DIADOCHI: MACEDONIAN GAME OF THRONES (PART 9)

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Long before George R.R. Martin penned his tale of war, intrigue and treachery the ancient world was scene to its own version of Game of Thrones.

(This is the ninth in a series concerning the Wars of the Diadochi. 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. The previous installment, Part 8, can be found 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!)

 

ANTIPATER COMES SOUTH

It was the  summer of 320, three years after the death of Alexander the Great.  The First War of the Diadochi had reached an ugly conclusion, but one without a true decision. Perdiccas, the Regent who had ruled the empire since ‘s Alexander’s death, was himself dead. But with his chief rival, Craterus, out of the game the question was now who would replace him?

As the Royal Army and the kings marched out of Egypt, Antipater marched south from Cilicia to join them. The wholly unexpected defeat and death of his son-in-law and partner, Craterus, at the hands of Eumenes must have come as a tremendous shock to the “old rope” [1]. That a mere “Greekling“, one who was (in the eyes of his detractors) a trumped-up nobody whose only claim to advancement was a sycophantic devotion to the royal family; who had merely served Alexander with “ink and quill” while better men (Macedonians) had served with spear and shield [2]; that such a man would defeat and kill Craterus, a Macedonian-of-the-Macedonians, must have been a very bitter draught to swallow.

Antipater was  in Cilicia with some 10,000 (or less) troops when word reached him of this sudden reversal of fortune. As discussed in the previous chapter, his purpose for being in Cilicia (see Part 8), was likely to block Eumenes retreat.  As unsettling as the news of Craterus’ demise would have been, perhaps even worse was the presumed loss of his army to Eumenes. The initial reports would have informed Antipater that this force of 20,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry had given up the struggle and joined Eumenes upon learning of the death of their beloved commander.

Triparadeisos

These men, described as “Macedonians celebrated for their valour” [3], were long-serving veterans who  had followed first Philip and then Alexander in the wars of Macedonian greatness. At least some were the same men who had stood up to Alexander at Opis and demanded discharge and return home; and who once reconciled had been sent with Craterus back to Macedon in 323 [4]. Under his and Craterus’ command they had brought Greece to its knees in the recent Lamian War (see Part 3 and Part 4). Only the Argyraspides (the “Silver Shields”),  with the Royal Army marching home from Egypt, enjoyed a greater reputation.

This had been Antipater’s army, and now it was in the hands of his enemy.

This was a catastrophe of the first order. Though the Allies had defeated the Perdiccan forces in Egypt, and taken control of the Royal Army, this could reverse the verdict of Memphis and cause the leaders to rethink their allegiance.

However, Antipater’s fears were very quickly alleviated. Craterus’ Macedonian veterans, perhaps as many as 15,000, refusing to serve their master’s killer, had deserted Eumenes the night after the battle. They now appeared at Antipater’s camp, to rejoin his cause.

Thus bolstered, Antipater marched south to meet the Royal Army. Though they had recently served his enemy, Perdiccas, these were Macedonians who he was confident would respect his reputation as the oldest serving officer of the Macedonian army.  Eumenes could have Anatolia for now; Antipater would take possession of the two kings and the court, the only arbiter of legitimacy.

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Marching south, he found the Royal Army camped in Upper Syria at a place called Triparadeisos. There, mischief was afoot, and it was an army in near mutiny that awaited him.

CLASH OF WILLS AT TRIPARADEISOS 

The location and nature of Triparadeisos is uncertain. Scholars think that it was near modern Baalbek, site of ancient Heliopolis in the foothills of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains. At the time it may have been a Persian pleasure park or garden, called in  Old Persian a  pairidaeza; a word that Xenophon rendered into Greek as Paradeisos (from whence comes the English term, paradise). The Achaemenid kings set these rectangular
gardens, marked off with flags,  within enclosed royal hunting parks. Part of the rites of Persian (and, earlier, Assyrian) kingship involved a ritual lion hunt; staged in just such hunting parks. A mosaic from the Macedonian capital of Pella depicts Alexander and Craterus slaying a lion, perhaps at just such a place. Could the conqueror have been confirming his new position as Darius’ successor by observing this ritual hunt?

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“Fragrant, lush and cooling, a place of meditation”:  It was at such a place that the Kings and Royal Court, escorted by the royal army, camped and awaited the arrival of Antipater with his “European” army. One can well imagine that this was a fit place for the court to take its rest after the hardships of the last few months; a virtual “paradise”, indeed. Well-watered by the sources of both the Litani (the ancient Leontes) and the Asi (the upper Orontes), Triparadeisos was likely a green and well-shaded park; mountains looming above to the east and west. The name would indicate that perhaps this was three “pairidaeza”  in one; three adjacent parks, or one triple the size of the normal.

