The Horned Horse in the Coinage of Seleucus I Nicator

The Iconography of Power


  • Robert S. Wójcikowski independent researcher



Seleucid coinage, Hellenistic period, ancient Iran, royal ideology, horned horse


The motif of the horned horse on the coins of Seleucus I is characteristic for the coinage of the first Seleucid king. Its meaning is still unclear in spite of many attempts to interpret it. The horned horse is associated with Dionysos, or Alexander the Great. Most of the coins featuring this motif were minted in the Iranian part of the empire of Seleucus I and this fact suggests that it should be interpreted in the context of Iranian culture in which a horse featured significantly and could symbolize royal power and authority. Horns as an iconographic element were characteristic of Babylon and were typical attributes of gods and kings in their representations. This publication focuses on the interpretation of the motif of the horned horse and horseman within the context of the Iranian religion and Achaemenid royal tradition and its influence on Seleucus’ ideology of power.


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How to Cite

Wójcikowski, Robert S. 2021. “The Horned Horse in the Coinage of Seleucus I Nicator: The Iconography of Power”. Studies in Ancient Art and Civilisation 25 (December):123-42.




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