Menander II

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Menander II
Indo-Greek king
MenanderDikaiou.jpg
Coin of Menander II.

Obv: Menander wearing a diadem. Greek legend: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΔΙΚΑΙΟΥ ΜΕΝΑΝΔΡΟΥ (BASILEOS DIKAIOU MENANDROU) "Of King Menander the Just".

Rev: Winged figure bearing wreath and palm, probably Nike. The Kharoshthi legend reads MAHARAJASA DHARMIKASA MENADRASA (Menander, King of the Dharma).
Reign 90–85 BCE
Indo-Greek officer (on a coin of Menander II), circa 90 BCE. He is equipped with a cuirass, lamellar armour for the thighs, and leg protections (cnemids).

Menander II Dikaios (Greek: Μένανδρος Β΄ ὁ Δίκαιος; epithet means "the Just") was an Indo-Greek King who ruled in the areas of Arachosia and Gandhara in the north of modern Pakistan.

Time of reign[edit]

Bopearachchi has suggested that Menander II reigned circa 90–85 BCE, whereas R. C. Senior has suggested circa 65 BCE. In that case, Menander II ruled remaining Indo-Greek territories in Gandhara after the invasion of Maues.

Relations to other kings[edit]

Menander II Dikaios may have belonged to the dynasty of Menander I Soter, the greatest of the Indo-Greek kings. It was long believed that there was only one king named Menander (see discussion under Menander I) as their portraits were rather similar and Menander II seems to have been a devout Buddhist, just as Menander I was, according to the ancient Buddhist scripture the Milindapanha.

On the other hand, the name Menander could well have been popular in the Indo-Greek kingdom, and the coins of Menander II are not very like those of Menander I nor of those other kings (such as Strato I) who are believed to have belonged to his dynasty. R. C. Senior links Menander II with the Indo-Greek king Amyntas, with whom he shares several monograms and also facial features such as a pointed nose and receding chin. He also suggests a close relation to the semi-Scythian king Artemidorus, son of Maues, since their coins use similar types and are often found together.

There is a small possibility that Menander II, rather than Menander I, is actually the Buddhist Greek king referred to in the Milinda Panha. This point is unsolved however, since Greek sources (Plutarch (Praec. reip. ger. 28, 6)) relate that the great conqueror Menander I is the one who received the honour of burial in what could be interpreted as Buddhist stupas.

More likely, Menander I may indeed have first supported Buddhism, like the other Indo-Greek kings, and was probably the main protagonist of the Milindapanha, on account of his described fame, whereas Menander II, a minor king, may have wholeheartedly embraced Buddhism, as exemplified by his coins.

Coins of Menander II[edit]

The coins of Menander II bear the mention "Menander the Just", and "King of the Dharma" in Kharoshti, suggesting that he adopted the Buddhist faith. Menander II struck only Indian silver. These depict the king in diadem or helmet of the type of Menander I, with a number of reverses: a king on horseback, Nike and a sitting Zeus of the type of Antialkidas and Amyntas Nikator, but with an added eight-spoked Buddhist wheel.

His bronzes feature Athena standing, with spear and palm-branch, shield at her feet, making a benediction gesture with the right hand, similar to the Buddhist vitarka mudra. Other varieties feature a king performing the same gesture.

On the reverse is a lion, symbol of Buddhism, as also seen on the pillars of the Mauryan King Ashoka. In general, the coins of Menander II are quite few, which tends to indicate a rather small rule.

A contemporary king to represent the Buddhist lion on his coins is the Indo-Scythian king Maues, around 85 BCE.


Preceded by:
Peukolaos
Indo-Greek Ruler
(Arachosia, Gandhara)
(90–85 BCE)
Succeeded by:
Archebios
INDO-GREEK KINGS AND THEIR TERRITORIES
Based on Bopearachchi (1991)
Territories/
Dates
PAROPAMISADE
ARACHOSIA GANDHARA WESTERN PUNJAB EASTERN PUNJAB
200–190 BCE Demetrius I DemetriusCoin.jpg
190–180 BCE Agathocles AgathoclesWithAlexander.jpg PantaleonCoin of Greco-Baktrian Kingdom king Pantaleon.jpg
185–170 BCE Antimachus IAntimachusMedaille.jpg
180–160 BCE Apollodotus IApollodotosi.jpg
175–170 BCE Demetrius II Demetriosii.jpg
170–145 BCE EucratidesTetradrachm Eukratides.jpg
160–155 BCE Antimachus IIAnimachusii(2).jpg
155–130 BCE Menander IMenander Alexandria-Kapisa.jpg
130–120 BCE Zoilos IZoilosI-525.jpg AgathokleiaAgathokleia.jpg
120–110 BCE Lysias Lysias-150.jpg Strato IAgathokleia&Strato.jpg
110–100 BCE AntialcidasAntialcidas.JPG Heliokles IIHelioclesii.jpg
100 BCE PolyxenosPolyxenos.jpg Demetrius III Demetrius Aniketou.jpg
100–95 BCE Philoxenus Philoxenos.jpg
95–90 BCE Diomedes Diomedes2.jpg Amyntas Amyntas.jpg EpanderEpander.jpg
90 BCE Theophilos Theophilos-634.jpg PeukolaosPeukolaos coin.jpg Thraso
90–85 BCE Nicias Nikias.jpg Menander IIMenanderDikaiou.jpg ArtemidorosArtimedoros.jpg
90–70 BCE HermaeusHermaeusCoin.jpg ArchebiosArchebios229.jpg
Yuezhi tribes Maues (Indo-Scythian)
75–70 BCE Telephos Telephos.jpg Apollodotus IIAppollodotosii.jpg
65–55 BCE HippostratosHippostratos.jpg Dionysios Dyonisos coin.jpg
55–35 BCE Azes I (Indo-Scythian) Zoilos IIZoilosIICoin.JPG
55–35 BCE ApollophanesApollophanes.jpg
25 BCE – 10 CE Strato II & III Stratoii.jpg
Rajuvula (Indo-Scythian)

References[edit]

  • "The Shape of Ancient Thought. Comparative studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies" by Thomas McEvilley (Allworth Press and the School of Visual Arts, 2002) ISBN 1-58115-203-5
  • "Buddhism in Central Asia" by B.N. Puri (Motilal Banarsidass Pub, January 1, 2000) ISBN 81-208-0372-8
  • "The Greeks in Bactria and India", W.W. Tarn, Cambridge University Press.

External links[edit]