DIADOCHI: MACEDONIAN GAME OF THRONES (PART 6)

fame-amaz-sarcophagus4 (This is the sixth in a series concerning the Wars of the Diadachi. Part 1 can be read here, and includes comprehensive biographies of the players in this drama. It is strongly advised that you start there before reading on here. Stay tuned to this blog for future installments! Special thanks to Michael Park for his indispensable help in filling in the gaps in the sources and putting-up with my incessant questions!)

KYNANE

Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great, had married seven times and fathered at least 6 children. His first (or perhaps second[1]) marriage, contracted shortly after his accession to the throne in 359 was to an Illyrian princess, Audata daughter of Bardyllis. She took the royal queenly name, Eurydice; and was likely for a time Philip’s “queen”, not merely another wife. From this union was born his eldest child, a daughter: Kynane.

Perhaps taking after her “barbarian” Illyrian mother (and given the freedom of a first child by a proud and likely bemused father) Kynane practiced “the manly arts”. She was a fierce huntress and warrior, allegedly slaying an Illyrian queen in battle while accompanying Philip on campaign; perhaps in 344/3, when she was only 14! Had she been a boy, instead of a girl, she would likely have been groomed as Philip’s heir, and been as much a warrior as her famous brother. However, she was not; and was passed over in the succession by her half-brother Alexander, Olympias’ son, a year her junior.

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Though depicted in Greek art and featured in their mythology, true Amazon-like warrior women were exceedingly rare in history. However Kynane, daughter of Philip and half-sister of Alexander the Great was one of these. As a young teenage girl, she slew an Illyrian queen in battle. She raised her daughter to be a warrior and a huntress like herself.

At 17 or 18 she was married to her own cousin, Amyntas; whose father Perdiccas III (Philip’s elder brother) had been King of the Macedonians till he was killed by the Illyrians in 359. Too young to assume the throne on his father’s death, Amyntas had been passed over by the Macedonians in favor of his uncle. Philip had raised his nephew at court, and now married his eldest daughter to him. They had one child, a daughter, Adea; whose birth date is unknown.

Upon becoming king in 336, Alexander had his brother-in-law and cousin, Amyntas executed on charges of treason; along with two princes of Lynkestis (in the Macedonian highlands) and Philip’s last father-in-law, Attalus. Coins struck in Amyntas name (as Amyntas IV) may come from this time, and be proof of a plot by some to bypass Alexander and crown Amyntas as king after Philip assassination. In any case, Kynane found herself a widow. Alexander attempted to marry her to his friend, Langarus the ruler of the allied Agrianians; but this prince died before the wedding could be arranged. After this, Kynane retired to her own estates to raise her daughter; preferring to remain unwed as Amyntas’ widow. Her daughter Adea was brought up in the same “manly” way as was her mother. She was taught to hunt and to fight, and throughout her life was as bold and courageous as befitted one of her blood and rearing.

In 321 Alexander had been dead for two years. As shown earlier (See previous parts) Olympias, his mother, had been heavily involved with the intrigues between the rival Diadachi (“Successors”); along with her daughter, Cleopatra. We have no information as to what Kynane’s relationship had been with her step-mother, Olympias. It is likely the palace at Pella was too small for two such strong royal women; which may explain why Kynane left Pella to live on her own estate. We also don’t know what she may have thought as she watched Olympias’ newest intrigue, that of sending her daughter Cleopatra to Sardis in Asia, to offer herself as bride to the Regent, Perdiccas.

What we do know is that shortly after Cleopatra departed Macedon, Kynane followed. With her were her teenage daughter, Adea[2], and an escort of mercenaries raised at her own expense. Antipater, too late to stop Cleopatra, tried to prevent Kynane and Adea leaving the kingdom. He sent troops to bar their passage at the River Strymon (the modern Struma), the ancient border between Macedon and Thrace. She was able to force her way across, and though no details survive it is likely she did so without resort to violence, but by the shear force of her indomitable personality. Being the daughter of the revered Philip carried perhaps even more weight among the old-fashioned Macedonians than being Alexander’s half-sister.

