agryi(This is the seventh 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!)

The First War of the Diadochi had begun. It pitted Perdiccas against an alliance of Antipater, Craterus, and Ptolemy.

In light of Ptolemy’s actions, seizing Alexander’s body and allying with his enemies in Europe,  Perdiccas was forced to reassess his plans. Though he had at his command the Royal Army, and could defeat any other force brought against him by any coalition of satraps; he was now forced to fight on two fronts.

Moving into Europe as he’d planned, and declaring himself king, was out of the question. For one thing, his enemies Antipater and Craterus had a powerful fleet, commanded by White Cleitus; which could block passage across the Hellespont or (further east) at the Bosporus. Even were he to be able to bring a fleet from Phoenicia to aid in crossing into Europe, Craterus and Antipater were supremely skilled generals, with a large and experience army. They knew the land more intimately than did he (Perdiccas had not seen Macedon or Greece since 334, when he’d crossed into Asia with Alexander’s invasion force), and had long-established relations with (or garrisons in) most all of the Greek and Macedonian cities.

They could be expected to maneuver and delay a decisive encounter till it was in their favor; or to buy time while their ally, Ptolemy, sallied forth from Egypt and created chaos and disaffection deep in his rear. Ptolemy, left to his own devices to run amok throughout the empire, might even sway more-and-more satraps in the heart of the empire to rise against Perdiccas as well.

Perdiccas’ (in consultation with his Synhedrion Philoi, his Counsel of Friends) decided to let Antipater and Craterus come to him in Asia for now; while eliminating the weakest member of the coalition, Ptolemy. This made good strategic sense. Let the “Europeans” cross into Asia, which would take time; while he secured his rear and the empire’s heartland by destroying Ptolemy. Then, gathering to his side the eastern satraps, he could return to Anatolia to deal with his other enemies.

Meanwhile, to delay Antipater and Craterus he gave his loyal philos, Eumenes (partial author of most of the current discord) instructions to interfere with Antipater and Craterus’ crossing into Asia; and delay them if they did. The wily Greek, still in Sardis, was given authority over the satrapies that had belonged to Leonnatus and Antigonas (Hellespontine and Greater Phrygia), Asander (Caria), and Menander (Lydia). The first of these satraps was dead; the rest either unreliable or openly in rebellion. This commission gave Eumenes command over most of western Anatolia.

However, Eumenes forces were limited to a small (unknown) number of Macedonians and what he could raise locally, from his own newly conquered satrap of Cappadocia and the Antatolian satrapies loyal to Perdiccas. To help Eumenes maintain their position in Anatolia, Perdiccas further instructed his willful and hotheaded brother, Alcetas, satrap of Pisidia; and Neoptolemus (possibly satrap of Armenia, though that is uncertain) to obey Eumenes, and join their forces to his.

Perdiccas also opened negotiations with the Aetolians; in an attempt to open a second front for his enemies in western Greece. In this he was successful: the following year, they would break the peace they’d made with Antipater and invade Thessaly; overpowering a Macedonian garrison along the way at Amphissa.


In early spring of 320, the Royal Army marched first to Cilicia, where Perdiccas arranged the government; removing partisans of Craterus. While there he learned that the various petty-kings of the island of Cyprus had made alliance with Ptolemy, and were besieging the loyal town of Marium. He arranged an expedition to go over to Marium’s relief, and take over the island; comprised of 800 infantry and 500 horse. Sosigenes of Rhodes was appointed as admiral of the fleet of 200 Phoenician ships that would convey the force to Cyprus; Medius of Larissa (who’d been a friend of Alexander’s, and at whose drinking party the late king had first become ill) to command the mercenary foot; and Aristonus the Bodyguard (who we have not heard of since Babylon following the death of Alexander) over-all commander of the expedition.

Diadachi 320 egyptian campaign

Not waiting for the outcome of this secondary campaign, Perdiccas and the Royal Army set-off from Cilicia to Damascus; and then south to the Egyptian frontier. With him were Peithon the Bodyguard, satrap of Media and Perdiccas’ senior sub-commander; Seleucus, commanding the cavalry (including the elephants); and Antigenes, who commanded the 3,000-strong Argyraspides (“Silver Shields”), the elite veteran unit of the phalanx.  It was a vast force, both military and civilian. With the Regent came the Kings and the Court; a moveable city of courtiers and servants, carried by a vast number of draft animals. Horse, mules and oxen aside, the Royal Elephant herd[1] added its great grey mass to the spectacle. Moving though Syria, the Royal Army passed Gaza; whose walls were still being repaired of the damage done by Alexander’s siege and capture twelve years earlier.

In Egypt, Ptolemy prepared to defend his satrapy. After executing Cleomenes of Naucratis and seizing the treasury he’d hired mercenaries to augment the garrison left in Egypt by Alexander. While he had no chance against the Royal Army in open battle, Ptolemy understood two underlying facts about the coming campaign.

