Page 1

Page |1


Women of power and influence Macedonian royalty a Homeric Legacy During the Argead dynastic period of Macedonia the power and influence of barbarian women cannot be denied, while no woman could hope to rule in what was seen as a traditional Greek monarchy, they were more than willing to risk everything to ensure their families legacy.

Amos Greig Belfast History Society 7/31/2012

Page |2

Table of contents


Chapter one: marriage a double edged sword Chapter Two; Illyrian connections in the Argead Dynasty Chapter three: Eurydice I Chapter four: Cynnane Illyrian blooded Chapter five; Royal tombs and other memorials Chapter six; royal women and courtly intrigue Chapter seven: Cleopatra II and Olympias Chapter Eight: Into the Antigonid period and beyond


Page |3

Introduction During the Argead dynastic period women in the court of Macedonia appeared to have greater influence than their classical Greek counterparts. While there is no evidence which suggests that royal women ruled in the place of men there is evidence that sees royal women leading armies (Cynnane, Adea Eurydice) and being interested in the political arena Eurydice I, Olympias and Adea Eurydice). The Macedonian monarchy during the Argead period used marriage as a political tool, where Philip used several marriages to create ties with his neighbours he was following what appears to have been the rule rather than the exception. These marriage alliances played a key role in keeping Macedonia from being consumed by her aggressive and expansionistic neighbours. Perhaps these two factors combined represent why so much has been written about Macedonian women. With Olympias being the obvious example, the Athenian writers appeared to have a great antipathy towards women and this was especially true of their poems and plays three of Aristophanes plays show women in successful opposition of their men folk, Hippolytus wrote an incredibly long tirade against women;

“O Zeus, why, as a fraudulent evil for men, have you brought women into the sun? For if you wished to engender the mortal race, there was no need for women as source of supply. But in your shrines mortal men could have offered up either gold or iron or heavy weight bronze to purchase their breed of offspring, each paid in sons according to his own gifts worth, and in their homes they could live without women entirely free.”1 . What little evidence we have comes to us through a sometimes polarized and often hostile lens. In Athens women had no voice so to speak they were not allowed to participate in politics. The Macedonian’s had been either uninterested in commentating on their origins or more likely were concerned with trying to stay alive. Elizabeth Carney claims that; “Those who attempt to understand the role of women in monarchy must 1

Pomeroy pg 119

Page |4

determine the significance of silence. What, for instance, should we make of the fact that royal women in the Antigonid period are virtually invisible in the literary sources.”2 Macedonia was an unstable region surrounded by warlike tribes and often unable to maintain stability within their own region. Thucydides gives us an example of a Thracian invasion of Macedonia as well as the occupation of various mines and locations which technically were Macedonian. Their first contact with the Athenians was related to Pydna and Amphipolis Athenian colonies. Pydna was taken by Timotheus thus creating an Athenian pocket in what was technically Macedonian territory. Philip’s recovery of this territory would earn him the ire of Demosthenes. Many of the sources that we can rely on come in different formats, ranging from grain shipment lists, through to the naming of towns or islands and also the development of monuments. The Athenian orators of the time also operate as a distinct source however there is an obvious bias in their writings. Macedonia seemed to share more in common with the Homeric world tradition than the Polis and City states of her southern neighbours due in no small part to being surrounded by openly hostile enemies without and a fragmented nation within. Whilst the southern Greek City States of Athens, Corinth, Sparta and Thebes all adopted the Polis Macedonia remained a kingship one based around personal power and physical strength. The women of Macedonia and the neighbouring regions appear as more active counterparts to their Athenian and Spartan sisters especially in the case of Olympias and Arsine whose actions were at odds with perceived Hellenic expectations of women’s behaviour. These differences may well have been due to contact with the more warlike Illyrian’s, Mollosian’s and other tribes with whom the Macedonian’s had many conflicts. Women from these tribes may well have been interested in and more active in politics and thus led to Macedonian women becoming interested in politics, securing their families legacies and proved more than 2

