Unusually Nice Heliokles I Tetradrachm




Baktrian Kingdom. Heliokles I (Circa 145-130 BC). Silver tetradrachm (13.35 gms). Diademed, draped, and cuirassed bust of Heliokles right, wearing crested helmet covered with scaled pelt and adorned with head of Gorgon and wing / ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΔΙΚΑΙΟΥ ΗΛΙΟΚΛΕΟΥΣ, Zeus enthroned left, holding Nike and scepter; M to left. Bopearachchi 3A. “TEOY” lightly incised vertically before portrait. A superior specimen of this rare type and of better metal than is usually encountered. Good very fine

The graffito “T[sic]EOY” before the bust of the king is likely a misspelling of ΘEOY (the genitive for “god”) and either refers to the king as being a god himself or perhaps born of a god. It is uncertain whether the interesting inscription was incised into the coin contemporaneously with the reign of Heliokles or sometime later when he might very well have been deified. The history of the Baktrian kingdom is  scant and very little is known about the individual rulers and, certainly, no mention is made of Heliokles’ deification in the historical record. This graffiti, therefore, may be the only evidence of Heliokles’ elevation to divine status, making this coin exceedingly important.


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