The Seleukid Kingdom was established by Seleukos I, one of the generals of Alexander the Great, following the death of Alexander and the division of his empire. At its peak under Seleukos I and Antiochus I, the Seleucid Kingdom comprised almost the whole of the conquests of Alexander with the exception of Egypt. The eldest son of Demetrios I, Demetrios II came to the throne in 146 B.C., after killing a pretender to the throne who had killed his father. Demetrios ruled a much reduced territory for six years, until he made war with Parthia and was taken prisoner. He was held hostage in luxury for ten years. In 129 B.C. he returned to Syria for a second reign that lasted until his death in 125 B.C.
How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or your purse? What eras and lands have the coin traversed on its journey into our possession? As we reach into our pockets to pull out some change, we rarely hesitate to think of who touched the coin before us, or where the coin will venture to after us. More than money, coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a specific time and place, whether currency in the age we live or an artifact of a long forgotten empire. The coins of Demetrios' first reign depicted a clean-shaven ruler who used the traditional Seleukid "Apollo-on-Omphalos" type on the reverse, but the coins of his second reign show clear evidence of his time in Parthia, for he wears the long hair and beard of Parthian fashion, which he apparently adopted in captivity. The type, presumably somewhat realistic, stands in sharp contrast to his predecessors' types, which are more idealized in the manner of portraits of Alexander the Great. The Zeus holding Nike on the reverse indicates that the Seleukids are reclaiming Zeus as a patron deity. The same reverse type had been used by Antiochos IV Epiphanes, who adopted Zeus as his patron deity, but it was usurped by the pretender Alexander Balas, who claimed to be the son of Antiochos. This ancient coin is more than an artifact; it is a memorial to a lost kingdom passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation. - (C.392)