Iconography of Power: the Bearded King on the Coinage of Seleucus II Callinicus

Document Type : Research Article


Institute of Archaeology, Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland



Seleucus II Callinicus was the first Seleucid king (from 246 to 225 BC) who portrayed himself on coins bearded and
wearing a diadem. This seems to be due to the wars that were waged in the Seleucid Empire during the reign of this
king, including the separation of Parthia and Bactria from the Seleucid Empire, and the invasion of Arsaces. Seleucus
II Callinicus embarked on an unsuccessful campaign against the Parni, and after this event he issued coins showing
himself with a beard. In fact, such imagery presented the king both as a worshiper who had made vows to the gods -Apollo and Artemis - for his victory, and as a military commander. What is more, it cannot be ruled out that Seleucus also consciously referred to the iconography of the Achaemenid kings, who were always depicted with a beard, thus showing himself to his subjects as the legitimate king of Iran.


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