top of page
  • Writer's picturesulla80

A Macedonian Coin Quiz

This week's post assembles relevant coins from Macedonia with answers to a quiz.

Kings of Macedon, Alexander III 'the Great' (336-323 BC), AE Unit, Uncertain mint in Asia, 16mm 3.2g

Obv: Macedonian shield; on boss, head of Herakles facing slightly right, wearing lion skin.

Rev: B - A, Macedonian helmet. Control: Grain ear to left.

Ref: Price 2806

1-Who had Alexander IV and Alexander III's mother Olympias murdered?

In summer 309 BC, Cassander commanded Glaucias to assassinate the 14-year-old Alexander IV and his mother. 2-What was the name of the massive drinking cup that Alexander supposedly downed before becoming ill and dying a few days later? The "cup of Heracles" mentioned by Plutarch and explained by Diodorus Siculus in his Library.

As an aside: in 324 BC, Alexander the Great was in Susa and held drinking contest in honor of his dead friend, gymnosophist Calanus with award of 26 kg of gold. All 41 contestants including the winner, a Greek soldier named Promachus who drank 13 liters of wine, died from alcohol poisoning.

Kings of Macedon, temp. Philip II – Antipater & Alexander V. Circa 359-294 BC, Æ Unit in the name and types of Philip II, Uncertain mint in Macedon

Obv: Male head right, wearing tainia; Λ behind neck

Rev: Youth on horseback right; NI below

Ref: HGC 3, 882; SNG ANS 941 corr. (letter on obv. not noted= very rare variety with letter on obverse)

3-Where was Philip II sent to as a hostage as a young man that he learned combat tactics, and would innovation on, that he would bring back to Makedon and institute to turn his into the greatest fighting force that the ancient world had ever known? At the age of 12 Phillip was sent as a hostage to the Illyrians, King Bardylis, and around 14 he was sent to Thebes as a hostage. In Thebes, he lived with Pammenes, a leading politician. He remained in Thebes for three years and learned military strategies from Epaminondas, the great Theban general. Philip’s soldiers were trained to move closely in a rectangular formation like one giant soldier armed with shields and spears.

4-Where was Philip II's tomb found? Under a hill, (the Great Tumulus) in Vergina, Greece, are the Royal Tombs of Vergina. Vergina is 70 kilometers from Thessaloniki. Two related post on Philip II :

5-What were the Diadochi? The Diadochi were the successors to Alexander the Great – they fought each other and divided up his empire after his death.

Kingdoms of the Diadochi in 301 BC Derivative work from Homo lupus, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. Lysimachos held the region in orange after the death of Alexander III.

Kings of Thrace, Lysimachos, AR Drachm, Ephesos, circa 294-287 BC

Obv: Diademed head of the deified Alexander the Great right, wearing horn of Ammon

Rev: Athena Nikephoros seated left, left arm resting on rim of shield, transverse spear in background, E-Φ with bee between to inner left; BAΣIΛEΩΣ to right, ΛYΣIMAXOY to left

6-What, supposedly, were Alexander the great's last words? On June 11th, about a month short of his 33rd birthday. The story that lingers is: when someone asked him: “To whom do you leave the kingdom?” he replied: “To the strongest.” In other versions he adds: “I foresee great funeral games after my death.” (Arian 7.26.3) When Perdiccas asked him when he wanted to be paid divine honors he replied: “When you yourselves are happy.” (Clarke, p61) 7-Who were the first Makedon Shield coins minted under?

Macedonian shield coins, bronze quarter-obol (two chalkoi) were dated by Price dated as beginning near the end of Alexander's life, c.325 BC. Liampi argued that based on hoard evidence, that they were first minted as early as 334 BC. Anyway you look at it these AE coins started under Alexander the Great.

regarding this Uncertain AR Obol from Windwinds the CNG attribution in sale 58 was not correct:

Katerini Liampi does include 2 similar coins in "Der makedonishe Schild", 1998 which she catalogs and illustrates in Table 29

"Unbestimmte Illyrische Münzstätte" / "Silbermünzen, bis etwa 168 v. Chr"


"Undetermined Illyrian Mint" / "Silver Coins, from about 168 BC".

She argues that the topology (fabric?/style?) is very close to the Illyrian coins of Philip V, Perseus and Bottia, from from Lychnidos. Other coins in this section include a Pegasus similar to the those from Korkyra ~220 BC. The star on the reverse (M 114) is modeled on coins of the Island of Issa or Korkyra.

8-What God did the Argead dynasty claim to descend from?

Phrygia, Peltai, Late 2nd-1st century BC, AE 16mm, 3.2g

Obv: Laureate head of Zeus.

Rev. ΠΕΛΤΗ-ANDP, winged thunderbolt

Since Herakles was a demi-god (some of a mortal woman and Zeus) the god that the Argead’s descend from is Zeus. “As for the lineage of Alexander, on his father's side he was a descendant of Heracles through Caranus, and on his mother's side a descendant of Aeacus through Neoptolemus; this is accepted without any question. And we are told that Philip, after being initiated into the mysteries of Samothrace at the same time with Olympias, he himself being still a youth and she an orphan child, fell in love with her and betrothed himself to her at once with the consent of her brother, Arymbas.” -Plutarch, Alexander 2.1

Kings of Macedon, Alexander III 'the Great', 336-323 BC, Hemiobol (Bronze, 19 mm, 5g), uncertain mint in Asia Minor

Obv: Head of Herakles to right, wearing lion's skin headdress

Rev: AΛΕΞΑΝΔΡOY between bow in bowcase (above) and club (below); Α below club

Ref: Price 297

9- What dynasty finally fell to the Romans ending Makedon autonomy? The last Macedonian king of the Antigonid dynasty, Perseus, was defeated by the Romans in the Third Macedonian War in 168 BC.

This Roman Republican denarius (3 examples) is one of my favorites, it celebrates the Roman victory in the Third Macedonian War, over the son of Philip V, Perseus, at Pydna in 168 BC by Lucius Aemilius Paulus, who was consul in 182 and 168 BC.

10- What was the battle that Cleitus the Black, whom Alexander would murder in a drunken argument years later, saved Alexander's life? Cleitus the Black, an officer of the Macedonian army, saved Alexander's life at the Battle of the Granicus in 334 BC and was killed by him in a drunken quarrel six years later.


  • The questions for this quiz came from a contest run by @Ryro a frequent contributor on both CoinTalk and NumisForums.

  • The lives & deaths of most of those eminent persons who by their virtue and valor obtained the surnames of Magni, or "the Great" where of divers of them give much light to the understanding of the prophecies in Esay, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, concerning the three first monarchies : and to other Scriptures concerning the captivity, and restoration of the Jews, Clarke, Samuel, 1599-1682.

61 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page