The Wars of the Successors: The Sun Also Sets

For the previous posts in this series, please click here.
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In this blog post we start to see the epigonoi (‘those born after’) start to come to the fore for the first time. To be fair, they have been with us for a while, chiefly in Demetrius Poliorcetes, but now, through Philip IV, Antipater I and Alexander V, Antiochus I and especially Pyrrhus of Epirus they begin their more certain rise to the centre stage. With that said, the remaining diadochi are not done yet, even if the blood in their veins does not flow quite as hotly as it once did. In the index for this series, I have called the period 301 – 288 an ‘intermediate period’ as it covers the years between the fourth and fifth diadoch war.

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The time line that I have written for this series of posts is based on Robin Waterfield’s excellent Dividing the Spoils. You can either buy it at Amazon (here) or at your local bookshop. If they don’t stock it, I’m sure they would be happy to order it in. Any mistakes that I have made (and if you see any do let me know in the comments) are, however, mine and not Waterfield’s.

301 – 288 The War of the Brothers, etc

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Year / Principle Combatants / Location / Victor
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294 Antipater I vs Alexander V – Macedon – Antipater I wins
294 Pyrrhus vs Antipater I – Macedon – Pyrrhus wins

Outcome

  • The end of the Antipatrid line
  • Demetrius Poliorcetes becomes king of Macedon

After Ipsus
301

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Demetrius the family man
As mentioned previously, Demetrius took up piracy after the defeat of the Antigonid army at Ipsus.  That defeat, however, and possibly overtures from Lysimachus inspired Athens to turn against him. The city expelled his family from the city and he Demetrius was forced to sail to Greece to make sure that they could be taken somewhere safe, in this instance, that somewhere was Corinth. Members of Demetrius’ family were also stranded in Cilicia, they were taken to Cyprus.
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300
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Seleucus’ Preparations; Ptolemy’s Response
As Seleucus continued to build his five cities in Syria, Ptolemy must have watched on with growing apprehension. The cities would get built and the day would come when Seleucus would come south to claim Phœnicia, and then… maybe Egypt itself. Determined to prevent this, Ptolemy formed an alliance with Lysimachus giving him his daughter Arsinoë’s hand in marriage. Lysimachus wanted access to Ptolemy’s navy in order to annex Demetrius’ coastal territories in Asia Minor and the Aegean so was happy to accept.

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Ptolemy and Thaïs
Arsinoë (which I think is pronounced Ar – sin – we) was either Ptolemy’s third or fourth wife after Artakama, Euridike and – if you count her – Thaïs of Athens.
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Although they had three children (Lagus, Leontiscus and Eirene) together, we don’t know for sure that Ptolemy and Thaīs did ever marry. Athenaeus (fl. AD C2nd – 3rd), writing in The Deipnosophists thought that they did – after Alexander the Great’s death – but I have not seen it mentioned anywhere else. .

Thaïs and Alexander on that night in Persepolis (by Ludovico Carracci)

Thaïs and Alexander probably on that night in Persepolis (by Ludovico Carracci)

Wikipedia tells me that Leontiscus lived until at least 307/06 when Demetrius captured him in Cyprus (he was subsequently sent home), while Eirene became a queen upon marrying King Eunostos of Soli. I have a fancy that Thaīs wasn’t interested in being a satrap’s or royal wife and was happy to share Ptolemy with his other women in return for the life to which she had become accustomed. For his part, Ptolemy honoured her by not only letting their children remain in his court but, also by making sure they entered good marriages.

