Antipater (c. 400 319) was a
Macedonian general and statesman under kings Philip II of Macedon and Alexander
the Great, and father of King Cassander. In 320, he became regent of all of
Alexander the Great's Empire but died the next year; he had named an officer
named Polyperchon as his successor instead of his son Cassander, and a
two-year-long power struggle ensued.
Career under Philip and Alexander:
Nothing is known of his early career until 342, when he was appointed by Philip
to govern Macedon as his regent while the former left for three years of hard
and successful campaigning against Thracian and Scythian tribes, which extended
Macedonian rule as far as the Hellespont. In 342, when the Athenians tried to
assume control of the Euboean towns and expel the pro-Macedonian rulers, he
sent Macedonian troops to stop them. In the autumn of the same year, Antipater
went to Delphi, as Philip's representative in the Amphictyonic League, a
religious organization to which Macedon had been admitted in 346. After the
triumphal Macedonian victory at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338, Antipater was sent as
ambassador to Athens (337336) to negotiate a peace treaty and return the
bones of the Athenians who had fallen in the battle. He started as a great
friend to both the young Alexander and the boy's mother, Olympias, and aided
Alexander in the struggle to secure his succession after Philip's death, in
He joined Parmenion in advising Alexander the Great not to set out on his
Asiatic expedition until he had provided by marriage for the succession to the
throne. On the king's departure in 334, he was left regent in Macedonia and
made "general (strategos) of Europe", positions he held until 323.
The European front was to prove initially quite agitated, and Antipater also
had to send reinforcements to the king, as he did while the king was at Gordium
in the winter of 334333. The Persian fleet under Memnon of Rhodes and
Pharnabazus was apparently a considerable danger for Antipater, bringing war in
the Aegean sea and threatening war in Europe. Luckily for the regent, Memnon
died during the siege of Mytilene on the isle of Lesbos and the remaining fleet
dispersed in 333, after Alexander's victory at the Battle of
More dangerous enemies were nearer home; tribes in Thrace rebelled in 332, led
by Memnon of Thrace, the Macedonian governor of the region, followed shortly by
the revolt of Agis III, king of Sparta. The Spartans, who were not members of
the League of Corinth and had not participated in Alexander's expedition, saw
in the Asian campaign the long-awaited chance to take back control over the
Peloponnese after the disastrous defeats at the Battle of Leuctra and Battle of
Mantinea. The Persians generously funded Sparta's ambitions, making possible
the formation of an army 20,000 strong. After assuming virtual control of
Crete, Agis tried to build an anti-Macedonian front. While Athens remained
neutral, the Achaeans, Arcadians and Elis became his allies, with the important
exception of Megalopolis, the staunchly anti-Spartan capital of Arcadia. In 331
Agis started to besiege the city with his entire army, forcing Antipater to
So to not have two enemies simultaneously, Antipater pardoned Memnon and even
let him keep his office in Thrace, while great sums of money were sent to him
by Alexander. This helped to create, with Thessalian help and many mercenaries,
a force double that of Agis, which Antipater in person led south in 330 to
confront the Spartans. In the spring of that year, the two armies clashed near
Megalopolis. Agis fell with many of his best soldiers, but not without
inflicting heavy losses on the Macedonians. Utterly defeated, the Spartans sued
for peace; the latter's answer was to negotiate directly with the League of
Corinth, but the Spartan emissaries preferred to treat directly with Alexander,
who imposed on Sparta's allies a penalty of 120 talents and the entrance of
Sparta in the league.
Alexander appears to have been quite jealous of Antipater's victory; according
to Plutarch, the king wrote in a letter to his viceroy: "It seems, my
friends that while we have been conquering Darius here, there has been a battle
of mice in Arcadia". Antipater was disliked for supporting oligarchs and
tyrants in Greece, but he also worked with the League of Corinth, built by
Philip. In addition, his previously close relationship with the ambitious
Olympias greatly deteriorated. Whether from jealousy or from the necessity of
guarding against the evil consequences of the dissension between Olympias and
Antipater, in 324, Alexander ordered the latter to lead fresh troops into Asia,
while Craterus, in charge of discharged veterans returning home, was appointed
to take over the regency in Macedon.
When Alexander suddenly died in Babylon in 323 however, Antipater was able to
forestall the transfer of power. Some later historians, such as Justin in his
Historia Philippicae et Totius Mundi Origines et Terrae Situs blamed Antipater
for the death of Alexander, accusing him of murdering him through poison.
However, this view is disputed by most historians and Alexander is believed to
have died of natural causes.
