The Horned Horse in the Coinage of Seleucus I Nicator

The Iconography of Power

Authors

  • Robert S. Wójcikowski independent researcher

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.12797/SAAC.25.2021.25.07

Keywords:

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

Abstract

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.

References

Anagnostou-Laoutides E. 2012. Zeus and Apollo in the Religious Program of the Seleucids. In E. Anagnostou-Laoutides (ed.), ASCS 33 Selected Proceedings (2012): Refereed Papers from the 33rd Annual Conference of the Australasian Society for Classical Studies, 1-23.

Anagnostou-Laoutides E. 2017. In the Garden of the Gods: Models of Kingship from the Sumerians to the Seleucids. London, New York. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315588193.

Aperghis G.G. 2004. The Seleukid Royal Economy: The Finances and Financial Administration of the Seleukid Empire. Cambridge. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511482694.

Aruz J. and Wallenfels R. (eds) 2003. Art of the First Cities: The Third Millennium B.C. from the Mediterranean to the Indus. New York.

Babelon E. 1890. Catalogue des monnaies grecques de la Bibliothèque Nationale: Les rois de Syrie, d’Arménie et de Commagène. Paris.

Boiy T. 2004. Late Achaemenid and Hellenistic Babylon. (Orientalia Lovaniensia Analecta 136). Leuven.

Boyce M. 1984. Ahura Mazdā. In Encyclopaedia Iranica. Retrieved from https://iranicaonline.org/articles/ahura-mazda (status as of Dec. 15th, 2020).

Boyce M. 1990. Cattle ii. In Zoroastrianism. In Encyclopaedia Iranica. Retrieved from https://iranicaonline.org/articles/cattle#pt2 (status as of Dec. 15th, 2020).

Boyce M. 1996. A History of Zoroastrianism. Vol. I: The Early Period. Leiden, New York, Köln.

Dahmen K. 2007. The Legend of Alexander the Great on Greek and Roman Coins. London, New York. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203967997.

Erickson K. 2013. Seleucus I, Zeus and Alexander. In L. Mitchell and Ch. Melville (eds), Every Inch a King: Comparative Studies on Kings and Kingship in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds, 109-127. Leiden. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004242142_006.

Erickson K. 2019. The Early Seleukids, Their Gods and Their Coins. London, New York. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315210902.

Finer S.E. 2003. The History of Government from the Earliest Times. Vol. I: Ancient Monarchies and Empires. Oxford, New York.

Gardner P. 1878. British Museum Catalogue of Greek Coins. Seleucid Kings of Syria. London.

Garrison M. 2011. By the Favor of Auramazdā: Kingship and the Divine in the Early Achaemenid Period. In P.P. Iossif, A.D. Chankowski and C.C. Lorber (eds), More Than Men, Less Than Gods. Studies on Royal Cult and Imperial Worship. Proceedings of the International Colloquium Organized by the Belgian School at Athens (November 1-2, 2007). Studia Hellenistica 51, 15-104. Leuven, Paris, Walpole MA.

Gnoli G. 1974. Politica religiosa e concezione della regalità sotto gli Achemenidi. In: Gururājamañjarikā: Studi in onore di Giuseppe Tucci, 23-88. Naples.

Grayson A.K. 1975. Babylonian Historical-Literary Texts. (Toronto Semitic Texts and Studies 3). Toronto. https://doi.org/10.3138/9781487596149.

Hadley R.A. 1974. Seleucus, Dionysus, or Alexander?. Numismatic Chronicle 14, 9-13.

Head D. 1992. The Achaemenid Persian Army. Stockport.

Herrmann G. and Curtis V.S. 2002. Sasanian Rock Reliefs. In Encyclopaedia Iranica. Retrieved from http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/sasanian-rockreliefs (status as of May 24th, 2021).

Herring S.L. 2013. Divine Substitution: Humanity as the Manifestation of Deity in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East. Göttingen. https://doi.org/10.13109/9783666536120.

