Ancient Greek - AE Diobol - Ptolemy II Philadelphus - Circa 274 BC

Denomination: AE Diobol (28mm, 12h)

Date:  Circa 274 BC

Mint: Alexandria - PTOLEMAIC EGYPT

Description:  Obverse: Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285/4-246 BC). Laureate head of Zeus right; dotted border / ΠΤΟΛΕΜAIOY-ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ, Reverse: Eagle with spread wings standing left on thunderbolt; MΣ monogram above Galatian shield decorated with thunderbolt in left field, AT monogram between eagle's legs, dotted border.

Grade: NGC Choice Fine (2119716-010)

History:  According to the legend, seventy-two Jewish scholars were asked by Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the Greek Pharaoh of Egypt, to translate the Torah from Biblical Hebrew to Greek for inclusion in the Library of Alexandria.

Ptolemy II was an eager patron of scholarship, funding the expansion of the Library of Alexandria and patronizing scientific research. Poets like Callimachus, Theocritus, Apollonius of Rhodes, and Posidippus were provided with stipends and produced masterpieces of Hellenistic poetry, including panegyrics in honor of the Ptolemaic family. Other scholars operating under Ptolemy's aegis included the mathematician Euclid and the astronomer Aristarchus. Ptolemy is thought to have commissioned Manetho to compose his Aegyptiaca, an account of Egyptian history, perhaps intended to make Egyptian culture intelligible to its new rulers.

A tradition preserved in the pseudepigraphical Letter of Aristeas presents Ptolemy as the driving force behind the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek as the Septuagint. This account contains several anachronisms and is unlikely to be true. The Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible is likely to have taken place among the Jews of Alexandria, but the role of Ptolemy II is unclear and only the Pentateuch is likely to have been translated during his reign.