First, that Egypt was essentially an island, protected on all sides by natural obstacles. Deserts protected her on three sides, and the Mediterranean defended it from the north. For the modern reader this mat seem less-than persuasive as measures of formability. After all, modern armies have traversed this very terrain in our memories; and with Perdiccas (and the other Diadochi) possessing fleets of warships and transports, the sea can hardly have been a barrier.

But whereas modern armies rely on petrol for their vehicles (which can carry water and food supplies sufficient to keep their soldiers alive and combat effective), ancient armies relied on water and forage for the draft beasts that carried their food supply. Neither of which were readily available in the desert. The sea approach to Egypt had its own risks. Ancient oar-powed fleets needed to hug the coast, where the crews beached and slept every night. The coast of Sinai, along which a seaborne invasion from Syria must come was rocky and formidable; covered by dangerous shoals and waterless beaches. Antigonas would discover this in 306 BC, when he in turn tried to eliminate Ptolemy from the competition. Once past the desert coasts an invasion force faced the labyrinthine marshes of the Nile Delta; which, as the Sea Peoples discovered when they attacked Egypt during the reign of Pharaoh Ramses III, were difficult to navigate and easy to defend.

Ptolemy, who had been in Egypt now for two years, seems to have understood all this. The only practical way for his enemy, Perdiccas, to gain entry into Egypt was to march by land along the northern coast of Sinai, to the outpost at Pelusium on eastern extreme of the Nile Delta; a fortress garrisoned by Ptolemy. Here he would have to sit down and siege the place, a difficult proposition considering the difficulties of supplying the great royal host in that inhospitable land. Or, he could at that point turn southwest, and arrive at the Nile further down.

ptolemaicegypt 320bce - Perdiccas invasion

The Nile itself posed yet another barrier. A force as large as Perdiccas’ could not cross on a few seized fishing boats. Perdiccas would need to find a ford to cross at; and these Ptolemy knew well and now defended with earthworks manned by well-paid garrisons.

What is more, he had secured all the most important points in Egypt with garrisons of considerable size, which had been well equipped with every kind of missile as well as with everything else.[2]

We don’t have a complete picture of Ptolemy’s strategy for this campaign, but we can assume based on the events as they unfolded that he backed these strong points up with a mobile force led by himself; ready to march to any threatened sector.

At Pelusium the Royal Army halted and established a camp. Here Perdiccas experienced his first set-back: while clearing a canal (that assumedly blocked the army’s approach to the fortress) the “river broke out violently and destroyed his work”[3]. This passage by Diodorus begs the question: was the canal deliberately flooded by the opening of a sluice gate upriver; a stratagem of Ptolemy’s? It was the first of several setbacks that began to erode the army’s confidence in Perdiccas’ leadership.

While Perdiccas was camped by Pelusium, Ptolemy sent men loyal to his cause to infiltrate the Royal Army at night. Wandering through the darkness between the soldier’s campfires, they called out to friends and comrades from better days, sitting around the fires. Being invited to join them, they shared drink with their fellow countrymen, remembered past glories, and quietly reminded them that they faced not enemies; but old friends. These partisans of Ptolemy mentioned how well they faired serving the son of Lagos, who paid on time and treated them not as subjects but as old comrades. This had become a common complaint against Perdiccas: after two years as Regent of the empire he had grown increasingly imperious and high-handed.

Diodorus tells us that men began to desert to Ptolemy in small numbers, including officers.

early War elephants

Macedonian war elephants in the late 4th century were without howdah; and sported a single sarissa-armed Macedonian soldier, along with the Indian mahout. Alexander sent 200 back from India; and most would have survived the journey to take part in the wars that followed.

Abandoning any attempt to secure Pelusium first, Perdiccas now ordered the army to break camp one evening and set out. He disclosed his plans to none. The army moved southeast, to the Nile in search of a crossing point. After marching all night, they came to a place called “The Fort of Camels”; which was defended by earthworks and a garrison. As dawn brightened the sky, Perdiccas ordered the army to force a crossing.

(With) the elephants in the van, then following them the shield-bearers and the ladder-carriers, and others whom he expected to use in the attack on the fort. Last of all came the bravest of the cavalry, whom he planned to send against the troops of Ptolemy if they happened to appear.[4]

As his lead elements were crossing the river to attack the Ptolemaic earthworks on the opposite bank, Ptolemy did indeed appear with his main army. They threw themselves into the earthen fort, the fanfare of trumpets announcing Ptolemy’s arrival to all. Diodorus provides a rousing account of the fighting that day:

At once the shield-bearers[5] set up the scaling ladders and began to mount them, while the elephant-borne troops were tearing the palisades to pieces and throwing down the parapets. Ptolemy, however, who had the best soldiers near himself and wished to encourage the other commanders and friends to face the dangers, taking his long spear and posting himself on the top of the outwork, put out the eyes of the leading elephant, since he occupied a higher position, and wounded its Indian mahout. Then, with utter contempt of the danger, striking and disabling those who were coming up the ladders, he sent them rolling down, in their armor, into the river.  Following his example, his friends fought boldly and made the beast next in line entirely useless by shooting down the Indian who was directing it. The battle for the wall lasted a long time, as the troops of Perdiccas, attacking in relays, bent every effort to take the stronghold by storm, while many heroic conflicts were occasioned by the personal prowess of Ptolemy and by his exhortations to his friends to display both their loyalty and their courage.  Many men were killed on both sides; such was the surpassing rivalry of the commanders, the soldiers of Ptolemy having the advantage of the higher ground and those of Perdiccas being superior in number. Finally, when both sides had spent the whole day in the engagement, Perdiccas gave up the siege and went back to his own camp.

