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Events after Alexander

Bust of Alexander the Great, from Delos, now in the Louvre, Paris (France). Photo Marco Prins.
Bust of Alexander the Great, from Delos, now in the Louvre.
Arrian of Nicomedia (c.87 - after 145): Greek historian and senator of the Roman empire, author of several historical studies. His best-known work is the Anabasis, which deals with Alexander the Great.

On this page, you will find a Byzantine excerpt of the Events after Alexander, made by
Photius (c.815-897). He was one of the greatest scholars of the Byzantine world, and patriarch of Constantinople between 858-867 and 878-886. One of his main publications is the Myrobiblion, a collection of 280 excerpts of all kinds of literature on every possible subject. He quotes various sources: the Acts of the Councils, the stories about martyrs, but also pagan authors.

Here is the text of Photius' excerpts from
Arrian's Events after Alexander, in the translation by J.H. Freese.

The Events after Alexander

The same author [Arrian] also wrote an account of what took place after Alexander's death, in ten books.

He describes the sedition in the army, the proclamation of Arridaeus (the son of Alexander's father, Philip, by a Thracian woman named Philinna) on condition that Roxane's child, when born, if it were a son, should share the throne with him. Arridaeus was then again proclaimed under the name of Philip.

A quarrel broke out between the infantry and the cavalry. The chief and most influential commanders of the latter were Perdiccas the son of Orontes, Leonnatus the son of Anthes, Ptolemy the son of Lagus, Lysimachus the son of Agathocles, Aristonus the son of Pisaeus, Peithon the son of Crateuas, Seleucus the son of Antiochus, and Eumenes of Cardia. Meleager was in command of the infantry.

Communications passed between them, and at length it was agreed between the infantry, who had already chosen a king, and the cavalry, that Antipater should be general of the forces in Europe; that Craterus should look after the kingdom of Arridaeus ; that Perdiccas should be chiliarch of the troops which had been under the command of Hephaestion, which amounted to entrusting him with the care of the whole empire; and that Meleager should be his lieutenant.

Perdiccas, under the pretense of reviewing the army, seized the ringleaders of the disturbance, and put them to death in the presence of Arridaeus, as if he had ordered it. This struck terror into the rest, and Meleager was soon afterwards murdered. After this Perdiccas became the object of general suspicion and himself suspected everybody. Nevertheless, he made appointments to the governorships of the different provinces, as if Arridaeus had ordered him.

Ptolemy, son of Lagus, was appointed governor of Egypt and Libya, and of that part of Arabia that borders upon Egypt, with Cleomenes, formerly governor of Egypt under Alexander, as his deputy. The part of Syria adjacent was given to Laomedon; Cilicia to Philotas; Media to Peithon; Cappadocia, Paphlagonia, and the country on the shore of the Euxine as far as Trapezus (a Greek colony from Sinope), to Eumenes of Cardia; Pamphylia, Lycia, and Greater Phrygia to Antigonus; Caria to Cassander; Lydia to Menander; Hellespontine Phrygia to Leonnatus. This Phrygia had formerly been given by Alexander to a certain Galas and subsequently handed over to Demarchus. Such was the distribution of Asia.

In Europe, Thrace and the Chersonese, together with the countries bordering on Thrace as far as Salmydessus on the Euxine, were given to Lysimachus; the country beyond Thrace, as far as the Illyrians, Triballians, and Agrianians, Macedonia itself, and Epirus as far as the Ceraunian mountains, together with the whole of Greece, to Craterus and Antipater. Such was the division of Europe. At the same time several provinces remained under their native rulers, according to the arrangement made by Alexander, and were not affected by the distribution.

Meanwhile, Roxane bore a son [Alexander IV], who was immediately acclaimed king by the soldiers.

After the death of Alexander there were numerous disturbances. Antipater carried on war against the Athenians and the rest of the Greeks commanded by Leosthenes. He was at first defeated and in great straits, but was subsequently victorious. Leonnatus, however, who came to his assistance, fell in battle. Lysimachus also, recklessly fighting against Seuthes the Thracian with an inferior force, was defeated, although his troops greatly distinguished themselves. 

