A Young Antiochos Epiphanes

Founded 22-Nov-2008
Last update 22-Nov-2008

Silver coin References

Identification Number YAE-AR-01

Mint: Antioch on the Orontes1
Period: 128 BC
Denomination: AR Drachm
Weight: 3.64 g
Diameter: 16 - 17 mm
Obverse: Diademed head of the young Antiochos Epiphanes; fillet border
Reverse: ‘ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩ[Σ] ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ’ right, ‘ΕΠΙΦΑΝΟΥΣ’ left (“of King Antiochos the Illustrious”2); Tyche standing left, kalathos3 on head, holding ship’s tiller and filleted cornucopiae; ‘Σ’ in outer left field; ‘Ο’ in inner right field
Die axis:
References: Houghton, Lorber and Hoover, SC II, 2209a
Note: The obverse shows a portrait of a young child-king whose name, according to the reverse inscription, was Antiochos Epiphanes. The coinage of the child Antiochos Epiphanes consists of rare silver tetradrachms and drachms struck at Antioch on the Orontes. The dating to the year 128 BC is based on the double control link between the tetradrachms (Houghton, Lorber and Hoover, SC II, 2208) and the first tetradrachm issue of Alexander II at Antioch (ibid, 2217.1). However, the identity of the child-king is not known. There are two hypothesis: the young king is either the eldest son of Antiochos VII (provided that he survived until 128 BC because, according to Eusebius, he died of illness4) or the future king Antiochos VIII Epiphanes (until the usurper Alexander II Zabinas was recognized in Antioch). There are pros and cons with both of these possibilities. For a detailed discussion, see Houghton, Lorber and Hoover, SC II, pp. 435-437.



1 Antioch was founded about 300 BC by Seleukos I Nikator, the founder of the Seleukid Dynasty, and it became the principal capital of the Seleukid Empire. The city was named after a family name Antiochos, passed from his father to his son (Antiochos I Soter). There were a number of other cities by the same name and this Antioch was known as Antioch on the Orontes (i.e. the Orontes River, along which it was located).

2 The epithet Epiphanes can mean either “Illustrious” or “[God] Manifest”. This epithet was used by Antiochos IV (Theos Epiphanes, i.e. “God Manifest”) and Antiochos VI (Epiphanes Dionysos, i.e. “Manifest Dionysos”). The short form Antiochos Epiphanes (“Antiochos the Illustrious”) was used on the interregnum coinage struck in 146/5 BC (Houghton, Lorber and Hoover, SC II, 1885-1887) and by Antiochos VIII.

3 A sacred basket with a narrow base and wide top, a symbol of fertility.

4 Eusebius, Chronicle, pp. 257-258: Antiochus the fifth (Antiochos VII) had three sons and two daughters; the first two, the daughters, were both called Laodice. The third, called Antiochus, fell ill and died, like his sisters. The fourth was Seleucus, who was captured by Arsaces (Phraates II). The fifth was another Antiochus (Antiochos IX), who was brought up by Craterus the eunuch at Cyzicus, where he had fled with Craterus and the rest of the household of Antiochus, through fear of Demetrius (Demetrios II). One of the brothers had already died, along with his sister, so only Antiochus was left, the youngest of the brothers, and because of his residence at Cyzicus he was called Cyzicenus.


Eusebius of Caesarea: Chronicle (Latin Schoene ed.). Translated into English by Andrew Smith. (Attalus, http://www.attalus.org/translate/eusebius.html)
Houghton, Arthur; Lorber, Catharine; Hoover, Oliver:Seleucid Coins, A Comprehensive Catalogue. Part II, Volumes 1 and 2. The American Numismatic Society, New York, in association with Classical Numismatic Group, Inc., Lancaster/London, 2008. (abbr. SC II)