Morale was understandably low following this reverse. Grumbling was widespread, and  no doubt some openly questioned their purpose in attacking Ptolemy. Some even talked of changing sides. Arrian tells us that Perdiccas “treated those who were inclined to go over to Ptolemaeus with great severity, and in other respects behaved in camp more arrogantly than became a general”.

Perdiccas had never been well-liked: his aristocratic temperament grated on the average Macedonian; used to being treated as comrades even by their kings. He failed to comprehend what was becoming the underlying truth of the Successor Wars: that the Macedonian soldiers had no stake in who won these conflicts, and little loyalty to anyone but themselves. They fought because soldiering was all they knew, after a lifetime of campaigning under first Philip, and then Alexander. It was a life spent in marching camps; with only each other, their wives or mistresses and children for company. All they had in way of worldly wealth marched with them; a life-time’s accumulation of plunder and pay. Though they remained remarkably loyal to their native “Argead” dynasty as long as it lasted, they were growing increasingly indifferent to the pedigree of their commander; and even less to his ambitions (beyond his loyalty to the Kings). The successful general who promised great rewards and treated them with respect would be followed, so long as he was successful. But one that administered harsh discipline or demanded unquestioning obedience was risking desertion, mutiny or worse.

Perdiccas must have understood he needed to reverse the momentum of the campaign, which thus far had shifted to Ptolemy. His forces greatly outnumbered that of his enemy. If he could but cross the Nile and bring them to battle in the open field victory was assured. To this end, Perdiccas set out with a “flying column” at night, using the cover of darkness to conceal his movements from enemy observation. The size of his force is unknown, but must have been larger than what he expected Ptolemy to field against him; so perhaps 12-15,000[6].

Near Memphis, capital of the Egyptian satrapy, Perdiccas again attempted to cross. Here the broad river was divided into an east and a west channel by a broad island; large enough for his army to camp upon. To slow the current and allow the infantry to cross the east channel onto the island, Perdiccas used a trick Alexander had once employed (albeit with horsemen alone). Perdiccas placed his elephants upstream, in a line across the channel, to break the current. Downstream he had horsemen form another line, to catch those men who nevertheless got washed downstream.

By this expedient a vanguard of several thousand passed onto the island. However, the tramping of many feet progressively eroded the soft body of the river bed; causing it to grow deeper-and-deeper. What started as a waist-deep channel became deeper until it was over the heads of the men yet to cross.

Seeing that he could not get the bulk of his army across in this manner, Perdiccas ordered those already on the island to come back across and rejoin the army. The result was disaster.

Many drowned trying to get back. Those who did succeed were mostly those men who could swim, and had to abandon their armor and equipment to do so. Apparently the numbers washed down stream were too great for the horsemen to rescue. Nile crocodiles, larger and more ferocious than those the Macedonians had encountered along the Indus, devoured many of those struggling in the waters; a terrible and demoralizing site for their comrades watching on from the river bank, helpless to save them.

Perdiccas on the nile 2

The death toll was over two thousand (half that many being devoured by crocodiles): more men than had been lost in any of Alexander’s battles; and perhaps as many as were lost in all of his four great battles combined. The army, already unhappy with the campaign in general, was now furious at what seemed an unnecessary loss of so many of their comrades.

Ptolemy, for his part, collected what bodies had washed up on his side of the river, and gave them a funeral; cremating the bodies and returning the ashes to their comrades. By this gesture he greatly increased the already high regard in which he was held by the Macedonians.

For the soldiers, this reverse turned out to be the final straw. That night the Royal Camp “was filled with lamentations and mourning, so many men having been senselessly lost without a blow from an enemy”[7]. Greif turned to anger, anger to rage and mutiny; the officers as well as the rank-and-file turning against the Regent’s authority.

Perdiccas was in his tent when three of his senior officers, Peithon, Seleucus, and Antigenes, entered. They came with grim countenance and murder in their eyes. Whatever bodyguard normally defended his person had deserted him, and Perdiccas was left alone to face his killers. Perhaps he fought back, briefly and hopelessly; or perhaps he accepted the inevitable with stoic fatalism.

Murder of Perdiccas

Detail from the so-called Alexander Sarcophagus from Sidon. For whom it was made is disputed; it was made shortly after Alexander’s death. It shows various scenes of Macedonian soldiers and courtiers. This panel shows the murder of a man by three soldiers. Could this depict the death of Perdiccas?

So died Perdiccas, to whom Alexander had passed his signet ring; and whom had ruled the empire for two years. He had played the “game of thrones” to win, gambling all against his rivals. He had failed through no great failing of generalship; in fact he handled the campaign correctly in many respects. But luck was not with him; and as Napoleon observed, luck plays a very great part in war. His greatest failing was in not understanding better the psychology of his soldiers, and in maintaining their loyalty and confidence.

