Skip to Content

To best protect the health and safety of our community, the museum is temporarily closed. Learn more.

Tetradrachm (Coin) Portraying Queen Cleopatra VII

A work made of silver.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • A work made of silver.


37-33 BCE, issued by Mark Antony


Roman; minted in Eastern Mediterranean (possibly Antioch, Syria)

About this artwork

Cleopatra (69–30 BCE) was queen of Egypt when the Roman Empire was gradually expanding into the wealthy eastern Mediterranean. By allying herself first with the powerful Roman generals Julius Caesar (100–44 BCE) and then Mark Antony (83–30 BCE), she hoped to maintain her country’s independence and her own authority. The political alliance between Antony and Cleopatra worried Caesar’s heir, Octavian, who, in 31 BCE, defeated the couple in a sea battle. Rather than suffer the humiliation of surrender, Cleopatra and Antony killed themselves.

This coin was minted during Antony and Cleopatra’s alliance. By pairing their faces on coinage, the rulers advertised their powerful partnership, which was so strong that Cleopatra’s profile is an exact copy of Antony’s portrait. Cleopatra’s image appears on the front of the coin, which identifies her as the more important of the two rulers. A crown circling her carefully braided hair symbolizes her status as a queen.

On View

Ancient and Byzantine Art, Gallery 153


Ancient Roman


Tetradrachm (Coin) Portraying Queen Cleopatra VII




Struck 37 BCE–33 BCE




Diam. 2.6 cm (1 1/16 in.), 15.22 g

Credit Line

Katherine K. Adler Memorial Fund

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions