The Wars of the Successors: The Warm Up

See other chapters here
I recently finished reading Robin Waterfield’s super Dividing the Spoils, which is all about the forty-two year battle between Alexander’s Successors to win control of (all or part of) his empire. If you would like to know more about what, I think, is a relatively unregarded period, sandwiched as it is between Alexander’s mighty deeds and the rise of Rome, I highly recommend the book to you.
As I read Dividing the Spoils, I wrote out a timeline of the events on MS Excel to help me remember what happened where (and when), and also to find ideas for what I hope will be a series of short ‘in their own voices’ stories as told by the diadochi for this blog.
In his book, Waterfield states that the wars of the Successors could be considered to be the first true world war, taking place as they did, all over the known world. In this series of posts, then, I thought I would have a look at where (and when) the battles did indeed occur giving a very brief outline of what happened as I go.
If you spot any mistakes, please do let me know in the comments box!
323 11th June. Alexander III died.
323 – 322 The Lamian War
Principle Combatants
Greek cities vs Antipater – Antipater wins

  • Thermopylae
  • Lamia in central Greece;
  • The sea off Abydos
  • The sea of Amorgos
  • Krannon


  • The Greek cities are put down and Antipater gets ready to wage war on Perdiccas

The Greek poleis were never very happy being under Macedonian control so after news of Alexander’s death got back to Greece it was no surprise that they rebelled. Among the rebellious cities were Athens and Aetolia. They appointed a man named Leosthenes to lead the allied army. He used money – taken, ironically, from Alexander’s childhood friend Harpalus – to hire mercenaries to strengthen the Greek force.
It didn’t do him much good, sadly; despite defeating Antipater at Thermopylae and trapping him in Lamia, Leosthenes was killed in a skirmish there during the winter of 323-2.
Leosthenes was not the only high profile casualty of the war. Antipater summoned Craterus and Leonnatus, from Cilicia and Phrygia respectively, to help him prosecute the war. Leonnatus was killed when the Greek army intercepted his own as it marched to rescue Antipater in Lamia. He was the first of the Successors to be slain.
Despite their general’s death, Leonnatus’ army defeated the Greek allies and broke into Lamia, thus rescuing Antipater.
While Antipater was taking care of business on land, Cleitus was doing the same at sea. He had been sent by Craterus to challenge the Athenian navy. In June 322, Cleitus squared off against the Athenians at Abydos and Amorgos, defeating them in both engagements.
By-the-bye, Wikipedia tells me that this Cleitus was the one whom we call ‘The White’ to distinguish him from Black Cleitus, (in)famously killed by Alexander in 328 in a drunken rage.
The Lamian War ended after the Battle of Krannon (which is a few miles south-west of modern day Larissa). Antipater won on the battlefield and with no little cunning – he bribed some of the Greek allies to quit the rebel army. From Krannon he marched to Athens to pay it back for daring to rebel against him.
Successors killed:

  • Leonnatus – Lamia 322 BC

Next: The First War of the Diadochi (S*** gets real)

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