Holt F.L. 2003. Alexander the Great and the Mystery of the Elephant Medallions. Berkeley. https://doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520238817.001.0001.

Holloway S.W. 2002. Aššur is King! Aššur is King! Religion in the Exercise of Power in the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Leiden. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789047401223.

Hoover O.D. 1996. Kingmaker: A Study in Seleucid Political Imagery. PhD Thesis. Hamilton.

Hoover O.D. 2002. The Identity of the Helmeted Head of the “Victory” Coinage of Susa. Schweizerische numismatische Rundschau 61, 51-62.

Houghton A. 1986. A Colossal Head in Antakya and The Portraits of Seleucus I. Antike Kunst 29/1, 52-62.

Houghton A. and Lorber C. 2002. Seleucid Coins: A Comprehensive Catalogue: Part I-II: Seleucus I through Antiochus III. New York.

Houghton A. and Stewart A. 1999. The Equestrian Portrait of Alexander the Greatona New Tetradrachm of Seleucus I. Schweizerische numismatische Rundschau 78, 27-35. http://dx.doi.org/10.5169/seals-175663.

Iossif P.P. 2004. Les monnaies de Suse frappées par Séleucos Ier: une nouvelle approche. Numismatica e antichità classiche 33, 249-271.

Iossif P.P. 2012. Les «cornes» des Séleucides: vers une divinisation «discrète». Cahiers des études anciennes 49. Retrieved from http://journals.openedition. org/etudesanciennes/482 (status as of Dec. 10th, 2020).

Iossif P.P. and Lorber C. 2009. The cult of Helios in the Seleucid East. Topoi 16 (1), 19-42. https://doi.org/10.3406/topoi.2009.2289.

Iossif P.P. and Lorber C. 2010. The Elephantarches Bronze of Seleucos I Nikator. Syria 87, 147-164. https://doi.org/10.4000/syria.669.

Jacobs B. 1991. Der Sonnengott im Pantheon der Achameniden. In J. Kellens (ed.), La religion iranienne a l’époque achéménide : Actes du Colloque de Liege, 11 decembre 1987, 58-80. (Suppléments à Iranica Antiqua 5). Gent.

Joannès F. 2004. Quelques traits de l’économie babylonienne des Achéménides à Séleucos Ier. In V. Chankowski, and F. Duyrat (eds), Le roi et l’économie.

Autonomies locales et structures royales dans l’économie de l’empire séleucide, Topoi, 291-302. (Orient-Occident. Supplément 6). Lyon.

De Jong A. 1997. Traditions of The Magi: Zoroastrianism in Greek and Latin Literature (Religions in the Graeco-Roman World 133). Leiden. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004301467.

De Jong A. 2003. Heracles. In Encyclopaedia Iranica. Retrieved from http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/heracles-gk (status as of Dec. 10th, 2020).

Kellens J. 1996. Drvāspā. In Encyclopaedia Iranica. Retrieved from https://iranicaonline.org/articles/drvaspa (status as of Dec. 11th, 2020).

Kerényi C. 2015. Archetypal Images in Greek Religion: 5. Zeus and Hera: Archetypal Image of Father, Husband, and Wife. Trans. by Ch. Holme. New Jersey.

Kosmin P.J. 2014a. Seeing Double in Seleucid Babylonia: Re-reading the Borsippa Cylinder of Antiochus I. In A. Moreno and R. Thomas (eds), Patterns of the Past: Epitedeumata in the Greek Tradition, 173-198. Oxford. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199668885.003.0009.

Kosmin P.J. 2014b. The Land of the Elephant Kings: Space, Territory, and Ideology in the Seleucid Empire. Cambridge, London. https://doi.org/10.4159/harvard.9780674416161.

Kosmin P.J. 2018. Time and Its Adversaries in the Seleucid Empire. Cambridge, London. https://doi.org/10.4159/9780674989634.

