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fine gold | 17 mm | 8.6 g
OBV: Laureated head of Apollo right.
R: Galloping biga driven right by charioteer holding goad. FILLIPPOS in exergue.
Philip II was the first of the Macedonian kings to mint in gold. A much-quoted passage in Diodorus Siculus associates Philip's gold coinage with his capture of the mining town of Crenides in 356 B.C. However it is now believed that Philip did not inaugurate his gold coinage until the last decade of his reign. In fact, the majority of the gold staters issued in his name were posthumous.
Several motives encouraged the choice of Apollo as the obverse type of Philip's staters. The god was a traditional type of the Macedonian royal house, appearing on silver staters and bronzes of Philip's predecessors from Archelaus I to Pausanias. But he was also the great god of Delphi in whose "defense" Philip intervened in the Third Sacred War, with the result that he obtained control of the Amphictionic Council and thus the moral leadership of Greece. It is clearly the powerful and sophisticated god of Delphi who is represented on the staters, rather than the deceptively modest patron of the Macedonian kings.
According to the testimony of Plutarch, the stater reverse commemorates the victory of Philip's racing team at the Olympic games. It is thus heir to the Sicilian coin types that advertised the agonistic successes of earlier tyrants and kings. In Philip's case the type had an additional function, for in proclaiming his victory it also countered the ancient Greek prejudice which regarded the Macedonians as barbarians, for panhellenic games were open only to Greeks.