Alexandria's founded by Alexander

Alexandria's founded by Alexander the Great (by year BC): 334 Alexandria in Troia (Turkey) - 333 Alexandria at Issus/Alexandrette (Iskenderun, Turkey) - 332 Alexandria of Caria/by the Latmos (Alinda, Turkey) - 331 Alexandria Mygdoniae - 331 Alexandria (Egypt) - 330 Alexandria in Areia (Herat, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria of the Prophthasia/in Dragiana/Phrada (Farah, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Caucasus (Begram, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria of the Paropanisades (Ghazni, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria Eschate or Ultima (Khodjend, Tajikistan) - 329 Alexandria on the Oxus (Ai-Khanoum, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria in Margiana (Merv, Turkmenistan) - 326 Alexandria Nicaea (on the Hydaspes, India) - 326 Alexandria Bucephala (on the Hydaspes, India) - 325 Alexandria Sogdia - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria on the Indus - 325 Alexandria Xylinepolis (Patala, India) - 325 Alexandria in Carminia (Gulashkird, Iran) - 324 Alexandria-on-the-Tigris/Antiochia-in-Susiana/Charax (Spasinou Charax on the Tigris, Iraq) - ?Alexandria of Carmahle? (Kahnu)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Philip’s Apogee and his Assassination - Macedonia forged by Philip II - 16

Philip’s Apogee and his Assassination (336 BC)
Knowing Philip, he would never leave anything to chance if he could avoid it. So, in order to stay on good terms with his wife’s brother, Alexander of Epirus, after he had given shelter to his wife, he decided that a wedding with his own daughter Cleopatra would do the trick (yes, Cleopatra was going to marry her uncle).

It was July 336 BC when the big celebration took place at Aegae, widely attended by delegations from all the Greek states, the Macedonian nobility and even common people. Philip could afford to show off now that he was hegemon of all the Greek states, just had fathered a baby girl Europa with his last wife, and had already an advance army force securing the front lines in Asia. On top of all that, he now had consolidated his back in Epirus.

The day after the wedding proper was reserved for athletic games, to be opened with a grand procession in the theatre. Statues of the twelve Olympian gods were carried inside, followed by one of Philip himself (probably meaning that he placed himself among the gods). When everyone was seated, Philip arrived flanked by the two Alexanders: his son and his son-in-law (Alexander of Epirus) who was also his brother-in-law, but he made his entry into the theatre alone, dismissing even the royal bodyguards. He certainly wanted to show the world his full power as he walked under the protection of the gods. Suddenly Pausanias, one of the old-time guards emerged and stabbed Philip in the chest, a mortal blow. King Philip II of Macedonia died forty-six years old.

My story about Philip should end here, but I can’t avoid the logical questions that follows: who was really behind this murder and what was the true reason for it? Already in antiquity speculations have ran high and they are still ongoing in our modern times. We’ll most probably never know the truth, but then do we know the truth about recent assassinations like the one of President John Kennedy or President Hariri of Lebanon? Anyway, I’ll try to sift out a number of facts and figures.

Let’s first take a closer look at this Pausanias. He was one of Philip’s bodyguards and for some time even his lover. But the king ended the relationship and took another lover, also by the name of Pausanias. Our murderer was very unhappy being rejected, of course, mocking and calling names to the new lover, who confided his grief and jealousy to his friend Attalus, the warrant of Cleopatra, Philip's last wife. After the new lover Pausanias sacrificed himself on the battlefield for king and country, it seems that Attalus decided to avenge his friend and arranged a gang-rape at his own house after which he handed the unhappy victim over to the slaves to repeat the humiliation. Pausanias in his despair complained to king Philip, who did nothing more than promoting Pausanias to his personal guard for he was already in the process of planning his campaign to Asia where he needed Attalus. When Attalus was promoted to commander in the  Asian force and later became Philip’s father-in-law, it is not difficult to see Pausanias’ increased anger and resentment to both Philip and Attalus.

Now both Diodorus and Justin mention that after murdering Philip, Pausanias was running towards waiting horses (not one horse but more than one) to escape. This may implicate that more than the one murder was planned and in view of the above the other person might well have been Attalus. Yet who would/could have been the other murderer?

All this would imply that Pausanias assassinated his king for personal reasons, but what if he acted by order of Queen Olympias or/and Prince Alexander? When Philip decided to marry Attalus’ adopted niece, tension between him and Olympias rose to the point that she left the court and sought refuge with her brother in Epirus. At that same time, Alexander had fled Macedonia also and went to neighboring Illyria. They both may have planned revenge, although this is pure speculation and nothing has ever been proved unless we consider that the executor Pausanias comes from Orestis which had close relations with Epirus and Illyria. Olympias may simply have believed the young man and encouragement him in view of her own relationship with Philip or did she really want her son to rule Macedonia instead of her husband? I doubt the last.


[Picture from Oliver Stone's movie Alexander]

As to Alexander, we know he recently had suffered his father’s humiliation in the Pixodarus affair and he certainly will have taken his mother’s resentment about Philip’s wedding to Cleopatra closely at heart. Would that be reason enough to have his own father killed? Not for Alexander as we learn to know him during his own reign where he has given ample proof of his magnanimity. But then there are rumors that Alexander would not participate in his father’s campaign east but stay home as regent of Macedonia and fulfill the role of deputy hegemon of the League of Corinth. Philip formed a clique with Parmenion, Antipater and Attalus of which Alexander was excluded as these generals were bound together by several intermarriages. I am certain it was never Philip’s intention to belittle his son’s role in his own plans, for he desperately needed someone he could and would fully trust back home while fighting the Persians. Yet Alexander, young (he would soon turn twenty) and ambitious as he was may have felt left out when his father was going to conquer new territories and he would sit idle in Macedonia. Enough reason to kill the king? Personally, I can’t believe it but I guess everybody will draw his own conclusions.

As it turned out, the year 336 BC was filled with far-reaching events which were to change history for ever. King Philip II was dead. Long live King Alexander III – but that’s an other story.

Click here to read the full story about Philip II from the beginning

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