The Wars of The Successors: Funeral Games

Nota Bene I started this series on my Tumblr page and wrote just over twenty chapters before stopping last summer. I’d really like to continue it to give myself a reason to read Diodorus’ account of the Wars of the Successors in full so will re-publish the Tumblr chapters (edited as necessary) over the next few weeks before picking the series up thereafter.

Diodorus XVIII.1

When he was quitting life in Babylon and at his last breath [Alexander] was asked by his friend to whom he was leaving the kingdom, he said, “To the best man; for I foresee that a great combat of my friends will be my funeral games.”
(Diodorus XVIII.1)

In this series, I’ll be looking at Diodorus Siculus’ account of the Wars of the Diadochi (Successors), which he covers in Books 18-20 of his Library of History.

Alexander’s ‘funeral games’ stretched from east to west and two, even three, generations of men. It sucked in all of the great conquerors generals, leading to the fall of some whom you might have expected to survive, and the rise of others who in Alexander’s time were of minor account.

Three years ago I wrote a read through of Robin Waterfield’s excellent Dividing the Spoils for the blog. Up till now, however, I have not read Diodorus’ account itself all the way through so doing so now will be a new experience for me.

Whether or not you are familiar with Diodorus’ history of the Successors, I hope you enjoy what you read.

If you would like to know which Successors died when, where and how just click here


Ptolemy son of Lagus
For several years he was a minor officer in Alexander’s army. In 330 B.C. Alexander appointed him to the Royal Bodyguards. From then on, Ptolemy never looked back. Important commands followed. By the time of Alexander’s death, he had established himself as one of the king’s most senior officers.

Seleucus I Nicator
Seleucus only comes to any kind of prominence fairly late on in Alexander’s campaign. His first appearance in Arrian, for example, is at the crossing of the Hydaspes River (V.13). There, Seleucus is named as the commander of the ‘Royal Regiment of Guards’ (Penguin Classics text). After Alexander’s death, Seleucus was not given a satrapy indicating that he was not yet a senior officer.


The Death of Alexander
The event that kicked off the Successor Wars. Was he poisoned? Or did he die of natural causes? We’ll never know, but over the next forty years many people would come to wish that he hadn’t died at all, as his generals fought each other to the death to claim their part, or the whole, of Alexander’s kingdom.

Pictures Sources
The Korinthischer Krater (showing funeral games) – Wikimedia Commons
Ptolemy – Wikipedia
Seleucus – Wikipedia
Death of Alexander – Wikipedia

Categories: Diodorus Siculus | Tags: | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “The Wars of The Successors: Funeral Games

  1. Thanks for sharing your research. He was the most fascinating man in history.


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