Kremydi S. 2011. Coinage and Finance. In R.J. Lane Fox (ed.), Brill’s Companion to Ancient Macedon: Studies in the Archaeology and History of Macedon, 650 BC–300 AD, 159-178. Leiden.

Kritt B. 1997. The Early Seleucid Mint of Susa. Lancaster.

Kuhrt A. 1988. The Achaemenid Empire: A Babylonian Perspective. Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society 34, 60-76. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0068673500005058.

Luschey H. 1986. Ardašīr I ii. Rock Reliefs. In Encyclopaedia Iranica. Retrieved from http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/ardasir-ii (status as of May 24th, 2021).

Lund H.S. 1992. Lysimachus: A Study in Early Hellenistic Kingship. London, New York.

Marest-Caffey L. 2016. Seleukos I’s Victory Coinage of Susa Revisited: A Die Study and Commentary. American Journal of Numismatics 28, 1-63, Pl. 1-21.

McInerney J. 2010. The Cattle of the Sun: Cows and Culture in the World of the Ancient Greeks. Princeton. https://doi.org/10.1515/9781400834877.

Meeus A. 2009. Alexander’s Image in the Age of the Successors. In W. Heckel and L.A. Tritle (eds), Alexander the Great: A New History, 235-250. Oxford.

Michalowski P. 2008. The Mortal Kings of Ur: A Short Century of Divine Rule in Ancient Mesopotamia. In N. Brisch (ed.), In Religion and Power: Divine Kingship in the Ancient World and Beyond, 33-45. (Oriental Institute Seminars 4). Chicago.

Mielczarek M. 2006. Boskość władcy na monetach Seleukidów. Obraz i słowo. In M. Gącarzewicz (ed.), Stempel monet. Obraz a słowo, 9-20. Nowa Sól.

Miller R.P and Walters K.R. 2004. Seleucid Coinage and the Legend of the Horned Bucephalas. Schweizerische numismatische Rundschau 83, 45-56.

Mørkholm O., Grierson Ph. and Westermark U. (eds) 2001. Early Hellenistic Coinage from The Accession of Alexander to the Peace of Apamea (336-188 BC). Cambridge.

Nefedkin A.K. 2006. The Tactical Development of Achaemenid Cavalry. Gladius.

Estudios sobre armas antiguas, armamento, arte, military, vida cultural en Oriente y Occidente 26, 5-18.

Nefedov K.Yu. 2011. Nefedov K. Iu. Selevk Nikator i Aleksandr Makedonskiĭ: ėvoliutsiia propagandy [Нефедов K. Ю. Селевк Никатор и Александр Македонский: эволюция пропаганды]. Drevnosti 10, 14-25.

Newell E.T. 1938. The Coinages of the Eastern Seleucid Mints from Seleucus I to Antiochus III. New York.

Newell E.T. 1941. The Coinage of the Western Seleucid Mints from Seleucus I to Antiochus III. New York.

Ogden D. 2017. The Legend of Seleucus: Kingship, Narrative and Mythmaking in the Ancient World. Cambridge. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781316691236.

Olbrycht M.J. 2004. Aleksander Wielki i świat irański. Rzeszów.

Olbrycht M.J. 2005. Creating an Empire: Iran and Middle Asia in the Policy of Seleukos I. In V.P. Nikonorov (ed.), Tsentralʹnaia Aziia ot Akhemenidov do Timuridov: arkheologiia, istoriia, ėtnologiia, kulʹtura. Materialy mezhdunarodnoĭ nauchnoĭ konferentsii, posviashchennoĭ 100-letiiu so dnia rozhdeniia Aleksandra Markovicha Belenitskogo (Sankt-Peterburg, 2-5 noiabria 2004 goda) [Центральная Азия от Ахеменидов до Тимуридов: археология, история, этнология, культура. Материалы международной научной конференции, посвященной 100-летию со дня рождения Александра Марковича Беленицкого (Санкт-Петербург, 2-5 ноября 2004 года)], 231-234. Sankt Petersburg.

