SELEUKID KINGS OF SYRIA. Antiochos IV Epiphanes, 175-164 BC. Tetradrachm (Silver, 32 mm, 16.90 g, 1 h), Antiochia on the Orontes, summer-autumn 168. Laureate and bearded head of Zeus to right. Rev. BAΣIΛEΩΣ / ANTIOΧOY - ΘEOY / EΠIΦANOYΣ - NIKHΦOPOY Zeus seated left, holding Nike in his right hand and long scepter in his left. Le Rider, Antioche, 268-269 (A28/P185). SC 1398. Rare. A lovely example of this important issue with a magnificent head of Zeus. A few light marks and the obverse struck somewhat off center as usual, otherwise, good very fine.
From the collection of Regierungsrat Dr. iur. Hans Krähenbühl, privately acquired from Bank Leu on 10 November 1982 (with a photocopy of the original invoice enclosed).
Traditionally connected to Antiochos' famous month-long festival at Daphne in 166, it is today believed that this special issue was struck in commemoration of his invasion of Egypt in 168, during which he conquered most of the Ptolemaic heartland. However, right when it seemed that Antiochos IV was about to revive the dwindling Seleukid might at the expense of the dynasty's most bitter rivals, a Roman delegation showed up and had him chose between immediate withdrawal or war (the famous 'Day of Eleusis'). Fearing Roman military intervention, the Seleukid king promptly pulled back and returned with his army to Syria. There, he had his humiliation turned into a victory and struck these beautiful and unusual coins, showing, on the obverse, not his portrait, but the image of his personal patron, the Olympian Zeus.