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Tetradrachm (Coin) Depicting the God Zeus

A work made of silver.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of silver.

Date:

Reign of Phillip II (359–336 BCE)

Artist:

Greek; minted in Pella, ancient Macedon, Greece

About this artwork

The official record of quadrennial games honoring the supreme Greek god Zeus at a sanctuary dedicated to him at Olympia began in 776 BCE. With few interruptions, they took place every four years for about 1,100 years. In 394, CE the Christian emperor Theodosius I (reigned 379–95) abolished them as pagan rites.

The most prestigious competition remained the footrace, but eventually it was supplanted in popularity by the horse races. Horses were symbols of socioeconomic status, since only the privileged could afford to buy, feed, and train them and transport their teams and trainers to Olympia every four years. In time, many of the victors in the horse races included kings and tyrants.

Philip II, king of Macedon, who minted this coin, owned the horse that won the race in Olympia in 356 BCE. The same year his son was born; he would grow up to become Alexander the Great (356–332 BCE). The head of Zeus on the front referred to Philip’s claim that his family descended from the god. On the back Philip commemorated his victory in the horse races of the Olympic Games with an image of a jockey astride his mount.

Status

Currently Off View

Department

Arts of the Ancient Mediterranean and Byzantium

Culture

Ancient Greek

Title

Tetradrachm (Coin) Depicting the God Zeus

Origin

Pella

Date

Struck 359 BCE–336 BCE

Medium

Silver

Inscriptions

Reverse: ΦΙΛΙΠΠΟΥ "(minted by) Philip"

Dimensions

Diam. 2.6 cm; 14.47 g

Credit Line

Gift of Martin A. Ryerson

Reference Number

1922.4923

IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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https://api.artic.edu/api/v1/artworks/5761/manifest.json

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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