Posts Tagged With: Antigonus Monophthalmus

Perdiccas: The Great Betrayer?

Over on my Tumblr page I am currently writing a read-through of the eighteenth book of Diodorus Siculus’ Library of History – his account of the wars of Alexander’s successors. Today’s post covers the twenty-fourth and fifth chapters of the Library. You can read it here.

While writing the post I was very struck by the fact that Antipater and Craterus were not only surprised but ‘dumbfounded’ when Antigonus Monophthalmus informed them that Perdiccas intended to marry Alexander’s sister, Cleopatra, as a means to make himself king of her brother’s empire.

I’m not surprised by their shock. Perdiccas, after all, was the man to whom Alexander gave his ring of office on his deathbed (Diodorus XVII.117; Curtius X.5.4). The dying king must, therefore, have trusted Perdiccas to ensure that if it were possible for an Argead (e.g. his as yet unborn son) to inherit the throne his deputy – Hephaestion’s successor – would be able to make it happen. And if Alexander thought that, then surely the other generals did, too. It seems that Antipater and Craterus certainly did. Yet here Perdiccas was, all of a sudden, aiming to make himself king.

The title of my post is ‘Perdiccas’ Betrayal’. If there is an ounce of truth in Diodorus’ words I can’t think of how anyone could have betrayed Alexander more. For he betrayed him not only personally but surely by encouraging those other generals who were not so loyal to the idea of an Argead succession but who, had Perdiccas remained faithful to the late king, might have swallowed their ambitions all the same.


Of course, there is an objection to my dim view of Perdiccas, and it is sourced in the texts. According to Diodorus, Alexander was asked to whom he left his kingdom. He did not say ‘his son’ but ‘to the strongest’ (D. XVII.117) or ‘to the best man’ (Curtius X.5.5). My objection to this is that a. Arrian(VII.26) – taking his cue from Ptolemy and Aristobulos – says that Alexander could not speak at the end of his life and b. It would make no sense for Antipater or Craterus to be surprised by Perdiccas’ betrayal if they knew that Alexander wanted ‘simply’ the strongest or greatest man to inherit his throne rather than his son.

  • As visitors to this blog may have noticed, I have been very remiss in updating The Second Achilles for a while now. For this, I apologise; I am in a busy stage of life but have to admit I haven’t used my time as well as I could have to publish posts here. Within the time that I have I would like to change that. I’m not sure how I will yet, but one idea is to write short posts like this one giving my thoughts on Diodorus as I write the read through. If you find short posts like this one helpful, or not so, do feel free to let me know in the comments box or via e-mail
Categories: Arrian, Diodorus Siculus, Quintus Curtius Rufus, The Wars of the Successors | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

David Hogarth on Alexander’s Influence


The conventional view is that Alexander’s empire was short-lived.

And, let’s be honest, on this occasion, the conventional view is correct: officially, the Argead empire lasted just over twenty years, from 331 B.C., when Alexander defeated Darius III at the Battle of Gaugamela to c.310/09 B.C. when Cassander had Alexander IV assassinated.

If we are being generous we could bring the date down to 306-04 B.C. when Antigonus, Ptolemy, Cassander and Lysimachus finally declared themselves kings of their respective realms; however, the point remains.

But while Alexander’s political world did not long outlive him, his influence endured for many more years. It may even be said to be still alive today; I’ll come to that in a moment.

What has brought Alexander’s legacy to mind is reading Philip and Alexander of Macedon by David Hogarth, which I finished a few days ago. A few pages before the end, Hogarth considers the ways in which Alexander influenced several important empires. Despite, or perhaps because of, their obviousness I had not thought of them before. Here’s what he says.

If we look to the means which Alexander adopted in his last months to advance his great aim, we perceive that in conception he anticipated the cardinal cause of the provincial success of the Roman Empire. For he saw that universal conquests could not be accomplished, still less retained, with the strength of a single mother-people, but that the one half the world must be enlisted to conquer and hold the other half.

Had he lived to subdue North Africa, we may be sure that Moors and Numidians would have been found fighting under his banners in Spain and Gaul, and Spaniards and Gauls in Italy. His mixed army of Europeans and Asiatics, organized in Babylon in the spring of 323, was no more than the predecessor of those Gaulish and German legions which brought Emperors to Rome.

When the historian finds Alexander punishing with drastic severity Viceroys of his own race whom he believed, wrongly or rightly, to have outraged alien faiths and extorted provincial money, his thought will pass on to Tiberius and the quinquennium Neronis. When he sees Persians and Bactrians set high in a Macedonian empire, he thinks of Trajan the Spaniard, Elagabalus the Syrian, Maximin the Goth, and Philip the Arabian. The so-called Epigoni – those Oriental youths trained in the Macedonian manner, who were brought to Susa to be enrolled – recall the heirs of client kings, educated perforce in the Eternal City, and those children of the camps, who were the backbone of the legionary system.

Hogarth adds that it is only in the Susa Weddings that Alexander and Rome part ways, for nothing ‘so artificial ever entered into the policy of the most cosmopolitan of the Italian emperors.’

Susa aside, he notes

… that a “mixed” empire, with an Asiatic centre, successively Seleucid, Parthian, and Persian, survived Alexander’s death by fully a thousand years.

