About This Artwork


Octodrachm (Coin) Portraying King Ptolemy III Euergetes, Ptolemaic Period, (221-205 B.C.), issued by King Ptolemy IV
Reign of Ptolemy III Euergetes, 247–222 B.C.

Diam. 2.6 cm; 27.78 g

Gift of Martin A. Ryerson, 1922.4935

Under the rule of Ptolemy III, Egypt’s realm reached its greatest geographical limits, stretching from Cyrene in North Africa to Babylon in Mesopotamia. Rather than pursue further conquests, Ptolemy concentrated on developing prosperity within Egypt. His reign marks the apogee of the dynasty’s power. Surprisingly, Ptolemy III never issued a coin with his own portrait. This coin was struck by his son Ptolemy IV and presents the dead king with the attributes of three gods: the crown of Helios, the sun god; the armor of Zeus; and the trident of the sea god, Poseidon.

— Exhibition label, When the Greeks Ruled: Egypt After Alexander the Great, October 31, 2013–July 27, 2014, Gallery 154.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

The Art Institute of Chicago, Ancient Art Galleries, Gallery 154A, 1994 - February 2012.

"Power Struggles: Cleopatra's Relatives and Their Rivals," Gallery 155 (Coin Case), 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, September 16, 2014 - January 4, 2015.

Publication History

Alexander, Karen B. 2012. "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, p.29. Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press.

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