Silver Tetradrachm Of Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator
Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt
Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator AR tetradrachm, 13.73 gm, 26.0 mm, struck in year 12 of reign (41-40 BC) in Alexandria. Diademed head of Ptolemy I right, aegis tied around neck / [ΠΤΟΛΕΜΑΙΟ]Υ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ eagle standing left on thunderbolt; palm branch over shoulder;
LΙΒ (year) over Crown of Isis before; ΠΑ behind; dot between legs. SNG Copenhagen 406; Svoronos 1826.
All the Ptolemaic kings (Pharaohs) issued tetradrachms with an obverse featuring an image of the founder of the Ptolemaic dynasty, Ptolemy I Soter. The image of Ptolemy I, however, was usually altered subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) to look more like the issuing ruler. This was done in the hope that identifying with this deified ancestor would cause some of his legitimacy and revered status to attach to the issuing king. We see that this was done with the portrait on this coin, even though the issuer, the legendary Cleopatra VII, last of the Ptolemies, was female. The image of Ptolemy I here has a definite androgynous quality, and if we compare it with some of Cleopatra's coins that carry her image, such as this one, we see the remarkable resemblance. Some dies from this issue were engraved with features for Ptolemy I that leave a definite feminine impression.
Photographs and legend by Merrill Gibson, courtesy of Apollo Numismatics