gift of Martin A. Ryerson, 1922.4855

Through Cleopatra, Egypt became involved in the chaotic political struggles of the Roman civil war, in which Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, and Octavian sought to control Egypt’s wealth of grain and gold. Eventually this led to the end of Egypt’s existence as a sovereign nation as well as the destruction of the Ptolemaic dynasty. This coin was struckafter Antony and Cleopatra had married and joined forces to fight Octavian. A year later, in 31 B.C. Octavian would defeat the pair at the Battle of Actium, and the ruling dynasty begun by Ptolemy would end with Cleopatra’s death in 30 BB.C.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

The Art Institute of Chicago, Power Struggles: Cleopatra's Relatives and Their Rivals, Gallery 155, November 2001-2007.

The Art Institute of Chicago, When the Greeks Ruled: Egypt After Alexander the Great, October 31, 2013-July 27, 2014; traveled to New York City, N.Y., the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World, October 8, 2014-January 4, 2015.

The Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Ancient Mediterranean Cultures in Contact, October 20, 2017-April 29, 2018.

Publication History

Roberta Casagrande-Kim, ed., When the Greeks Ruled Egypt: From Alexander the Great to Cleopatra. Exh. cat. (Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University/Princeton University Press, 2014), p. 95 (cat. 54).

Karen B. Alexander, "From Plaster to Stone: Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago," in Recasting the Past: Collecting and Presenting Antiquities at the Art Institute of Chicago, by Karen Manchester (Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2012), p. 29.

Cornelius Vermeule, "Faces of Empire (Julius Caesar to Justinian)," The Creator, vol. 22 (April 2008), no. 4.

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