Perdiccas also made war upon Ariarathes, king of Cappadocia, because he refused to give up his kingdom to Eumenes, upon whom it had been bestowed. Having defeated him in two battles and taken him prisoner, he hanged him and reinstated Eumenes. Craterus, by the assistance he rendered to Antipater against the Greeks, chiefly contributed to their defeat, after which they unhesitatingly obeyed Craterus and Antipater. This is the contents of the first five books.

The sixth book relates how Demosthenes and Hyperides, Aristonicus of Marathon and Himeraeus, the brother of Demetrius of Phaleron, fled to Aegina, and, while there, were condemned to death by the Athenians on the motion of Demades, and how Antipater carried out the sentence. How Archias the Thurian, who put them to death, died in the utmost poverty and disgrace. How Demades was soon afterwards sent to Macedonia, where he was put to death by Cassander, after his son had been murdered in his arms. Cassander alleged in excuse that Demades had once insulted his father, Antipater, in a letter which he wrote to Perdiccas, begging him to rescue the Greeks, who were only held together by an old and rotten thread, as he abusively called Antipater. Dinarchus of Corinth was the accuser of Demades, who paid the just penalty for his venality, treachery, and unfaithfulness.

The author also relates how Harpalus, who during the lifetime of Alexander had stolen money belonging to him and fled to Athens, was slain by Thibron the Lacedaemonian. Thibron seized all the money that remained, and set out for Cydonia in Crete, whence he crossed over to Cyrene with a body of 6000 men, at the request of some exiles from Cyrene and Barca. After many engagements and mutual intrigues, in which he was sometimes successful and sometimes unsuccessful, he was finally captured during his flight by some Libyan drivers, and taken to Epicydes the Olynthian at Teuchira, which had been entrusted to him by Ophellas a Macedonian, whom Ptolemy the son of Lagus had sent to help the Cyrenaeans. The inhabitants, by permission of Ophelias, first tortured Thibron and then sent him to the port of Cyrene to be hanged. But since the Cyrenaeans still persisted in their revolt, Ptolemy in person visited the place, and after having restored order, sailed home again.

Perdiccas, intriguing against Antigonus, called him to judgment, but Antigonus, aware of the plot, refused to appear.  This led to enmity between them. At the same time Iollas and Archias came to Perdiccas from Macedonia, accompanied by Nicaea, the daughter of Antipater, with a proposal of marriage. Olympias, the mother of Alexander the Great, also sent to him, offering him the hand of her daughter Cleopatra. Eumenes of Cardia favored Cleopatra, but his brother Alcetas persuaded him to accept Nicaea.

Soon afterwards Cynane was put to death by Perdiccas and his brother Alcetas. This Cynane was the daughter of Philip, the father of Alexander, her mother being Eurydice, the wife of Amyntas, whom Alexander put to death just before he set out for Asia. This Amyntas was the son of Perdiccas the brother of Philip, so that he was the cousin of Alexander. 

Cynane brought her daughter Adea (afterwards called Eurydice) to Asia and offered her hand to Arridaeus. The marriage subsequently took place, with the approval of Perdiccas, to appease the increasing indignation of the soldiery, which had been aroused by the death of Cynane.

Antigonus, in the meantime, took refuge with Antipater and Craterus in Macedonia, informed them of the intrigues of Perdiccas against him, declaring that they were directed against all alike. He also described the death of Cynane in such exaggerated terms that he persuaded them to make war on Perdiccas. Arridaeus, who kept the body of Alexander with him, contrary to the wish of Perdiccas, took it from Babylon by way of Damascus to Ptolemy the son of Lagus in Egypt; and though often hindered on his journey by Polemon, a friend of Perdiccas, nevertheless succeeded in carrying out his intention.

Meanwhile, Eumenes conveyed gifts from Perdiccas to Cleopatra at Sardes, since Perdiccas had decided to repudiate Nicaea and to marry Cleopatra. When this became known to Antigonus through Menander the governor of Lydia, he informed Antipater and Craterus, who were more than ever determined to make war on Perdiccas. Antipater and Craterus, starting from the Chersonese, crossed the Hellespont, having previously sent messengers to deceive those who guarded the passage. They also sent ambassadors to Eumenes and Neoptolemus, who supported Perdiccas; Neoptolemus went over to them, but Eumenes refused.

