Agesilaos Antik Sikkeler Nümzimatik

Indo-Greek Kingdom Menander I Soter

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Antik Sikkeler

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Menander I Soter - BAΣIΛEΩΣ ΣΩTHPOΣ MENANΔPOY

The origins of the Indo-Greek Kingdom can be traced all the way back to the time of Alexander the Great, who famously led his armies as far as North West India and conquered large parts of the region in 326 BC. After Alexander's death, his empire fragmented and the Indian territories fell under the rule of the emperor Chandragupta, founder of the Mauryan empire, until 185 BC when it was toppled by Pushyamitra Shunga, founder of the Shunga Empire. There followed several incursions by Greco-Baktrian kings into India, the most significant of which was by Menander I Soter, who Strabo highlights as having advanced further than his predecessors and subdued more peoples [Geographica, 11.11.1] and is therefore widely considered to be the most important of the Indo-Greek kings.

Save for a very limited account by Strabo, the literary record of Menander's military endeavours is scant, with epigraphic and numismatic evidence forming much of the basis of modern understanding of this part of his life. It seems that he launched several campaigns in the Indian subcontinent, with some sources, notably the Hathigumpha inscription, stating that his troops reached as far East as the city of Mathura in modern-day Uttar Pradesh. The precise geographical extent of his empire remains unclear and it is certainly possible that the borders fluctuated throughout his rule, but the few sources all corroborate the view that he ruled a large area of North West India for between 25 to 35 years. The prosperity of his dominions is attested by the preponderance of coinage, the find-locations of which have also helped to somewhat illuminate the boundaries of his empire. The numismatic record could also be seen to hint at his style of leadership, with the large majority of issues exemplifying bilingual legends, in both Greek and Kharosthi, as is the case here. This is perhaps an indication that he placed emphasis on integration and unity with the peoples over whom he ruled.

This view is further supported by accounts of his religious life, which by contrast with the lack of detail of his military achievements, is expounded upon in great depth in the Buddhist text the Milinda Panha, which relates a dialogue [real or imagined] between the Buddhist sage Nagasena and Menander himself - Milinda being the translation of Menander into the Buddhist liturgical script of the time, Pali. Buddhist tradition has it that Menander converted to Buddhism and the Milinda Panha, which likely dates to after his death, is a retelling of the conversation he had with the sage when the ruler asked many questions about the faith, at the end of which he made the decision to convert. A decision which undoubtedly ingratiated him with the many Buddhist populations who lived in his empire.

ANTİK SİKKELER NÜMİZMATİK_Menander I Soter.jpg