Peter F. writes: I have a 1992 Greek 100 drachma coin with Alexander the Great on the obverse. What is the history and significance of the “ram’s horn” feature just above Alexanders ear? Has this been a feature on other Greek coins featuring Alexander the Great? What can you tell me about why this horn design was done/chosen? Thanks.
Under Alexander III (The Great 336-323 BC) he is portrayed on drachms and tetradrachms as Herakles (Hercules), wearing the skin of the Nemean Lion, that his myth says he strangled with his bare hands. The reverse shows Zeus seated in a chair. His coins were so identifiable and readily accepted that after his death, the generals that inherited his empire, continued to use the same basic design.
Others used the Alexander/Herakles portrait to project power also. Your 1992 100 Drachmes shows a modern interpretation of Alexander as Herakles wearing the Horn of Ammon, a design used by coins of King Lysimachos of Thrace (297-292 BC). Ammon, originally a Libyan god and a protector of flocks, was adapted by the Greeks where it was identified with Zeus.
Hercules and Zeus are powerful images that were constantly seen by average people performing daily transactions. Coins were one of the few vehicles of propaganda available to the authorities and their longevity of reign proves that it was a successful one.