Ancient History of Macedonia 2


Ancient History of Macedonia

George Rawlinson M.A, Canon of Canterbury and Camden Professor of Ancient history at the University of Oxford

Ancient History of Chaldaea, Assyria, Media, Babylonia, Lydia, Phoenicia, Syria, Judaea, Egypt, Carthage, Persia, Greece, Macedonia, Parthia, and Rome., The Colonial Press, New York, 1899.

PART II (B.C. 323 to 301)

From the Death of Alexander the Great to the Battle of Ipsus

The circumstances under which Alexander died led naturally to a period of convulsion. He left at his death no legitimate issue, and designated no successor. The Macedonian law of succession was uncertain; and, of those who had the best title to the throne, there was not one who could be considered by any unprejudiced person worthy of it. The great generals of the deceased king became thus, almost of necessity, aspirants to the regal dignity; and it was scarcely possible that their rival claims could be settled without an appeal to arms and a long and bloody struggle. For a time, the fiction of a united Macedonian Empire under the sovereignty of the old royal family was kept up; but from the first the generals were the real depositories of power, and practically a division of authority took effect almost from Alexander's death. Alexander left an illegitimate son named Hercules, who was ten or twelve years old at the time of Alexander's death.

The difficulty with respect to the succession was terminated without bloodshed. The claims of Hercules being passed over, Arrhidaeus, who was at Babylon, was proclaimed king under the name of Philip, and with the understanding that he was to share the empire with Roxana's child, if she should give birth to a boy. At the same time, four guardians, or regents, were appointed-Antipater and Craterus in Europe, Perdiccas and Leonnatus (for whom was soon afterwards substituted Meleager) in Asia. But the murder of Meleager by Perdiccas shortly reduced the number of guardians to three.

The sole command of the great army of Asia, assumed by Perdiccas on the death of Meleager, made his position vastly superior to that of his European colleagues, and enabled him to take the entire direction of affairs on his own side of the Hellespont. But, to maintain this position, it-was necessary for him to content the other great military chiefs, who had lately been his equals, and who would not have been satisfied to remain very much his inferiors. Accordingly, a distribution of satrapies was made within a few weeks of Alexander's death ; and each chief of any pretensions received a province proportioned to his merits or his influence.

It was not the intention of Perdiccas to break up the unity of Alexander's empire. Roxana having given birth to a boy, the government was carried on in the name of the two joint kings. Perdiccas' own office was that of vizier or prime minister. The generals who had received provinces were viewed by Perdiccas as mere governors intrusted with their administration, and answerable to the kings for it. He himself, as prime minister, undertook to give commands to the governors as to their courses of action. But he soon found that they declined to pay his commands any respect. The centrifugal force was greater than the centripetal; and the disintegration of the empire was not to be avoided.

It was probably the uncertainty of his actual position, and the difficulty of improving it without some violent step, that led Perdiccas to entertain the idea of removing the kings, and himself seizing the empire. Though lie had married Nicaea, the daughter of Antipater, lie arranged to repudiate her, and negotiated it marriage with Cleopatra, Alexander's sister. Such a union would have given to his claims the color of legitimacy. The opposition which he had chiefly to fear was that of his colleagues in the regency, Antipater and Craterus, and of the powerful satraps, Ptolemy Lagi and Antigonus. The former lie hoped to cajole, while he crushed the latter. But his designs were penetrated. Antigonus fled to Macedonia, B.C. 322, and warned Craterus and Antipater of their danger. A league was made between them and Ptolemy; and thus, in the war which followed, Perdiccas and his friend Eumenes were engaged on the one side against Antipater, Craterus, Antigonus, and Ptolemy Lagi on the other.

Perdiccas, leaving Eumenes to defend Asia, marched in person against Ptolemy. His army was from the first disaffected; and, when the military operations with which he commenced the campaign failed, they openly mutinied, attacked him, and slew him in his tent. Meanwhile Eumenes, remaining on the defensive in Asia Minor, repulsed the assaults made upon him, defeated and slew Craterus, and made himself a great reputation.

