Amyntas

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Nikas
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Amyntas

Post by Nikas »

Hello Pothosians,

Something I have been wondering about for a long time and would love to hear some of your opinions on, is why Alexander had his cousin Amyntas IV executed? I mean, I certainly can see his motives for it, a perceived threat to the throne, but it seems like a very short sighted decision. At the time, and in fact even up to his death, there was not any other Argeads that we know of as a possible legitimate successors (Arhhidaeus does not count). Think of the state of affairs had Amyntas had accompanied Alexander on his expedition and managed to survive him. You would have a legitimate, undisputed successor to the throne, married to Philip's daughter no less. Voila, no wars of the Diadochi (well maybe). It seems to be that regardless of the murderous family history of the Argeads, there always seemed to be a few of them left around just in case, yet Alexander went to Asia at such a risk. Say he fell at Granicus? What then?

As much respect as Alexander warrants as a general, it just reinforces for me how much inferior he was to Philip as a King. Philip had Alexander, and maybe even kept Amyntas around as an insurance policy.
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Re: Amyntas

Post by Alexias »

For what it's worth, a few thoughts:

Alexander and Philip's relationship after Chaeronea appears to have taken a nose dive, and not just because of Philip's marriage to Attalus's neice and the Pixodorus affair. Alexander wasn't given any major command after Chaeronea despite his performance in the battle, perhaps because he and his group of friends became too cocky ('Philip the general, Alexander the king'). Yet Philip honoured Amyntas by giving his nephew his daughter Kynna in marriage. He had always treated Amyntas with honour, sending him to Thebes with Antipater after Chaeronea. I have no idea who Amyntas's mother was, but if she was Macedonian, and had powerful kin, Alexander would have further felt his position as heir apparent under threat.

Such a situation could have given Amyntas ideas. Potentially he could have been involved in Philip's murder, or at least put himself forward as a candidate for the kingship, and he may well have had some support. But if Alexander wasn't 100% certain of his loyalty, he could not have left him behind when he went to Asia, nor left him alive while trying to assert his authority after Philip's death. Antipater, who would have had to deal with a potential rebellion while Alexander was on campaign, would have probably encouraged Alexander to get rid of Amyntas.

Some ideas why Alexander didn't marry and produce an heir before he went to Asia:

i/ he had Alexander of Lyncestis as an heir, and Alexander of Epirus as a potential heir

ii/ he was young, he probably thought he would live for ever and had all the time in the world to get an heir

iii/ at 20-22 he was very young by contemporary standards to marry, and was probably deeply involved with Hephaestion (viz Troy)

iv/ he was probably romantic enough to want to fall in love with his wife

v/ he was pig-headedly stubborn and didn't like being told what to do particularly by a mother who shoved a courtesan at him, and he needed to assert his authority over his advisors

vi/ his mother had murdered his half-brother (the potential heir) and/or sister and their mother as soon as his back was turned - not a safe prospect for a wife and child if Olympias fell out with the wife or in-laws

vii/ the recent memory of his father's last marriage and the Pixodoras affair might well have put him off the idea

viii/ two of Alexander's sisters were widowed young but did not re-marry. Perhaps they all had issues with marriage

ix/ when he set out for Asia, he might originally have envisioned only being gone for two or three years if controlling the Ionian coast was the objective, four or five if reaching the Euphrates was the objective. When he set out he cannot have envisaged Bactria and India because of the lack of knowledge of the geography

x/ the difficulty of choosing a wife, for a marriage would give her family enormous power, and whom Antipater would have to deal with. Yet if Alexander had married a dependant of Antipater, it would have given the Regent far too much power. Chosing a foreign wife was perhaps too much of a political minefield for it would have meant favouring one alliance and slighting others. Given the problems of his own Epirote connections, Alexander might have been reluctant to chose a foreign wife.


Who was the better king, Alexander or Philip, is a qualitive judgement I'm not interested in making as you could argue in circles and get nowhere. The rest is speculation.
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Re: Amyntas

Post by Nikas »

Hi Alexias
Alexias wrote:For what it's worth, a few thoughts:

Alexander and Philip's relationship after Chaeronea appears to have taken a nose dive, and not just because of Philip's marriage to Attalus's neice and the Pixodorus affair. Alexander wasn't given any major command after Chaeronea despite his performance in the battle, perhaps because he and his group of friends became too cocky ('Philip the general, Alexander the king'). Yet Philip honoured Amyntas by giving his nephew his daughter Kynna in marriage. He had always treated Amyntas with honour, sending him to Thebes with Antipater after Chaeronea. I have no idea who Amyntas's mother was, but if she was Macedonian, and had powerful kin, Alexander would have further felt his position as heir apparent under threat.