Olbrycht M.J. 2011. On Coin Portraits of Alexander the Great and His Iranian Regalia. Some Remarks Occasioned by the Book by F. Smith: L’immagine di Alessandro il Grande sulle monete del regno (336-323). Notae Numismaticae – Zapiski Numizmatyczne 6, 13-28.

Olbrycht M.J. 2013. Iranians in the Diadochi Period. In V.A. Troncoso and E.M. Anson (eds), After Alexander: The Time of the Diadochi (323-281 BC), 159-182. Oxford.

Olbrycht M.J. 2014. ‘An Admirer of Persian Ways’: Alexander the Great’s Reforms in Parthia-Hyrcania and the Iranian Heritage. In T. Daryaee, A. Mousavi and Kh. Rezakhani (eds), Excavating an Empire: Achaemenid Persia in Longue Durée, 37-62. Costa Mesa.

Olbrycht M.J. 2016. The Sacral Kingship of the Early Arsacids: Fire Cult and Kingly Glory. Anabasis 7. (Studia Classica et Orientalia), 91-106.

Oshima T. 2014. Babylonian Poems of Pious Sufferers: Ludlul Bēl Nēmeqi and the Babylonian Theodicy. Tübingen.

Otto W.F. 1965. Dionysus: Myth and Cult. Bloomington, Indianapolis.

Paddock J.M. 1993. The Bronze Italian Helmet: The Development of the Cassis from the Last Quarter of the Sixth Century B.C. to the Third Quarter of the First AD 1, PhD. London.

Plischke S. 2014. Die Seleukiden und Iran. Die seleukidische Herrschaftspolitik in den östlichen Satrapien. Wiesbaden. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvbqs5cq.

Pollitt J.J. 2006. Art in the Hellenistic Age. Cambridge.

Potts D.T. 2016. The Archaeology of Elam: Formation and Transformation of an Ancient Iranian State. Cambridge. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781316148501.

Primo A. 2009. La storiografia sui Seleucidi da Megastene a Eusebio di Cesarea. Pisa, Roma.

Root M.C. 2002. Animals in the Art of Ancient Iran. In B.J. Collins (ed.), A History of the Animal World in the Ancient Near East, 169-209. Leiden. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789047400912_006.

Sathe V. 2012. The Lion-Bull Motifs of Persepolis: The Zoogeographic Context. Iranian Journal of Archaeological Studies 2/1, 75-85. https://dx.doi.org/10.22111/ijas.2012.1059.

Schmitt R. 2002. Nisāya. In Encyclopaedia Iranica. Retrieved from https://iranicaonline.org/articles/nisaya (status as of Dec. 10th, 2020).

Seaford R. 2006. Dionysos (Gods and Heroes of the Ancient World). London, New York. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203358016.

Sekunda N. 1992. The Persian Army (560-330 B.C.). London.

Seyrig H. 1971. Monnaies hellénistiques; XIX: Le monnayage de Hiérapolis de Syrie à l’époque d’Alexandre. Revue numismatique 6/13, 11-21. https://doi.org/10.3406/numi.1971.1004.

Shabani R. 2005. The Book of Iran: Iranian History at a Glance: A Selection of the History of Iran. Tehran.

Shahbazi A.Sh. 1986. Army I. Pre-Islamic Iran. In Encyclopaedia Iranica.

Retrieved from https://iranicaonline.org/articles/army-i (status as of Dec. 5th, 2020).

Shahbazi A.Sh. 1987. ASB i. In Pre-Islamic Iran. In Encyclopaedia Iranica.

Retrieved from https://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/asb-pre-islamic-iran (status as of Dec. 5th, 2020).

