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An Introduction to the Very Last Macedonian King
In 808 BC the Macedonian empire was founded by Caranus1. You’ve probably heard of its greatest rulers, such as Philip II or Alexander the great. Then, in 168 BC, it was taken over by Rome, and the Macedonian monarchy ceased to exist.
Or did it?
Claiming the Throne
In 154 BC, A clothmaker called Andriscus (Ἀνδρίσκος in Greek) claimed that he was the son of the previous Macedonian king Perseus (who died some 14 years previously), and had been raised in secret.
Diodorus Siculus, an ancient Greek historian, suggests that Andriscus looked so much like Perseus that his friends called him the late king’s son as a joke. As these jests slowly became stronger beliefs, Andriscus thought “why not!”, and claimed that he was indeed Philip, the son of Perseus.
“One of his mercenary troops, a man named Andriscus, bore a close resemblance to Philip, the son of Perseus, both in appearance and stature, and while at first it was only in jest and derision that his friends called him "son of Perseus," soon the statement won popular credence.” - Diodorus Siculus2
In any case, Andriscus initially attempted to claim the Macedonian throne in Syria. Here there was much support for him, but Demetrios I Soter (the Seleukid king at the time) had him arrested and handed him to the Roman Senate. The Senate believed that he was lying, given that Perseus’ son had died years previously. Andriscus was then exiled to a town in Italy, but was able to escape. Back in Greece, he gathered allies (like the Thracians) who would supply him with troops and crowned himself king in 149 BC. The Macedonians, initially unsure, received him favourably, united in their hatred of Rome.
His reign, however, was extremely brief. The following year, Andriscus was defeated by the Roman praetor Quintus Caecilius Metellus in battle and remained prisoner for 2 years in Rome before being executed. Quintus Caecilius Metellus was awarded the title “Macedonicus” for his success.
Andriscus being excecuted on a 15th century miniature3
Of course, it wouldn’t be an AncientNumis article without… coins!
Only 3 of Philip VI Andriscus’ drachms survive today4, and feature Andriscus’ bearded portrait with Herakles depicted on the reverse. The legend reads: BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΦIΛIΠΠOY - King Philip.
These pieces can command extremely high prices at auction. Take, for example, CNG’s example (pictured below), which hammered for $16,000. In my opinion, the price is well justified; this example was overstruck on a Roman Republican denarius, perhaps even taken as loot by Andriscus. It is certainly challenging to find a more historically significant coin!
This drachm of Andriscus sold for $16,000 at CNG5
If any readers prefer a video format, I’ve uploaded this brief Youtube video on the topic too:
This may be incorrect. Herodotus reports that Macedon’s first king was instead Perdiccas I, who ruled in the late 7th Century BC. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caranus_of_Macedon for more.
See https://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Diodorus_Siculus/31B*.html#40a for the English translation used.
Unknown author, 1413-1415 AD
Or 4. My sources seem to differ on this, so I’m unsure.