Home Page (Introductory Page and to downloads of the manuscript).

Two Eagles on Ptolemaic Coins as Representations of Co-Regency

Concurrence of two eagles with times of co-regency - Investigate possible correlation

To review the reigns in chronological sequence click from left to right on each of the boxes containing designations of the Ptolemaic kings.  (The images shown can be enlarged by clicking on them.)

Correlation of times of two-eagle coinage and times of co-regency

The name of the Ptolemaic king will appear here.

The period of reign appears here.

PtI   PtII   PtIII   PtIV   PtV   PtVI   PtVIII   PtIX   PtX   PtXII   CleoVII   

If the symbol of two eagles was meant to be a reminder of co-regency it would be expected that most of the longer term co-regencies would have produced two-eagle coins.  On the other hand,  there should be no two-eagle coinage produced during a period when there was no co-regency.

Click on the boxes above and compare the times when two-eagle coins were produced with the times of co-regency.

    PtI   PtII   PtIII   PtIV   PtV   PtVI   PtVIII   PtIX   PtX   PtXII   CleoVII   

  Top    Evidence    Conclusions    Correlations                          Historical review   of major co-regencies.

General summary of results:

Review of evidence.  There is considerable evidence,  shown by use of the table above,  that there is a chronological correlation of co-regency with production of two-eagle coinage.

The first two-eagle coins were produced in c.262 BC, shortly after a co-regency with Ptolemy the "son" was established (c.276 BC) during the reign of Ptolemy II (284-246 BC).  The initiation of two-eagle coinage just after the formation of a co-regency especially supports a correlation.  If the two-eagle hypothesis is valid,  these coins were very likely related to the politically unusual choice of an adopted son as co-regent rather than a natural son of Ptolemy II.

Ptolemy III (246-221 BC) and Ptolemy V (204-180 BC) did not establish co-regents and no two-eagle coins are known for these two reigns.  Shortly after the birth of Ptolemy V (in 210 BC) a "nominal" co-regency was established for him by Ptolemy IV (221-205 BC);  no two-eagle coins are known for this reign.Re-attribution of a two-eagle coin  There is thus a period of at least 66 years (i.e., from at least year 246 to 180 BC) during which no two-eagle coins are known.Re: A two-eagle coin that Svoronos mistakenly gave to Ptolemy IV

Cleopatra I re-introduced two-eagle coins in 180 BC and,  near the same time,  an unusual co-regency was formed in which a woman took precedence over a male,  Ptolemy VI,  her son.  Again, the correlation of new two-eagle coinage with the beginning of a co-regency is significant.

Two-eagle coins continued in production after the death of Cleopatra I in 176 BC.Two-eagle coins continued during the reign of Ptolemy VI  During the reigns of her sons, Ptolemy VIII, Ptolemy VI, and her daughter Cleopatra II,  a co-regency or a triple co-regency was formed by one (or two) brother(s) with Cleopatra II until 145 BC (death of Ptolemy VI).  Two-eagle coins in several denominations were apparently produced in great volume over this period and probably longer into the reign of Ptolemy VIII with his two queens Cleopatra II and Cleopatra III.

Ptolemy IX (116-107 BC) and Ptolemy X (107-101 BC) both had the same co-regent,  Cleopatra III,  their domineering mother.  Two-eagle coins have been assigned to each of these co-regencies but with little or no distinction to which of the two periods.

No two-eagle coins are known for Ptolemy XII.  He may have established Ptolemy XIII and Cleopatra VII,  his eldest son and daughter,  as co-regents.  If so, this occurred very shortly before his death in 51 BC.Possible co-regency of Cleopatra VII with her father,  Ptolemy XII

Finally,  Cleopatra VII produced two-eagle coins in the time of her co-regency (c.44-30 BC) with her son Caesarion.  She had a special political interest in promoting Caesarion,  the son of Caesar,  as a potential king of Egypt.

As shown above,  there is a definite chronological correlation between the production of two-eagle coins and the formation of a co-regency.  Moreover,  the conditions of the co-regencies fit the pattern noted by Murnane,  i.e., that co-regencies are a response to exceptional conditions (e.g., see especially the cases of Ptolemy the "son" with Ptolemy II,  of Cleopatra I with her young son Ptolemy VI,  and of Cleopatra VII with Caesarion).

  Top    Evidence    Conclusions    Correlations   

Review of conclusions.  From the evidence presented above, there are six reigns where the production of two-eagle coinage coincided with co-regencies (i.e., Pt II, Pt VI, Pt VIII, Pt IX, Pt X and Cleopatra XII).  There are four reigns where an absence of co-regency (or a very brief co-regency) coincided with an absence of two-eagle coins (i.e., Pt III, Pt IV, Pt V, Pt XIIbrief).  One co-regency did not produce two-eagle coins;  i.e., at his birth in 210 BC Ptolemy V was a "nominal" co-regent with his father until 204 BC, no two-eagle coins are known for this period.Short co-regencies before the death of a king

The issue of two-eagle coinage after the absence of such coinage,  but following shortly after establishment of a co-regency (i.e., Ptolemy II and Ptolemy "the son" in c.262 BC;  Ptolemy VI and Cleopatra I in c.180 BC;  Cleopatra VII and Caesarion in c.44 BC ), is excellent support for co-regency symbolism.

Thus there is a very distinct correlation of current literature attributions of two-eagle coinage with the times of co-regency.  The correlation is also strongly supported by the fact that no two-eagle coins have been reliably assigned to a period in which there was no co-regency.Correction of a previous attribution of two-eagle coins to a time without co-regency

The hypothesis that two eagles indicate a denomination has been proven to be false (see the summary of conclusions in Part 2) and, on the other hand, all the above evidence indicates that Ptolemaic double-eagles are related to the existence of a co-regency.


  go to 2 - Review of two-eagle coinage go to 2b - Additional evidence for the two-eagle co-regent correlation

to Introductory Page