The removal of Perdiccas from the scene necessitated a new arrangement. Ptolemy declining the regency, it was conferred by the army of Perdiccas on Pithon and Arrhidaeus, two of their generals, who with difficulty maintained their position against the intrigues of Eurydice, the young wife of the mock monarch, Philip Arrhidaeus, until the arrival of Antipater in Syria, to whom they resigned their office. Antipater now became sole regent, silenced Furydic6, and made a fresh division of the provinces at Triparadisus, in Northern Syria, B.C. 320.

A war followed between Antigonus and Eumenes. Defeated in the open field through the treachery of Apollonides, whom Antigonus had bribed, Eumenes took refuge in the mountain fastness of Nora, where he defended himself successfully against every attack for many months. Antigonus turned his arms against other so-called rebels, defeated them, and became master of the greater part of Asia Minor. Meanwhile, Ptolemy picked a quarrel with Laomedon, satrap of Syria, sent an army into his province, and annexed it.

The death of the regent Antipater in Macedonia produced a further complication. Overlooking the claims of his son, Cassander, lie bequeathed the regency to his friend, the aged Polyperchon, and thus drove Cassander into opposition. Cassander fled to Antigonus; and a league was formed between Ptolemy, Cassander, and Antigonus on the one hand, and Polyperchon and Eumenes on the other; the two latter defending the cause of unity and of the Macedonian monarchs, the three former that of disruption and of satrapial independence.

Antigonus began the war by absorbing Lydia and attacking Mysia. He was soon, however, called away to the East by the threatening attitude of Eumenes, who had collected a force in Cilicia, with which he menaced Syria and Phoenicia. The command of the sea, which Phoenicia might have given, would have enabled Eumenes and Polyperchon to unite their forces and act together. It was the policy of Antigonus to prevent this. Accordingly, after defeating the royal fleet, commanded by Clitus, near Byzantium, lie marched in person against Eumenes, who retreated before him, crossed the Euphrates and Tigris, and united his troops with those of a number of the Eastern satraps, whom he found leagued together to resist the aggressions of Seleucus and Pithon. Antigonus advanced to Susa, while Eumenes retreated into Persia Proper. Two battles were fought with little advantage to either side; but at last the Macedonian jealousy of a foreigner and the insubordination of Alexander's veterans prevailed. Eumenes was seized by his own troops, delivered tip to Antigonus, and put to death, B.C. 316.

Meanwhile, in Europe, Cassander had proved fully capable of making head against Polyperchon. After counteracting the effect of Polyperchon's proceedings in Attica and the Peloponnese, he had marched into Macedonia, where important changes had taken place among the members of the royal family. Eurydice, the young wife of Philip Arrhidaeus, had raised a party, and so alarmed Polyperchon for his own power that he had determined on making common cause with Olympias, who returned from Epirus to Macedon on his invitation. Eurydice found herself powerless in tile presence of the more august princess, and, betaking herself to flight, was arrested, and, together with her husband, put to death by her rival, B.C. 317- But Cassander avenged her the next year. Entering Macedonia suddenly, he carried all before him, besieged Olympias in Pydna, and, though she surrendered on terms, allowed her to be killed by her enemies. Roxana and the young Alexander lie held as prisoners, while he strengthened his title to the Macedonian throne by a marriage with Thessalonica, the daughter of King Philip.

Thus the rebellious satraps had everywhere triumphed over the royalists, and the Macedonian throne had fallen, though Roxana and the young Alexander were still living. But now the victors fell out among themselves. Antigonus, after the death of Eumenes, had begun to let it be seen that nothing less than the entire empire of Alexander would content him. He slew Pithon, drove Seleucus from Babylonia, and distributed the Eastern provinces to his creatures. He then marched westward, where important changes had occurred during his absence. Cassander had made himself complete master of Macedonia and Greece; Lysimachus had firmly established himself in Thrace; and Asander, satrap of Caria, had extended his dominion over Lycia and Cappadocia. These chiefs, fearing the ambition of Antigonus, entered into a league with Ptolemy Lagi and Seleucus, now a fugitive at his court; and when the terms which they proposed were rejected, made preparations for war.

