Submitted by Petr Vesely on
Last update 9-Dec-2018
The coins List of known specimens Die analysis Weight analysis References
On the total majority of royal coins issued during the sole reign of Antiochos VIII,1 either the epithet Epiphanes (“Illustrious” or “[God] Manifest”) is attached to his name or his name is stated without any epithet. His coins therefore bear either the inscription ‘ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ ΕΠΙΦΑΝΟΥΣ’ or simply ‘ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ’.2 There is only one exception, a small issue of bronze coins minted at Antioch on the Orontes which bear the epithet Philometor (“Mother-loving”):3
|Obverse:||Radiate, diademed head of Antiochos VIII right; dotted border|
|Reverse:||‘ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ’ in two lines on right, ‘ΦΙΛΟΜΗΤΟΡΟΣ’ on left (“of King Antiochos the Mother-loving”); eagle standing left, scepter behind shoulder; control mark in outer left field;4 Seleukid date ΒΣ (year 202 of the Seleukid Era, i.e. 111/10 BC) in exergue|
This small issue is a part of an extensive series of bronze coins which was minted at Antioch mint from 121/0 BC (SE 192, i.e. year 192 of the Seleukid era) to 111/10 BC (SE 202). Coins of this series have the same design as the coins with the epithet Philometor, but they bear the standard epithet Epiphanes and they are dated SE 192, ... , SE 200 and SE 202 (coins of this series dated SE 201 are not known).5 Whereas coins of this series with the epithet Epiphanes are abundant, the coins bearing the epithet Philometor are rare and they are known from the year SE 202 only. Moreover, this epithet is not found elsewhere on Antiochos VIII’s coins.
The epithet Philometor in itself is strange considering the role of Antiochos VIII in the death of his mother, Kleopatra Thea:6
Justin, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, 39.2: Grypus (Antiochos VIII), having thus recovered his father’s throne, and being freed from foreign perils, found his life endangered by a plot of his own mother (Kleopatra Thea); who, after betraying, from desire of power, her husband Demetrius (Demetrios II), and putting to death her other son (Seleukos V, the oldest son of Demetrios II), was discontented at her dignity being eclipsed by the victory of Grypus, and presented him with a cup of poison as he was returning home from taking exercise. But Grypus, having received notice of her treacherous intention, desired her (as if to show as much respect for his mother as she showed for him) to drink herself first, and, when she refused, pressed her earnestly, and at last, producing his informant, charged her with the fact, telling her, “that the only way left to clear herself from guilt, was, that she should drink what she had offered to her son.” The queen, being thus disconcerted, and her wickedness turned upon herself, was killed with the poison which she had prepared for another.
Appian, Roman History, 11.69: After Seleucus (Seleukos V, the oldest son of Demetrios II), Grypus (Antiochos VIII) became king, and he compelled his mother (Kleopatra Thea) to drink poison that she had mixed for himself. So justice overtook her at last.
However, as Houghton, Lorber and Hoover mention in SC II (Vol. 1, p. 502), this epithet was born apparently without any irony. It is also attested by Eusebius of Caesarea7 and by an inscription from Delos (ibid, p. 487).
List of known specimens
The following table shows all specimens known to me.8 Please contact me at email@example.com if you are aware of other coins of this type.
The abbreviations A and P stand for Anvil (obverse) and Punch (reverse) dies but the die identification is tentative because details are not clearly visible on some coins.
