|Zoilos II Soter ("The Saviour")|
Portrait of Zoilos II
Zoilos II Soter (Greek: Ζωΐλος Β΄ ὁ Σωτήρ; epithet means "the Saviour") was an Indo-Greek king who ruled in eastern Punjab. Bopearachchi dates his reign to c. 55–35 BCE, a date approximately supported by R. C. Senior. The name is often Latinized as Zoilus. It is possible that some of his coins were issued by a separate king, Zoilos III.
He seems to have been one of the rulers who succeeded the last important Indo-Greek king Apollodotus II the Great in the eastern parts of his former kingdom. All these kings use the same symbol as Apollodotus II, the fighting Pallas Athene introduced by Menander I, and usually also the same epithet Soter (Saviour). It is therefore possible that they belonged to the same dynasty, and Zoilus II could also have been related to the earlier king Zoilus I, but the lack of written sources make all such conjections uncertain. He may have been the Bactrian ally of Marcus Antonius (Mark Antony) and Cleopatra VII referred to by Virgil in his vision of the Battle of Actium in The Aeneid, Bk.VIII, 688: Hinc ope barbarica variisque Antonius armis, victor ab Aurorae populis et litore rubro, Aegyptum viresque Orientis et ultima secum Bactra vehit. (Antony, with barbarous wealth and strange weapons, conqueror of eastern peoples and the Indian shores, bringing Egypt, and the might of the Orient, with him, and furthest Bactria).
Coins of Zoilos II
Zoilos II issued silver drachms with diademed portrait and Pallas Athene in rather crude style, and two sorts of bronzes in various denominations: "Apollo, with tripod and small elephant", and "Elephant and tripod".
Zoilos III, a separate king?
The portraits attributed to Zoilos II could be divided into two groups; one depicting a balding man with hollow cheeks, the other a seemingly younger man with a fringe and round cheeks. As numismatic evidence indicates that the younger portraits are later, recent research has suggested that they be attributed to a younger king, Zoilos III Soter, who would then have been a son and successor of the older Zoilos.
In particular, the mint mark which is characteristic of the coins of the Zoilos with a full head of hair, is a later mint mark used down to the last Indo-Greek kings Strato II and Strato III, suggesting a later reign for Zoilos III. This mint-mark however was never used by the "balding" Zoilos II, or by any king before him.
Coin of Bhadayasa, an imitation of the proposed Zoilos IIII.
Many of the monograms on the coins of Zoilos II are in Kharoshti, indicating that they were probably made by an Indian moneyer. This is a characteristic of several of the Indo-Greek kings of the eastern Punjab, such as Strato I, Apollodotus II, and sometimes Apollophanes and Dionysios. Furthermore, the monogram is often identical on their coins, indicating that the moneyer, or the place of mint, were the same.
The coins of Zoilos II combine Greek monograms with Kharoshthi ones, indicating that some of the celators may have been native Indians. The Kharoshthi monograms are the letters for: sti, ji, ra, ga, gri, ha, stri, ri, bu, a, di, stra, and śi. The "Apollo and tripod" and "Elephant and tripod" types only have Kharoshthi monograms, while the portrait types usually have combinations of Greek and Kharoshthi monograms. The monogram 62 (below) has been shown to be the last Indo-Greek monogram, and only appears on the younger portraits that may be belong to Zoilus III.
A coin of Zoilus II was overstruck on a coin of Apollodotus II.
- Greco-Bactrian Kingdom
- Seleucid Empire
- Indo-Parthian Kingdom
- Kushan Empire
- Francis Henry Skrine and Edward Denison Ross, The Heart of Asia: A History of Russian Turkestan and the Central Asian Khanates from the Earliest Times, by London, Methuen, 1899, p.19; E. Drouin, “Bactriane”, La Grande Encyclopédie: Inventaire Raisonné des Sciences, des Lettres et des Arts, Paris, Lamirault, 1885-1902, Tome 4, pp.1115-1122, nb 1118.
- Jakobsson, J (2010). "A Possible New Indo-Greek King Zoilos III, and an Analysis of Realism on Indo-Greek Royal Portraits". Numismatic Chronicle. JSTOR article
- "Another group of coins which was found in greater numbers at religious sites, at Dharmarajika in particular, than at Sirkap is that of Zoilos II. A hoard of 25 drachms from the monastery are the only silver coins of Zoilos Soter found at Taxila" Numismatic Digest - Volume 4 - Page 13, 1980
- John Marshall, "Taxila, Archaeological excavations", p. 248 "The only minor antiquities of interest found in this building were twenty-five debased silver coins of the Greek king Zoilus II, which were brought to light beneath the foundations of the earliest chapel".)
- O. Bopearachchi, "Monnaies gréco-bactriennes et indo-grecques, Catalogue raisonné", Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, 1991, p.453
- History of Early Stone Sculpture at Mathura: Ca. 150 BCE - 100 CE, Sonya Rhie Quintanilla, BRILL, 2007, p.9 
- The Greeks in Bactria and India, W. W. Tarn, Cambridge University Press.
- Indo-Greek Coins, R. B. Whitehead, 1914.