Women and Monarchy in Macedonia p 10

Page |5

willing to fight and when necessary die for their principles. The possible power and influence of the women of this region mirrors the roles of the Queen’s of the Homeric period. In Homer’s epic the Odyssey women play an important role, whilst not the equal of their men folk they are interested in maintaining their husband’s interests. Penelope wife of Odysseus would often enter into the great hall and engaged in debate with the men there3. She also summoned people to her chambers for discussions. Her engagements with men saw her with handmaids,4 other royal women acted in a similar way and Nausicaa would also appear in her father’s halls. Comparisons’ can be made between the Bronze Age Royal women such as Penelope, Clytemnestra, Andromache and the Macedonian royal women. In the Bronze Age as well as with Macedonia familial ties were split between Matrilineal and Paterlineal bloodlines. Pomeroy suggests that in the Homeric age marriage was used in one of two ways patrilocal and matrilocal. These were “In the Patrilocal pattern the suitor brought a bride back to his own house and the bride was used as a bridge in a new alliance”5 and “ In the Matrilocal it was a roving warrior who married a princess and settled down in her kingdom”6. Macedonia appeared to have incorporated both Matrilocal and Patrilocal traditions tied to a patriarchal monarchy and this can be witnessed in the power struggles surrounding Philip’s children especially after Alexander died.

Chapter one; Marriage a double edged sword

The power of these dynasties lasted until the time that Roman expansion saw the monarchies of Macedonia expunged in 169BCE. Two dynasties in particular will be looked at namely the Argead and Antigonid dynastic periods of the fourth and third 3 4 5 6

(Odyssey 1:329-35; 4.675-714) (Odyssey. 1.331-35;4.791; 16.409-33) Pomeroy pg 32 Pomeroy pg 32

Page |6

centuries BC. The Argead dynasty appeared to have used marriage to expand outwards establishing alliances and strengthening Macedonia’s position whilst there are signs that during the Antigonid period the marriages became closed and more internalized, concerned with maintaining the bloodlines. One of the first examples of a political marriage with outsiders can be traced back to Gygaea 1 according to Herodotus “Gygaea, daughter of Amnytas I and sister of Alexander I, married Bubares son of Megabazus”7 Gygaea’s marriage helped develop ties with Persia and would not be the last marriage alliance between Persia and Macedonia. A Persian Satrap and his family lived in Macedonia during Philip’s reign and were treated as allies. During Alexander’s campaign not only would he take a Persian wife but he encouraged several of his generals to do so as well. Philip of Macedon used marriage as a political tool his marriages enabled him to ease foreign pressure on Macedon and gave him the time he needed to build Macedon into a military powerhouse. However by using marriage as a political lever Philip appears to have been continuing a long established tradition within Macedonia. Archelaus also made use of political marriages, one to a ruler from Elimeia and one to a fellow Argead. Modern scholars have studied the differences between Argead and classical Greeks one of the main features appears to be males marrying in their late twenties and women in their teens. There are several exceptions most notably Alexander married close to his thirties and Adea Eurydice married in her late teens. Carney suggests that these two marriages were for political reasons hence the difference. Both Greenwalt and Carney argue that Argead marriages were concerned with the stability linked to producing heirs “In the Argead period, the emphasis seems to have been on producing numerous heirs, probably because (apart from the high infant and childhood mortality) so many kings died fairly young and royal successions were generally 7

(Herod. 5.21)

Page |7

problematic.”8 Trying to piece together Macedonian royal marriages during the Argead and Antigonid periods outside of Philip II and Alexander is difficult at best. Carney suggests; “that in Argead times the tendency was to broaden the dynasty, not only through royal polygamy but also through other marriages involving the reigning dynasty, but that this pattern changed by the beginning of the Antigonid period.”9