We have no information, but as these Persian gardens typically had a central reflecting pool with a viewing platform above it; the grand pavilions of the kings, Philip-Arrhidaeus and Alexander IV, surrounded by those of their attendants, occupied this select spot.  Filling the green grounds beyond the royal enclosures would have been the tents of the officers of the army; and radiating outward, furthest from the “royals”, those of the common soldiers.

Chehel Sotoun garden in Isfahan Iran built by Shah Abbas II

An example of a Persian garden: the Chehel Sotoun garden in Isfahan, Iran; built by Shah Abbas II in the 17th cent

This place of tranquility was now the scene of discord and near-mutiny.

At the heart of the disorder was the young queen, Eurydice; the 16 year old wife to King Philip.

Hearkening back to a previous chapter (see Part 6), this spirited young lady had started life as Adea, daughter of the Macedonian prince Amyntas and Kynane. Her mother was the daughter of Philip II and half-sister of Alexander. Kynane had come from Macedon to Sardis in 321, in an effort to marry her daughter Adea to her half-brother, Philip-Arrhidaeus. In a confrontation with soldiers led by Perdiccas’ arrogant, headstrong brother, Alcetus, Kynane was killed. But the Macedonian soldiers, horrified that a daughter of their revered Philip had been so mistreated, demanded the dead princess get her wish; and the teenage Adea was indeed married (against Perdiccas’ wishes) to her half-uncle, King Philip-Arrhidaeus.  She took the “throne-name” of Eurydice.

Like her mother Kynane, who was daughter of an Illyrian warrior princess (one of Philip’s 6 wives), Eurydice was brought up in the same “manly” way as was her mother. She was taught to hunt and to fight, and this “Amazon” was not content to play a background role in the unfolding drama.  She apparently got along quite well with her husband; and though he was a middle-aged man (and bearing a striking resemblance to his late father, Philip II) and she but a teenager, she very soon was acting as spokeswoman for her mentally deficient (and perhaps autistic) husband. As the army and court rested at Triparadeisos, she soon became embroiled in a power struggle for control of the court; between herself (representing the interests of King Philip) and the temporary regents chosen by the generals in Egypt, Peithon and Arrhidaeus.

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Amazons appear in Greek myth, but seldom in history. Adea-Eurydice was raised as a warrior by her mother, Kynane; daughter of Philip and the Illyrian warrior princess Audata. 

Freed by the death of Perdiccas from the dominance of that ruthless and overbearing figure, Eurydice was eager to assert herself (and her royal husband’s) independence from the control of ambitious generals; and to rule Macedon (and the empire) as a true queen. She was the granddaughter of Philip, and her husband that great man’s only living son and namesake. She would no longer rest content under the thumb of another.

Popular with the rank-and-file Macedonians, she applied herself to winning them over to her cause, undermining the acting regents. She found a “wedge-issue” ready at hand, in the discontent of the royal army regarding arrears in pay.

When Perdiccas marched on Egypt, he left his army’s pay-chest, some 800 talents, in the Phoenician city of Tyre. He likely promised his men to make good their pay after the campaign against Ptolemy was completed. Then Perdiccas was murdered by his officers; and upon learning of the death of Craterus, the army had rampaged through the camp and killed various of the late Regent’s friends and family. Among those was Perdiccas’ sister, Atalante. When word of these events reached  her husband, Attalus, commander of the Perdiccan fleet, who  at that moment was blockading the Pelousiac mouth of the Nile; he departed with the fleet to Tyre.  There the Perdiccan garrison-commander received him into the city and handed over the 800 talents. With this “war-chest” secured, Attalus offered refuge to those still loyal to his brother-in-law’s memory.

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The tough Macedonian soldiers were the representatives of the “Macedonian people in arms”. All political power derived ultimately from their consent. At the king’s death, they elected the next monarch. Even strong kings like Alexander had trouble controlling them. But they remained loyal to the Argead dynasty throughout the Diadochi Wars, till the death of Alexander IV. 

We don’t know who reached-out to whom, but shortly after the royal army and court arrived at Triparadeisos, Eurydice and Attalus were intriguing. Attalus soon appeared in the camp, despite a death sentence passed upon him and other leading Perdiccans by this same body of troops just weeks earlier in Egypt. This speaks to the level of dissatisfaction within the army with the current situation; perhaps regretting the death of their former leader and the unjust slaughter of his family and friends, and particularly with Peithon and Arrhidaeus’s, who were clearly not up to the task of leading this army.

This was the second time since 323 that Peithon, the former Bodyguard (Somatophylax) of Alexander, had been given command of an army and failed to either establish his command authority or to win its loyalty. Though he had handily defeated the Bactrian rebels in 323, he had lost control of his Macedonians in that campaign [5] and with it any thought of creating a power-base in the “upper satrapies” [6]. A capable soldier, he had no skill at politics; condemning him in this “game of thrones” to a supporting role.

