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Bronze coin of Cleopatra VII


Diameter: 27.000 mm
Weight: 16.370 g

CM BMC Cleopatra VII 2

Room 72: Ancient Cyprus

    Bronze coin of Cleopatra VII

    Egypt, Ptolemaic Dynasty, 48-30 BC
    Minted at Cyprus

    A portrait of Cleopatra and her young son Caesarion

    Cleopatra VII (reigned 51-30 BC) was the last ruler of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt. By the time that she came to the throne in 51 BC, the fate of her kingdom lay very much in the hands of Rome. In 48 BC Egypt became embroiled in the civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey, when Pompey fled after the Battle of Pharsalus to Cleopatra's capital Alexandria, where he was murdered. Caesar followed, but was besieged in the Royal Palace for several months by Cleopatra's brother, Ptolemy XIII. It was clearly at this point that Cleopatra conceived Caesar's child, since she bore him a son soon after his departure.

    One of Caesar's rewards to Cleopatra for her hospitality in Egypt was the restoration to her kingdom of the island of Cyprus, which had been detached by Rome a few years earlier. It was here that this bronze coin was minted. On the front of the coin is an idealized portrait of Cleopatra as Aphrodite, the goddess of love, with her son by Caesar, Caesarion, as Eros in front of her. On the reverse are two cornucopiae and a Greek legend which translates: 'Of Queen Cleopatra'.

    G.K. Jenkins, Ancient Greek coins (London, Seaby, 1990)

    I.A. Carradice, Greek coins (London, The British Museum Press, 1996)

    R.R.R. Smith, Hellenistic royal portraits (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1988)

    I.A. Carradice and M.J. Price, Coinage in the Greek world (London, Seaby, 1988)


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    On display: Room 72: Ancient Cyprus

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