What this theory suggests then is that the Macedonian ruling family used marriage to develop connections to the ruling elite both within Macedonia and without in the neighbouring states. Women could therefore be used to prevent annihilation and assimilation Thucydides gives us an example of such a reprieve; “he took the advice of his nephew Seuthes, the son of Sparadocus, who was the most important of his commanders, and retreated as quickly as he could. Seuthes had been secretly won over by Perdiccas, who had promised him his daughter in marriage and a large sum of money as well.”10 Thucydides also goes on to indicates that the Macedonian king Perdiccas kept his word and gave his daughter in marriage”11 This is a clear example of a marriage alliance being used by Macedonian royalty to turn a position of weakness into one of strength by establishing closer ties to Thrace through marriage. Thucydides clearly suggested that the Thracian rampage had decimated the countryside of Macedonia and that a harsh winter was setting in the marriage gave the country the time it needed to recover and maintain its independence. During the Antigonid period marriage contracts are developed and the position and power of women gradually changes. One example dating from the reign of Alexander son of Alexander in 311B.C. highlights a wedding between a Greek man and an Egyptian woman it is interesting to note that the licence shows that both a free and that


Carney Women and monarchy in Macedonia pg Women and Monarchy in Macedonia pg 21 10 Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War 11 Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War daughter Stratonice to Seuthes, as he had promised” alliance.



6.101 6.101 “Later Perdiccas gave his a clear example of a marriage

Page |8

only the husband and the father may decide where the new couple will live and what each can or cannot do. It is also interesting to note that the contract specifies two codes of marital behaviour “Heraclides takes as his lawful wife Demetria of Cos from her father Leptines of Cos and her mother Philotis. He is free; she is free. She brings with her to the marriage clothing and ornaments valued at a 1000 Drachmas. Heraclides shall supply Demetria all that is suitable for a freeborn wife. We shall live together in whatever place seems best to Leptines and Heraclides, deciding together If Demetria is caught in fraudulent machinations to the disgrace of her husband heraclides; she shall forfeit all that she has brought with her. But Heraclides shall prove whatever he charges against Demetria before three men whom they both approve it shall not be lawful for Heraclides to bring home another woman for himself in such a way as to inflict contumely on Demetria, nor to have children by another woman, nor to indulge in fraudulent machinations against Demetria on any pretext.” 12 Chapter Two Illyrian connections in the Argead Dynasty Athenaeus’ famous list of the wives and children of Philip II showed that he took many wives. In 355bce he had five wives and by this time his policies appear to have switched from the defensive bolstering on Macedonia, towards a military expansionistic policy. Several of these wives were not native to Macedonia and their marriages had been used to secure Macedonia these included Olympias, Meda and Audata. Athenaeus describes Philip’s marriages as follows; “Philip always married in connection to a war. Anyway, in the twenty two years in which he reigned, as Satyrus says in his Life of him, Philip, having married Audata an Illyrian woman, had by her a daughter Cynnane”13 Audata was one of Philip’s first wives and it can be assumed that his marriage to her was designed to help deal with one of the main threats facing Macedonia locally, namely the Illyrian’s. What is interesting in Athenaeus’ description of Audata is the failure to positively identify her as being royalty or nobility. Neither his text nor the fragments of Satyrus’ writings establish her lineage issue with the writings of Athenaeus concerning Audata is related to her lineage. Most scholars assume that she 12 13

Pomeroy pg 140-141 Deipnosophistai (13.557b-e)

Page |9

must be related to Bardylis the same warrior who had defeated Perdiccas III in 359bce. This event had led to Philip II attaining the throne of Macedonia and Philip would eventually defeat Bardylis as covered by Diodorus 14 Dr Carney questions the chronological order of Athenaeus’ list suggesting that because so little is known about the marriages of Philip’s siblings that there may be errors in the ordering of Philip’s wives; “The obscurity of Argead rulers before Philip should make one question whether he did. We know nothing for instance about the marriages of his older brothers; the existence of his son Amyntas indicates that Perdiccas III married, but when or to whom is unknown”15 A number of ancient sources claim that the daughter of Audata and Philip engaged in combat and trained her own daughter Adea Eurydice to fight in battle.16 Macedonian women generally did not appear to actively fight in battles, Illyrian women however it seems did so. It is interesting to note that Athenaeus calls Cynnane daughter of Philip II ‘the Illyrian’ this would seem to suggest that in his eyes at least matrilineal descent is important for deciding a person’s lineage.