|No.||Dies||Weight||Diameter||Symbols and date||Reference or location|
|1||A1/P1||6.18 g||20 mm||control mark in outer l. field, date ΒΣ in exergue||Classical Numismatic Group, Inc., Electronic Auction 200 (December 3, 2008), Lot 160|
|2||A1/P1||5.02 g||unknown||control mark in outer l. field, date ΒΣ in exergue||Collection of the American Numismatic Society, 1992.54.2162; Houghton, Lorber and Hoover, SC II, 2308 (this coin)|
(originally stated as 102 gr)
|c. 19 mm
(originally stated as 0.75 in)
|control mark in outer l. field, date ΒΣ in exergue9||Hunterian Coll. III, p. 103, No. 39 (Plate LXX, 2)|
(originally stated as 94.5 gr)
|c. 19 mm
(originally stated as 0.75 in)
|control mark in outer l. field, date ΒΣ in exergue||Hunterian Coll. III, p. 103, No. 41|
|5||A1/P4||5.60 g||19 mm||control mark in outer l. field, date ΒΣ in exergue||FORVM ANCIENT COINS, fixed price list, stock No. BB49012 (recorded January 2011)|
(originally stated as 98 gr)
|c. 19 mm
(originally stated as 0.75 in)
|control mark and date off flan||Hunterian Coll. III, p. 103, No. 40|
|7||A3/P4||5.34 g||18 - 19 mm||control mark in outer l. field, date off flan||Daniel Kearney’s collection|
|8||A4/P5||6.30 g||19 mm||control mark in outer l. field, date ΒΣ in exergue||Tom Kirby’s collection|
|9||A4/P6||5.74 g||20 mm||control mark in outer l. field, date Β[Σ] in exergue||Tom Kirby’s collection|
|10||A5/P7||5.54 g||18 - 20 mm||control mark in outer l. field, unclear date in exergue||Petr Vesely’s collection,
|11||A5/P8||5.18 g||17.5 - 19 mm||control mark in outer l. field, date ΒΣ in exergue||Petr Vesely’s collection,
|12||A5/P8||4.64 g||16 - 18 mm||control mark in outer l. field, date ΒΣ in exergue||Tom Kirby’s collection|
|13||A6/P9||5.61 g||18 mm||control mark in outer l. field, date ΒΣ in exergue||Jay Guberman’s collection|
|14||A7/P9||6.41 g||17 - 18 mm||control mark in outer l. field, date ΒΣ in exergue||Petr Vesely’s collection,
|15||A7/P10||5.50 g||19 mm||control mark in outer l. field, date ΒΣ in exergue||Münzen & Medaillen GmbH, Auction 17 (October 4, 2005), Lot 1046|
|16||A8/P11||5.47 g||18 mm||control mark in outer l. field, date off flan||Tom Kirby’s collection|
|17||A8/P12||5.91 g||17 - 18 mm||unclear control mark in outer l. field, unclear date||Petr Vesely’s collection,
Basic statistics are presented in Table 1, and die frequencies in Table 2. The 17 coins catalogued here were struck from 8 obverse and 12 reverse dies. Three obverse dies are represented by one coin (A2, A3 and A6), three obverse dies are represented by two coins (A4, A7 and A8), one obverse die is represented by three coins (A5) and one obverse die is represented by five coins (A1). One reverse die is represented by three coins (P4), three reverse dies are represented by two coins (P1, P8 and P9) and the remaining eight reverse dies are represented by one coin.
|Number of individual dies||8||12|
|Percentage of singletons||37.5%||66.7%|
|Mean number of coins per die||2.1||1.4|
|Maximum number of coins per die||5||3|
Pairs of obverse and reverse dies recorded in the corpus are presented in Table 3.
Note that all coins have bevelled edges. In nine cases (coins Nos. 3-5, 9-13 and 17) the smaller face of the bevelled edge blank was struck with the obverse type. In eight cases (coins Nos. 1-2, 6-8 and 14-16) the smaller face of the bevelled edge blank was struck with the reverse type. Obviously, the mint did not pay attention to which face of the single bevelled edge blank received which type.
Estimates of coverages of the corpus10 and of the original numbers of dies are presented in Table 4.11 Nevertheless, it is necessary to emphasize that these estimates should be taken cautiously because the number of coins is small, and because the die identification is tentative (details are not clearly visible on some coins).
|Coverage of the corpus||Estimate||85%||55%|
|95% confidence interval||50% - 100%||18% - 93%|
|Original number of dies||Estimate||15||41|
|95% confidence interval||8 - 28||20 - 107|
Moreover, there is still another potential distortion. It cannot be excluded that there are obverse die links with Antiochos VIII’s coins bearing the regular epithet Epiphanes on the reverse (for coins of this type dated SE 202, see Houghton, Lorber and Hoover, SC II, 2307.2). Such possible coins are not taken into consideration in this study and this may somewhat distort the estimates of the original number of obverse dies.
To receive more reliable results, it is necessary, on the one hand, to enlarge the corpus and, on the other hand, to accumulate a representative corpus of the common variant with the epithet Epiphanes and to put the examined series with the epithet Philometor into context from the point of view of mutual obverse die links and from the point of view of the annual production of the common variant. Such widening of this study will be added in the future.
Table 5 shows statistics of the weights of coins in the corpus.12 Figure 1 shows a histogram of the weights with a kernel density estimation13 and the fitted normal density curve superimposed (plotted against the right vertical axis). The normal probability plot is shown in Figure 2. The normality assumption does not seem to be unreasonable.14
|Number of all coins||
|Number of missing weight values||
|Number of analysed coins||
1 For biographical data on Antiochos VIII, see the page devoted to his genealogy.
2 The short inscription ‘ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΝΤΙΟΧΟΥ’ is abbreviated as ‘ΒΑΣΙ ΑΝΤΙ’ or ‘ΒΑΣΙ ΑΝΤΙΟ’ on some quasi-municipal bronze coins of Laodikeia in Phoenicia (Berytos). See Houghton, Lorber and Hoover, SC II, 2327 and 2328.
