Macedonian Kingdom. Philip II, Amphipolis mint
Macedonian Kingdom. Philip II, 359-336 BC. Silver Tetradrachm, Amphipolis mint. Early posthumous issue, struck under Kassander.
O: Zeus right wearing laurel wreath with berries.
R: Φ I Λ I Π - Π OY (Of Philip) Naked youth on horse prancing right holding long palm branch and reins; aplustre below; Γ under foreleg. Rider pl. 46, 18; SNG ANS 740. Light golden toning.
Plutarch (Alex., 3)
"To Philip, however, who had just taken Potidaea, there came three messages at the same time:
the first that Parmenio had conquered the Illyrians in a great battle, the second that his race-horse had won a victory at the Olympic games, while a third announced the birth of Alexander. These things delighted him, of course, and the seers raised his spirits still higher by declaring that the son whose birth coincided with three victories would be always victorious."
Plutarch (Alex., 4.10)
"...and (Philip) took care to have the victories of his chariots at Olympia engraved upon his coins..."
The reverse-types of Philip’s coins are nearly all agonistic, and refer either to the games celebrated by him at Dium in
honour of the Olympian Zeus (Müller, Mon. d'Alex., pp. II and 344), or, preferably, to the great Olympian games where his
chariots were victorious. We have, indeed, the direct assertion of Plutarch (Alex., c. 4) in favour of the latter
hypothesis, τας εν ‘Ολυμπια νικας των αρματων εγχαραττων τοις νομισμασιν. Philip was also successful at Olympia with the
race-horse (ιππω κελητι νενικηκέναι; Plut., Alex., 3), a victory of which he perpetuated the memory on his tetradrachms. The horseman
with kausia and chlamys is less certainly agonistic, and may (perhaps with a play upon his name) represent the king
himself as a typical Macedonian ιππευς.
Philip’s coins were struck at many mints in various parts of his empire. For the various mint-marks which they bear see
Müller’s Num. d'Alex. le Grand, the local attributions in which are, however, to be accepted with great caution. They
continued to circulate in Europe long after his death, and the Gauls, when they invaded and pillaged Greece, took vast
numbers of them back into their own land, where they long continued to serve as models for the native currency of Gaul and
Britain. (Historia Numorum, Barclay V. Head, 1887)
It is clear that, trying hard to show off, to pass and ultimately to impose his Greek character, Philip was especially
interested in the aesthetic aspect of his coins and also in the propaganda and psychological effects they would have
on the rest of the Greek world, and especially on "those sarcastic, democratic Athenians" and on "the more barbarian" people than himself...
Demosthenes (19, 308)
"And as for Philip,—why, good Heavens, he was a Greek of the Greeks, the finest orator and the most thorough—going
friend of Athens you could find in the whole world. And yet there were some queer, ill-conditioned fellows in Athens who
did not blush to abuse him, and even to call him a barbarian! "