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Apollodotus I

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Missing image
BasileosApollodotou.jpg
Indo-Greek king Apollodotus I (180-160 BCE). Attic standard.
Obv.: Bust of Apollodotus I wearing kausia, with bead and reel border.
Rev.: Athena holding Nike, who crowns the king’s name. Greek legend ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΠΟΛΛΟΔΟΤΟΥ "King Apollodotus".

Apollodotus I was an Indo-Greek king between 180 and 160 BCE who ruled the western and southern parts of the Indo-Greek kingdom, from Taxila in Punjab to the areas of Sindh and Gujarat.

Contents

Ruler of the Indo-Greek kingdom

Apollodotus was one of the generals of Demetrius I of Bactria, the Greco-Bactrian king who invaded northern India around 180 BCE. He was probably a member of the royal house, and may have been a brother of Demetrius.

Apollodotus was a contemporary of Menander I, although it seems the reign of Apollodotus preceded that of Menander, who was the general in charge of the Eastern territories during his reign.

The usurper Eucratides probably killed Apollodotus when he invaded the western territories of the Indo-Greeks around 160 BCE. Eventually Menander managed to repell Eucratides beyond the Hindu-Kush, took the title of King, and ruled alone nearly all the northwestern area of the Indian sub-continent.

An abundant multi-cultural coinage

Missing image
AppolodotusCoin.JPG
Indian-standard coin of Apollodotus I.
Obv: Sacred elephant with decorative belt. Greek legend ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΠΟΛΛΟΔΟΤΟΥ ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ "Saviour King Apollodotus".
Rev: Bull with Kharoshti legend MAHARAJASA TRATARASA APALADATASA "Saviour King Apollodotus".
Actual size: 15mm, 1.4 grams.

The coinage of Apollodotus is, together with that of Menander, one of the most abundant of the Indo-Greek kings. It is found mainly in the provinces of Punjab, Sindh and Gujarat, indicating the southern limit of the Indo-Greek expansion in India. This is confirmed by the Periplus, a 1st century AD document on trade in the Indian Ocean, which describes the remnants of Greek presence (shrines, barracks, wells, coinage) in the strategic port of Barygaza (Bharuch) in Gujarat. Strabo (XI) also describes the occupation of Patalene (Indus Delta country) and the region of Kathiawar peninsula by the Greeks.

Apollodotus also issued a great number of bilingual Indian-standard square coins. Beside the usual royal title, the exact significance of the animals depicted on the coins is unclear. The sacred elephant may be the symbol of the city of Taxila, or possibly the symbol of the white elephant who reputedly entered in dream the womb the mother of the Buddha, Queen Maya, which would make it a symbol of Buddhism, one of the central religion of the Indo-Greek territories.

Missing image
ApollodotosShiva.jpg
Coin of Apollodotus with erectile bull, probable representation of Shiva.

Similarly, the sacred bull on the reverse may be a symbol of a city (Pushkhalavati), or a depiction of Shiva, making it a symbol of Hinduism, the other major religion at that time. The bull is often represented in a clearly erectile state, which reinforces its interpretation as a representation of Shiva. Conversely, this also reinforces the interpretation of the elephant as a religious symbol.

Missing image
ApollodotusBuddhism.jpg
Coin of Apollodotus associating the elephant with Buddhist symbols. The bull is associated with the taurine symbol (one circle and two horns) to the right, with a mint mark on top.

Before their design was eventually simplified, some of the earlier coins of king Apollodotus directly associate the elephant with Buddhist symbolism, such as the stupa hill surmounted by a star, also seen, for example on the coins of the Mauryan Empire or those of the later Kuninda kingdom.


Preceded by:
(In Paropamisadae)
Agathocles

(In Gandhara)
Pantaleon
Indo-Greek Ruler
(Paropamisadae, Arachosia, Gandhara, Punjab)
( 180-160 BCE)
Succeeded by:
Antimachus II

External links

  • Coins of Apollodotus (http://www.wildwinds.com/coins/greece/baktria/kings/apollodotos_I/t.html)
  • More coins of Apollodotus (http://www.coinarchives.com/a/results.php?results=100&search=Apollodotos+I+NOT+II+NOT+Philoxenos&Thumb=1)

See also

References

  • "The Greeks in Bactria and India" W.W. Tarn, Cambridge University Press
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