In the summer she approached Sardis, satrapal capital of the Lydian province. (There is reason to suspect that the court may have made its way there after the conclusion of the Pisidian campaign.[3]) There she found her path blocked by Alcetus, brother of Perdiccas; with a force of soldiers. The Regent wanted her stopped and turned back, for he had gotten news of her mission: Which was nothing less than to arrange for her daughter, whose blood was royal on both maternal and paternal sides, to be married to the King; her half-uncle, Philip Arrhidaeus.

Ivory-Phillip-II

This ivory portrait, found in a royal tomb at Vergina, in Macedonia is believed to depict Philip II. It has been argued (most notably by Dr. Eugene N. Borza,  professor emeritus of ancient history at Pennsylvania State University) that it actually may be Philip III Arrhidaeus. As he was said to closely resemble his father, regardless of which Philip (father or son) this depicts it gives us a good idea of what the brother of Alexander the Great might well have looked like when he married Adea-Eurydice.

We don’t know where the confrontation took place; it was somewhere in the vicinity of Ephesus. The willful Kynane, a woman in full at 37, refused to be deterred. Before the armed Macedonian soldiers, she proclaimed her mission, that her daughter be taken to the King, and that this granddaughter of Philip be married to him and be queen of the Macedonians. A vitriolic argument between Kynane and Alcetus followed, with her accusing Alcetus of betraying Philip’s blood. Alcetus, who would show over the next couple of years a arrogant lack of judgment, grew angry and insistent. When the proud Kynane refused to stand down, he killed her[4].

The death of their princess was met with horror and revulsion by Alcetus’ own soldiers. Immediately they surrounded her body and took her daughter into their protective custody. She was taken to Perdiccas, and the court. When word spread to the Royal Army of what had occurred, they rioted, furious at Kynane’s murder. They demanded that her final wishes for her daughter be respected, and the girl Adea be married to King Philip Arrhidaeus.

Perdiccas had no choice, if he wanted to restore his authority over the Macedonians. Alcetas hot-headed foolishness had painted him into a corner. Putting as good a face on it as he could, he arranged for Adea to be immediately married to her uncle, the King. Adea assumed the royal queenly name, Eurydice; and it is by this that she will henceforward be referred.

This was a blow to Perdiccas’ power, prestige, and ultimately a challenge to his authority. Eurydice, who seems to have gotten on well with her new husband, had in mind a very active role as queen. This granddaughter of Philip had the goodwill of the soldiers, the ultimate source of authority; and would very soon begin to exert her influence. An active queen exerting her own and her husband’s independence put Perdiccas’ control in question; which derived from his guardianship of two kings unable to govern on their own: Alexander IV, Roxane’s son, only an infant; and Philip Arrhidaeus being mentally deficient (perhaps autistic). As Regent and Guardian (prostates) he spoke in the king’s name. But now he would face a challenge to this guardianship from a spirited young queen. For as events would show, Eurydice wanted no one but her to speak for her husband!

atalanta-1908
Upon her marriage to  Philip Arrhidaeus  the courageous Adea-Eurydice exerted her will, refusing to be a mere puppet of the strong-men who were attempting to dominate the Macedonian Empire

In light of this new player on the stage, Perdiccas was forced to reexamine his options.

The status quo, with himself as Regent in Asia while Antipater and Craterus ran affairs in Europe, was inherently unstable and (from Perdiccas’ point of view) an ultimate dead end. First, Craterus with Antipater’s support expected to return to Asia as soon as the rebellious Aeolians were brought to heal. He would come expecting to share the guardianship of King Philip Arrhidaeus (whatever young Eurydice might have to say about the matter). It was for this reason that Antipater had given his daughter Nicaea as bride to Perdiccas: to form a marriage bond between them all. But for Perdiccas this power-sharing proposal had little appeal.

