Numismatica Ars Classica, Zurich   |   Auction 96   |   6 October 2016 Sort by Lot-NumberSort by Estimate
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Lot 1080

Estimate: 6'000 CHF   |   Starting price: 4'800 CHF Price realized: 5'500 CHF
Greek Coins
Kings of Pontus, Mithradates VI Eupator, 120-63 BC. Tetradrachm 73, AR 17.56 g.
Description Diademed Head r. Rev. BASILEWS / MIQRADATOU / EUPATOROS / IB Deer drinking l.; in l. field, star / crescent / monogram. In field r., DKV. All within ivy-wreath. References
De Callatay, Guerres Mithridatiques, D65 R1a (this coin illustrated)
Hunterian 8 (this reverse die) Condition
Struck on an exceptionally large flan and complete, old cabinet tone and extremely fine Provenance
Tkalec & Rauch sale 14-15 April 1986, 113
Tradart sale 13, 2001, 76
Tradart sale 18 December 2014, 129
Few leaders in history were as polarizing as Mithradates VI. He is admired for his intense determination and his seemingly boundless talents, and yet he is detested for his many acts of cruelty, some of which cannot be excused even if one takes into account the violent age in which he lived. There can be no question that he was a military genius. He was one of Rome’s most formidable enemies, with Cicero rating him better than the Carthaginian general Hannibal, and second only to Alexander III among the Greek kings. It took three of Rome’s best generals – Sulla, Lucullus and Pompey the Great – to defeat Mithradates convincingly enough that he resorted to suicide. Mithradates came to power by arranging the murder of his mother, who was an unwanted regent, and he is credited with murdering other close family members and executing concubines rather than allowing them fall into enemy hands. He was so bitterly opposed to the Roman presence in Asia Minor that in a single night he ordered the murder of more than 80,000 Romans and Latins in residence there. Most of these victims, no doubt, were innocent of any crime against Mithradates, and could hardly have deserved the death sentence they received.

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