Alexander III "the Great"- Greek Coin Ring (16mm Coin) 250-225 BC Alexander chose a new coin type for his tetradrachms and drachms as well: he had them produced with an image of Herakles on the obverse and one of Zeus on the reverse. There were possibly three reasons why he chose to show Herakles on the obverse of his most important denomination. First, the beardless Herakles had already been present on the coins of his father, albeit rarely and on the smaller denominations only. By tradition, the Argead dynasty, that ruled in Macedonia and which Alexander was a member of, regarded Herakles as progenitor of its family. That lineage proved the Argead dynasty belonging to the Hellenes. The second reason for Alexander's choice was the personal reverence he himself showed to Herakles. And, thirdly, Herakles was seen as a fighting hero and saviour that aided against the evil. Alexander, who had set off to protect the Greeks against the Barbarians and to free them, considered him a perfect symbolic figure for his own scheme. In many descriptions of those coins it reads that the depiction of Herakles in reality represents Alexander. That was surely not intended at the beginning of the coin production. It did not cross the Greek and Macedonian mind yet to depict a living person on their coins. Only the "barbaric" Persians and the satraps they had installed in Asia Minor did that. In the first stage of his reign, Alexander had not actually proved that he outclassed any ordinary Macedonian ruler. It was only after Alexander's death, when the tetradrachms had become a universally valid currency, that the die cutters shaped the face of Herakles similar to Alexander's. Zeus who Philippos II have had depicted on the obverse of his tetradrachms is moved to the reverse under Alexander. It is tempting to interpret that as a son paying back his overpowering father. But let us stick to the facts. One thing is clear: Zeus, Herakles, Athena, those were precisely the deities that programmatically protected and assisted in the campaign against the Persians. To them Alexander sacrificed on his departure from Europe and his arrival in Asia. At the location of each sacrifice he had an altar set up. When looking at the inscriptions of the various tetradrachms and drachms it is striking that Alexander sometimes, but certainly not every time, is called BASILEUS, King. In democratic Greece, that title still was not "decent". Alexander therefore had no intention to name the title on his coins that were designed for the entire Greek world. Only at the end of his reign the mints in Babylonia, Southern Asia Minor and Phoenicia, where the designation King did not evoke any negative associations as on the mainland, began to manufacture tetradrachms and drachms that stated the title. Macedonia followed probably in 323, perhaps even a little earlier. Because Alexander died soon later, he could not issue an edict anymore with any explicit statement for all mints whether or not to name his title on coins. Hence, it was left to the mints how to proceed in that matter.
18k Yellow Gold
SKU: R1316 - Alexander