Ultimately time was not on his side. The infant Alexander would, in just 16 years, be a man in his own right. A Regent’s power was on loan, till the king could assume his duties. And with the entry of Queen Eurydice upon the stage, his continuing control of the other-wise pliant Philip Arrhidaeus was in question.

Eumenes once again proposed the alternative solution: The princess Cleopatra was still in Sardis, and still available. If Perdiccas wanted to hold onto power, Cleopatra provided a way. Marry Alexander’s sister and seize the throne; king rather than temporary regent. Back in Babylon, the elaborate funeral cart (catafalque) that would carry Alexander’s body to its final resting place in Egypt was at last finished. Bring it to the court in Anatolia, and with it return to Macedon and bury their fallen hero with magnificent ceremony. It was an ancient rite of succession, that a new Macedonian king buries his predecessor. By this act, and marriage to Cleopatra, Perdiccas would proclaim himself the legitimate king of Macedon.

Though Eumenes’ plan was both alluring and compelling, Perdiccas was unprepared for so drastic a step as repudiating his new wife, the daughter of Antipater, and directly reaching for the crown. Such a move would certainly lead to war against the “Europeans”, Antipater and Craterus. For now, Perdiccas chose to walk a middle road: send presents and letters of felicitation to Cleopatra, wooing her while remaining married to Nicaea.

An unscrupulous solution to a sticky problem; but one that gave Perdiccas’ some breathing room to prepare. If he was going to play the game of thrones, he needed time to clear the game board of potential obstacles.

The first of these was old Antigonas, satrap of Phrygia.

THE POT BOILS OVER

A minor player at this stage, Antigonas was no threat to Perdiccas. But he had disobeyed one command already, when the previous year he’d been ordered to aid Eumenes in attaining Cappadocia. Such disobedience must not go unpunished. War was looming, and in the coming struggle Perdiccas had to be sure of his satraps’ loyalty. Antigonas had been too independent for too long; it was time to remove him from the board. Antigonas was summoned to appear before the Regent in Pisidia[5] and answer for his actions.

The 60 year old Antigonas was no fool. He knew that such a journey would be a “one-way” trip. He let it be known that he was eager to defend himself against all charges, to put Perdiccas off guard. Instead, he fled Celaenae with his closest friends and his teenage son, Demetrius; to the coast, where they boarded Athenian ships. In these he crossed the Aegean, likely to Athens. From there he hastened on to Aetolia, where he found to his old comrade-in-arms from the days they’d both served King Philip, Antipater.

That summer and autumn of 321, Craterus and Antipater campaigned in Aetolia. Diodorus describes Craterus as playing the main role in this. They invaded Aetolia with an army of 30,000 infantry and 2,500 cavalry. Against this strong force the recalcitrant Aetolians could muster only 10,000 men. They made no attempt to meet the Macedonians on level ground, where they would have stood no chance against the superb Macedonian war machine. Instead, like highlanders everywhere and in every age, they sought refuge in the fastness of their mountains; abandoning the undefended towns in the lowlands and garrisoning the strong places. But Craterus had learned a thing-or-two about mountain warfare at the master’s feet. While Antipater with the bulk of the cavalry and a portion of the foot remained in the lowlands, reducing the Aetolian strongholds and occupying their towns; Craterus took the remaining forces and pursued their fighting men into the highlands.

Aetolia 2

The wild and beautiful mountains of Aetolia were the scene of Craterus’ 321 campaign to reduce these last remaining belligerents; after the close of the Lamian War.

Aetolia

Idyllic forest scene in Aetolia, near the ancient meeting-place of the Aetolian League council at Thermo

Diodorus tells us the fighting was fierce, the Aetolians crafty opponents who knew the terrain and used it to their advantage. In the next century, they would become famous for the warlike qualities of their light infantry. But as the snows of early winter set in, they found themselves hemmed in and short of supplies. Craterus’ men refused to withdraw as expected, but instead bivouacked in their mountains, building shelters for themselves. After Afghanistan, the mountains of Aetolia were but a minor inconvenience.