Shenkar M. 2011. Temple Architecture in the Iranian World in the Hellenistic Period. In A. Kouremenos, R. Rossi and S. Chandrasekaran (eds), From Pella to Gandhara: Hybridisation and Identity in the Art and Architecture of the Hellenistic East, 117-140. Oxford.

Shenkar M. 2014. Intangible Spirits and Graven Images: The Iconography of Deities in the Pre-Islamic Iranian World: Magical and Religious Literature of Late Antiquity 4. Leiden, Boston. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004281493.

Sherwin-White S.M. and Kuhrt A. 1993. From Samarkhand to Sardis: A New Approach to the Seleucid Empire. Berkeley.

Simons F.J. 1994. Eat Not this Flesh: Food Avoidances from Prehistory to the Present. 2nd ed., revised and enlarged. Madison.

van der Spek R. 2003. Darius III, Alexander the Great and Babylonian scholarship. In: W.F.M Henkelman and A. Kuhrt (eds.), A Persian Perspective. Essays in Memory of Heleen Sancisi-Weerdenburg. 289-346, Leiden.

van der Spek R. 2004. Palace, Temple and Market in Seleucid Babylonia. In V. Chankowski and F. Duryat (eds), Le roi et l’économie. Autonomies locales et structures royales dans l’économie de l’empire séleucide, Topoi, 303-332. (Orient-Occident. Supplément 6). Lyon.

Stančo L. 2012. Greek Gods in the East Hellenistic Iconographic Schemes in Central Asia. Prague.

Stewart A.F. 1993. Faces of Power: Alexander’s Image and Hellenistic Politics. Berkeley, Los Angeles.

Svenson D. 1995. Darstellungen hellenistischer Könige mit Götteratributen. Frankfurt am Main.

Süring M.L. 1984. The Horn-Motifs of the Bible and the Ancient Near East. Andrews University Seminary Studies 22/3, 327-340.

Thompson M. 1982. The Coinage of Philip II and Alexander III. In B. Barr-Sharrar and E.N. Borza (eds), Macedonia and Greece in Late Classical and Early Hellenistic Times, 112-121. (Studies in the History of Art 10). Washington.

Thonemann P. 2005. The Tragic King: Demetrios Poliorketes and the City of Athens. In O. Hekster and R. Fowler (eds), Imaginary Kings: Royal Images in the Ancient Near East, Greece and Rome, 63-86. Stuttgart.

Thonemann P. 2015. The Hellenistic World. Using Coins as Sources. Guides to the Coinage of the Ancient World. Cambridge. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781316091784.

Troncoso V.A. 2014. The Zoology of Kingship: From Alexander the Great to the Epigoni (335 – c.250 BC). Anabasis 5, 53-75.

Waurick G. 1988. Helme der Hellenistischen Zeit und ihre Vorläufer.

In A. Bottini, M. Egg, F.W. von Hase, H. Pflug, U. Schaaff, P. Schauer and G. Waurick (eds), Antike Helme. Sammlung Lipperheide und andere Bestände des Antikenmuseums Berlin (Monographien des Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum 18), 151-180. Mainz.

Winter I.J. 2008. Touched by the Gods: Visual Evidence for the Divine Status of Rulers in the Ancient Near East. In N. Brisch (ed.), Religion and Power: Divine Kingship in the Ancient World and Beyond, 75-101. Chicago.

Wolski J. 1984. Les Séleucides et làhéritage dàAlexandre le Grand en Iran. In B. Virgilio (ed.) Studi Ellenistici 1, 9-20. Pisa.

Wolski J. 1999. Dzieje i upadek imperium Seleucydów. Kraków.

Wright N.L. 2010. Religion in Seleukid Syria-Gods at the Crossroads (301-64 BC). PhD Thesis. Macquarie University.

Downloads

Published

19-12-2021

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. https://doi.org/10.12797/SAAC.25.2021.25.07.

Issue

Section

Articles

Funding data