Posts Tagged With: Alexander of Lyncestis

The Trial and Death of Philotas, son of Parmenion

Daily Diodorus
Vol. VIII. Book XVII Ch. 79, 80 (Loeb Classical Library)
Read the other posts in this series here

The Headlines
Dimnus Plots To Kill Alexander
Conspiracy Exposed: Philotas Implicated
Philotas Found Guilty of Treachery
Alexander of Lyncestis Executed
Parmenion Assassinated

The Story
Chapter 79
Diodorus describes the death of Philotas as a ‘base action’ that was ‘quite foreign’ to Alexander’s good nature. There is certainly no doubt that we are dealing with an episode in the great king’s life that is every bit as murky as the plot to kill his father.

It started when Dimnus, one of Alexander’s Friends, ‘found fault’ in something the king said or did – we are not told what – and decided to kill him. He told his lover, Nicomachus, of his plan and persuaded him to join the plot.

To conspire against a king’s life is a dreadful undertaking but, so far as Diodorus’ narrative is concerned, however many reservations Nicomachus had I doubt his involvement in the scheme was ever in doubt. He loved Dimnus and was just a boy. His love made him want to please his beloved and his young age made him highly impressionable and open to influence.

It also made him talk – ‘to his brother Cebalinus’, and he told him all about the plot.

We aren’t told Cebalinus’ age but however old (or young) he was, he had more sense than his brother. He resolved to tell Alexander of the plot. And quickly, for he feared that someone else would do so before him, thus laying him open to the risk of being treated as a conspirator.

Cebalinus was, presumably, too junior a person to approach Alexander himself (or maybe could no longer do so as a result of Alexander’s medising?), so went one of his senior officers – Philotas – instead. On hearing what Cebalinus had to say, Parmenion’s son promised to pass the information on to the king.

Except, of course, he didn’t. Not that night, nor the next day. Diodorus says that it ‘may be that Philotas was actually a party to the plot [or] he may merely have been slow to act’.

In the face of Philotas’ inaction, Cebalinus went next to ‘one of the royal pages’, accosting him in his urgency and fear. The Footnotes give the page’s name as Metron and he informed Alexander either immediately or very soon after as to what he had been told.

Diodorus’ account of events now moves quickly. Dimnus was arrested and interrogated, after which he stabbed himself to death. Cebalinus and Philotas were now questioned. Philotas admitted ‘his carelessness’ but denied being part of the a conspiracy. He agreed to let the army decide his fate.

Chapter 80
After ‘many arguments had been heard’ Philotas was found guilty and condemned to death. Diodorus says that the ‘other accused persons’ were condemned as well. They included Parmenion.

After being tortured and confessing to his part in the plot, Philotas was executed ‘in the Macedonian manner with the other condemned persons’. Riders on racing camels, meanwhile, flew to Ecbatana to kill Parmenion before news of Philotas’ death could reach him.

Back in the camp, Alexander took this opportunity to finally dispose of Alexander Lyncestis. You may recall that he was arrested after Alexander received a letter from Olympias in which she warned him about the Lyncestian (Chapter 32, here). Three years later, the Lyncestian was now accused of ‘plotting against the king’.

Why the reason for the delay in charging him? Diodorus says it is because Lyncestian Alexander’s ‘relationship to Antigonus’. The Footnotes think this is a mistake – there is no known relationship between  Lyncestian Alexander and Antigonus while the former was Antipater’s son-in-law, so perhaps that is who Diodorus meant. Either way, Alexander Lyncestis was now a safe distance from his powerful friend(s) and able to be eliminated without fear of consequence.

Chapter 80 ends with Alexander forming a new military unit, one that was comprised of those men who had criticised him in their letters home, or who had admitted distress at Parmenion’s death and, in fact, anyone who had written anything ‘contrary to the king’s interests’ in their letters. The unit was called the Disciplinary Company and was formed ‘so that the rest of the Macedonians might not be corrupted by their improper remarks and criticisms’. An ominous end to a very dark period.

Comments
What caused Dimnus to turn against Alexander so utterly that he decided to assassinate him? We’ll never know. As the reason has been lost to time, I would suggest that it wasn’t anything sensational. Perhaps it was a ‘nothing’ reason, simply a slight or a mistake taken too much to heart because Dimnus was mentally unbalanced or simply, and profoundly, fed up.

