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About This Artwork
Tetradrachm (Coin) Portraying Demetrios I of Macedonia, 289/288 BC, reign of Demetrios I of Macedonia (294–288 BC)
Diam. 2.9 cm; 17.02 g
Reverse: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΔΗΜΗΤΡΙΟΥ
Gift of Martin A. Ryerson, 1922.4909
Coinage of Hellenistic Rulers:
The Hellenistic period spans the nearly three hundred years between the death of Alexander the Great of Macedonia (323 B.C.) and that of Cleopatra VII of Egypt (30 B.C.), a descendant of one of Alexander’s generals. The term Hellenistic is derived from Hellas, an ancient Greek word for Greece. It is used to describe both chronologically and culturally the era following Alexander’s conquest of Egypt and Asia, which resulted in the spread of Greek culture across a vast area. The melding of local and Greek artistic styles with the luxurious materials captured in the conquered lands resulted in magnificent artwork, including elegant coinage.
Following Alexander’s death, his empire was divided among his generals, who established independent kingdoms in Egypt; Persia; the eastern coast of the Aegean Sea, including Syria and Palestine; Greece and Macedonia; and Thrace. Almost immediately the generals began to covet each other’s land and power.
Kingdom of the Antigonids:
Like many second-generation heirs, Demetrios (r. 301–283 B.C.) inherited a kingdom, founded by his father Antigonos, which was diminished by the aggression of other Hellenistic kings. Demetrios established himself in Greece and Macedonia but he did not survive the dynastic struggles, as stronger successors of Alexander conquered his kingdom.
"Power Struggles: Cleopatra's Relatives and Their Rivals," Gallery 155 (Coin Case), November, 2001 - 2007.
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.