Cappadocian Kingdom, Ariarathes VII, 116-101 BC, Tetradrachm
16.48g. SNR 57 1978, The coinages of Ariarathes VI and Ariarathes VII of Cappadocia by O. Morkholm pi. 42 #14. Obverse: Diademed head of king right within fillet border. Reverse: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΡΙΑΡΕΘΟΥ ΦΙΛΑΟΜΗΤΟΡΟΣ, Athena standing left holding hand spear and shield decorated with large Medusa head in her left hand, on extended right hand, Nike is turned right with wreath, king's name in three vertical lines, ΔI monogram above A in outer left field, O in inner left field, Λ in inner right field, all within laurel wreath border.
Ariarathes VII, son of King Ariarathes VI of Cappadocia, and of Laodice, the sister of the ambitious and greedy King Mithradates VI, The Great, of Pontus, was born about 116 B.C. About 109 B.C., Mithradates VI successfully conspired with Gordius, brother of Ariarathes VI, to assassinate him, making his sister Laodice regent for the young Ariarathes VII. Nicomedes of Bithynia, however, quickly invaded Cappadocia, and Laodice, evidentially not trusting her brother Mithradates VI, willingly married Nicomedes. Claiming to protect the interests of the young Ariarathes VII, Mithradates VI then invaded Cappadocia himself, expelling Nicomedes and Laodice and restoring Ariarathes VII to his throne. Mithradates VI insisted that Gordius assume an important role in the Cappadocian court, but Ariarathes VII hated Gordius as his father's murderer and would not tolerate him. Mithradates VI then invaded Cappadocia again, but before any serious fighting broke out, he called for a peace conference with Ariarathes VII to settle their differences. The meeting was held under a flag of truce, and there in the full view of both armies, Mithradates VI pulled a dagger and stabbed young Ariarathes VII to death. One of Mithradates Vl's sons was then put on the throne of Cappadocia as a puppet ruler under the name of Ariarathes VIII. Ariarathes VII was about fifteen years old at the time of his death in 101 B.C., and he had been king at least in name for only about half that time.
All of his coins are rare, and his tetradrachms extremely so. Struck to finance his struggle against his uncle Mithradates VI, the tetradrachms of Ariarathes VII feature an extremely fine portrait of the ill-fated young ruler. Apparently only the fourth known tetradrachm of this king, and from a different die pair than the other three, which are (1) that published by Morkholm-Leu, April 1978, lot 154, (2) Leu, May 1991, lot 108, (3) Lanz Munich 124, 2005, lot 439. Extremely rare and important Hellenistic portrait. Beautifully centered and well struck.
US$ 5,500 - 6,500
£4,500 - 5,300