Coins with Indian inscriptions:
They are the mightiest monarchs,
of Eboukratintaza, of Strataga,
of Manantraza, of Eramaiaza.
This is how the wise book renders the Indian
inscriptions for us on one side of the coins.
But the book also shows us the other side which is,
moreover, the good side
with the figure of the king. And here,
how the Greek stops at once,
how he is moved as he reads in Greek
Hermaios, Ephkratides, Straton, Menander.

Trans. Rae Dalven (The Complete Poems of Cavafy, 1961)

(above) Silver tetradrachm; Eucratides I
Greek, Bactrian (171–135 BC)
Kelsey Museum 1991.2.176

(below) Silver drachm; Antialcidas
Greek, Bactrian (145–135 BC)
Kelsey Museum 1991.2.185

Gold stater; Phillip II of Macedon
Greek (359–336 BC)
Kelsey Museum 1981.5.1
Alexandrian Kings

The Alexandrians turned out in force
to see Cleopatra’s children,
Kaisarion and his little brothers,
Alexander and Ptolemy, who for the first time
had been taken out to the Gymnasium,
to be proclaimed kings there
before a brilliant array of soldiers.

Alexander: they declared him
king of Armenia, Media, and the Parthians.
Ptolemy: they declared him
king of Cilicia, Syria, and Phoenicia.
Kaisarion was standing in front of the others,
dressed in pink silk,
on his chest a bunch of hyacinths,
his belt a double row of amethysts and sapphires,
his shoes tied with white ribbons
prinked with rose-colored pearls.
They declared him greater than his little brothers,
they declared him King of Kings.

The Alexandrians knew of course
that this was all mere words, all theatre.

But the day was warm and poetic,
the sky a pale blue,
the Alexandrian Gymnasium
a complete artistic triumph,
the courtiers wonderfully sumptuous,
Kaisarion all grace and beauty
(Cleopatra’s son, blood of the Lagids);
and the Alexandrians thronged to the festival
full of enthusiasm, and shouted acclamations
in Greek, and Egyptian, and some in Hebrew,
charmed by the lovely spectacle—
though they knew of course what all this was worth,
what empty words they really were, these kingships.

Trans. Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard

Gold hyperpyron; Alexius I, Comnenus
Byzantine (1081–1118 AD)
Kelsey Museum 1991.2.952
Anna Dalassini

In the royal decree that Alexios Komninos
put out especially to honor his mother—
the very intelligent Lady Anna Dalassini,
noteworthy in both her works and her manners—
much is said in praise of her.
Here let me offer one phrase only,
a phrase that is beautiful, sublime:
“She never uttered those cold words ‘mine’ or ‘yours.’”

Trans. Edmund Keeley and Philip Sherrard