Between Attalus rallying sympathy and support to the Perdiccan cause among his former soldiers; and the charismatic young queen’s agitation for redress of th
e soldier’s complaints regarding arrears in pay; the acting regents found their situation untenable. They resigned in favor of Antipater, temporarily leaving the army without leadership. When the old Regent arrived in camp, the royal army was in a state of near mutiny; and the soldier’s temper at a near boil.

Antipater pitched his army’s camp separate from that of the Royal Army’s, across a stream that watered the park. At about the same time, Antigonas “One-Eyed” arrived from Cyprus, where he had been successfully campaigning against Perdiccas’ allies.

Antipater crossed the stream and entered the Royal camp, where he called the troops to assembly. There he attempted to assume control. He found himself confronted by Queen Eurydice and Attalus, supported by the troops, demanding what was owed to them. Antipater had no funds to pay them, and frustration gave way to riot, perhaps inflamed by Eurydice and Attalus’ incendiary rhetoric. The old Regent only escaped murder on the spot by the intervention of two highly respected soldiers: Antigonas, and Seleucus; the latter serving as commander of the elite Companion Cavalry and chiliarch (second-in-command) of the royal army.

Each of these officers were to play a huge role in future of the game; but at the time of Triparadeisos neither had yet to played a leading role. Antigonas, himself a vigorous old soldier (he was perhaps 62) was of the generation of veterans who came of age in wars of Philip II. The old “grognards” [7] who were at the core of the agitation knew him and respected him;  Antigonas (“Cyclops”) was a “soldier’s soldier”. Seleucus was of the generation of Alexander. He had crossed into Asia with his young king at the age of 23. By India he commanded the elite hypaspists (now called the Argyraspides), and had crossed the Hydaspes on the same raft as Alexander himself. At Babylon he was appointed to command the Companions and chiliarch under Perdiccas. Many of the men now rioting had served under him in one capacity or another in the last few years.

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These two put themselves physically between the old Regent and any would be assailant; and escorted him back to his own camp, across the stream. This was the last time these two great men would be on the same side.

First round had gone to Eurydice.

However, within a day events had shifted against the girl.

The officers of the army convened their own conference, and decided to ratify the decision to place themselves under Antipater’s command. Eurydice’s position was perhaps weakened when Attalus returned to Tyre, taking with him many soldiers loyal to the Perdiccan cause, or who were lured away by the promise of his pay-chest. (From there, Attalus set sail with a force of 10,000 infantry and 800 cavalry, intending to attack Cnidus, Caunus, and Rhodes [8] . Instead, he joined his forces to those of Perdiccas brother, Alcetas, in Caria.) Antipater now took control of the army and the court. His first order of business was to rein-in the spitfire young queen.

Eurydice found herself facing a much sterner opponent than Peithon and Arrhidaeus; one with long experience in handling headstrong,  meddling queens (not to mention three daughters). We don’t know what conversation the two had, but we can be sure that Antipater put the young “Amazon” in her place. Perhaps she simply conceded to his authority with the understanding that however formidable Antipater was, time was on her side. She was 16, he in his eighties. Her time would come, if not now then soon.

THE TRIPARADEISOS SETTLEMENT

A new administrative settlement for the empire was needed; one that superseded the arrangements made at Babylon three years earlier, recognizing the “facts on the ground”. Antipater, who had spent his life in Macedon, would return home with a force of old veterans and mercenaries.

As reward for his services, Antigonas was to be given back his satrapy of Phrygia, from which he had fled the year before. More importantly, he was elevated to the supreme rank of Royal General (strategos) of the army in Asia, and custodian of the kings and court (let him deal with Eurydice’s intrigues!); giving him sufficient prestige and power to prosecute the war against the remaining Perdiccan rebels currently controlling much of Asia Minor (Anatolia). To keep an eye on him and check his power, Antipater’s own son, Cassander (of which much will soon be said) was appointed as his second-in-command (chiliarch).

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Antipater left him with many of the young Macedonians recruited for the Lamian War and the struggle against Perdiccas; to augment the rest of the late Perdiccas’ “royal army”. This was still mutinous though made less troublesome by the desertion of some to Attalus, and by the detachment of the Silver Shields, the worst of the “grumblers”; who were placated (or perhaps punished, for leading the near-mutiny against Antipater) by being sent east. Their commander, Antigenes,  was appointed satrap of Susa as his reward for the killing of Perdiccas. As Susa was the seat of a royal treasury, the Argyraspides would at last have their pay demands met in full.