By these tactics Craterus soon had the Aetolians on the ropes. They were on the verge of submitting when Antigonas arrived from Asia. He brought news that startled and enraged his hosts.

battle 2

He told them of Perdiccas overweening ambitions, and he spoke at of length of the murder of Kynane; elaborating (and no doubt exaggerating) the horrid details. All this may have angered Antipater and Craterus. But then he produced letters from his friend Menander, satrap of Lydia. In the Lydian capital of Sardis, Menander was well-placed to observe the Regent’s intrigues with Cleopatra; and he had provided Antigonas with the proofs he needed. This included compelling evidence that Perdiccas had sent gifts to Cleopatra; of his plans to repudiate his wife, Nicaea; to marry Cleopatra, and then come to Macedon and claim the throne.

This startling information tipped the scales, and the generals agreed to end the war in Aetolia on the best terms possible (while swearing to return at a future date and finish what they had started; namely reducing the Aetolians to submission, and then deporting them in mass to a far-off exile somewhere in Asia). They would move the army with all dispatch against Perdiccas, upon whom they now declared war.

They also reached out to Ptolemy in Egypt. Antipater had been corresponding with the Son of Lagos for some time; and had offered him another daughter in marriage. Now it was time for Ptolemy, who had never been happy with Perdiccas in charge, to join the game.

PTOLEMY MAKES HIS MOVE

That year, 321, a civil war broke out in neighboring Cyrene. Cyrene was a Greek colony west of Egypt, its eponymous capital city located on the coast between modern Benghazi and Tobruk. Ptolemy was invited to intervene by the oligarch faction. He sent his general, Ophellas, to do so; and came himself by ship in the end to accept the city’s surrender. This independent ally of the empire was annexed to Ptolemy’s satrapy, in the late summer or early autumn of 322 or early in 321; without official sanction from Perdiccas and the central government.

Diadachi 322-320 b

It was a move Perdiccas could not have approved of; and the Regent no doubt monitored Ptolemy’s activities with suspicion. He had left Cleomenes of Naucratis in Egypt to control Egypt’s finances, and to act as his “eyes” in Egypt. But that year, 321, Ptolemy had arrested and executed Cleomenes on corruption charges. This cannot have pleased Perdiccas; especially as Ptolemy then took charge of the treasury and began hiring mercenaries to augment the garrison left in Egypt by Alexander. It is likely Perdiccas was also informed of Antipater’s marriage offer, and though this might have drawn the two men closer had Perdiccas remained loyal to Nicaea; now with his plans to repudiate her it put them at odds.

Ptolemy would need to be dealt with, no doubt; like Antigonas he had been allowed to grow too independent and too powerful. Like a weed, he needed to be pulled. However, first things first: of far more immediate importance was to bring the body of Alexander to Macedon, and take the throne. To this end he sent orders to his custodian of Alexander’s body in Babylon, an officer named Arrhidaeus (not the king); to escort the catafalque to the court in Anatolia.

The catafalque that was to bear Alexander’s body had taken two years to finish. It was beautifully designed, sculptured and decorated with gold and precious jewels. It was said to surpass in magnificence anything of its kind previously known in history or legend. It would need to carry the king’s body nearly 2000 miles from Babylon to its proposed final resting place at Aigai (modern Vergina) in Macedon. It would be pulled by a team of 64 matching mules, and accompanied not only by an armed escort (led by Arrhidaeus) but by a troop of road workers and engineers, to smooth the way and ensure its progress.

Alexander's_catafalque_based_on_the_description_by_Diodorus

Alexander’s magnificent funeral cart (catafalque) took two years to construct. It was covered with gold and precious gems. Within was Alexander’s body, carefully preserved by the best efforts of the day.

The procession set off from Babylon in early September 321, following the worst of the Mesopotamian summer heat. However, it never made it any closer to Perdiccas in Anatolia than the city of Damascus. There it was met by Ptolemy and a small army.

It appears that the Regent’s authority over his officers was beginning to crumble. Arrhidaeus colluded with Ptolemy, and delivered the catafalque to the satrap of Egypt.