The next day there was an assembly of the army, to which Ptolemy was invited. He was well received, and brought much-need food supplies for the now hungry soldiers. He refused to step into Perdiccas sandals, as guardian of the Kings (a move that would have instantly alienated his allies, Craterus and Antipater). Instead, he nominated Peithon and Arrhidaeus (the officer who’d aided in the bringing of Alexander’s corpse to Egypt) to be custodians of the Kings; and to command the Royal Army as it returned from Egypt. It is likely that all understood that with Perdiccas gone, primacy now belonged to Craterus or Antipater. As these two had already come to an agreement that Craterus should rule in Asia, the army would return north; and turn the Kings over to the universally popular Craterus, and itself over to his command.

The soldiers agreed enthusiastically to Ptolemy’s proposal. But before they could begin the long march back to Anatolia, word came that there had been a momentous battle between Craterus and Eumenes; that would shake up the chess board and reset the game once again.



Recommended further reading:
1 Divided Empire Dividing the Spoils: The War for Alexander the Great’s Empire (Ancient Warfare and Civilization)






[1] We have no exact number of beasts, but Alexander left India with some 200. How many were lost since then is unknown, but likely few.

[2] Diodorus, xviii.33.3

 [3] Diodorus xviii.33.2

[4] Diodorus xviii.33.6

[5] Diodorus may be referring to the “Silver Shields” (Argyraspides); who were originally, before Alexander’s Indian Campaign, called “hypaspists”, which means “shield bearer”. He may also be referring to a new corps of hypaspists that could have been formed to replace the aging Argyraspides in their old role as rapid-moving special purpose infantry. We are told in later passages that in 316 BC, just four years later, that “the youngest of the Silver Shields were about sixty years old, most of the others about seventy, and some even older; but all of them were irresistible because of experience and strength, such was the skill and daring acquired through the unbroken series of their battles.” While still extremely able in the phalanx role, their days as a “special forces” unit were behind them; and though no evidence exists it is very probable that a new unit of hypaspists (“shield-bearers”) had been formed to take their place; and it is these that Diodorus refers to as forming the assault force at the Fort of Camels.

[6] We have no good count of Ptolemy’s forces in 320, but he is unlikely to have had more than 8,000 under his banner to face Perdiccas’ (estimated) 15-25,000 strong Royal Army. Perdiccas would have had a crushing advantage in cavalry, and Ptolemy at this time had no elephants of his own to oppose the 150-200 in the Royal herd.

[7] Diodorus xviii.36.3

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  1. Michael Park says:

    “that the Macedonian soldiers had no stake in who won these conflicts, and little loyalty to anyone but themselves. They fought because soldiering was all they knew, after a lifetime of campaigning under first Philip, and then Alexander.”

    No, you don’t want to go down that path. The ‘Macedonians’ fought for the royal house – no matter their increasing belligerence as ‘professional soldiers’. This notion of them becoming ‘mercenaries’ of a sort is rubbish. The Argyraspides – the hypaspists of Alexander and his father before him and the most belligerent of the royal army – would follow the orders of the kings (Philip III and Alexander IV) and Polyperchon to put themselves at the disposal of Eumenes of Kardia as royal general. These same troops had condemned him to death in Egypt!

    “It is likely that all understood that with Perdiccas gone, primacy now belonged to Craterus or Antipater”.

    I’m afraid that’s a totally incorrect view. No one recogonised or understood anything of the sort. The table was now re-laid and all might have their fill. And they did exactly that. Triparadeisos simply laid out the next game board. Ptolemy well knew this as did the One Eye and that clever Kardian, Eumenes.

    • barrycjacobsen says:

      Nice line: “that clever Kardian”.

      I think your correct about recognizing royal authority. I was trying (perhaps unartfully) that the soldiers didn’t care (for the most part) who was their commander, so long as he was successful. But I was foreshadowing a development that was underway, and would see its fullest expression in 316 when the Silver Shields sold their commander in return for their baggage! Or in the campaigns of Demetrius, who was at times in his career not much more than a freebooter. (Though, in defense of the Macedonians, his followers by that point were mostly mercenaries.)

      As for the primacy of Craterus and Antipater, I have to respectfully disagree with you, Michael. Craterus and Antipater were the most senior and respected officers in the Macedonian army in 320. Had he been in Babylon in 323, it is almost a certainty that Alexander would have passed his ring to Craterus, not Perdiccas. (It was, of course, a matter of opinion wither or not Alexander uttered “tôi kratero”: to Craterus (Kratero); when asked to whom he left the regency of his empire. Of course the generals gathered around the deathbed in Craterus’ absence chose to hear the King’s utterance as “tôi kratistôi”: to the strongest, instead.)

      I believe that with Perdiccas dead, all Macedonians would have accepted either of these two as the Regent and Guardian of the Kings; as they in fact did at Triparadeisos, acclaiming Antipater (Craterus being dead by that point). However, we can agree to disagree on this rather small point, yes?