The war of Antigonus against Ptolemy, Cassander, Seleucus, Asander (or the Carian Cassander), and Lysimachus lasted for three years. Antigonus had the assistance of his son Demetrius in Asia, and (at first) of Polyperchon and his son Alexander in Europe. He was, on the whole, moderately successful in Syria, Asia Minor, and Greece; but the recovery of Babylonia by Seleucus, and the general adhesion to his cause of the Eastern provinces, more than counterbalanced these gains.

The terms of the peace negotiated in B.C. 311 were, that each should keep what he possessed; that the Greek cities should be independent; that Cassander should retain his power till the young Alexander came of age. Seleucus was no party to the treaty, and was not mentioned in it. It was probably thought that lie could well hold his own; though had he been seriously menaced, the treaty would have been at once thrown to the winds. As it was, only a few months passed before there was a renewal of hostilities.

The murder of Roxana and the young Alexander by the orders of Cassander was a natural consequence of the third article of the treaty, and was no doubt expected by Antigonus. He gladly saw these royal personages removed out of his way; while it suited him that the odium of the act should attach to one of his adversaries.

Hostilities recommenced in the year following the treaty, B.C. 310. They were precipitated by the breach which took place between Antigonus and his nephew Ptolemy, who had been employed by him against Cassander in Greece. Ptolemy Lagi was the first to take up arms. Complaining that Antigonus had not withdrawn his garrisons from the Greek cities of Asia Minor, he undertook to liberate them. Antigonus, on his side, complained that Cassander did not withdraw his garrisons from tile cities of European Greece. Thus the war was renewed, nominally for the freedom of Greece. In reality, the contest was for supremacy on the part of Antigonus, for independence on that of the satraps; and the only question with respect to Greece was, who should be her master.

The conquerors at Ipsus, Seleucus and Lysimachus, divided the dominions of Alexander afresh. As was natural, they took to themselves the lion's share. The greater part of Asia Minor was made over to Lysimachus. Seleucus received Cappadocia, part of Phrygia, Upper Syria, Mesopotamia, and the valley of the Euphrates. Cilicia was given to Cassander's brother, Pleistarchus. Neither Cassander himself nor Ptolemy received any additions to their dominions.

War had now raged over most of the countries conquered by Alexander for the space of twenty years. The loss of lives and the consumption of treasure had been immense. Greece, Asia Minor, Cyprus, and Syria, which had been the chief scenes of conflict, must have suffered especially. Nowhere had there been much attempt at organization or internal improvements, the attention of the rulers having been continually fixed on military affairs. Still, the evils of constant warfare had been, out of Greece at any rate, partly counterbalanced by the foundation of large and magnificent cities, intended partly as indications of the wealth and greatness of their founders, partly as memorials to hand down their names to after ages; by the habits of military discipline imparted to a certain number of the Asiatics ; and by the spread of the Greek language and of Greek ideas over most of Western Asia and North-eastern Africa. The many dialects of Asia Minor died away and completely disappeared before the tongue of the conqueror; which, even where it did not wholly oust the vernacular (as in Egypt, in Syria, and in Upper Asia), stood beside it and above it as the language of the ruling classes and of the educated, generally intelligible to such persons from the shores of the Adriatic to the banks of the Indus, and from the Crimea to Elephantine. Knowledge rapidly progressed ; for not only did the native histories of Egypt, Babylon, Phoenicia, Judaea, and other Eastern countries become now for the first time really known to the Greeks, but the philosophic thought and the accumulated scientific stores of the most advanced Oriental nations were thrown open to them, and Greek intelligence was able to employ itself on materials of considerable value, which had hitherto been quite inaccessible. A great advance was made in the sciences of mathematics, astronomy, geography, ethnology, and natural history, partly through this opening up of Oriental stores, partly through the enlarged acquaintance with the world and its phenomena which followed on the occupation by the Greeks of vast tracts previously untrodden by Europeans. Commerce, too, in spite of the unsettled state of the newly-occupied countries, extended its operations. On the other hand, upon Greece itself familiarity with Asiatic ideas and modes of life produced a debasing effect. The Oriental habits of servility and adulation superseded the old free-spoken independence and manliness; patriotism and public spirit disappeared; luxury increased; literature lost its vigor; art deteriorated; and the people sank into a nation of pedants, parasites, and adventurers.

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