(53) Bactria, Eukratides - AR tetradrachm, after 170 B.C., 16.34 g. (inv. 91.095).
Obverse: Bust of Eukratides r., wearing cuirass, diadem, and crested helmet with ear and horn of bull.
Reverse: Dioskouroi on horses rearing r.; monogram in r. field; BASILEVS MEGALOU
EUKRATIDOU: of the Great King Eukratides.
Provenance: Coin Galleries, 1961.
Bibliography: N. Davis and C.M. Kraay, The Hellenistic Kingdoms: Portrait Coins and History (London 1973) 238-239.

Bactria was a partly Hellenized country bordering India that had been part of Seleukid territory but that gained its independence c. 250 B.C. Eukratides gained control of Bactria in 170 B.C. by raising a revolt against the Euthydemid dynasty. He established himself as king of "the thousand cities of Bactria" and set out to enlarge his kingdom in all directions. While returning from one of his campaigns, he was killed by one of his sons, who seized the throne.

The Bactrian coins are known for their strongly realistic portraits and this tetradrachm of Eukratides is no exception. He is depicted as a formidable warrior, wearing a cuirass and a bronze helmet over his diadem. The helmet has the bull's ear and horn that appeared on the leopard-skin helmet of Seleukos I (see no. 49) and that may have been meant to allude to descent from the Seleukids. His features are individualized, his expression stern. On the reverse, the Dioskouroi, Greek heroes noted for their horsemanship and prowess in battle, are shown charging with spears raised.


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