Alexander the Great returned to the city of Ecbatana in the fall of 324 BC for a three-month binge of drinking and entertainment.
The city was an appropriate cite for a celebration. Alexander had first been there after the Battle of Gaugamela. And, it was outside the city where Darius III, the great Persian emperor and warrior, had been captured. This secured Alexander's claim to the Persian Empire and opened the East as far as India to his conquest.
Alexander had 3,000 entertainers and artists brought from Greece to mark his conquest with a weeks long celebration. But tragedy struck during the event. Alexander’s closest companion and suspected lover, Hephaestion, fell ill and died after drinking heavily and eating a fowl.
Glaucus, his doctor, was at the theater at the time and unable to help. Distraught, Alexander ordered the doctor crucified and the tails and manes of all the horses to be cut. The celebration was over.
The city of Ecbatana was also the site where this coin was minted. It shows the great Greek hero Heracles on the front, fashioned in the image of Alexander himself, wearing a lion’s head for a headdress. On the back is Zeus, the greatest of the Greek gods and father to Heracles seated on a throne holding an eagle and a scepter.
The coin and its imagery served a purpose in Alexander's plans for conquest. He used it to portray himself as a god-like ruler to his friends and foes. The lion’s headdress and portrayal of his profile as the hero Heracles provided a powerful graphic image to everyday citizens that the new ruler was to be respected and obeyed. The portrait of Zeus’ on a throne with a powerful eagle on his hand, re-enforces the message of power and connects Alexander to the greatest of the Greek gods.
For more about this Ancient Selfie and others check out the book Ancient Selfies - History Revealed Through The World's First Social Media: Ancient Coins or our website at ancientselfies.com.
About the coin: Alexander at Ecbatana. Silver obol of Alexander the Great minted in Ecbatana between 336 and 326 BC. 10.3 grams. 67 mm. Acquired from Forum Ancient Coins, Morehead City, North Carolina in 2006. Featured in Ancient Selfies - History Revealed Through The World's First Social Media: Ancient Coins, a Finalist in the 2017 International Book Awards.
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Clinton Richardson, has been writing and photographing for decades. His acclaimed venture strategy series is now in its 5th edition. His Ancient Selfies is an International Book Awards Finalist and an eLit Award Gold Medal Winner. Many of his images can be seen online at TrekPic.com.