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Demetrius Poliorcetes


Demetrius Poliorcetes. Louvre, Paris (France). Photo Jona Lendering.
Demetrius Poliorcetes (Louvre, Paris)
Demetrius Poliorcetes (337-283): king of ancient Macedonia, ruled 294-288.

Relatives:

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emetrius with bull's horns, the symbol of the sea-god Poseidon. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (United States). Photo Marco Prins.
Demetrius with bull's horns, the symbol of the sea-god Poseidon (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

Main deeds:

  • 337/336: Birth
  • 320: Marries Phila
  • 314: Demetrius' father Antigonus has become too powerful: outbreak of the Third Diadoch War (Cassander, Ptolemy Soter, and Lysimachus against Antigonus and Demetrius); Antigonus declares the Freedom of Greece (text)
  • 313: Antigonus captures Tyre; the Peloponnese sides with Antigonus
  • 312: Ptolemy defeats Demetrius near Gaza
  • 311: Seleucus liberates Babylon (May; text); Demetrius fights against the Nabataeans (summer); the Peace of the Dynasts makes an end to the Third Diadoch War, and leaves Antigonus breathing space to declare the Babylonian War (December)
  • 310: Seleucus defeats Demetrius (spring; text); Antigonus in Babylonia (autumn)
  • 309: Seleucus decisively beats Antigonus (text)
  • 307: Outbreak of the Fourth Diadoch War (Ptolemy and Cassander against Antigonus and Demetrius); Demetrius liberates Athens and expels its ruler, Demetrius of Phaleron; the liberator is recognized as god (text)
  • 306: Demetrius defeats Ptolemy off Salamis (Cyprus); Antigonus and Demetrius accept the royal title (text)
  • 305-304: Demetrius is unable to capture Rhodes (text); he earns the nickname Poliorcetes, 'besieger of cities'
  • 303: Returns to Greece, attacks Cassander in Thessaly; foundation of Halos (text)

Bust of Demetrius Poliorcetes from the Villa of the Papyri, Herculaneum. National Archaeological Museum, Naples (Italy). Photo Marco Prins.
Bust of Demetrius Poliorcetes from the Villa of the Papyri, Herculaneum (National Archaeological Museum, Naples)
  • Cassander and Ptolemy open negotiations, which Antigonus declines
  • 302: Lysimachus invades Asia Minor; he receives support from Cassander and Seleucus
  • 301:Battle of Ipsus; death of Antigonus. Asia Minor is for Lysimachus; Asia for Seleucus; Ptolemy seizes Coele Syria; Demetrius keeps the islands.
  • Demetrius allies himself to Seleucus (who marries to Stratonice)
  • 295/294: Demetrius reconquers Athens
  • 294: Becomes king of Macedonia (text), loses distant ports; builds a new capital, Demetrias
  • Conflict with Pyrrhus of Epirus; his wife Lanassa leaves him and marries to Demetrius, who obtains Corcyra
  • 288: Joint attack on Macedonia by Lysimachus and Pyrrhus; Demetrius abandons Europe (leaving his son Antigonus II Gonatas) and attacks Lysimachus' Asian possessions; he marches to the east and surrenders to Seleucus; his wife Phila commits suicide
  • 283: Drinks himself to death

Portrait of Demetrius Poliorcetes. Louvre, Paris (France). Photo Marco Prins.
Demetrius Poliorcetes (Louvre, Paris)

Succeeded by: Antigonus II Gonatas (only in Greece)

Literature

  • C. Wehrli, Antigone et Démétrios (1968)
  • P.V. Wheatley, "The Lifespan of Demetrius Poliorcetes" in: Historia 46 (1997), 19-27
  • P.V. Wheatley, "The Antigonid Campaign in Cyprus, 306 B.C." in: Ancient Society 31 (2001) 133-56


This page was prepared to offer background information to the real articles on Livius.Org. One day, it will be improved. A list of completed articles can be found here.
© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2006
Revision: 16 Dec. 2006
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