The youth on horseback commemorates the victory of young Philip II’s racehorse at the Olympic Games of 356 BCE – the same year that Philip’s son Alexander (soon to be the Great) was born.
During the times of ancient Greeks, horse racing was one of the events various Greek city-states and kingdoms would have intense competition with each other, as it was of great prestige to participate. Before the time of Philip II, the kingdom of Macedonia was considered barbarian and not Greek. Philip II was the first king of Macedon that was accepted for participation in the event, which was a great honor all in itself. It was an even greater honor that Philip’s horses would go on to win two horse-racing events. In 356 B.C., he won the single horse event and then in 348 B.C. chariot pulled by two horses event. As a way to proudly announce, or what some would say propagandize these honors, Philip II placed a reference to these great victories on his coins struck in all three metals of bronze, silver and gold. The ancient historian, Plutarch, wrote “[Philip of Macedon] … had victories of his chariots at Olympia stamped on his coins.”
Laureated head of Zeus, right
Youth on horseback, right, crowning horse with palm; below raised leg, dolphin with large snout; below horse, triangle inside a circle monogram
ΦΙΛΙΠ – ΠΟΥ
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