Chapter 3: Eurydice I

Eurydice I was also an Illyrian princess suggesting that marriage was a powerful tool for maintaining peace between the two nations. Eurydice I appear to have been a very active political figure her activities according to Strabo she was the daughter of Sirras and a granddaughter of Arraebus of Lyncestis17 if everything that has been written and preserved surrounding Eurydice I is to be believed then she was an important figure in the Macedonian court apparently even dedicating statues to the cult

14 15 16 17

Diodorus (16.4.3-7) Women and Monarchy pg 54

(Athenaeus 560f; Polyaen 8.60) (Strabo. 326c)

P a g e | 10

of Eucleia at Vergina18. Amyntas III needed help his reign started badly with the Illyrian’s seeking to replace him. The only way he could save his throne was through a political marriage. Plutarch called Eurydice an Illyrian which raises a significant question. If Eurydice I is of Illyrian descent as the mother of Philip II then by Athenaeus’ description Philip could be seen as Illyrian or at best half Macedonian if so then it would lend credence to the struggle he had in obtaining the throne. The historian Justin paints a rather lurid picture of Eurydice I suggesting that she had planned to assassinate Amyntas and have him replaced with her supposed lover Ptolemy Alorites19 (Justin). It is also suggested that she appealed to an Athenian general Iphicrates to help remove a hindrance to her legacy in the shape of Pausanias a popular figure within the Macedonian court. Aeschines discusses the role of Eurydice I in his speeches; “When Iphicrates had come into this region--with a few ships at first, for the purpose of examining into the situation rather than of laying siege to the city-"Then," said I, "your mother Eurydice sent for him, and according to the testimony of all who were present, she put your brother Perdiccas into the arms of Iphicrates, and set you upon his knees--for you were a little boy--and said, `Amyntas, the father of these little children, when he was alive, made you his son, and enjoyed the friendship of the city of Athens; we have a right therefore to consider you in your private capacity a brother of these boys, and in your public capacity a friend to us.' After this she at once began to make earnest entreaty in your behalf and in her own, and for the maintenance of the throne--in a word for full protection. When Iphicrates had heard all this, he drove Pausanias out of Macedonia and preserved the dynasty for you.”20 Aeschines appears to be determined to highlight that Eurydice I was an ardent defender of her sons and their legacy, he is also very careful not to mention facts such as Philip’s absence (as a hostage in Thebes). Even the cult she was involved with did not appear to be a traditional Macedonian practice. Even Plutarch paints her in a good picture stating that she was a good instructor of children, learning to read and develop an education so that she could educate her sons. It is possible the Eurydice I represents a transitional shift in female politics in the Argead dynasty introducing a blend of Illyrian beliefs and power. 18 19 20

Abbreviations in Greek: Inscriptions, Papyri, Manuscripts pp 62-64 Justin

P a g e | 11

Chapter 4: Cynnane Illyrian blooded Cynnane is one of the first women in the Argead dynasty to engage in active warfare participating in her father’s campaigns against the Illyrian’s. According to Polyaeanus in one such battle she confronted and slew the Illyrian queen; “Cynane, the daughter of Philip was famous for her military knowledge: she conducted armies, and in the field charged at the head of them. In an engagement with the Illyrians, she with her own hand slew Caeria their queen; and with great slaughter defeated the Illyrian army.”21 Cynnane’s role in Macedonian politics took a significant shift after the death of Philip it is possible that she encouraged her husband Amyntas to seek the throne leading to his death, by order of Alexander. Cynnane and her daughter Adea are silent for a time until they appear at Sardis, Arrian suggests that she was able to force her way through Antipater’s lines at or near the Styrmon. Cynnane and her daughter led a large military force presumably paid for out of their own purse. It would appear that Cynnane sought to marry her daughter to Philip Arrhidaeus. However she would die before seeing her plans to fruition see chapter 6. Military combat roles appear to be an Illyrian tradition according to Polybius Teuta acted as regent for her sons and defeated several greek armies before being forced to yield to Rome22. Philip had arranged a marriage between Cynnane and her cousin Amyntas possibly recognising him as a new heir apparent. This marriage could be seen as a possible beginning for the move away from the Argead dynasty.