The fight for succession:
The new regent, Perdiccas, left Antipater in control of Greece. Antipater faced
wars with Athens, Aetolia, and Thessaly that made up the
Lamian War, in which
southern Greeks attempted to re-assert their political autonomy. He defeated
them at the Battle of Crannon in 322, with
Craterus' help, and broke up the coalition. As part of this he imposed
oligarchy upon Athens and demanded the surrender of Demosthenes, who committed
suicide to escape capture. Later in the same year Antipater and Craterus were
engaged in a war against the Aetolians when he received the news from Antigonus
in Asia Minor that Perdiccas contemplated making himself outright ruler of the
empire. Antipater and Craterus accordingly concluded peace with the Aetolians
and went to war against Perdiccas, allying themselves with Ptolemy, the satrap
of Egypt. Antipater crossed over to Asia in 321. While still in Syria, he
received information that Perdiccas had been murdered by his own soldiers.
Craterus fell in battle against Eumenes (Diodorus xviii. 25-39).
Regent of the Empire:
In the treaty of Triparadisus (321), Antipater participated in a new division
of Alexander's great kingdom. He appointed himself supreme regent of all
Alexander's empire and was left in Greece as guardian of Alexander's son
Alexander IV and his disabled brother Philip III. Having quelled a mutiny of
his troops and commissioned Antigonus to continue the war against Eumenes and
the other partisans of Perdiccas, Antipater returned to Macedonia, arriving
there in 320 (Justin xiii. 6). Soon after, he was seized by an illness which
terminated his active career.
Death and struggle for succession:
Antipater died of old age in 319, at the age of 81. By his side was his son
Cassander. Controversially, Antipater did not appoint Cassander to succeed him
as regent, citing as the reason for his decision Cassander's relative youth (at
the time of Antipater's passing, Cassander was 36). Over Cassander, Antipater
chose the aged officer
Polyperchon as regent. Cassander became indignant at this, believing that
he'd earned the right to become regent by virtue of his loyalty and experience.
Thus he appealed to general Antigonus to assist him in battling Polyperchon for
the position. In 317, after two years of war with Polyperchon, Cassander
emerged victorious. Cassander would go on to rule Macedonia for nineteen years,
first as regent and later as king, ultimately founding the Antipatrid dynasty.
Antipater was one of the sons of a Macedonian nobleman called Iollas or Iolaus
and his family were distant collateral relatives to the Argead dynasty.
Antipater was originally from the Macedonian city of Paliura; had a brother
called Cassander;] was the paternal uncle of Cassander's child Antigone and was
the maternal great uncle of Berenice I of Egypt.
Antipater had ten children from various unknown wives.
His daughters were: Phila, wife of Balacrus, Craterus and Demetrius I of
Macedon. Eurydice, wife of Ptolemy I Soter. Her son Meleager would rule
Macedonia for two months in 279. Nicaea, wife of Perdiccas and Lysimachus.
His sons were: Iollas Cassander, King of Macedonia Pleistarchus, a general and
governor in his brother's service. Phillip, also a military commander under his
brother. Nicanor Alexarchus Triparadeisus
Antipater was a senior Macedonian general
under both Philip II and Alexander the Great. He outlived Alexander, and played
an important role in holding his empire together until his death of natural
causes in 319. He was a conservative Macedonian, apparently unenthusiastic for
Alexanders adventures in Asia, but loyal to the royal family. He was also
a close friend and correspondent of Aristotle.
Under Philip he performed military and diplomatic roles. In 347-6 he served as
the head of Philips embassy to Athens, helping to negotiate a peace
between Macedonia and Athens. In 346 he took part in Philips invasion of
Thrace, where he was involved in fighting against the mountain tribes of
Rhodope. In 338 he one again led an embassy to Athens, after another war
between Macedonia and a group of Greek cities. In 336 Philip II was murdered.
In the confused period immediately after the event, Antipater helped to
establish Alexander on the throne, presenting him to the Macedonian army, who
acclaimed Alexander as king. When Alexander embarked on his great expedition
into Asia, Antipater was appointed as governor of Macedonia and general of
Europe, holding these posts from 334 to the death of Alexander in 323, and
effectively retaining them until his own death four years later.
Antipater acted as a regent with full royal authority over the European part of
Alexanders empire. He was president of the synedrion of the Corinthian
league, the mechanism by which Philip had exercised his power in Greece. His
job was to maintain the peace in Greece, and allow Alexander to carry out his
plans without having to worry about his base. He generally sided with tyrants
and oligarchies in Greece, correctly believing them to be better allies than
the democracies, whose mood could change dramatically in a short period of
time. Antipater was also a military commander. In 331 he was faced by a revolt
in Thrace that threatened the land link to Asia. While Antipater with his
entire army was in Thrace, a more serious threat emerged in the Peloponnese.
