KINGS OF BOSPOROS. Mithradates III, AD 39/40-44/5. Stater (Gold, 19 mm, 7.92 g, 12 h), BE 336 = 39/40. Laureate head of Gaius (Caligula) to right. Rev. •BACIΛEΩC MIΘPIΔATOY• / ς-ΛT Nike standing left on globe, holding wreath in her right hand and palm frond over her left shoulder. CNG 118 (2021), 714 corr. (same dies, but Gaius not Claudius on the obverse). MacDonald 308 corr. (Gaius not Claudius on the obverse). RPC I 1908. Extremely rare, the finest of five known examples. An exceptionally attractive piece without the usual heavy obverse die wear. Small die breaks on the obverse and with a few light scratches, otherwise, extremely fine.
From the Pontos Euxeinos Collection, formed in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Mithradates III was a distant descendant of the famous Mithradates VI Eupator, king of Pontos, and is thus sometimes also referred to as Mithradates VIII. An unlucky figure, he became king of Bosporus in 39/40, sending his brother Cotys to Rome shortly thereafter to seek recognition from the new emperor, Claudius. However, Cotys denounced his brother, and a Roman force led by the governor of Moesia, Didius Gallus, was sent to Pantikapaion to dispose the king. After a failed counter-coup, Mithradates was allowed to live in exile in Rome, where he became a public figure and an acquaintance of Pliny the Elder. In 68, however, he was involved in the plot of Gaius Nymphidius Sabinus and eventually executed by command of Galba.
It is worth noting that our coin carries the year BE 336 = 39/40 AD, dating the issue to the very beginning of Mithradates' short reign. This is before Claudius' accession to the throne, which occurred on 24 January 41; thus, the Roman emperor shown on the obverse is not Claudius, but Gaius (Caligula).