Chapter 5: Royal tombs and other memorials Studying the royal Macedonian marriages is difficult primarily due to a mix of opnions and hostility by later scholars. One thing that remains useful for study is the use of royal tombs and other dedications especially during the Argead and Antonigid

21 22

Polyaenus Stratagem 8.60 Polybius Histories Book 2 2-24

P a g e | 12

period. The royal tomb of Eurydice I was located in Vergina the tomb was discovered in 1987 and identified by Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronicos several inscribed pots within the tomb dated it to around 344/3 B.C. 23 Meda was another of Philip’s wives, she is only mentioned in the writings of Athenaeus. Athenaeus wrote that her father was Cothelas a Thracian king and suggests that their marriage took place after Philip defeated the Thracians. Strangely there is no other mention of her or any children in any of the sources. Since 1977 Vergina has been identified as Aegae, the ancient burial place of Macedonian royalty. Three tombs have been identified with the male occupant of Tomb II being identified by Andronicos as Philip II, the scholarly community is divided over this. Some believe that the remains are actually Philip Arrhidaeus and if that is the case then the woman must be Adea Eurydice his one and only wife. Hammond has his own hypothesis believing that the remains are those of Meda. One of the reasons for this debate is the presence of warlike objects in the antechamber. The construction of the Great Tumulus is much later than the tombs it stands over perhaps built as a tribute to Philip II. All of the weaponry and armor are made of gold and several pieces appear Thracian in origin. Further exploration of the site uncovered a tomb sometimes known as the “Tomb of Persephone”24 due to an impressive wall mural but more often simply as Tomb I. Andronicos also discovered a tomb which he described as the tomb of Eurydice, he believed that it represented Philip’s mothers final resting place unfortunately the tomb had been robbed at some point but much of the architecture survived. Inside the tomb is a throne covered in lions, sphinxes, griffons and other animals. Dr Carney feels that the evidence in the tomb could suggest a resting place of either gender. Over time Andronicos would find over eight female tombs all showing signs of wealth and at least one containing Illyrian items alongside bracelets, beads and busts. Another example of 23 24 The Chronology of the Macedonian Tombs pg 2

P a g e | 13

tribute to ones wife can be found in Cassander’s naming of a newly found city in her name. That woman was Thessalonice who had been found in Olympias’ entourage during the siege of Pydna and taken as a wife. Another important legacy was the tribute made to Nicaea by her husband Lysimachus who renamed a conquered city in her honor. This city would go on to play an important role in the fledgling Christian faith with the first Ecumenical council being held there. Her legacy would also live on through her children

Chapter 6: royal women and courtly intrigue Several of the women in Homer’s Odyssey would be involved in the running of their husbands, father’s courts. Penelope struggled to keep the suitors seeking her husband’s throne. The royal wives of Macedonia were no different although many of those who were more interested seemed to be of non Macedonian backgrounds. Susan Pomeroy suggests that in Macedonia mothers had a stronger connection to their sons. “Among Macedonian ruling families, the relationship between mother and son could be much stronger and more significant that between husband and wife.”25 She suggests that this helped foster an atmosphere of intrigue and could lead to power struggles within the court. As has been previously indicated Eurydice I was clearly determined to see her family maintain the throne, a tradition which would continue throughout the Argead period and would see an increase in political opportunity during the age of the successors. Whilst Alexander was on campaign his mother Olympias ran the court in his absence and found herself at odds with Antipater at the same time Alexander’s sister Cleopatra appeared to have been responsible for running Molossia. One of Alexander’s encounters whilst on campaign are reminiscent of Odysseus’s travels and interactions with powerful monarchies. He helped Ada of Caria return to power the consequences of which saw a woman made monarch of a


