N@N – Carolyn Willekes: Horses and Royal Identity in the Hellenistic World

Thursday, March 16 - 12:00 PM

Power and authority can be represented in many different ways.  For the rulers of ancient Greece, this included the horse and chariot races, the most famous being the Olympic Games. The importance of this can be seen clearly in Macedonia, where King Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great, used his Olympic victories as a statement of his authority in politics and warfare. In particular, this newly found power provided Philip II the financial and military support for the planning of the invasion of the Persian Empire, which his son Alexander famously accomplished. Later on, Alexander’s successors used horses and the racetrack as a means of legitimizing their newfound royal status as Asian Hellenistic kings while declaring that they were still truly Greek. Specifically, these equestrian victories were a tangible proof of their authority, which they proudly displayed on their royal portrait coinage.

Carolyn Willekes is an Assistant Professor in the Department of General Education at Mount Royal University. She received her PhD from the Department of Greek and Roman Studies at the University of Calgary. Her research focuses primarily on equines in the ancient Mediterranean world, but she also has an interest in the broader cultural perspectives of animals and the human-animal relationship.

Nickle at Noon is presented live and in-person in the Gallery Hall, Taylor Family Digital Library, University of Calgary.

Zeus on silver coin of Philip II, King of Macedon and father of Alexander the Great, 359-336 BCE. Nickle Galleries, 1990.1.94.


Philip II, King of Macedon and father of Alexander the Great, on a horse, 359-336 BCE. Nickle Galleries, 1990.1.94 reverse.

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