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Alliances New and Renewed
300 – 299
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Demetrius
Demetrius was not part of Ptolemy’s and Lysimachus’ dispute with Seleucus, but that didn’t stop him sticking his oar in anyway. To that end, he invaded the Thracian Chersonese where, during the course of hostilities, he captured Lysimachus’ baggage train. Lysimachus’ men mutinied. The Successor King’s authority – and life – were on the line. Lysimachus did perhaps the only thing he could do to put down the revolt – he executed thousands of his own men.
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298
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Seleucus and Demetrius
Demetrius’ actions made him a player in the war of the successors again. Two years later, Seleucus – in need of a navy to fight Ptolemy with – approached Demetrius and offered to marry this daughter, Stratonike, in return for an alliance. Three years earlier, Seleucus had been part of an alliance that had killed his father and nearly done for him; but that was the past – Demetrius was concerned with only what suited him now, and an alliance with Seleucus most certainly did.
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Demetrius sailed to Rhosus in Asia Minor for the wedding, stopping in Cilicia on the way to pick up his father’s treasury. It was being guarded by Pleistarchus who protested to Seleucus about what Demetrius was doing. As you might expect, Seleucus refused to help him. Demetrius took the money and was on his way.
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The marriage of Seleucus to Stratonike took place on Demetrius’ flagship. Afterwards, Seleucus took his new bride to Antioch while Demetrius took control of Cilicia. Not wanting to be there when he arrived, Pleistarchus fled to Thrace.
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Cassander hangs Pleistarchus out to dry
As Waterfield writes, ‘Cassander should have helped his brother’ (p. 178) but didn’t. Why? Well, Demetrius did send his sister, Phila, to ‘appease him’ (Ibid) but it may also be the case that the tuberculosis that Cassander had been battling for many years was finally getting the better of him, and he was simply no longer strong enough to take action. Long term illness is a hard thing to deal with and you know what, even though I am not a fan of Cassander, I do feel very sorry for him in this regard.
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As for Demetrius, well he continued raiding enemy territory – this time in southern Syria. War between the two alliances was edging closer…
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Ptolemy and Lysimachus
… but would not happen yet. Ptolemy suspected that Seleucus wanted peace for a little longer (‘to finish the consolidation of his kingdom’ – Waterfield, p. 178) and it certainly suited Ptolemy to have peace, no doubt so that he could continue building up his army. So, in typically über-pragmatic Ptolemaic fashion, Ptolemy suggested a peace treaty between himself and Demetrius. Seleucus arranged it, and the pact was sealed by the marriage of Demetrius to Ptolemy’s daughter, Ptolemais. An outbreak of peace followed.
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The Death of the Antipatrid Line (I)
297
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Philip IV
In this year, Cassander died in his bed. His eldest son, Philip IV, succeeded to the throne. Tragically, he too had TB and died of it just a few months later. It is amazing to think that there would be no effective treatment of tuberculosis for another twenty three centuries.
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Antipater I and Alexander V
Philip IV was succeeded by his younger brothers, Antipater I and Alexander V. They were still in their teens so their mother, Thessalonike, became their regent. Despite the boys’ youth, both were already betrothed – Antipater to a daughter of Lysimachus; Alexander to a daughter of Ptolemy. Cassander himself had arranged these marriages presumably in the knowledge that Philip was ill and unlikely to produce his own heir.
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I don’t know why Cassander didn’t chose one of the brothers over the other to be king, though. Surely that is a sine qua non requirement of a stable kingdom. As it was, with complete predictability, Antipater I and Alexander V fell out and would, in due course, come to blows.
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Demetrius  the power monger
296
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In Cilicia
The following year, Demetrius was obliged to leave Cilicia. He had been exploiting the region without a care for its well being and had made himself very unpopular as a result. He went first to Cyprus, and then back to Greece. Waterfield notes (p. 179) that Seleucus gave Demetrius no help over Cilicia. Indeed, following Demetrius’ departure, Seleucus took Cilicia for himself. He didn’t just move in, though, but made sure that he had Lysimachus’ agreement for the take over first. Waterfield thinks that Seleucus was now contemplating abandoning his alliance with Demetrius (Ibid). Perhaps as a result of the same agreement with Seleucus, Lysimachus gave Pleistarchus a small realm in Caria to rule.
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In Greece
Demetrius’ arrival in Greece came at a cost – his fleet was torn apart by a violent storm. He sent (to Tyre and Sidon) for replacements. To pass the time until their arrival, he attacked some cities in the Peloponnese. As one does. He almost got his come uppance, though, when a bolt pierced his jaw and mouth. Ouch.
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295
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Against Athens
Still waiting for most of his ships to arrive, Demetrius laid siege to Athens. Cut off from the world, the city – which had already been affected by a series of bad harvests – was gripped by famine. Lachares, a pro-Macedonian leader, who had taken power following civil unrest after the turn of the century, ended ‘a mutiny among his troops’ (Waterfield, p. 182-3) by melting down Athena’s golden cloak and making money out of it. But what would they buy with it? Ptolemy sent a fleet to intervene but his 150 ships were no match for Demetrius’ much larger fleet and so withdrew. Athens was on its own.
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In April, 295, Lachares realised that the game was up and he fled from the city. Athens opened its gates to Demetrius, and he made his triumphal entrance. What would he do next? In 301, Athens ‘turned against him’ (Waterfield, p. 175); how would he repay the city for this insult? To the Athenians’ relief, he wouldn’t; he didn’t; instead, Demetrius ordered, ‘the immediate distribution of grain’ (Waterfield, p. 183). There was a catch to this act of mercy, of course, for he also ordered garrisons to be installed in Athens and Piraeus and in the surrounding country. When Athens had turned Demetrius away six years earlier, the city had declared its independence. That now came to an end.
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Death of the Antipatrid Line (II)
THE WAR OF THE BROTHERS