Pomeroy pg 134

P a g e | 14

nation in return she adopted Alexander as her son thus giving him the right to claim the nation as part of his empire.26 Alexander showed respect to the royal women of other nations when he defeated Darius in battle he also captured his immediate family, he treated them with respect and allayed their fears that Darius had died in battle27 Adea Eurydice was the daughter of Cynnane and she had travelled with her on campaign, when her mother was killed by Alcetas,28 this sparked an atmosphere of discontent amongst his soldiers who saw a member of the ruling family in danger made Perdiccas spare her life and gave her in marriage to Philip of Arrhideaeus. This course of action had been part of Cynnane’s plan, another benefit of such a union would have been a child closer to Macedonian blood, an Argead and at this time the majority of the army was favourable to the dynasty which had helped shape and change Macedonia’s position over the past 40 or so years. Such a child may well have been received with greater respect than either Barsine’s or Roxanne’s child a child who had not been recognised by Alexander before his death. The difference between Cynnane and Adea’s plans were more open almost masculine in nature compared to Olympias and Cleopatra’s manipulations carried out less openly but with the same overall objectives.

Chapter 7: Cleopatra II and Olympias Difficulties flared between Antipater and Olympias as long as she questioned his authority and continued to be a public presence then the Macedonian people would link her presence to Alexander by blood. At some point Olympias left Macedonia and withdrew to Epirus. Plutarch suggests that mother and daughter divided Europe between them whilst Alexander was on campaign.29 One of the key elements in Molossia has got to be Cleopatra her husband had left her as regent whilst Olympias appeared to bare 26 27 28

Plutarch Alexander 22.4, 22.5 Plutarch Alexander 21.1-3 Polyaenus. 8.60 suggests that Cynnane’s death was in combat rather than

murder. 29

Plutarch Alexander.68.3.

P a g e | 15

the title prostasia. Plutarch felt that mother and daughter had conspired against Antipater and sought to share Alexander’s (arche). Aeschines30 mentions that an Athenian delegation brought their condolences to Cleopatra on the death of her husband Alexander. Cleopatra appears to have taken her responsibilities seriously and oversaw several official activities. In 333 or 332B.C Cleopatra shipped grain supplies to Corinth, again in 330 she appears as Thearodoch, essentially someone who receives visiting officials. Evidently Cleopatra and Olympias changed places with Olympias returning to Molossia and Cleopatra Macedonia on hearing this Alexander is supposed to have approved of this change stating that Macedonia could not bear to be ruled by a woman. Cleopatra’s name appears on a list of grain supplies to the Greek states shipped from Cyrene during a drought roughly 331,324.31 Both Olympias and Cleopatra are named on this list, it has been suggested that their names are used instead of the countries they represent, something which echoes Macedonian practice wherein the dominant rulers name is used to represent Macedonia as a whole. Cleopatra also appears to have had influence over her brother and interceded on behalf of Dionysius of Heracleia. The fact that she handled food supplies could mean that she actively supported Alexander’s eastern campaign. Plutarch suggests that Alexander did not seek to use his sister politically and encouraged her to seek lovers rather than a husband.32 In Plutarch’s tale Alexander congratulates his sister on taking a lover and implied that it was a privilege of being basileia. After Alexander’s death Cleopatra became politically motivated she sought to marry Leonnatus Plutarch suggests that this proposal suited Leonatus as he sought to rule Macedonia, this caused a difficult situation as Antipater had offered one of his daughters hands in marriage. Political marriages had now turned inwards seeking to 30 31 32

