(52) Syria, Demetrios II Nikator - AR tetradrachm, second reign, 129-125 B.C., 15.79 g. (inv. 91.093).
Obverse: In bead and reel border, bearded and diademed head of Demetrios r.
Reverse: Zeus Nikephoros enthroned l., with flying Nike in r. and scepter in l.; beneath throne, O; monogram in l. field; BASILEVS DHMHTRIOU YEOU NIKATOROS: of King Demetrios, God, Conquerer.
Provenance: Hesperia Art, 1960.
Bibliography: N. Davis and C.M. Kraay, The Hellenistic Kingdoms: Portrait Coins and History (London 1973) 217-218.

The eldest son of Demetrios I, Demetrios II came to the throne in 146 B.C., after killing a pretender to the throne who had killed his father. Demetrios ruled a much reduced territory for six years, until he made war with Parthia and was taken prisoner. He was held hostage in luxury for ten years. In 129 B.C. he returned to Syria for a second reign that lasted until his death in 125 B.C.

The coins of Demetrios' first reign depicted a clean-shaven ruler who used the traditional Seleukid "Apollo-on-omphalos" type on the reverse (see no. 50), but the coins of his second reign show clear evidence of his time in Parthia, for he wears the long hair and beard of Parthian fashion, which he apparently adopted in captivity. The type, presumably somewhat realistic, stands in sharp contrast to his predecessors' types, which are more idealized in the manner of portraits of Alexander the Great.

The Zeus holding Nike on the reverse indicates that the Seleukids are reclaiming Zeus as a patron deity. The same reverse type had been used by Antiochos IV Epiphanes, who adopted Zeus as his patron deity, but it was usurped by the pretender Alexander Balas, who claimed to be the son of Antiochos.


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