Gold Stater of King Lysimachus of Thrace, Lampsakos mint, Black Sea region, struck c. 297/6-282/1 BC

On the coin, the head of the deified Alexander the Great wearing a diadem with fluttering ends and with the horn of Ammon around his ear. On the reverse, Athena, wearing robes and a helmet, seated on a throne, holding Nike and resting her elbow on large round shield adorned with a gorgoneion; on the inner left, a race torch; on the throne, monogram. M.

Lysimachus was a Macedonian officer and diadochus (successor) of Alexander the Great, who eventually became king of Thrace, Asia Minor and Macedon. He had been one of Alexander’s trusted bodyguards during his Persian campaigns.

Since Alexander didn’t leave an heir when he died in 323 BC, a power struggle soon erupted between various diadochi for control of the empire. They argued about who should rule which part and each of them tried to make themselves look like his lawful heir. One of the best ways to do this this was to mint coins with Alexander’s picture, but with their own name inscribed on them. That is exatly what Lysimachus did.

Lysimachus did eventually issue coinage solely in his name, like the one pictured here, which featured a different design than the one originally employed by Alexander. This coin features an idealized portrait of the deified Alexander on the obverse, and a seated Athena holding Nike on the reverse. These types of Lysimachus’ coins were popular enough in commerce to be adopted and imitated in other places, and by other kings up until the 1st century BC. The coins of Lysimachus are some of the most beautiful and realistic portraits from Hellenistic Greece.

The myth of Actaeon on an extremely rare gold stater from Lampsakos, Mysia c. 394-350 BC

In mythology, Actaeon was a famous hunter who was taught by the centaur Chiron. One day Actaeon stumbled upon upon Artemis bathing in a stream and she was so angered by him seeing her naked that she turned him into a stag. He was then torn to pieces by his own hunting dogs. The coin depicts Actaeon’s horns just starting to protrude from his head with the reverse showing the forepart of the winged-horse Pegasus.

Lampsakos was a Greek city in the ancient region of Mysia strategically located on the eastern side of the Hellespont (modern Dardanelles) in the northern Troad (modern Biga peninsula) in Turkey.