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Coin 3

Coin 20

Coin 24

Coin 25

Coin 36

Coin 44

5. A gallery of ruling women from Ephesus

The fourth century BCE, which saw the beginnings of portraiture on Greek coins, also saw the rise of regal dynasties that split up what remained of Alexander's empire. Integral to these dynasties were powerful women, daughters, wives, and mothers of kings; and they were followed by the women of the Roman imperial families, who were just as important to the continuation of Roman rule. These women were often honored with portraits on Ephesian coins.

Arsinoe, ( 20 ) was the daughter of the Egyptian Ruler Ptolemy I and wife of Lysimachos. In 287, Lysimachos moved the people of Ephesus from the area of the temple of Artemis to a new site, and named it "Arsinoe" after her. She caused a rift between Lysimachos and his son and heir by a previous marriage. When Lysimachos was killed in 281, she lost Ephesus, which went back to its old name. She eventually returned to Egypt, where she became Queen by marrying her brother Ptolemy II.

Octavia ( 23 ) was the sister of Octavian, posthumously adopted heir of Julius Caesar. When her first husband died in 40 BCE, she married Mark Antony and went east to him, as a living bond between him and Octavian. Despite Antony’s active involvement with Cleopatra, his repudiation of Octavia, and even his divorcing her in 32, she remained faithful to him, living in his house in Rome and bringing up all his surviving children, including those he had with Cleopatra.

Livia was the wife of Augustus, and their portraits appear together ( 24 ). She outlived him, and was conspicuously honored in the reign of her son Tiberius by being worshipped with him and with the personified Senate in Asia's provincial imperial temple at Smyrna.

Agrippina was the last wife of Claudius, and their portraits appear together much as Livia's had with Augustus ( 25 ). She is said to have murdered Claudius so that her son Nero could succeed.

Domitia ( 36 ) was the wife of Domitian. As Augusta, she too may have been worshipped in Ephesus' provincial Temple of the Augusti, completed in her husband's reign.

Herennia Etruscilla ( 3 ), wife of Trajan Decius, had two sons, Herennius Etruscus and Hostilian. The first was killed in the battle that also took his father, the latter lived to succeed him; but both he and his mother were dead within the year.

Salonina was the wife of Gallienus; the name Chrysogone, "gold-born," is given to her on coins of Ionian ( 44 ) and Lydian cities. Her sons, Valerian junior and Saloninus, were both named as prospective successors, but died during their father's and grandfather's reign. She was probably killed in the same revolt in which her husband fell.

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