Silver Tetradrachm, Amphipolis mint, ca. 323-315 BCE
weight: 13.8g, width: 2.19cm

Philipp II OBVPhilipp II REV

OBV.: In dotted circle, laureate head of Zeus facing right. Counter-mark "X" (Chi) below head.
REV.: In dotted circle, naked youth on horse, holding a palm leaf. Inscribed above: "PHILIPPOY" (= "of Philipp"). Dolphin under belly of horse, letter P with dot (= PO?) under raised right fore-hoof; test cut through body of horse.

HFMA nr. 2006.010.011. Ref.: SNG ANS 749, LeRider plate 46, 19.
Philipp II of Macedon (359-336) was a ruthless and ambitious politician who first managed to unify Macedon under himself and then started to conquer large swathes of Northern Greece, including important gold-mines in the Pangaeum near Amphipolis, which became one of the principal mint places of Macedon. At the battle of Chaeroneia in 338 BCE, Philipp defeated the forces of Athens and Boeotia, which made him the most powerful man in all of Greece (map). On the eve of his next big project, a Greek invasion of the Persian Empire under his leadership, Philipp was assassinated in 336 BCE.

The Olympian Zeus, depicted on the obverse, had special meaning for Philipp as he used to organize games in honor of Zeus in the southern Macedonian border town of Dion, at the foot of Mt. Olympus, and built a treasury temple called Philippeion in the sacred precinct of Zeus in Olympia on the Peloponnese. Moreover, whereas the other Greeks considered the Macedonians half-barbarians, the Macedonian kings claimed descent from Heracles and thus from Zeus, and this allowed them to compete as Greeks at the Olympic games.

The image on the reverse, a rider on horseback holding a victor's palm branch, promotes another connection of Philipp to Zeus: In 356 BCE, the same year in which his son, Alexander, was born, Philipp won an Olympic victory at the horse races.


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