What about today?

Well, just over 2,300 years later, Alexander’s aim of bringing together a diverse range of people under one banner is happening as we speak in Europe.

Of course, the European Union is not an empire and never will be*; as and when its members achieve total political union, one country will not have control over all the others though some may dominate proceedings; however, just as the EU contains many peoples, men and women from all over the union are able to join its key institutions.

I think that Alexander would definitely have appreciated the trans-national army-of-sorts that already exists in NATO, and the requirement for anyone who wanted to climb the ladder in EU politics to follow in the footsteps of the Epigoni and relocate to Brussels and/or Strasbourg.

The children of the camps are no more. For now. If in the future, however, we start sending men and women into space to start colonising new planets the children of their camps will surely grow up to be their guards and successors. In a less bloody fashion, one hopes, than those who succeeded Alexander with so much damage to his legacy in the short term.

* May it never seek to oppress any other nation or people as well

Previous Posts on Philip and Alexander of Macedon

i. A Country Ancient and Modern
ii. General Ronald Storrs and Cardinal Francis Bourne

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Selected Search Enquiries

The following are all enquiries that lead people to this blog.

“who was the successor of philip iii arrhidaeus”
Philip III Arrhidaeus didn’t have a successor; at least, not an Argead one.

When Alexander the Great died in 323 B.C., Arrhidaeus was declared king. To that end, he was given the regnal name of Philip III. A few months later, Roxane gave birth to a son; he was named Alexander IV and became Arrhidaeus’ co-ruler. Because he was an infant, and because Arrhidaeus had a mental impediment that made him unable to rule by himself, the two were placed under the regency of Alexander’s general, Perdiccas. They would spend the rest of their lives being controlled by others.

Philip III Arrhidaeus was assassinated in 317 B.C. and Alexander IV in c. 310 B.C. Their successors were those of Alexander’s generals who declared themselves to be kings of their respective territories a few years later:

Antigonus Monophthalmus and Demetrios Poliocetes (Joint kings) – Asia Minor – 306
Cassander – Macedon – 305-304
Lysimachus – Thrace – 305-04
Ptolemy – Egypt  – 305
Seleucus – Babylon and the east – 305

I have used used Robin Waterfield Dividing the Spoils as my principle source for these dates. Other scholars give different dates, albeit only slightly. For example, Heckel in Who’s Who in the Age of Alexander the Great says that Ptolemy became king in 306 or 305.

“alexander and bagoas sex”
Yes, Alexander probably very likely had sex with Bagoas, but there was more to a eunuch’s life in antiquity than satisfying his master’s sexual desire. The Encyclopaedia Iranica describes eunuchs as being,

… castrated males who were in charge of the concubines of royal harems, [eunuchs] served in the daily life of the court, and sometimes carried out administrative functions.

For more, click here.

“”what if darius iii survived lived””
In my opinion, if Darius had survived his arrest and abduction by Bessus he would either have been executed by Alexander in order to secure his succession as Great King or been allowed to rule in a subordinate capacity, as happened with Porus.

Although in Diodorus XVII.54 Alexander suggests that he would indeed have let Darius rule under him, I think he would have executed his predecessor. Darius was too obvious a rallying point for Persians and therefore too dangerous to be allowed to live.

However, had Darius lived and been given kingship over, say, Persia, I could see him becoming a major player in the Successor battles, remaining king of Babylon and the east and interfering in the west as suited him.

“which battle did alexander kill cleitus”
Alexander didn’t kill Black Cleitus during a battle but after a quarrel during a drunken party in Maracanda in the Summer of 328 B.C. According to Arrian (IV.8) it started when some sycophants claimed that Alexander’s achievements outstripped those of certain gods. Cleitus angrily rejected this assertion. This did not put off the flatterers, though, for they then claimed that Philip II’s achievement had been ‘quite ordinary and commonplace’ (ibid). Cleitus defended the late king and taunted Alexander for saving his life at the Battle of the Granicus (334 B.C.). Alexander tried to strike Cleitus, but was held back. He then took a spear and ran Cleitus through with it.

Curtius, Justin and Plutarch all tell the story slightly differently but in the same setting and, of course, same result.

Arrian IV.8-9
Curtius VIII.22-52
Plutarch Life of Alexander 50-51

“haephestion was cremated source”
To the best of my knowledge no source says explicitly “Hephaestion was cremated”. However:-

Arrian VII.15 – States that a ‘funeral pyre’ was built for Hephaestion
Diodorus XVII.115 – Refers to the building of Hephaestion’s pyre. Chapter 116 begins ‘After the funeral’ implying that it took place. However, the Greek word ‘pyra’ which is translated here as pyre could also mean ‘monument’. But even if it doesn’t, what about Diodorus XVIII.4 which suggests the pyre – whether to cremate Hephaestion on or a monument – wasn’t built at all?
Justin XII.12 – Refers to a monument to Hephaestion being built.
Plutarch Life of Alexander Chapter 72 – Refers to Hephaestion’s funeral. No mention of cremation.

See my post “Hephaestion’s Remains – Update” here

Categories: Searching Alexander | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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.

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

Alexander sees a PLOT

(Photo from Wikipedia)

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

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