Sparta had retained her independence, but had lost land, weakening the basis of
her power. In the summer of 331 King Agis III of
Sparta launched an open revolt against the settlement of Greece, with the aim
of regaining Spartas lost possessions. Agis raised an army of 20,000
infantry and 2,000 cavalry, but he was unable to persuade Athens to join the
revolt. He was effectively confined to the Peloponnese.
In 330 Antipater was free to respond, moving south with an army 40,000 strong.
Agis was defeated and killed in battle at Megalopolis and the revolt crushed.
Towards the end of Alexanders life his relationship with Antipater
appears to have been under some strain. Antipater had been reluctant to send
Macedonian reinforcements to Alexander, possibly because he needed them at
home. He had also alienated Alexanders mother Olympias, who went into
voluntary exile at Epirus, from where she undermined Antipater whenever
In 324 Antipater was summoned to join Alexander. At the same time Craterus was
dispatched back to Macedonia with orders to replace him as regent of Macedonia.
Antipater did not obey the summons, sending his son Cassander in his place.
This was not an entirely successful move - Alexander was hostile to Cassander
and when Alexander died in 323 it was rumoured that Antipater had sent his son
to Babylon to poison the emperor.
In the aftermath of Alexanders death, his marshals gathered at Babylon to
decide the immediate fate of the empire. Neither Antipater nor Craterus were
present at Babylon, but the successors needed Antipaters prestige.
Accordingly he was confirmed as regent of Macedonia and Greece. Antipater,
Craterus and Perdiccas made up a triumvirate holding what would have been the
most important posts if Alexanders empire had held together. The eventual
separation of the empire into distinct kingdoms began at Babylon with the
appointment of the satraps. Officially these men were ruling their provinces in
the name of the kings, whose authority was being exercised by the regents
Perdiccas and Antipater, but even in 323 Ptolemy at least already had his eye
on an independent kingdom in Egypt.
Antipater was perhaps the best placed of the regents, having a geographical
powerbase of his own in Macedonia. However, he was immediately faced by a
crisis in Greece. A coalition of Greek cities led by Athens responded to the
death of Alexander with another revolt against Macedonian rule (Lamian War). This time they
had the money to raise a large army and the end of Alexanders war in
Persia had created a large pool of unemployed mercenaries. Antipater found
himself besieged in the town of Lamia, from where he issued a call for help.
Help came from two of his fellow marshals. First to respond was Leonnatus, but
he was killed in a cavalry battle. Craterus also responded,
initially at sea, where a fleet commandeered by Cleitus defeated
the Athenian fleet at Amorgos (and this) in 322. Craterus then shipped his army
from Asia Minor to Greece, joining Antipater in time to take part in the battle
of Crannon. The rebel army was defeated.
Faced with the prospect of a siege, Athens surrendered.
Antipater responded to the revolt by abolishing the democracy in Athens.
Antipater made an attempt to tie Alexanders marshals together by
marriage. He had three daughters, each of whom married one or more of the
successors. Phila married Craterus, and then Demetrius. Her children with
Demetrius founded a Macedonian royal dynasty. Nicaea married Perdiccas and then
Lysimachus. Both his daughter Eurydice and his granddaughter Berenice would
marry Ptolemy, with Eurydices children ruling Egypt until the fall of
The following year saw the first open fighting between the successors (First Diadoch War). This was triggered by the
actions of Perdiccas, who was suspected of wanting the Macedonian throne
himself. He was seriously considered repudiating Antipaters daughter
Nicaea in favour of Alexanders sister Cleopatra. An alliance soon formed
between Antipater, Antigonus, Craterus and Ptolemy. In the resulting fighting
Perdiccas was murdered and Craterus killed in battle. The settlement agreed at
Babylon was dead.
A new agreement was made at Triparadisus (320). Antipater had already been
appointed as regent to the monarchy before even reaching Triparadisus, giving
him the powers originally held by Perdiccas and Craterus. He then rearranged
the satrapies, and returned to Macedonia with the two kings. The settlement of
Triparadisus lasted no longer than that of Babylon. It depended on Antipater to
hold it together, but he was already in his late seventies. In 319 he died of
natural causes (something he shared with only two of the more important
successors - Ptolemy and Cassander).
His last action was to recommend
Polyperchon, a fellow
old soldier, as his replacement as epimeletes of the kings. His son
Cassander was naturally
furious and formed an alliance with Ptolemy, Antigonus and Lysimachus to depose
Polyperchon, triggering the Second Diadoch