294
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Antipater’s expectation
Of the two brothers, Antipater was the older, and he believed that when he came of age he would become sole ruler of Macedon. His mother, however, had other ideas; no, she said, you will continue to rule jointly. Antipater, though, was having none of this. He had her assassinated, and his brother Alexander expelled from the country. Done and dusted?
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Alexander V and Pyrrhus
Not quite. Alexander asked Demetrius for his help in taking Macedon back. Demetrius agreed and set about settling his affairs in Greece before marching north. But Alexander was not content to wait patiently for him, and he asked Pyrrhus of Epirus for his help as well. Pyrrhus was happy to do so – on condition that he was given two Macedonian ‘cantons’ and some other territory in return. When Alexander agreed to this, Pyrrhus marched into Macedon and expelled Antipater from his power base in the west of the country. Once he had done so, he stayed put. Waterfield explains this action by saying that as ‘Lysimachus was Antipater’s father-in-law… Pyrrhus had no desire to provoke [him]’ (Waterfield, p. 185). Pyrrhus’ forbearance had no effect on the outcome of the conflict, though, for Antipater and Alexander were reconciled following his invasion.
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Alexander V and Demetrius
After all this had happened, Demetrius finally arrived. Alexander met him, thanked him for his time, and then said goodbye. Demetrius took this brush-off with surprisingly good grace; he even invited Alexander to a leaving banquet.
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On the night of the dinner, Demetrius left the table and headed towards the door. Alexander, not trusting him, followed. As he walked past the guards, Demetrius said to them, “Kill the man who follows me.” It was Alexander. And they did (see Waterfield, p. 185).
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Antipater’s Fatal Flight
Fearing that Demetrius would turn on him, Antipater fled to Thrace. There, Lysimachus told Antipater that it would be useless for him to try and oppose Demetrius (he was simply too strong). Antipater accepted this. For his part, Lysimachus arranged a peace agreement with the new king of Macedon, rather neatly managing to persuade Demetrius to give him the Greek cities in Asia Minor that the latter had taken after the Battle of Ipsus as he did so.
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So all’s well that ended well? Ha. Go to the back of the class if you thought that! Remember, we are dealing with the diadochi, here. Antipater was now surplus to Lysimachus’ requirements. So, at an unknown point, Lysimachus had him killed. I suppose he could have been allowed to disappear into obscurity but I imagine the possibility of him claiming the Macedonian throne again and making trouble for Lysimachus was just too great. Antipater I’s death brought an end to the Antipatrid line.
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The Successors put forth their strength
294
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Demetrius in Macedon
The new king of Macedon set about strengthening his rule with further campaigning in Greece. There was no shortage of things to do with a revolt in Thessaly to be put down and a renewed Boeotian-Aetolian alliance to be fought. In between times he also built a new port – Demetrias – which, along with Chalcis, Corinth, and Piraeus, would help successive Macedonian kings to control commercial traffic to and from Greece.
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Lysimachus in Asia Minor
Demetrius’ cessation of his cities in Asia Minor gave Lysimachus possession of the whole region (allowing, I believe, for the independent cities and regions previously mentioned) by the end of 294.
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Ptolemy in Cyprus
Ptolemy, meanwhile, moved in on Cyprus for the first time since his great defeat there in 306. It must have been a very satisfactory moment for him. In taking the island, he also took Demetrius’ wife, Phila, captive. As he had done after the Battle of Gaza (312) with Demetrius’ regalia and courtiers, Ptolemy sent Phila and the rest of her family back to her husband.
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The Seleucid Succession is guaranteed
294 – 93
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Antiochus I Soter
Just as Cassander had secured the succession for the throne of Macedon (or so he hoped) by arranging his teenage sons’ marriages, Seleucus now did the same in Babylon by announcing that his son, Antiochus, would marry his own wife, Stratonike. Furthermore, he would from now on rule as joint-king. Having thus been elevated, Seleucus sent Antiochus into the east to gain experience in governing by taking control of the Seleucid territory there.