Aeschines (3.242) Harding Pp 143-144 Plutarch Morality 818b-c

P a g e | 16

bolster the Macedonian dynasties by linking them through marriage. Elizabeth Carney suggests that Cleopatra’s proposal may well have been due to her families rivalry with Antipater.33 In Macedonia Cleopatra proposal to Leonnatus carried several benefits for her, he had been a close associate of Alexander’s and he was geographically closer to Cleopatra ultimately he would die in battle and neither woman would marry him. 34 Her next gambit was a proposal to Perdiccas yet another close associate of Alexander’s and related to the royal line. It is said that Alexander gifted his signet ring to Perdiccas on his death bed, once again Antipater had decided on the same goal sending Nicaea as a potential marriage alliance35. For whatever reason the period immediately after Alexander’s death appeared to have seen a temporary end of polygamous marriages perhaps in an attempt not to offend other powerful generals. Perdiccas deferred marriage to Cleopatra planning to marry her as soon as he could however this choice caused several rivals to rise in arms against him. Perdiccas is eventually assassinated by his own officers. Cleopatra would spend the remainder of her political life in Sardis and according to Diodorus she quarrelled with Antigonus and was murdered by the governor of Sardis on Antigonus’ order and yet she was then given a royal burial. Olympias, Cynnane and Adea Eurydice could all be considered politically active and ruthless women determined not to lose control over the Argead dynasty. This however was to be expected the empire built by Philip and Alexander was on the brink of collapse with signs of trouble appearing during Alexander’s lifetime. Many stories portray Macedonian queens as ruthless, ambitious and willing to eliminate enemies. Both Justin and Pausanias suggest that Olympias was responsible for the murder of Cleopatra III along with her child, Justin also suggests in the same work that Alexander may have murdered them. Cleopatra was Macedonian any children from her marriage 33 34 35

Women and Monarchy pg 123 Diodorus (18.15.3-4) Diodorus (18.23.1-3)

P a g e | 17

with Philip would have presented heirs capable of challenging or even usurping Alexander’s position as successor.36

Chapter 8: Into the Antigonid period and beyond Antipater used political marriages to tie as many of the successors to himself as was possible, this showed a switch to internal marriage alliances. One of the most interesting things about this approach his the role Phila II played. Phila was given as a bride to three different men, her first husband was Balacrus Satrap of Cilicia and one time body guard of Alexander, she bore him a son with the same name. This marriage ended when Balacrus died and not long after her father arranged another political marriage to Craterus37 this marriage was one of Antipater’s attempts to forge alliances with the successor kings, the marriage was brief producing another son also named after the father. Her last marriage was to Demetrius who had to be persuaded to marry by his own father indicating the political benefit of such a marriage, Demetrius is an interesting character as he appeared to have returned to polygamous marriages, taking several wives and several lovers. It is interesting to note that Diodorus claimed that Antipater relied on his daughter for advice valuing her input on important matters.38 Phila’s legacy however would be her son Antigonus Gonatus who would go on to establish a new dynasty in Macedonia namely the Antigonid’s there is also evidence that shows her being recognised as basilissa or royal woman. She was a dutiful wife who sent supplies to her husband whilst he was on campaign in Rhodes.39 Phila may well have been the first Macedonian woman to be given a royal title as well as having been afforded cult worship during her life. Diodorus compares her Adea Eurydice suggesting that she was able to manipulate without resorting to overt militarism, a good 36 37 38 39

Justin (9.7.12), (11.5.1), (12.6.14) & Pausanias (8.7.7) Diodorus (18.18.7) Diodorus (19.59.5) Plutarch Demetrius (22.1)

P a g e | 18

patron able to arrange marriage for the deserving.