      • Michael Park says:

        Well, yes the Macedonians did acclaim Antipatros “epimelētēn autokratora” but and because Peithon and Arrhidaios (wisely) chose to give it up. The Macedonains were more interested in pay and likely saw Antipatros as the paymaster. A mistake they made twice, silly buggers.

        The most senior officer of the Babylonian group (including the absent Kratros) during Alexander’s final hours was the chiliarch, Perdikkas. That he received the signet ring is understandable in that regard. With Perdikkas and Krateros dead it would come down to Antipatros, Antigonos, Ptolemy and Seleukos. Ptolemy had decided there were other, far safer, paths to the ultimate prize than to be shackled with the kings and a contumacious royal army. Antigonos would take that path – of a sort. Antipatros was not interested in Asia.

        The Macedonians would think what they would; the players were what counted. The point is that Antigonos and Ptolemy cared little for the settlement at Triparadeisos. Ptolemy would ignore the moment the royal army marched north and Antigonos the moment the frail Antipatros returned to Macedon. Camped in Karradokia Eumenes, too, cared little for it: he had his own agenda and was mistrusted by Attalos and Alketas, both of whom couln’t give a Psisian’s peso for it.

        The Macedonians only ever had a say when there was division. Even then they franked the leader best placed to deliver them what they wanted: security and pay. Opposite Memphis they thought that man Ptolemy. Come Triparadeisos they thought that man Antipatros. By spring 316 it would be Antigonos.

    • barrycjacobsen says:

      Though, on further reflection, Michael: though I agree that the Macedonian rank-and-file remained mostly loyal to the legitimate Kings so long as they lasted; how do you explain the willingness of some Macedonians to fight for the side opposed to the King’s generals? Such as Cassander and Antigonas’ soldiers when those two commanders were opposed to Polysperchon, the Regent; or his General in Asia, Eumenes? In 318-316 it could be argued that all royal power was invested in Polysperchon and (through him) Eumenes (as shown by the Silver Shields accepting Eumenes’ authority because of Polysperchon’s warrant). So Cassander and Antigonas were in effect in rebellion against the royal authority. So, how do you reconcile that within the context of this argument?

      • Michael Park says:

        Now we’re dealing with outright civil war and subjects that aren’t easily fit into a blog response. This is necessarily thumbnail…

        For beginners it is necessary to lay to one side the too neatly technical by far constitutional monarchy views of Rezpka and Hammond. These are far too influenced by modern structures. Triparadeisos, like Babylon before it, was a compromise. Notions of primacy did not bother these grasping want to be kings and Antipatros, as regent, was fine – especially as he would return to Macedon. To tilt at empire required a base from which to launch. Ptolemy firmly had his and now Seleukos had his. Antigonos had the royal army and his satrapy. His springboard would be the war against the ‘Perdikkans’ and he would cling tightly to his ‘strategos of Asia’ title bestowed by the absent regent.

        On Antipatros’ death, he handed off his regency to Polyperchon (wherefore the ‘constitutional assembly to frank this??). Kassandros, not unexpectedly, saw this as a grave error and rebelled. That Polyperchon immediately appointed Eumenes to his treasured position saw Antigonos regard Polyperchon’s appointment as regent as ‘illegal’. In Macedon Kassandros allied himself by marriage to Philip’s line and spouted legitimacy. Some followed his rationale, others supported the regent. Unfortunately the regent was no match for the bloodhounds he was attempting to run with. His greates mistake was inviting that atrax robustus of Macedonian politics into the fray on his side: Olympias. She promptly destroyed any legitimacy he clung to.

        In Asia Antigonos allied himself with Kassandros and refused to relinquish the title of strategos of Asia. Seleukos and Peithon, both out of self preservation, rationalised that the Macedonians had condemned the royal general to death (Eumenes) and so Antigonos was the correct royal general. They would both find out just how wrong they were.

        The entire game was one of legitimacy. Kassandros found his via Thessalonike. Antigonos found his from Antipatros and refused to recognise Antipatros’ decision to appoint a successor. Eumenes’ legitimacy was the kings and Olympias. And Ptolemy? Ptolemy well knew where it all was going and didn’t bother quite so much with the facade. He promptly annexed Syria and Phoenicia with little attempt at any justification.

        For the Macedonians, they had to decide just what form of legitimacy they followed. It mostly came down to location but 3,000 of Antigonos’ troops decided they’d had enough and decamped in Anatolia. His troops were not happy having to battle their “kinsman and elders” in Iran. And Hieronymus constantly represents Antigonos as a ‘rebel’ against the kings.

  2. ethanreilly says:

    Still lovin’ it Barry – can’t wait until you get to the Battle of Ipsus!

    • Michael Park says:

      Yes, poorly documented though it is. We really have only Plutarch who is much more interested in ‘enlightening’ vignettes that such things. A ‘biographer’ who can pass over Paraitekene, without even a word, and the possibility that Pyrhhos was defeated by Lysimachus gives mere sentences and allusions to the great ‘Battle of the Kings’.

