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Alexander the Great (356—323 bc) king of Macedon 336–323

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(c. 355—281 bc)

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Macedonian from Pella (late sources wrongly allege Thessalian origins), was prominent in the entourage of Alexander the Great, achieving the rank of Bodyguard by 328. At Babylon (323) he received Thrace as his province, establishing himself with some difficulty against the Thracian dynast, Seuthes (322). He consolidated his power in the eastern coastal districts, suppressing a revolt among the Black Sea cities (313) and founding Lysimacheia in the Chersonese as a bulwark against the Odrysian monarchy (309). Though he assumed royal titulature (306/5), he made no mark in the wars of the Successors until in 302 he invaded Asia Minor and fought the delaying campaign against Antigonus the One-eyed which enabled Seleucus I to bring up his army for the decisive battle of Ipsus (301). His reward was the lands of Asia Minor north of the Taurus, the source of immense wealth, which he husbanded with legendary tight-fistedness and a degree of fiscal rapacity. These new reserves (Pergamum alone held 9,000 talents) supported his impressive coinage and allowed him to consolidate in Europe, where he extended his boundaries north until he was captured by the Getic king, Dromichaetes, and forced to surrender his Transdanubian acquisitions (292). In 287 he joined Pyrrhus in expelling Demetrius the Besieger from Macedon and two years later occupied the entire kingdom. His writ now ran from the Epirote borders to the Taurus, but dynastic intrigue proved his nemesis, when he killed his heir, Agathocles, at the instigation of his second wife, Arsinoë II, and alienated his nobility (283). Seleucus was invited to intervene and again invaded Asia Minor. The decisive battle at Corupedium (c.January 281) cost Lysimachus his life. Asia passed to the Seleucids while Macedonia dissolved into anarchy.

Albert Brian Bosworth

Subjects: Classical studies

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