Conclusion The Argead dynasty did not start with Philip II however he established several changes which would resonate for most of the Hellenistic period. His actions elevated the status of royal dynastic tradition, something which, previously had only been seen in the dynasties of tyrant’s. He managed to do this whilst at the same time managing to maintain a status quo between his wives many later historians, especially those who struggled against the idea of polygamous relationships tried to elevate or demote the positions of several of his wives. Similarly many of the royal women who tried to have influence over their husbands or the state found themselves equally demonized Gygaea, Eurydice I all having been accused of going against traditional greek values. One of the main reasons for the collapse of the Argead period is a dearth of viable heirs as has already been mentioned child mortality rates were incredibly high and during the Argead period polygamous marriages were about producing heirs preferably as many as possible. The lack of male heirs forced the women in the royal court to take desperate actions to seek political alliances with members of the Diadoche, generals who by now recognised the possibility of seizing kingships for themselves in their eyes then these women with ties to the Argead line probably made a tempting solution. Most of the royal women of the Argead dynasty would die, murder proving to be a popular way of creating the way for new dynasties. When it came to leadership to rule was seen as a patriarchal privilege several royal women tried to change this directly Adea Eurydice being one such example whilst others sought to influence the men in the Argead court. Even with the influx of barbaroi practices no woman could ever hope to rule. “In this man-centered monarchical system the women of the royal house played little part in public life...they might become influential in court intrigues and in

P a g e | 19

manners of succession to the throne, especially when they were queen mothers or queen grandmothers; this happened particularly when the heir was an infant.� 40

The comparisons between Penelope, Clytemnestra, Andromache, Nausicaa and the Royal women of Macedonia are hard to ignore, they engaged in politics, listened in on the court and could influence their men folk. The women in Homer’s epic’s conspired, betrayed and protected creating a precedent which seems to be reflected in the Argead marriages. These marriages helped to shape the Macedonia which would precede the Hellenism of the known world. Whilst men fought in wars and pushed the frontiers of the empire the women usually stayed home and engaged in intrigues. Carney suggests that the fourth century saw significant political movements by figures such as Olympias, Cleopatra, Cynnane and Adea Eurydice due in no small part because of Philip II providing a stable Macedonia and bringing the royal family to central position. Mothers and daughters in the royal court became important however they owed whatever power they had to their husbands, fathers and brothers.


Hammond pg 16

P a g e | 20


Primary Sources Athenaeus and his world: reading Greek culture in the Roman Empire ed. David Braund, John Wilkins. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 2000

Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri, i, 5 Diodorus, Siculus, trans McQueen, E, I, Library of History: Reign of Philip II v 16, Bristol Classical Press, (1998) Justin Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus Vol 1 books 11-12 Alexander the Great, trans, Heckel, J. W., Oxford university Press, New York (1997) Pausanias, Guide to Greece Vol 1 Northern Greece, trans Levi, P., Penguin Books, London, (1979) Pausanias, Guide to Greece Vol 2 Southern Greece, trans Levi, P., Penguin Books, London, (1979) Polyaenus’s Stratagem of War, trans Shepherd, R,. Kessinger Publication (2009) Plutarch, The Complete Collection of Plutarch’s Parallel Lives, trans, Dryden, J,. Charles River Editors, Kindle Edition (2011) Plutarch, Plutarch’s Moralia, Dryden, J,. Charles River Editors, Kindle Edition (2011)

P a g e | 21

Secondary Sources Carney, E D., Olympias Mother of Alexander the Great, Routledge, Oxon (2006) Carney, E,D, Women and Monarchy in Macedonia, University of Oklahoma Press, (2000) Carney, E, D,. Women and Monarchy in Macedonia, Oklahoma University Press (2000) Hammond, N.G.L., Alexander the great: king, commander, and statesman, Bristol Classic Press, (1994) Harding, P,. From the end of the Peloponnesian War to the battle of Ipsus, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, (2001) Macurdy, G, H, “Queen Eurydice and the Evidence for Woman Power in Early Macedonia.� The American Journal of Philology Vol,48, No.3, (1927)pp. 201,214 Oikonomedes, Al, N, abbreviations in Greek: Inscriptions, Papyri, Manuscripts and early Printed books, Ares Publications, (1986) Pomeroy, S, B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives and Slaves, Women in Classical Antiquity, Random House, London (1994)

Women of Power and Influence.  

A brief look at the role of women in Ancient Macedonia and a comparision between Homeric women and the historic.

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you