Neoptolemus being suspected by Eumenes, war broke out between them, in which Eumenes was victorious. Neoptolemus fled with a few men to Antipater and Craterus, and succeeded in persuading the latter to join him; so both made war against Eumenes. Eumenes did his best to prevent his own men from knowing that Craterus was fighting against him, being afraid that, influenced by his great reputation, they might either desert to him, or, if they remained faithful to him, might lose heart. Successful in scheming, he was also successful in battle. Neoptolemus fell by the hand of Eumenes "the secretary" himself, after having proved himself a brave soldier and commander. Craterus, who fought boldly against all who opposed him and showed himself openly in order to be known, was slain by some Paphlagonians before he was recognized, although he had thrown off his hat. However, the infantry escaped and returned to Antipater, which considerably reassured him.

Perdiccas, setting out from Damascus to make war upon Ptolemy the son of Lagus, reached Egypt with the kings and a large force. He made many charges against Ptolemy, who publicly cleared himself, so that the accusations appeared ill-founded. Perdiccas, notwithstanding the opposition of his troops, decided to carry on the war. He was twice defeated, and, having treated those who were inclined to go over to Ptolemy with great severity, and in other respects behaved in camp more arrogantly than became a general, he was slain by his own cavalry during an engagement.

After his death Ptolemy crossed the Nile to visit the kings, upon whom he bestowed gifts and treated them with the utmost kindness and attention, as well as the other Macedonians of rank. At the same time he openly showed sympathy with the friends of Perdiccas, and did all he could to allay the apprehensions of those Macedonians who imagined they were in peril, so that at once and ever afterwards he was held in great esteem.

At a full council of war, Peithon and Arridaeus having been appointed commanders-in-chief of all the forces for the time being, about fifty of the supporters of Eumenes and Alcetas were condemned, chiefly because Craterus had met his death in civil strife. Antigonus was summoned from Cyprus, and Antipater ordered to repair with all speed to the kings. Before they arrived, Eurydice refused to allow Peithon and Arridaeus to do anything without her permission. At first they did not demur, but afterwards told her that she had nothing to do with public affairs, and that they themselves would look after everything until the arrival of Antigonus and Antipater. When they arrived, Antigonus was placed in chief command. When the army demanded the pay that had been promised them for the campaign, Antipater replied straightforwardly that he had no money, but that, to avoid incurring their censure, he would thoroughly search the treasury and other places where money might be hidden. These words aroused the displeasure of the army.

When Eurydice joined in the accusations against Antipater, the people were indignant, and a disturbance took place. Eurydice then delivered a speech against him, in which she was assisted by Asclepiodorus the scribe and supported by Attalus. Antipater barely escaped with his life, after Antigonus and Seleucus, at his earnest request, had addressed the people on his behalf and nearly lost their lives in consequence. Antipater, having thus escaped death, withdrew to his own army, where he summoned the cavalry commanders, and after the disturbance had been put down with difficulty, he was again reinstated in his command.

He then made a division of Asia, partly confirming the earlier one and partly altering it as circumstances necessitated. Egypt, Libya, the large tract of country beyond it, and all the territory that had been conquered towards the west, was given to Ptolemy; Syria to Laomedon the Mytilenean; Cilicia to Philoxenus, who had held it before. Of the upper provinces, Mesopotamia and Arbelitis were given to Amphimachus, the king's brother; Babylonia to Seleucus. To Antigenes, commander of the Macedonian argyraspidae, who had first attacked Perdiccas, was given the whole of Susiana; to Peucestas Persis; to Tlepolemus Carmania; to Peithon Media as far as the Caspian Gate; to Philip Parthia; to Stasander the territory of the Arians and Drangians; to Stasanor of Soli, Bactria, and Sogdia; to Siburtius Arachosia; to Oxyartes the father of Roxane Parapamisus; to Peithon the son of Agenor the part of India bordering on Parapamisus. Of the adjacent provinces, that on the river Indus, together with Patala, the largest city of India in those parts, to king Porus, and that on the river Hydaspes to Taxiles the Indian, for it would have been no easy matter to displace them, since they had been confirmed in their government by Alexander, and their strength had greatly increased. Of the countries to the north of Mount Taurus, Cappadocia was assigned to Nicanor; Greater Phrygia, Lycaonia, Pamphylia, and Lycia, to Antigonus as before; Caria to Asander; Lydia to Cleitus; Phrygia on the Hellespont to Arridaeus.

