(58) Egypt, Ptolemy IV Philopator - AV octodrachm, c. 221-205 B.C., 27.82 g. (inv. 91.100).
Obverse: Bust of Ptolemy III r., wearing radiate diadem and aegis, scepter-trident behind shoulder.
Reverse: Radiate cornucopia bound with fillet; PTOLEMAIOU BASILEVS: of King Ptolemy.
Provenance: Numismatic Fine Arts, 1989.
Bibliography: J. Svoronos, Ta Nomismata tou Kratous ton Ptolemaion 2 (Athens 1904) 1131, pl. 36.4; O. Mørkholm, Early Hellenistic Coinage from the Accession of Alexander to the Peace of Apamea (336-188 B.C.) (Cambridge 1991) 108-109.

This coin depicting Ptolemy III Euergetes (Benefactor) was issued by his successor, Ptolemy IV Philopator (Father-lover), as a gesture of dynastic continuity and of the filial piety that his name implies. Ptolemy III was the son of Ptolemy II and Arsinoe II. He married his cousin Berenike II, princess of Kyrene, thereby reuniting Egypt with Kyrene, which Ptolemy II had lost. He carried on a successful war against Syria and acquired important cities in Asia Minor and Thrace.

The portrait on the obverse confers upon Ptolemy III several attributes of divinity. He wears the aegis associated with Zeus that had been an attribute of Ptolemy I Soter (see no. 54). The trident that forms part of his scepter alludes to Poseidon, god of the sea, and to Ptolemaic naval power, which was at its height under Ptolemy III. The radiate diadem on the portrait head and the rays over the cornucopia on the reverse refer to the sun god, Helios. The cornucopia itself refers to the abundance and prosperity of Egypt.


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