KINGS OF MACEDON. Demetrios I Poliorketes, 306-283 BC.
Stater (Gold, 18 mm, 8.64 g, 5 h), in the types of Alexander III. Amphipolis, circa 294-293. Head of Athena to right, wearing Corinthian helmet decorated with a double coiled serpent. Rev.
BAΣIΛΕΩΣ - ΔHMHTPIOY Nike standing front, head to left, with her wings spread, holding laurel wreath in her right hand and stylis in her left; to lower left, Z; to lower right, monogram. HGC 3, 1006d. Newell -, cf. 93 (unlisted combination of dies S/cc). Extremely rare and among the finest known examples. Beautifully struck and with a fine head of Athena. A few very light scratches and edge marks, otherwise,
Ex Elsen 51, 13 September 1997, 168.
Demetrios I Poliorketes was perhaps the most tragic of all the Diadochi. As the son of Antigonos I Monophthalmos, he witnessed his father's rise to become the most powerful ruler of his time, serving him as a general in many of the great clashes between Alexander's surviving companions. Demetrios won his greatest victory in the naval Battle of Salamis in 306 BC, where he decisively defeated Ptolemy I, a monumental achievement that prompted his father to assume the title 'king' in his own right. Antigonos' enemies soon followed suit, and by the end of 305 BC, there were now four Macedonian kings, namely Antigonos, Ptolemy, Lysimachos, and Seleukos. In 305-304 BC, Demetrios oversaw the famous siege of Rhodes, earning him the epithet Poliorketes ('the Besieger'), despite his ultimate failure to conquer the city.
With the defeat in the Battle of Ipsos in 301, however, Antigonid claims to rule the entirety of Alexander's realm were decisively crushed. Antigonos perished in the disaster, whereas his son, whose infamous hotheadedness had greatly contributed to the defeat, narrowly escaped to Ephesos. Outclassed and outmatched on land, Demetrios would go on to dominate the seas with his massive fleet of 300 warships for several years, controlling many of the important harbor cities and even temporarily gaining Macedon in the late 290s BC. However, the unruly general met his fate when he invaded Asia Minor in 287. Chased by Lysimachos' son, Agathokles, and Seleukos, his forces quickly dwindled, and he eventually capitulated to the latter in early spring of 286.
Seleukos treated the defeated former king, who, through Seleukos' and Antiochos' marriage to Stratonike, happened to be his former and his son's present father-in-law, with utmost respect, granting him his own court and financing his lavish livestyle. In confinement, the formerly vigorous and energetic Demetrios abandoned himself to a life of intoxication and excess, dying three years later, aged 54, at the end of a life in the fast lane - a brilliant general and celebrated king, whose tragic fall from an incredible height moved and inspired contemporaries and subsequent generations alike.