      Forgot to mention in the above that the troops of Antipatros and Krateros were likely fighting to ‘liberate’ the kings from a usurper. Whilst that was the logical denouement of Perdikkas’ actions (though never guaranteed*), you can bet the two Macedonian marshals played it up for all it was worth.

      *Though I, along with most (aside from the exculpatory), agree that was exactly what he planned, we must keep in mind that, in modern US parlance, Perdikkas was the Diadoch version of the Democrats and our reporting, for the great part, comes from Fox News.

  3. Yassam says:

    When will the next parts follow?

  4. Tasos says:

    You have complete irrogance of History,because you seperate the Macedonians from Greeks,considering as a different nation.This is wrong and stulid,dude.Macedonians were Greeks and that is why that period was named Hellenistic.

    • barrycjacobsen says:

      Despite your rude and boorish remarks, I’m posting you comments. Like many Greek patriots, you feel strongly that Greeks and Macedonians are one people; as they are today. However, this is far from a settled debate; and outside of Greece there is no agreement on this issue. Arguments can be made either way.

      Certainly, the ancient disagreed with your assertions. The Macedonians were not acknowledged at “Greek” by the Hellenes of the south; and they looked down upon the Greeks as lesser men. That Macedonians were not allowed to compete in the Olympic Games is evidence of this. (The Macedonian royal family, the Temenidae, which originated in Argos, WERE allowed to compete in the Olympics; as they were deemed “Hellenes”.)
      In antiquity the Macedonians and the Greeks were bitter enemies; and some of their animosity was racially motivated. Here are some examples in which a distinction was drawn between Macedonians and “Greeks”; in both ancient sources and modern:

      [1] Quintus Rufus “The History of Alexander” “Accordingly, one festive day, Alexander had a sumptuous banquet organized so that he could invite not only his principle friends among the Macedonians and Greeks but also the enemy nobility.” [p.188]

      [2] Quintus Rufus “The History of Alexander”: [Alexander speaks to his Macedonian troops] Where is that shout of yours that shows your enthusiasm? Where that characteristic look of my Macedonians?” [p.217]

      [3] Arrian “The Compaigns of Alexander”: “Gentlemen of Macedon, and you my friends and allies, this must not be. Stand firm; for well you know that hardship and danger are the price of glory, and that sweet is the savor of a life of courage and of deathless renown beyond the grave.” [p.294]

      An obvious question: If Macedonians were Greeks, and Macedonia was just another Greek land, then how can we reconcile this with the fact that Alexander calls the Greeks “his allies” next to his Macedonians? If ancient Macedonians were Greeks, then, one identifier (Hellenes/Greeks) would have been sufficient. But the ancient authors drew a distinction between Greeks and Macedonians.

      [4] Quintus Curtius Rufus “The History of Alexander” [The trial of Hermolaus] “As for you Callisthenes, the only person to think you a man (because you are an assassin), I know why you want him brought forward. It is so that the insult which sometimes uttered against me and sometimes heard from him can be repeated by his lips before this gathering. Were he a Macedonian I would have introduced him here along with you – a teacher truly worth of his pupil. As it is, he is an Olynthian and does not enjoy the same rights.” [p.195] [Since Callisthenes was a Greek Olynthian is clearly distinguished from the Macedonians.]

      [5] Robert A. Hudley in his paper “Diodoros 18.60.1-3: “A Case of Remodeled Source Materials” dissects “Eumenes”:

      “We then come upon Eumenes’ second observation that, being a foreigner, he has no right to exercise command over Macedonians. At no point, however, in Diodoros’ prior narrative does Eumenes’ Greek origin excite animosity among the Macedonians. More important, Eumenes does not see his foreign origin as an impediment to accepting the dynasty’ offer of a supreme command in 18.58.4 and he proceeds to exercise that authority in 19.13.7 and 15.5 without any qualms on his part that he is not a Macedonian. Eumenes’ foreign origin does become an issue at one point among the commanders of the Silver Shields.”

      One of the few Greeks that Alexander took with the Macedonian army – Eumenes had a foreign Greek origin among the Macedonians. He was a Greek and not a Macedonian. There is no need to elaborate this quote any further.

      [6] Pierre Jouguet “Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic World” Speaking of Eumenes:

      “He knew from experience that in the eyes of the Macedonians he was still a Greek, a foreigner. Plutarch praised his charming and refined manners, which were very unlike the haughty airs of the noble Macedonian officer.” [p.142]

      [7] More on Eumenes: “But he was not a Macedonian, and the Macedonians did not look upon him as an equal. This may have been one reason for his tenacious loyalty to the cause of the Kings; his fortune was bound up with the Empire, and in the case of a partition he would not have received the support of the Macedonian troops in securing a portion for himself.” Ibid, [p.129]

      [8] On Isocrates: “At the end of his speech, Isocrates, summarizing the programme which he was proposing to Philip, advised him to be a benefactor to the Greeks, a king to the Macedonians, and to the barbarians not a master, but a chief.” Ibid [p.106]