As the Footnotes show, the other Alexander historians’ accounts of what happened differs slightly to Diodorus’. For example, Curtius and Plutarch say that ‘Nicomachus did not approve of the plot and assisted in exposing it’. So much for my impressionable young man. Meanwhile Curtius says that Dimnus killed himself (as guards came to arrest him) and Plutarch has him dying resisting arrest.

Another question: Why did Philotas not tell Alexander about the plot? If he was a part of it he was taking a huge risk in not silencing Cebalinus on the night that the latter told him about it.

The only reason I can think of is that he felt no need to do so as he envisaged the murder being carried out before Cebalinus could speak to anyone else. But in that case, he must still have known that even though Cebalinus had left the matter in his hands there was a chance – however small – that the man might reveal the plot to someone else at any time. Again, unless the assassination was planned to take place that night, which it evidently wasn’t, he was taking an enormous risk.

Diodorus says that Philotas listened to Cebalinus ‘with indifference’. If so, I think it more likely that he did nothing because he simply didn’t take him or what he was saying seriously. That this was the case is, for me, further indicated by Philotas’ willingness to let himself be judged by the Macedonian army. He must have been confident that the truth would come out and they would find him innocent.

Beyond his opening comments, Diodorus does little to bring this out, but I do rather feel that Philotas was stitched up by his enemies in the Macedonian hierarchy. His actions just aren’t those of a guilty man.

On Philotas’ execution: The Footnotes give two accounts of it. According to Curtius, he was stoned to death. According to Arrian, he was pierced by javelins.

You See A Vegetable Garden

plot_of_earth
Alexander sees a PLOT

(Photo from Wikipedia)

Categories: Diodorus Siculus | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Alexander and Darius Draw Close to One Another

Daily Diodorus
Vol. VIII. Book XVII Ch. 32 (Loeb Classical Library)
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The Headlines
Alexander of Lyncestis Arrested
Darius Strips Down Army to Fighting Corps
Royal Family to Arrive In Damascus Presently
Alexander Occupies Issus

The Story
Around the time that Alexander fell ill, or just after, he received a letter from his mother ‘warning him to be on his guard against the Lyncestian Alexander’.

Diodorus does not give the reason for Olympias’ warning, though he probably doesn’t need to. As the Footnotes say, Alexander of Lyncestis belonged to the ruling family of his region. This made him ‘a possible rival for the throne of Macedonia’.

I am rather surprised, though, that news of Lyncestian Alexander’s threat travelled out of Alexander’s camp and all the way to Olympias’ ear in Macedon rather than out of Lyncestian Alexander’s tent and straight into King Alexander’s close by.

As Alexander of Lyncestis sat down to contemplate a very uncertain future, King Alexander learnt ‘that Dareius was only a few days march away’. He gave Parmenion orders to seize the Syrian Gates, which the general did.

Meanwhile, Darius had decided to ‘make his army mobile’. Given that it was on the march from Babylon, I thought it already was. I think Diodorus means ‘faster’ as he says that the Great King ‘diverted his baggage train and the non-combatants to Damascus in Syria’. Among those to leave were the Royal Family. They would not see their lord again.

Not long later, Darius discovered that Alexander now held the Syrian Gates and set off to confront him.

As he marched, Darius was met by villagers of the country through which he travelled. Previously loyal to Alexander, the villagers were impressed by the ‘great size’ of the Persian army versus ‘the small numbers of the Macedonians’. They bought with them gifts of ‘food and other materials’.

The chapter concludes with a reference to Alexander taking the city of Issus ‘which was terrified into submission’.

Comments
Could Alexander of Lyncestis really have been plotting against King Alexander? Diodorus says that there ‘were many other plausible circumstances joining to support the charge’ so he and his sources certainly believed so.

If he was, he certainly deserved to get caught for being so reckless in how he conducted his conspiracy. By way of a contrast, if Antipater really did assassinate Alexander, he didn’t communicate his wishes to Iollas who was already with the king but sent Cassander with the poison. I know it is a big if, though, and I admit it is not one I believe happened.

