The gold staters of Philip II of Macedonia (359-336 BC)


11 February 2020
Would you accept a piece of gold to secure your loyalty? Philip II King of Macedonia issued gold staters to pay the many Celtic mercenaries to help him achieve his conquests and ever-expanding kingdom, as this expert coin guide from Baldwin's reveals.

Philip II was a king of Macedonia from 359 to 336 B.C. He became the sole ruler of an empire that was greatly built on by his son, Alexander the Great.

Philip ruled as Hegemon over mainland Greece and many of the islands. He issued gold staters to pay the many Celtic mercenaries who helped him achieve his conquests. In 354 BC Philip lost his right eye during the siege of Methone. An oracle prophesised he would lose an eye as a punishment for spying on the enemy.    

Philip was assassinated by a young Macedonian noble called Pausanias, who held a bitter grievance against the young queen’s uncle Attalus and against Philip for denying him justice.

Some believe that Alexander was responsible for his own father’s death, as he had the most to gain from the assassination, though this has never been proven conclusively. Philip II was the first of the great Macedonian leaders and laid the foundations for one of the largest empires of the western world.

Philip’s gold staters feature the head of the god, Apollo, on the obverse, while his silver coins depict the god Zeus. The two were major deities and revered across the Greek world.

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The reverse of the gold stater bears a depiction of a war chariot drawn by two horses, also known as a biga, being driven by Nike – personifying Philip’s string of victories.

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