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Alexander of Lyncestis

Alexander, son of Aeropus, was a noble of Lyncestis in Upper Macedonia. He was the first to acclaim Alexander the Great as king on the death of his father, Philip, in 336 BC; the action saved his life: his brothers, Hermonenes and Arrhabaeus, were executed by the new king, accused of conspiracy. Although Alexander was implicated in the conspiracy, his prompt acclamation earned him a pardon. The fact that he was the son-in-law of Antipater helped, too, for King Alexander desperately needed Antipater’s support if he was to keep the throne he had just gained. (Arr. 1.25.1-2; Just. 11.2.)

Until the Macedonian army crossed to Asia in the spring of 334 BC, the Lyncestian was governor of Thrace. However, after the Battle of the Granicus he took over as commander of the Thessalian cavalry, when the previous commander, Calas, was appointed satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia (Arr. 1.25.2). This was certainly a demotion, despite the kudos that command of the Thessalians carried with it—perhaps the king still did not trust the Lyncestian.

He only held this new command for a few months, however. Towards the end of 334 BC Parmenion captured a Persian agent, whom it was said was on a mission to meet with the Lyncestian. Apparently Darius had offered to pay him 1,000 talents of gold, and to make him king, if he assassinated King Alexander (Arr. 1.25.3). Parmenion sent details of the plot to the king—who had already been warned about a possible traitor by an omen. Alexander sent Amphoteros, Craterus’ brother, to instruct Parmenion to arrest the Lyncestian (Arr. 1.25.4-10).

Diodorus (17.32.1-2) does not describe the involvement of Sisines, but attributes as the main cause of Alexander’s arrest a warning that the king received from Olympias. Because of the Lyncestian’s relationship with Antipater he was made a captive, but did not face trial for three years, until the time of the Philotas Affair.

In the aftermath of the execution of Philotas Affair, King Alexander finally felt strong enough to tie up some of his loose ends, which included the captive Lyncestian. The son of Aeropus had spent so long as a prisoner that he was unable to construct a speech in his defence, and he was executed by the Macedonians (Diod. 17.80.2).

Although Alexander of Lyncestis was executed in 330 BC, he cast a shadow over Alexander the Great for many years afterwards. Although the story that the king was murdered (in 323 BC) was probably fabricated, Justin (12.14) does record that Antipater instigated the conspiracy because his son-in-law (amongst others) had been executed. Antipater’s reaction to the news of what happened to Parmenion, Philotas and the Lyncestian must have been as well-known as it was understandable, if such a story was to be believed.

Written by marcus

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