Antipater rewarded others who had been useful or loyal in the last two years as well. Seleucus was appointed satrap of Babylonia, though he would have to expel the current satrap, appointed by Perdiccas. Peithon, another of Perdiccas’ killers, was reappointed satrap of Media; with additional authority as strategos over all of the upper satrapies. Ptolemy, absent from conference but a force to be reckoned with, was confirmed not only as satrap of Egypt; but granted license to expand to the west, as he saw fit. Ptolemy had already, without permission from the (then) Regent, Perdiccas, annexed neighboring Cyrene. At Triparadeisos, this conquest was legitimatized; and Ptolemy perhaps encouraged to focus his energies towards Carthage in the west, instead of making trouble for the central government. [9]

Lesser appointments were made as well, of men loyal to Antipater. Hellespontine Phrygia, vacant since Leonnatus’ death, was given to Arrhidaeus. Not only had he served briefly as co-Regent, abdicating in favor of Antipater; he was being rewarded for his role in taking Alexander’s corpse to Egypt, which act set in motion the chain of events that led to the fall of Perdiccas. In Lydia, Antipater placed a check on Antigonas’ future ambitions, by replacing his friend Menander with his admiral and the victor of Amorgos,  Clitus the White.  Caria, currently occupied by Perdiccas’ brother Alcetus with a considerable army,  was returned to Asander, whom had been forced out of this post by Perdiccas.  Other satraps, appointed in Babylon in 323, were continued in their positions.

Antipater further strengthened both his own position and the future peace he envisioned in the empire by a new batch of family weddings. He had three daughters to give away, two of which were newly widowed. Nicaea, Perdiccas’ widow, was given to Lysimachus, the very-capable satrap/governor of Thrace. Though so far not involved with events in the greater empire, and deeply embroiled in a conflict with the Odrysian king, Seuthes III, Lysimachus’ position with an army so close to the Macedonian homeland made his support important to obtain. Antigonas was brought into the Antipatrid family by the marriage of Antigonas’ 17 year old Demetrius to Phila, widow of Craterus; a woman at least ten years his senior. (It would prove a good match, despite the age difference, with Phila providing Demetrius with two children and wise counsel over the next two decades.) Finally, his third daughter Euridike’s betrothal to Ptolemy was at last consummated with marriage.

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As a final piece of business, the death sentences passed in haste against the leading Perdiccans, particularly Eumenes and Alectus, were now officially ratified. Though they could only be carried out by force-of-arms, Antigonas had the official writ to conduct this war against them.

Though not evident at the time, the settlement at Triparadeisos began the dissolution of Alexander’s conquests into rival kingdoms. The names of the dynasts would change in the next two decades. But with Antipater taking Europe as his sphere of interest (and place of retirement), and leaving Antigonas in control of Asia and Ptolemy in near-independent control of Egypt, the seed was planted for the division of the Macedonian Empire into three competing kingdoms.

Antigonas was the “big winner” at Triparadeisos. He had arrived as a refugee satrap and deputy of Antipater’s. He had spent all of Alexander’s wars left behind, guarding the supply lines between Europe and Asia in Phrygia. Always a fringe player but never center stage, Antigonas was now thrust into a starring role. A lifetime of frustrated ambition was now given scope for achievement. It was an opportunity he  would not squander.

With the pieces rearranged on the board, the game was set to move into its next phase. It would prove the bloodiest yet.

NEXT: ANTIGONAS AND EUMEMES

  1. The derogatory term used by Olympias and her partisans for Antipater. The meaning is likely that he (Antipater) had long kept Olympia from doing  as she saw fit; binding her actions like an (old) rope. But this is just speculative.
  2. Neoptolemus is recorded to have insulted Eumenes by saying that he (Neoptolemus) had followed Alexander through Asia with shield and spear; while Eumenes had only done so with stylus and tablet. This, of course, referred to the fact that for most of his life, Eumenes had been the Royal Secretary to first Philip and then Alexander.
  3.  Diodorus XVIII.30,4
  4. Arrian VII.8-12; Diodorus XVII.108-109. How many of the 10,000 veterans of Opis remained in service at this time is unknown. Certainly a number must have take their discharges and retired.  But Diodorus’ description of  Craterus’ Macedonians as men “celebrated for their valor” implies that at least a majority of these were veterans; as those young Macedonians who were recruited during the emergency of the Lamian War are unlikely to have warranted this description.
  5.  See Part 4.
  6. North eastern Iran, Afghanistan, and the Persian satrapies in central Asia.
  7. French for “grumblers”, a term used first by Napoleon for the veterans of his “Old Guard”.
  8. Arrian, Successors,  1.39
  9. Ptolemy’s governor of Cyrene, Ophellas, rebelled against Egyptian authority on or just after 313 BC. As independent ruler of Cyrene, Ophellas invaded Carthage in 308 as an ally of Agathocles.
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