Seleucid Empire, Seleucus I Nicator, Tetradrachm


Seleucid Empire, Seleucus I Nicator, Tetradrachm (obverse) Seleucid Empire, Seleucus I Nicator, Tetradrachm (reverse)

When Alexander the Great died in 323 BC, his successors divided his huge empire into satrapies (administrative districts). Seleucus was made satrap of Babylonia in 321 BC, but fled his realm only five years later: Antigonus I Monophthalmus (the one-eyed) had expanded his rule all over the eastern parts of Alexander's empire, and Seleucus felt not save in Babylonia any more. He went to Egypt where he joined his old friend Ptolemy I Soter. With the latter's help, Seleucus succeeded to return to Babylonia in 312 BC. This year marks the beginning of the Seleucid dynasty and its empire.

Just like the rulers of the other satrapies, Seleucus (312-281 BC) struck tetradrachms in Alexander's name. The obverse of the coin here – struck before Seleucus assumed the title of king – shows the head of Heracles, the legendary first ancestor of the Macedonian dynasty. The reverse depicts Zeus on his throne with a scepter and an eagle.


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