Such a situation could have given Amyntas ideas. Potentially he could have been involved in Philip's murder, or at least put himself forward as a candidate for the kingship, and he may well have had some support. But if Alexander wasn't 100% certain of his loyalty, he could not have left him behind when he went to Asia, nor left him alive while trying to assert his authority after Philip's death. Antipater, who would have had to deal with a potential rebellion while Alexander was on campaign, would have probably encouraged Alexander to get rid of Amyntas.
I don't disagree that Philip's and Alexander's relationship cooled after Chaeronia and the Pixodarus affair, what cannot have ever been in doubt was that there ever was a viable alternative to Alexander as heir. To the best of my knowledge, I cannot think of any reference to any other son Philip may have had outside of Arrhidaeus, and from the sources, granting that they may have been influenced de facto after Alexander's glorious career, it does not seem like there ever was a realistic threat to his inheriting the throne. I also agree that Amyntas should not have been left back in Macedonia. He should have been brought along for Alexander to keep a close eye on, and also to have a legitimate heir available, especially considering he had no one available at the time!?!
Alexias wrote: ideas why Alexander didn't marry and produce an heir before he went to Asia:

i/ he had Alexander of Lyncestis as an heir, and Alexander of Epirus as a potential heir

ii/ he was young, he probably thought he would live for ever and had all the time in the world to get an heir

iii/ at 20-22 he was very young by contemporary standards to marry, and was probably deeply involved with Hephaestion (viz Troy)

iv/ he was probably romantic enough to want to fall in love with his wife

v/ he was pig-headedly stubborn and didn't like being told what to do particularly by a mother who shoved a courtesan at him, and he needed to assert his authority over his advisors

vi/ his mother had murdered his half-brother (the potential heir) and/or sister and their mother as soon as his back was turned - not a safe prospect for a wife and child if Olympias fell out with the wife or in-laws

vii/ the recent memory of his father's last marriage and the Pixodoras affair might well have put him off the idea

viii/ two of Alexander's sisters were widowed young but did not re-marry. Perhaps they all had issues with marriage

ix/ when he set out for Asia, he might originally have envisioned only being gone for two or three years if controlling the Ionian coast was the objective, four or five if reaching the Euphrates was the objective. When he set out he cannot have envisaged Bactria and India because of the lack of knowledge of the geography

x/ the difficulty of choosing a wife, for a marriage would give her family enormous power, and whom Antipater would have to deal with. Yet if Alexander had married a dependant of Antipater, it would have given the Regent far too much power. Chosing a foreign wife was perhaps too much of a political minefield for it would have meant favouring one alliance and slighting others. Given the problems of his own Epirote connections, Alexander might have been reluctant to chose a foreign wife.
i) Alexander of Lyncestis could claim royal blood, but that would be a stretch I think as they predated Amyntas III reign and how much support would he garner from the nobles? Alexander the Epirot while related to Alexander III, would not be an Argead or even a Macedonian for that matter.

ii-v) Alexander may have been young, but he had a responsibility to the Kingdom and State, like all monarchs, to think to the future. If we are to believe what we are told, from a young age he was more "mature" than his age would imply (think of the questioning of the Persian ambassadors) and he cannot have failed to pick up some direct political advice from one of the premier philosophers in Aristotle on the nature of Kingship. He should have done better here, it really could not have been that hard to, ahem, give it a shot?

vi) Olympias, while capable of extreme ruthlessness, would probably had a much harder time killing an undisputed, undivided leader of the Macedonian Kingdom. It was the divisions of the Didadochi that allowed that to happen, I couldn't see her having her way with someone not as feeble minded as Arrhidaeus.
Alexias wrote: was the better king, Alexander or Philip, is a qualitive judgement I'm not interested in making as you could argue in circles and get nowhere. The rest is speculation.
Definitely Philip :)
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Re: Amyntas

Post by Semiramis »

ii-v) Alexander may have been young, but he had a responsibility to the Kingdom and State, like all monarchs, to think to the future. If we are to believe what we are told, from a young age he was more "mature" than his age would imply (think of the questioning of the Persian ambassadors) and he cannot have failed to pick up some direct political advice from one of the premier philosophers in Aristotle on the nature of Kingship. He should have done better here, it really could not have been that hard to, ahem, give it a shot?
After several minutes of giggling immaturely, I think I have to agree with most of that. :)
iii/ at 20-22 he was very young by contemporary standards to marry, and was probably deeply involved with Hephaestion (viz Troy)

iv/ he was probably romantic enough to want to fall in love with his wife
Most of this is pure conjecture on my part but it may be a bit of a stretch to draw such conclusions from the Troy story. Firstly, Arrian starts it off with the "They say". This is apparently usually a sign that Arrian was skeptical of the story. It could have been just a later extension of the Achilles parallel to Alexander.