      [9] [On Macedonians and Greeks] “It is sufficient for our purposes to note that the Hellenes and the Macedonians regarded themselves as different nations, and this feeling did not ceased to be the source of great difficulties for the union of Greece under Macedonian rule. When the union was achieved, it was only by policy of force.” Ibid, [p.68]

      [10] The Ancient World Readings in Social and Cultural History by D. Brendan Nagle Stenley M. Burstein “Contemporary scholars hold a much less benign view of the nature Hellenistic society. Far from blending to form a new culture, Greek and native societies tended to co-exist with only limited contact between them in the new Macedonian – ruled kingdoms that were formed out of the wreckage of the Alexander’s empire. In other words, the Macedonian kingdoms in Egypt and Asia were essentially colonial regimes in which ethnicity was the principal determinant of social and political position. Weather or not Alexander intended his empire to be governed by a mixed elite of Macedonians, Greeks, and natives, in Ptolemiac Egypt and Seleucid Asia only Macedonians and Greeks belonged to the governing elites.” [p.149]

      Macedonians and Greeks once again are clearly distinguished in the Macedonian ruled kingdoms.

      [11] Wilcken’s quotes from “Alexander the Great”:

      On p.22-23. “Even in Philip’s day the Greeks saw in the Macedonians a non-Greek foreign people, and we must remember this if we are to understand the history of Philip and Alexander, and especially the resistance and obstacles which met them from the Greeks. The point is much more important than our modern conviction that Greeks and Macedonians were brethren, this was equally unknown to both, and therefore could have no political effect.”

      [12] On p.45 “The Greeks regarded the hegemony of Philip as, after all, a foreign domination; they did not look upon the Macedonians as Greeks.”

      [13] On p.26: “The dislike was reciprocal, for the Macedonians have grown into a proud masterful nation, which with highly developed national consciousness looked down upon the Hellenes with contempt. This fact too is of prime importance for the understanding of later history.”

      [14] Lycurgus: [after the battle of Chaeronea] “With the death was buried the freedom of Greece.”

      [15] Homer’s Greeks are variously described as Danaoi, Argives, and Achaians, but never Hellene Jonathan M. Hall Ethnic Identity in Greek Antiquity [Macedonians are not included]

      [16] In the Catalogue of Women, the eponymous founder of Makedonia, Makedon, was the son of Zeus and Deukalion’s daughter Thuia. This line of descent excludes him from the Hellenic geneology – and hence, by implication, the Makedonians from the ranks of Hellenism.” [ibid., p.64]

      [17] “But by the fourth century, certainly, the rulers of Macedonian Lyncestis prided themselves on descent from the Corinthian Bacchiads – a royal dynasty fully comparable with the Temenid claims of their rivals at Aegae.” Ernst Badian “Studies in the History of Art vol. 10: Macedonia and Greece In Late Classical and Early Hellenistic Times”

      [Even if one is inclined to accept Macedon’s genealogy for the “hellenic” descent of the Macedonians, one must be aware of the existence of other Macedonian tribes who did not trace their genealogy from Temenus.]

      [18] Furthermore, the fact that Zeus is Makedon’s father does not necessarily testify to his credentials as a “bona fide Hellene: after all, Sarpedon is the son of Zeus but he is Lykian not a Hellene.” Jonathan Hall “Ethnic Identity in Greek Antiquity”. p.64

      [19] Lamian War 323-322 is also known as the “Hellenic War” by its protagonists. The Greeks, the Hellenes, were fighting the Macedonians led by Antipater at Lamia.

      [20] [Referring to Arrian’s separation of Macedonians and Greeks] “The same painstaking attention to details is evident in administrative matters. Appointments of governors are duly mentioned, and throughout his book Arrian is careful to give the father’s name in the case of Macedonians, e.g. Ptolemy son of Lagus, and in the case of Greeks their city of origin.” [p.25]

      [Points of interest: Arrian pays close attention to clearly identify the Macedonians and the Greeks: father’s name in the case of Macedonians and for the Greeks their city of origin.]

      [21] Arrian “The Campaigns of Alexander” “The backbone of the infantry was the Macedonian heavy infantry, the ‘Foot Companions’, organized on territorial basis in six battalions (taxeis) of about 1,500 men each. In place of the nine-foot spear carried by the Greek hoplite, the Macedonian infantryman was armed with a pike or sarissa about 13 or 14 feet long, which required both hands to wield it. The light circular shield was slung on the left shoulder, and was smaller than that carried by the Greek hoplite which demanded the use of the left arm. Both, Greek and Macedonian infantry wore greaves and a helmet, but it is possible that the Macedonians did not wear a breastplate. The phalanx (a heavy infantry), like all the Macedonian troops had been brought by Philip to a remarkable standard of training and discipline.” [p.35]

      [22] Quintus Rufus “The History of Alexander” At a banquet prepared by Alexander for the ambassadors of certain tribes from India, among the invited guest present was the Macedonian Horratas and the Greek boxer named Dioxippus. Now at the feast the Macedonian Horratas who was already drunk, began to make insulting comments to Dioxippus and to challenge him, if he were a man, to fight a duel. Dioxippus agreed and the two men fought rather a short fight with Dioxippus emerging a victor. A huge crowd of soldiers, including the Greeks, supported Dioxippus. “The outcome of the show dismayed Alexander, as well as the Macedonian soldiers, especially since the barbarians had been present, for he feared that a mockery had been made of the celebrated Macedonian valour.” [p.229]