On the other hand, Olympias is the woman who unnecessarily killed Cleopatra Euridike and her infant daughter no doubt to make her son’s accession absolutely and utterly secure. I am quite sure she would have been quite happy to condemn Alexander of Lyncestis at the drop of a Phrygian cap.

Incidentally, Arrian reports the affair a little differently. He says that Alexander of Lyncestis went over to Darius’ side. The Great King then offered him 1,000 gold talents and the Macedonian throne if he would assassinate King Alexander. The plot was exposed, however, when Darius’ go-between, a man named Sisines, was captured by Parmenion. I have not found any reference to the matter in Plutarch. Curtius may have discussed it in his missing books.

Diodorus informs us that the reason Darius set off for the Syrian Gates is because he thought that Alexander ‘would never dare to fight in the plain’. According to Plutarch, ‘a Macedonian exile named Amyntas, who was acquainted with Alexander’s character’ tried to persuade Darius that he ‘”… need have no fear”‘ that Alexander would fight in the plain. Unfortunately for Darius, he never took this man’s advice. Arrian tells the same story slightly differently. According to him, Amyntas ‘urged’ Darius not to move from an Assyrian plain, which would suit his large army. Whenever Alexander failed to appear, he did, eventually fighting the Macedonian king on land that offered him no ‘little advantage’.

I was surprised when I read that Parmenion took the city of Issus. I have always been used to thinking of it as a river. I will need to double check now to make sure I have not got it wrong all this time.

New Comic-Book Series Out Now
THE LEAGUE OF ANTI-MACEDONIAN GREEKS
BAM! See Demosthenes choke on his values and accept Persian gold
WHACK! Gasp as Memnon conquers the Aegean before a heart attack conks him
THUD! Marvel at how fast Alexander of Lyncestis’ goes from being a HERO to ZERO

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Alexander’s first Days as King

Daily Diodorus
Vol. VIII. Book XVII Ch. 1, 2, 5 & 6 (Loeb Classical Library)
Read the other posts in this series here

Headlines
Alexander Secures The Macedonian Throne
Attalus is Assassinated
Darius Becomes Great King

The Story
In Chapter 94 of Book XVI of his Library of History, Diodorus relates how Pausanias assassinated Philip II. The first chapter of Book XVII begins with a brief introduction to Philip’s successor, Alexander III whom we call The Great. It is an introduction that the new king would have found very satisfactory. ‘In twelve years’ Diodorus says, Alexander ‘conquered no small part of Europe and practically all of Asia, and so acquired a fabulous reputation like that of the heroes and demigods of old’.

According to Diodorus, Alexander’s first action as king was to punish Philip’s murderers before overseeing the funeral of his father. Unfortunately, Diodorus does not tell us who those murderers were – in the previous book he implied that Pausanias acted alone. In the Footnotes, however, we learn the ‘known’ victims’ names,

  • Amyntas, son of Perdiccas III (Alexander’s ‘older cousin’)
  • Alexander of Lyncestis’ family (though not Alexander himself)
  • Cleopatra Eurydice (Philip’s seventh and last wife)
  • Europa (Cleopatra Eurydice’s infant daughter)

Cleopatra and Europa were murdered on the orders of Olympias. Alexander was greatly displeased by his mother’s actions. According to Plutarch ‘he showed his anger against’ her for the deaths. What this meant in practice one can only imagine.

When Alexander ascended to the throne of Macedon he was just twenty years old. Unsurprisingly, he was ‘not uniformly respected’ by his people. Despite this, he ‘established his authority far more firmly’ than was thought possible.

At this point, Diodorus makes up for his meagre account of the Battle of Chaeronea and failure to give more information about Philip II’s murderers by explaining what Alexander did to secure the throne. He,

  1. spoke to the Macedonians in a ‘tactful’ manner
  2. assured his people that he would rule the kingdom ‘on principles no less effective’ than those used by Philip II
  3. kept the army occupied with ‘constant training… and tactical exercises’. He also ‘established’ (perhaps this means ‘enforced?) discipline in the ranks as well

At the same time, Alexander sweet talked the various ambassadors who were at that time in Macedon so as to breed good will with the various Greek city-states.