Why did he do so?

It is possible that he did so out of loyalty to Alexander’s own wishes; to be buried at Siwa, regardless of Perdiccas’ desires to the contrary. It could be that he merely accepted a bribe from Ptolemy, or had some grudge against the Regent. We will never know one-way-or-another. Certainly he was taking a great risk; for in 321 Perdiccas stood tall upon the world stage, and to go over to Ptolemy was both an act of rebellion and one likely to end in death or exile.

For Ptolemy, by this act, had thrown down the gauntlet. Looked at without modern hindsight, this must have been seen as unlikely to succeed as had Antigonas’ disobedience; and likely to end in the same result. But the die was cast, and his lot was thrown in with Antipater and Craterus, against Perdiccas’ plan to seize the royal diadem.

At Damascus, Ptolemy seized the body of Alexander and returned with it to Egypt. Along the way his forces skirmished with a small force sent by Perdiccas to escort the catafalque; but which had arrived in Damascus too late (and too small) to prevent the abduction. Once in Egypt, Ptolemy temporarily interred the body of his old friend, king, and possibly half-brother (see Part One) at Memphis, the capital of the satrapy. In time, he would move it to the new city of Alexandria and an elaborate tomb, now under construction.

In Greece, Antipater and Craterus were on the march to the Hellespont; while Antigonas was preparing to take ship for Caria, to open another front in the war. Perdiccas was waiting for Spring in Cilicia, to march on Ptolemy. And Ptolemy was hiring mercenaries in anticipation of defying the Regent’s power.

The First War of the Diadochi had begun.

NEXT: THE FIRST DIADOCHI WAR


[1] Athenaeus names Phila of Elimeia as Philip’s second wife. However, Elis argues that this marriage predated Philip’s ascension to the throne; likely in 360 BC. See Elis, J.R.: Philip II and Macedonian Imperialism; Thames and Hudson, 1976; Ch. II, P.46

[2] We don’t know Adea’s age in 321; but she cannot have been born later than 335, as her father was executed on Alexander’s orders in 336. The sources say only that she was of “marriageable age” in 321. If we assume her mother Kynane was married at 18 to Amyntas, and Adea was born the following year (339?), then Adea would be 17-18 in that fateful year, 321.

[3] The sources are mute at to where Perdiccas, the Royal Army and the court (including the two Kings) were in the summer/early autumn of 321. We know there was much intrigue concerning Eumenes, Cleopatra, and Perdiccas at this time; including presents given by the Regent to Cleopatra. While the easiest answer is that Perdiccas remained in Pisidia during this time, it is reasonable to suppose that he moved to Sardis, where the “action” was.

[4] Alcetus may have ordered her executed by his soldiers, but it is likely he killed her with his own hands. The sources say she was killed by Alcetus, but in what manner it is unclear. It is easy to imagine Alcetus losing his temper and cutting down the proud, stubborn princess himself. The shocked and angry response of his own soldiers to her killing would seem to point in this direction; as if they had done it themselves, even on his orders, it would be hard to understand their shock at the deed.

[5] Assuming the court was in Pisidia, and hadn’t moved to Sardis. See note [3] above.

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3 Responses to DIADOCHI: MACEDONIAN GAME OF THRONES (PART 6)

  1. Michael Park says:

    The fan is in motion and the crap is hurled….

    Now for the real chronological fun. Not to mention the chorus line of Macedonian supporting actors: Amytases, Ptolemys, Alexanders, Polemais, Peithons, Arstodemoses, Alketai, Attaliids, etc…. The world is about to become somewhat confusing.

  2. Thomas says:

    I am looking to do a podcast series on the wars. I have written scripts until 281. Would like to get a contact so that I can address some facts if you are interested.

    • barrycjacobsen says:

      Thomas, you are free to dispute facts here; I entertain debate (as one can see from the comments and replies below). Or, if a matter you think more appropriate to address in private, I can be reached at barrycjacobsen@yahoo.com

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