3 Houghton, Lorber and Hoover, SC II, 2308
4 Houghton, Lorber and Hoover, SC II, 2308, mention a cornucopiae in exergue, on the right, and they refer to a coin in the Hunterian Collection (MacDonald, Catalogue of Greek Coins in the Hunterian Collection, Vol. 3, p. 103, No. 39, Plate LXX, 2) which is presented as coin No. 2 in the list of known specimens on this webpage. However, it is not clear if the cornucopiae is really present in the exergue of this coin. Note that this coin is mistakenly described as having a cornucopiae on the left by MacDonald.
5 Houghton, Lorber and Hoover, SC II, 2300 and 2307
6 For biographical data on Kleopatra Thea, see the page devoted to her genealogy.
7 Eusebius, Chronicle, pp. 259-260: He (Antiochos VIII) was given the names Grypus (“Hook-nose”) and Philometor.
8 My sincere thanks to the Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery (University of Glasgow), to Tom Kirby, to Daniel Kearney, to Classical Numismatic Group, Inc., to Münzen & Medaillen GmbH and to FORVM ANCIENT COINS for photos of their coins and for their kind permissions to publish them on this webpage.
9 MacDonald, Hunterian Coll. III, p. 103, mentions a cornucopiae in the left field. It is not clear if there is such a symbol on the reverse. See footnote 4.
10 The coverage is the fraction of all produced coins of the given type that are from dies represented in the corpus. That is, the coverage is the fraction M/N where M is the number of all coins originally struck by the dies that are observed in the sample and N is the number of all produced coins of the studied type.
In other words, provided that the corpus can be considered a random sample from all produced coins of the studied type, the coverage of the corpus is the probability that a new coin of that type will be from a die already recorded in the corpus. It means that 1 minus the coverage is the probability that a new coin would yield a new die. Let us emphasize that the coverage is a property of the corpus, not of the coinage issue.
11 The coverages were estimated via Good’s coverage estimator, see Esty 1986, formula J2 (p. 208). For small random samples, this formula is slightly preferable to formula (1) presented in Esty 2006, p. 359 (see Esty 1986, formulas J1 and J2 and the following discussion). The confidence intervals were computed according to Esty 1986, formula J3 (p. 208), which is the same as formula (5) in Esty 2006, p. 360. Note that this formula works well for the sample size at least 30 or more (Esty 2006, p. 362) whereas our sample is much smaller.
The original numbers of dies were estimated according to Esty 2011, formula (1). Formula (4) in Esty 2006, p. 360, was used for computation of the confidence intervals.
12 The unbiased estimate of the standard deviation was used (i.e. the number of observations minus one was used as a divisor).
13 Gaussian kernel was used with the bandwidths given by equation (3.31) of Silverman 1993, p. 48.
14 Lilliefors test also does not reject the assumption of normality of data (p-value of 0.680).
- Appian:Roman History, Book XI - The Syrian Wars. Translated by Horace White. Macmillan and Co., New York, 1899. (The Perseus Digital Library, http://www.perseus.org/cgi-bin/ptext?lookup=App.+Syr.+1.1; Livius.org, http://www.livius.org/ap-ark/appian/appian_syriaca_00.html)
- Esty, Warren W.:Estimating the size of a coinage: A survey and comparison of methods. Numismatic Chronicle 146 (1986), pp. 185-215.
- Esty, Warren W.:How to estimate the original number of dies and the coverage of a sample. Numismatic Chronicle 166 (2006), pp. 359-364.
- Esty, Warren W.:The geometric model for estimating the number of dies. In F. de Callataÿ and E. Lo Cascio (eds.), Quantifying monetary supplies in Graeco-Roman times, Pragmateiai 19 (2011), pp. 1-16.
- Esty, Warren W.; Carter, Giles F.:The distribution of the numbers of coins struck by dies. American Journal of Numismatics, Second Series 3-4 (1991-1992), pp. 165-186.
- 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)
- Justin (Marcus Junianus Justinus):Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus. Translated by Rev. John Selby Watson, M.A. George Bell and Sons, London, 1897. (See Forum Romanum website, http://www.forumromanum.org/literature/justin/english/index.html - 1853 Edition)
- MacDonald, George:Catalogue of Greek Coins in the Hunterian Collection, University of Glasgow. Volume 3. Further Asia, Northern Africa, Western Europe. Elibron Classics, Adamant Media Corporation, 2003. Replica edition of the edition published by James Maclehose and Sons, Glasgow, 1905. (abbr. Hunterian Coll. III)
- Silverman, B. W.:Density Estimation for Statistics and Data Analysis. Chapman and Hall, London, 1993 (repr. of 1st ed. publ. 1986).