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Home > Auctions > 24th May 2016 > Greek Massive Gold Ring with Ptolemy VI and Cleopatra I

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LOT 0198

GBP (£) 25,000 - 35,000
EUR (€) 29,600 - 41,440
USD ($) 31,920 - 44,680

1 1/2" (33 grams, 37mm overall, 14.60 x 21.49mm internal diameter (approximate size British G 1/2, USA 3 1/2, Europe 5.55, Japan 5)).

A substantial Ptolemaic gold ring, the hoop expanding to an elliptical bezel with inset garnet cloison, engraved intaglio jugate profile busts of Ptolemy VI styled as Neos Dionysos, and his mother, Cleopatra I, with diadem.

Property of a European gentleman, Cologne, Germany; formerly with Gorny & Mosch, Germany, Auction 223, lot 1007; previously in a European collection; acquired in the 1980s. Supplied with a positive X-Ray Fluorescence metal analysis certificate.

Accompanied by an Art Loss Register certificate.

Cf. Marshall, F.H. Catalogue of the Finger Rings, Greek, Etruscan and Roman, in the Department of Antiquities, British Museum, London, 1907, item 95; Taylor, G. & Scarisbrick, D. Finger Rings from Ancient Egypt to the Present Day, Oxford, 1978, type 27; Boardman, J. and Vollenweider, M-L., Catalogue of the Engraved Gems and Finger Rings, I: Greek and Etruscan, Oxford, 1978.

Jugate busts appear occasionally on Greek finger rings, depicting, as here, a pair of rulers associating themselves with divinities. The large precious stone and the finely quality of the carving of individual features suggest a portrait of members of the royal family. The hairstyle and headdress of the front face is very similar in detail to those on a bronze statue of the youthful Dionysos in the National Museum, Rome, which is a Roman copy of an earlier Hellenistic statue.

The worship of Dionysos was involved in the official cult of the Ptolemaic rulers, specifically after Ptolemy IV proclaimed himself Neos Dionysos (the new Dionysos) and began to be represented as the god himself. Even after the death of this Neos Dionysos, Dionysiac festivities remained in favour at the Ptolemaic and other Hellenistic courts. Therefore the image almost certainly represents a member of the ruling family stylised as the young god Dionysos, with an important female to the rear. Comparison of the carefully modelled facial features with other images (Boardman and Vollenweider, item 295) indicates that the male represents Ptolemy VI, whose later portraits are executed in a similar smooth style with a distinctive nose and chin profile. The female profile to the rear would be his mother, Cleopatra I, who ruled on behalf of her young son. She was the first Ptolemaic queen to be a sole ruler of Egypt. However, her reign lasted only four years and after her death, Ptolemy VI adopted the epithet "Philometor", which can be translated as "he who loves his mother".