Spectres stays in the ancient historical world, following Hannibal Barca with another Roman nemesis – Cleopatra

One of the most famous women in history, Cleopatra VII, the last Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt, was born in 69 BCE in Alexandria, the cultural and intellectual centre of the Hellenistic world. She belonged to the Ptolemaic dynasty, a Greek family ruling Egypt since the death of Alexander the Great. Cleopatra ascended the throne in 51 BCE alongside her younger brother, Ptolemy XIII, but their contentious relationship led to a power struggle. In 48 BCE, Cleopatra sought an alliance with the Roman general Julius Caesar, and their relationship bore a son named Caesarion, solidifying her ties to the Empire. However, political turmoil in Rome and Caesar’s assassination in 44 BCE forced Cleopatra to return to Egypt.

Following Caesar’s death, Cleopatra allied herself with Mark Antony, one of Caesar’s generals, during the power struggle that ensued. Their relationship evolved into a political and romantic partnership, and she bore Antony three children. Their alliance, however, faced opposition from Rome, especially as Mark Antony’s political standing weakened. The climactic Battle of Actium in 31 BCE sealed Cleopatra’s fate. Antony and Cleopatra’s forces were defeated by Octavian (later Emperor Augustus), Caesar’s adopted heir. Faced with defeat, Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide, marking the end of the Ptolemaic rule in Egypt.

No stranger to the coin world, Cleopatra is back, this time in high-relief as part of the newly independent Spectres historical range. We recently covered their Hannibal Barca coin, the first in a ‘Masters of War’ series, but Cleopatra appears to be a standalone coin, even though it does inherit the two-ounce, 45 mm diameter format from its predecessor. It also continues with high-relief on both faces.

The depiction of Cleopatra is not that of the beautiful seductress of lore. This is a focused individual, hardened by circumstance, and fully in control of her surroundings, however deluded that might be. It makes a nice change from the damsel in distress meme she often attracts. The reverse face has her seated on a throne, the eagle of Zeus to her left (a popular motif on coins from her reign), and the asp that would end her life, to the right. The employment of a low perspective works well, giving us a better view of the columns of the Temple of Hathor..

The obverse is an agglomeration of various elements, with the typical Sphinx and Great Pyramid in the background, but the main element is Cleopatra standing in the waters of the Nile. Dinner for a crocodile? The asp returns behind her, the only thing we aren’t so keen on, but the relief remains impressive. Overall, a very different version of Cleopatra from the norm, and perhaps, one more realistic, given her clever manipulation of events, and callous treatment of her siblings. Available to order from now.

DENOMINATION 10,000 Francs CFA (Republic of Chad)
COMPOSITION 62.2 g of 0.999 silver
FINISH Antique