About this artwork
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 Seleucids
The Seleucid dynasty eventually came under the thumb of Rome. As a child Demetrios (r. 162–150 B.C.) was sent to Rome as a hostage to insure the good behavior of his father the king. When he finally escaped and seized his inheritance, he spent the rest of his reign in wars that made enemies of the kings of Egypt and Pergamon who saw to it that he died in battle.
- Ancient Greek
- Tetradrachm (Coin) Portraying Demetrios I Soter
- 162 BC–150 BC
- Diam. 3.2 cm; 16.76 g
- Gift of Mrs. William Nelson Pelouze