Zoilos II

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Zoilos II Soter ("The Saviour")
Zoilos II portrait.jpg
Portrait of Zoilos II
Indo-Greek king
Reign55–35 BCE
Coin of king Zoilos II (55–35 BCE), as a balding man.
Obv: Bust of Zoilus II (or Zoilus III) with Greek legend ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ ΖΩΙΛΟΥ (BASILEOS SOTEROS ZOILOU) "Of King Zoilos the Saviour".
Rev: Athena advancing left, with thunderbolt and shield covered with aegis (type of Menander I). Kharosthi legend: MAHARAJASA TRATARASA JHOILASA "King Zoilos the Saviour".

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.


Coin of Zoilos II,with Apollo and small elephant behind him. Tripod on the reverse.
Elephant and tripod.

Zoilos 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).[1]

Coins of Zoilos II[edit]

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?[edit]

Coin of full-haired Zoilos with later "boxy" mint-mark, hypothesized to be Zoilos III.
Obv: Bust of king with Greek legend ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ ΖΩΙΛΟΥ (BASILEOS SOTEROS ZOILOU) "Of King Zoilos the Saviour".
Rev: Athena advancing left, with thunderbolt and shield covered with aegis (type of Menander I). Kharosthi legend: MAHARAJASA TRATARASA JHOILASA "King Zoilos the Saviour".
Zoilos II Indian standard coin with "boxy" mint-mark, possibly characteristic of Zoilos III. Obv Standing god Apollo, holding an arrow and a bow.Rev Tripod.
Monolingual coin of Zoilos II Soter with "boxy" mint-mark. Obv Standing Apollo with bead and reel border. Rev Diadem with Kharoshthi legend "Maharajasa tratarasa Jhahilasa" (Saviour King Zoilos).

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.[2]

In particular, the mint mark which is characteristic of the coins of 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.[2] This mint-mark however was never used by the "balding" Zoilos II, or by any king before him.[2]

Indo-Scythian imitations[edit]

The Indo-Scythian king Bhadayasa also copied coins of Zoilos II, or the hypothetical Zoilos III, only mentioning his own name on the Kharoshthi legend of his coins.[2]


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 belong to Zoilus III.


Coin of Zoilos II or Zoilus III, younger portrait.
Coins of Zoilos II were found under a peripheral stupa in the Dharmarajika Buddhist monastery.

The coins of Zoilos II have been found in the Sutlej and Sialkot II hoards, and in Punjab hoards east in the Jhelum (Bopearachchi, p138).

Also, 25 coins of Zoilos II were found under the foundations of a 1st-century BCE rectangular chapel in the monastery of Dharmarajika, near Taxila.[3][4]

Two coins of Zoilos II were also found in the Bara hoard near Peshawar, together with coins of the Indo-Scythian kings Azes I, Azilises, Azes II.[5]


A coin of Zoilus II was overstruck on a coin of Apollodotus II.

Greco-Bactrian and Indo-Greek kings, territories and chronology
Based on Bopearachchi (1991)[6]
Greco-Bactrian kings Indo-Greek kings
West Bactria East Bactria Paropamisade
Arachosia Gandhara Western Punjab Eastern Punjab Mathura[7]
326-325 BCE Campaigns of Alexander the Great in India Nanda Empire
312 BCE Creation of the Seleucid Empire Creation of the Maurya Empire
305 BCE Seleucid Empire after Mauryan war Maurya Empire
280 BCE Foundation of Ai-Khanoum
255–239 BCE Independence of the
Greco-Bactrian kingdom
Diodotus I
Emperor Ashoka (268-232)
239–223 BCE Diodotus II
230–200 BCE Euthydemus I
200–190 BCE Demetrius I Sunga Empire
190-185 BCE Euthydemus II
190–180 BCE Agathocles Pantaleon
185–170 BCE Antimachus I
180–160 BCE Apollodotus I
175–170 BCE Demetrius II
160–155 BCE Antimachus II
170–145 BCE Eucratides I
155–130 BCE Yuezhi occupation,
loss of Ai-Khanoum
Eucratides II
Heliocles I
Menander I
130–120 BCE Yuezhi occupation Zoilos I Agathokleia Yavanarajya
120–110 BCE Lysias Strato I
110–100 BCE Antialcidas Heliokles II
100 BCE Polyxenos Demetrius III
100–95 BCE Philoxenus
95–90 BCE Diomedes Amyntas Epander
90 BCE Theophilos Peukolaos Thraso
90–85 BCE Nicias Menander II Artemidoros
90–70 BCE Hermaeus Archebius
Yuezhi occupation Maues (Indo-Scythian)
75–70 BCE Vonones Telephos Apollodotus II
65–55 BCE Spalirises Hippostratos Dionysios
55–35 BCE Azes I (Indo-Scythians) Zoilos II
55–35 BCE Vijayamitra/ Azilises Apollophanes
25 BCE – 10 CE Gondophares Zeionises Kharahostes Strato II
Strato III
Gondophares (Indo-Parthian) Rajuvula (Indo-Scythian)
Kujula Kadphises (Kushan Empire) Bhadayasa

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ a b c d 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
  3. ^ "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
  4. ^ 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".)
  5. ^ Reference
  6. ^ O. Bopearachchi, "Monnaies gréco-bactriennes et indo-grecques, Catalogue raisonné", Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris, 1991, p.453
  7. ^ Quintanilla, Sonya Rhie (2 April 2019). "History of Early Stone Sculpture at Mathura: Ca. 150 BCE - 100 CE". BRILL – via Google Books.


  • The Greeks in Bactria and India, W. W. Tarn, Cambridge University Press.
  • Indo-Greek Coins, R. B. Whitehead, 1914.
Preceded by
Indo-Greek Ruler
(in Eastern Punjab)

55 – 35 BCE
Succeeded by