Antigenes was appointed to collect the revenues in the district of Susa, 3000 of the Macedonians who were mutinously inclined being sent with him. As the king's bodyguard Antipater appointed Autolycus the son of Agathocles, Amyntas the son of Alexander and brother of Peucestas, Ptolemy the son of Ptolemy, and Alexander the son of Polyperchon. He made his own son Cassander chiliarch of the cavalry, while Antigonus received command of the forces which had formerly been under Perdiccas, together with the care and custody of the kings' persons and, at his own request, the task of finishing the war against Eumenes. Antipater, having secured the general approval of all that he had done, returned home. With this the ninth book concludes.

The tenth book relates how Eumenes, having heard what had befallen Perdiccas, and that he himself had been declared an enemy by the Macedonians, made all preparations for war; how Alcetas, the brother of Perdiccas, took refuge with him on that account; how Attalus, who had been one of the ringleaders in the insurrection against Antipater, also joined the exiles with a force of 10,000 foot and 800 horse; how Attalus and his troops attacked Cnidus, Caunus, and Rhodes. The Rhodians, under their admiral, Demaratus, completely repulsed them.

How Eumenes nearly came to blows with Antipater on his arrival at Sardes, but Cleopatra, Alexander's sister, to prevent the Macedonian people accusing her of being the cause of the war, persuaded Eumenes to leave Sardes. Notwithstanding, Antipater reviled her for her friendship with Eumenes and Perdiccas. She defended herself more vigorously than a woman could have been expected to do, brought countercharges against him, and in the end they parted amicably.

Eumenes, having unexpectedly attacked those who did not acknowledge his authority, collected much booty and money, which he distributed amongst his soldiers. He also sent messages to Alcetas and his friends, begging them to assemble all their forces in one place so that they might unitedly attack the common enemy. But differences of opinion arose amongst them, and they finally refused. Antipater, not yet daring to engage Eumenes, sent Asander against Attalus and Alcetas; after the battle had long remained undecided, Asander was defeated. Cassander was at variance with Antigonus, but by command of his father, Antipater, he abandoned his opposition.

Nevertheless, Cassander, when he met his father in Phrygia, advised him not to get too far from the kings, and to keep watch on Antigonus; but the latter, by his quiet behavior, courtesy, and good qualities, did all he could to remove suspicion. Antipater, being appeased, appointed him to the command of the forces which had crossed over with him to Asia -8500 Macedonian infantry, and the same number of foreign cavalry, together with half the elephants (that is, seventy)- to assist him in ending the war against Eumenes. Thus Antigonus began the war.

Antipater, with the kings and the rest of his forces, pretended to be going to cross over into Macedonia, but the army again mutinied and demanded their pay. Antipater promised that he would pay them when he reached Abydus, or let them have, if not the whole, at least the greater part of it. Having thus encouraged their hopes, he reached Abydus without disturbance, but having deceived the soldiers, he crossed the Hellespont by night, with the kings, to Lysimachus. On the following day the soldiers also crossed, and for the moment made no further demand for their pay. With this the tenth book ends.

This author is second to none of the best historical writers. He is very strong in concise narrative, and never impairs the continuity of the story by ill-timed digressions or parentheses; he is novel rather in arrangement than in diction, which he employs in such a manner that it would be impossible for the narrative to be set forth more clearly and perspicuously. His style is distinct, euphonious, and terse, characterized by a combination of smoothness and loftiness. His novelties of language are not merely far-fetched innovations, but are obvious and emphatic, figures of speech in reality, and not simply a change of ordinary words. The result is that not only in this respect is clearness secured, but also in the equipment, order, and nature of the narrative, which is the artistic essence of perspicuity. For straightforward periods are used even by those who are not specialists, and if this is done without anything to relieve them, the style degenerates into flatness and meanness, of which, in spite of his clearness, there are no traces in our author. He makes use of ellipsis, not of periods but of words, so that the ellipsis is not even noticed; any attempt to supply what is omitted would seem to indicate a tendency to unessential additions, and would not really fill up the gap. The variety of his rhetorical figures is admirable; they do not deviate at once altogether from simple form and usage, but are gradually interwoven from the beginning, so that they neither offend by satiety nor create confusion by sudden change. In a word, any one who compares him with other historians, will find that many classical writers are his inferior in composition.

Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2006
Revision: 20 Nov. 2007
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