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Rhagae, Elymais (hippocamp coll.)


[B]Rhagae, Elymais (reign of Orodes II - Arsacid Dynasty; 57-38 BC.) AR Drachm[/B] [U]Obv[/U]: Bare-headed bust w/ short beard and royal wart wearing diadem and elaborate hippocamp torque, facing left; star before face and crescent with star below behind head; dotted circular. [U]Rev[/U]: Arsaces I (?) seated right on throne, holding bow; anchor symbol behind; monogram (Babelon, type 29) below bow; extended legend BASILEWS BASILEWN ARSAKOU EUERGETOU DIKAIOU EPIFANOUS FILELLHNOS [u]Attribution[/u]: Sellwood 48.11; cf.Shore 262 [u]Provenance[/u]: ex. Mike R. Vosper Coins, 6.5.07; ex. W.M. collection (Japan) [u]Weight[/u]: 3.80 gm [u]Maximal Diameter[/u]: 20 mm [u]Axis[/u]: 12 [u]Note[/u]: While the hippocamp torque can be found on other Elymais issues, it is on the coins minted in Rhagae (in modern day Tehran, Iran) where the hippocamp is clearly defined and of some design prominence. The significance of the hippocamp torque is still a mystery, particularly for a region generally land-locked and not known for nautical prowess. ------------------------------------- King Orodes II of Parthia (also called Hyrodes) ruled the Parthian Empire from 57 to 38 BC. He was the son of Phraates III, whom he murdered in 57 BC, assisted by his brother Mithridates. This Mithridates was made king of Media, but soon afterwards he was expelled by Orodes and fled into Syria. Thence he invaded the Parthian kingdom, but having reigned briefly in 55 BC was besieged by Surena, general of Orodes, in Seleucia on the Tigris, and after a prolonged resistance was captured and slain. Meanwhile the Roman general Marcus Licinius Crassus had begun his attempt to conquer the east, but he was defeated and killed in 53 BC at the Battle of Carrhae by Surena, while Orodes himself invaded Armenia and forced King Artavasdes, the son of Tigranes the Great, to abandon the Romans. By the victory of Carrhae the countries east of the Euphrates were secured to the Parthians. In the next year they invaded Syria, but with little success, for Surena, whose achievements had made him too dangerous, was killed by Orodes, and Pacorus, the young son of the king was defeated by Cassius in 51 BC. During the Roman Republican civil wars the Parthians sided first with Pompey and then with Brutus and Cassius, but took no action until 40 BC, when Pacorus, assisted by the Roman deserter Quintus Labienus conquered a great part of Syria and Asia Minor, but was defeated and killed by Ventidius in 38 BC. Orodes, who was deeply afflicted by the death of his gallant son, appointed his son Phraates IV successor, but was soon afterwards killed by him. Plutarch relates that Orodes understood Greek very well; after the death of Crassus the Bacchae of Euripides was presented at his court. PA259

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Hippocamp Collection

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It has been listed as a "sea horse" in many catalogs. On some of the tetradrachms from the period/type, the hippocamp is more refined in design and more proportional to the torque. For some reason the Rhagae mint issues have this prominent hippocamp type. I'll see if I can upload a closer view of the hippocamp, in which you can clearly see the fish-like tail. The rendering is a bit simplistic on these dies and truth be told the hippocamp looks more like the Loch Ness monster.






Parthia hippocamp torque types



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