Saturday, 9 September 2017

Portrait of Alexander the Great

This coin was minted within a year of Alexander’s death
After Alexander the Great died suddenly at the age of 32, the future of his vast empire was unknown. His generals scrambled to determine who should succeed him as Alexander had no heir.

On his deathbed, Alexander passed his signet ring to Perdiccas, the leader of his elite calvary, nominating him as his successor, but Perdiccas did not claim power immediately. Princess Roxana of Bactria was pregnant with Alexander’s child at the time of his death, and the gender of the baby was unknown.

Roxane - Wife of Alexander the Great
The factions reached a compromise, and when Alexander IV was born in August 323 BCE, he and Philip III were jointly made kings but acted only as figureheads, while Perdiccas would actually rule the Empire as regent. Alexander’s portrait was likely placed on the obverse in an attempt to legitimize the new regime, associating the image of the well-known ruler to denote his blessing. Despite the effort the new regime was met with confusion, eventually resulting in the assassination of Perdiccas in 321 BCE and 40 years of war between the fragmented generals, splitting Alexander’s Empire into the Ptolemaic Kingdom, the Seleucid Empire, the Kingdom of Pergamon, and Macedonia.