      Point of interest: Two fighters, one Macedonian, one Greek. Macedonian lost the fight. Alexander is dismayed. Why? How can a mockery be made of the Macedonian valour if in this fight the Greek won? If Alexander considered himself Greek, then, the outcome of the fight should have had no disturbing influence on him. But, as we see, he was dismayed. Peter Green says: “it was a matter of national prestige”, and Bosworth states that the crowd was “ethnically polarized.” This needs no further analysis. Ethnicity of the two fighters, and their affect on the polarized crowd, is not an option for consideration. It is a given.

      [23] “Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic World” By Pierre Jouguet [p.187]

      “An Athenian decree, voted at his instigation [Chremonides] (266-265 or 265-264), declared an agreement between Athens and Sparta, always united against the enemies of the Hellenes” (Chremonidean War)

      In this case, these “united Hellenes” were fighting against the Macedonian Antigonos. Here you have a clear delineation between Greeks Hellenes [Athenians and Spartans] and their common enemy – the Macedonians Why not accept the fate of the ancient authors and reconcile with the fact that ancient Macedonians were just that – Macedonians. There was nothing Hellenic about these loyal followers of their King, and there was nothing Greek with this hardy warriors of Macedon.

      [24] The Rise of the Roman Empire Polybius [p 45] By combining and comparing various statements from the ancient authors we can arrive to the truest picture of the ancients themselves. Let them speak of themselves, and let their true sentiments flood the pages, uncorrupted and free of any biased and preconceived prejudices. Only then, can we assess the magnitude of their purity of soul, and the passion for their national aspirations.

      [25] Polybius reports on the speech made by Agelaus of Naupactus at the first conference in the presence of the King and the allies. He spoke as follows: [A selected segment from his speech] “I therefore beg you all to be on your guard against this danger, and I appeal especially to King Philip. [Philip V] For you the safest policy, instead of wearing down the Greeks and making them an easy prey for the invader, is to take care of them as you would of your own body, and to protect every province of Greece as you would if it were a part of your own dominions. If you follow this policy, the Greeks will be your friends and your faithful allies in case of attack, and foreigners will be the less inclined to plot against your throne, because they will be discouraged by the loyalty of the Greeks towards you.” [‘The Rise of the Roman Empire’ p .300.] (book 5.104)

      “instead of wearing down the Greeks” “making them an easy prey for the invader” “to protect every province of Greece as you would if it were a part of your own dominions” Polibius clearly distinguished not only between Greeks and Macedonians in the above passage, but also between the lands of Greece and Macedonia.

      [26] “while Craterus and Antipater collaborated under the command of the latter to suppress a Greek revolt (the so-called Lamian War ended in a crushing blow to the Greeks and especially Athens), Perdiccas took control of the kings……..” The Hellenistic World by F.W. Wallbank p 49

      Points of interest: ended in a crushing blow to the Greeks and especially Athens. Very clearly the Lamian war ended with a victory of the Macedonians over the Greeks (Athenians being part of that Greek force).

      [27] “What did others say about Macedonians? Here there is a relative abundance of information”, writes Borza, “from Arrian, Plutarch (Alexander, Eumenes), Diodorus 17-20, Justin, Curtius Rufus, and Nepos (Eumenes), based upon Greek and Greek-derived Latin sources. It is clear that over a five-century span of writing in two languages representing a variety of historiographical and philosophical positions the ancient writers regarded the Greeks and the Macedonians as two separate and distinct peoples whose relationship was marked by considerable antipathy, if not outright hostility.” Eugine Borza

      The conclusion is still the same – the Ancient Macedonians were not Greeks. If they were, they would have been called Greeks, not Macedonians, and they would not have been specifically distinguished from the Greeks by ancient authors (including ancient Greek authors). Nothing could be further from the truth than to claim that the ancient Macedonians and the ancient Greeks were brethren. There were simply two different nations, though sharing common racial origins.

  5. Dario says:

    I badly need to read part 8! D:

    • barrycjacobsen says:

      Thank you, Dario! Glad you are enjoying the series.
      I am editing and re-releasing it on my new site. I’m now on Part 3. But we will get to Part 8, I promise.

      • Theorodokoi Mylemakis says:

        Yes! This series is great! Thank you for it. Can’t wait for the next part. Have already made a bookmark of your present site. Great work.

        It would be awesome if there would be a TV-show about these events like “Game of Thrones”. Maybe you should contact some studios about it. As a success of GOT has shown, there surely would be an audience for it, and because it’s historical the script is almost done. Majorty of people doesn’t even know about the diadochi so it would be educational too. It would be even better than the GOT with the right producers. Full of intrigues, battles, beautiful sets and weardrobe, and of course interesting characters (whome will die and shock the audience). Only thing in the way is that the budget needs to be huge.

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