Seleukid Empire, Seleukos I, Silver Tetradrachm

Seleukid Empire, Seleukos I, Silver Tetradrachm

Seleukid Empire, Seleukos I Nikator (312-281 B.C.), Silver Tetradrachm. Mint of Susa, struck c. 305/4 - 295 B.C. Head of hero (Alexander the Great as Dionysos or an idealized Seleukos I?) facing right, wearing a helmet covered with a panther's skin and adorned with the ear and horns of a bull, a panther's skin fastened around neck, rev. [BAΣIΛEΩΣ] / ΣEVEYKOV (sic), Nike standing right, erecting a trophy of arms, H below on left, AX below between Nike and trophy, 17.02g., 9h (Houghton & Lorber, SC 173.12; Newell, ESM 417; SNG Spaer -). Struck from dies of fine style, cabinet toning, a few light marks otherwise nearly extremely fine and an attractive example of this iconic and enigmatic issue.

This example has a fascinating die-engraver's error on the reverse, with the King's name reading ΣEVEYKOV in place of ΣEΛEYKOY.


The portrait on the obverse of this issue is likely to represent that of Alexander the Great who, as conqueror of India, is assimilated with Dionysos in an idealized fashion. The helmet adorned with a panther's skin, and the bull's horn and ear, are all attributes of Dionysos who rode a panther and could transform himself into a bull. This heroic portrait perhaps has an additional implication that Seleukos I, who had also just undertaken further warfare in Western India, was a true successor to Dionysos and Alexander.



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