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Weaknesses, Distractions and Opportunities
293
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Lysimachus and the Getae
This was a less satisfactory year for Lysimachus, chiefly because it would involve him losing a battle to the Getae and being held captive by them in their capital, Helis, for several months. It was the second defeat Lysimachus had suffered at the Getae’s hands (his son, Agathocles, had been defeated by them in 297). After his release, which was effected by the cessation of territory and giving of hostages, Lysimachus would not go to war with the Getae again.
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292
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Demetrius in Asia Minor
Taking advantage of Lysimachus’ situation, Demetrius invaded Asia Minor via Thrace. He was forced to turn back, however, following an uprising there sponsored by Pyrrhus and Ptolemy.
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Antigonus Gonatas in Greece
Back in Greece, Antigonus Gonatas was proving himself his father’s son by defeating the Boeotians in battle and putting the restored Thebes under siege. Demetrius might have returned to Asia Minor but was prevented from doing so by Pyrrhus who had invaded Thessaly. Determined to rid himself of the Epirote king, Demetrius advanced on him, only for Pyrrhus to withdraw to Epirus. His purpose had been to prevent the invasion and occupation of Asia Minor, and it had succeeded; time to go home.
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291
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This year, Antigonus Gonatas’ siege of Thebes ended successfully for the young general.
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291 – 85
Ptolemy in the Aegean
Also, over the course of the next six years, Ptolemy took control of the Cycladic Islands and, indeed, all of Demetrius’ possessions in the Aegean. He now controlled the entrance to that seaway, again for the first time since 306. Around this time, Ptolemy also took control of Tyre and Sidon as well, thus making total his control of Phœnicia.
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Pyrrhus’ Provocations and Demetrius’ Last Hurrah Begins
290
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The Second Alexander
290 started off badly for Demetrius as Pyrrhus defeated his army in Aetolia. Waterfield records (p. 188) that the victory was so total that Pyrrhus was called a second Alexander. Some praise! Pyrrhus success was not unalloyed, however, for he lost the island of Corcyra thanks to the conniving of his ex-wife Lanassa, who ruled there. Waterfield says that Lanassa betrayed him because ‘allegedly… she was irritated at being ignored by’ him (p. 188). Well, they do say a woman scorned. Demetrius would go on to marry Lanassa.
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The Dream of Demetrius
In 290, the Pythian Games took place. They were put on by the Aetolians, so only their friends were invited. That meant that Demetrius’ name was most certainly not on the list. To make up, he went to Athens to host his own games, there. He took grain to ingratiate himself with the people. It was the old megalomaniac Demetrius who rocked up in the city – he presented himself to the Athenians as a saviour god and his consort Demeter (real name?? I don’t know) as the ‘grain goddess’ (Waterfield, p. 188). The Athenians were happy to run with the idea for now though many regretted it even at the time.
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288
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Pyrrhus’ Opportunism
Two years later, Pyrrhus was at it again. This time, he took advantage of Demetrius being ill to invade Thessaly and Macedon itself. Demetrius managed to get out of his sickbed and take to the field, successfully driving Pyrrhus out of his territory before the two come to terms. Their peace treaty recognised Demetrius’ ownership of Corcyra and Pyrrhus’ of the cantons that Alexander V had given him.
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Demetrius’ Last Hurrah Begins
All was now well for Demetrius. Macedon was united behind him; Greece – Aetolia excepted (and Sparta but no one still cared about the Spartans) – was quiet and he had signed a peace treaty with his most serious rival. Time to settle down and enjoy the fruits of his labours?
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Shame on you if you said ‘yes’. Demetrius now made preparations for his army – 100, 000 strong – to invade Asia Minor once more. The Fifth War of the Successors was about to begin.
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Successors killed between 301 – 288
Alexander IV (epigonoi) – Dium – 294
Antipater I (epigonoi) – Thrace – 294
Cassander
 – Macedon – 297
Philip IV (epigonoi) – Macedon – 297

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