If you know anything about Alexander you will undoubtedly be aware that one name has been conspicuous by its absence in this blog post thus far: Attalus. Diodorus calls him a ‘possible rival for the throne’ although the Footnotes make clear that he had ‘no known claim’. Either way, Diodorus now explains how Alexander sent an agent named Hecataeus to Asia Minor to either bring Attalus home alive or, if that were not possible, to assassinate him.

We have now reached Chapter 3 of Book XVII. It is here that Diodorus digresses to give an account of the Greek response to Philip’s death. To keep the narrative thread alive, we’ll jump forward to Chapter 5 to find out what happened to Attalus. I’ll come back to the Greek response in the next post.

In Chapter 5, therefore, Diodorus effectively accuses Attalus of treason. He says that immediately after Philip II’s death, the general ‘actually… set his hand to revolt and had agreed with the Athenians to undertake joint action against Alexander’. At some point, though, Attalus got cold feet. Instead of revolting, he forwarded to Alexander a letter written by Demosthenes (in which he, presumably, advocated rebellion against the king) along with his own ‘expressions of loyalty to remove from himself any possible suspicion’.

It was too late, though; Hecataeus was lurking in the shadows waiting for his chance to deal with the general once and for all. It soon came and Attalus met his end.

Diodorus now turns to Persia and gives a short account of how Darius came to be Great King. First, there was Ochus who ‘oppressed his subjects cruelly and harshly’. He was done away with by a eunuch named Bagoas (not the same Bagoas who Alexander liked). Bagoas put Ochus’ youngest son, Arses, on the throne.

Within two or three years, though, Arses developed that very dangerous thing when there is a power behind the throne: an independent mind. He ‘let it be known that he was offended’ at Bagoas’ behaviour in killing Ochus. You’re offended? said Ochus, Try being dead.

Ochus’ assassination brought the direct line of the Persian Royal House to an end. So, Bagoas put the grandson of Ostanes, who was Great King Artaxerxes II’s brother, on the throne instead. His name was Darius, and he was the third of that name. Upon hearing that Bagoas meant to murder him as well, Darius managed to kill the eunuch first.

In Chapter 6, Diodorus prepares us for the great war between Macedonia and Persia, Alexander and Darius, by highlighting the latter’s bravery ‘in which quality’ he says, ‘he far surpassed the other Persians’. In proof of this he tells how Darius once beat a Cadusian warrior who had ‘a wide reputation for strength and courage’ in single combat.

Comments
It is hard to fault the means by which Alexander secured the Macedonian throne. They show that he was not only a great general but capable of being a good ruler as well. In light of this, it makes his later failures in this regard more difficult to take. Perhaps he lacked the foresight to make political decisions of lasting rather than momentary value.

I don’t know about you but I am not really convinced that Alexander meant for Hecataeus to bring Attalus back to Macedon. If Attalus was a serious threat it would surely have been counter-productive to bring him back. Mind you, as we saw in the previous post, we are in a world where enemies could become trusted friends at a stroke.

Staying with Attalus – I wonder why he chose not to rebel against Alexander. He had an army to do so and was a popular general. Perhaps he feared Parmenion’s response – although could he not have been murdered? – or simply came to feel that loyalty rather than betrayal would serve him better in the long run.

For Alexander’s part, Diodorus says that he ‘had good reason to fear that [Attalus] might challenge his rule, making common cause with those of the Greeks who opposed him’ but does not really justify this statement. He doesn’t appear to mention the one occasion when Alexander and Attalus came to blows – the wedding party on the occasion of Philip II’s marriage to Cleopatra Eurydice – but perhaps he had that in mind.

Books
We Need To Talk About Bagoas – one previous owner, now dead
War and Peace – don’t worry if your edition comes without the ‘Peace’ section, there was very little of it in those days
The Way of all Flesh – A handy guide to poisons, written by A Eunuch

By-the-Bye
Attalus’ death brings the first days of Alexander’s rule to an end. Diodorus doesn’t say where he was killed but I should think it was in Asia Minor. This means that he died very close to where, some 55 years later, the Battle of Corupedium would be fought, which brought the awards of the Successors to an end. This seems fitting.

Categories: Diodorus Siculus, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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