If we assume this oiled up naked running around tombs business did happen, I'm not sure there's any certain proof that the Macedonians or Alexander understood the relationship between Achilles and Patroclos as a sexual one. Even if they did, its possible that the Alexander and Hephaistion were focusing on the warrior and friendship aspect of it. If Alexander taking throwing spears and taking ancient shields, I suppose the Patroclos business fits into the motif. This is not necessarily proof of sexual attachment. Also, the Troy story happened (?) after he left for Asia, so it doesn't necessarily prove anything about the relationship between Alexander and Hephaistion at earlier times.

Even if Alexander's attachment to Hephaistion had a sexual aspect, it's hard to argue that monogamy was ever the norm for any Macedoninan King. Nikas is correct to point out the responsibility to produce heirs. Alexander took a number of lovers throughout his life as would have been the norm for a Macedonian or Persian king.

Alexander is said to have fallen in love with Roxanne but no such thing is attested for his other two wives. They were probably very young when Alexander first came across them but he did arrange a Greek education for them. It was most likely a long-term plan to marry them. The political benefit to Alexander of those marital alliances was immeasurable. So, the man was clearly capable of marrying without love for other considerations, like most other high-born folk of his time.

Sorry to sound so cynical. I am a bit of a fan of the possibility of the Alexander/Hephaistion romantic soulmate duo, but I also think there's very little history to back it up. I'm sure Hephaistion had fantastic thighs though. :D
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Re: Amyntas

Post by marcus »

Semiramis wrote:Sorry to sound so cynical. I am a bit of a fan of the possibility of the Alexander/Hephaistion romantic soulmate duo, but I also think there's very little history to back it up. I'm sure Hephaistion had fantastic thighs though. :D
I would imagine that any of the Macedonians who rode horses regularly, and/or who marched for long periods of difficult terrain carrying full packs, all had pretty good thighs (and calves). :shock:

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Re: Amyntas

Post by rocktupac »

marcus wrote:
Semiramis wrote:Sorry to sound so cynical. I am a bit of a fan of the possibility of the Alexander/Hephaistion romantic soulmate duo, but I also think there's very little history to back it up. I'm sure Hephaistion had fantastic thighs though. :D
I would imagine that any of the Macedonians who rode horses regularly, and/or who marched for long periods of difficult terrain carrying full packs, all had pretty good thighs (and calves). :shock:

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Speaking of thighs, which one said that Alexander was only 'defeated' by Hephaestion's thighs? Was is Theopompus?
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Re: Amyntas

Post by amyntoros »

rocktupac wrote:
Speaking of thighs, which one said that Alexander was only 'defeated' by Hephaestion's thighs? Was is Theopompus?
Diogenes of Sinope. :-)
Diogenes of Sinope, Letters 24
If you want to be kalos kagathos [beautiful and good], throw away the rag you have on your head and come to us. But you won't be able to, for you are ruled by Hephaestion's thighs.
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Re: Amyntas

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I would guess Amyntas's age was the reason Philip let him live and Alexander had him killed. When Philip became king Amyntas was an infant. When he died, Amyntas was a grown man who was a number of years older than Alexander and had a strong claim to the throne. Personally I don't really think it's remarkable, in the kind of culture that ancient Macedonia was, that Alexander had him killed.

Alexander not fathering a son before the campaign against Persia, on the other hand, was idiotic, and evidence that Alexander was a man entirely unfit to be king.

Regarding who was the greater king, Philip or Alexander, the answer is obvious. One greatly strengthened his kingdom, the other weakened it.
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Re: Amyntas

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the_accursed wrote:Regarding who was the greater king, Philip or Alexander, the answer is obvious. One greatly strengthened his kingdom, the other weakened it.
The embarrassment of Antipater is eloquent testimony to that. Macedon was dominant in Europe politically and militarily at the end of Philip's reign. Its military resources far outstripped those of any single Greek state and recently crushed the forces of a Greek alliance. It would never attain that unchallenged dominance after Alexander. Over the following 170 or so years it would, at times, struggle for its very existence and settle for a much more limited presence than Philip would ever conceive.
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Re: Amyntas

Post by marcus »

the_accursed wrote:Alexander not fathering a son before the campaign against Persia, on the other hand, was idiotic, and evidence that Alexander was a man entirely unfit to be king.
I think it's a bit harsh to say "idiotic". Ill-judged, perhaps, especially as Alexander was going into battle and was not one to hold back. Having said that:

1. It was twelve years before the lack of an heir became an issue.
2. Perhaps Alexander judged that he could not delay the invasion of Persian lands any longer - certainly not the (absolute minimum) nine months to find out if his child was a son ... and that after (a) finding a suitable wife, and (b) getting her pregnant. After the destruction of Thebes and the clearly forced subjection of Greece and confirmation of the League of Corinth, to leave the "Hellenic Crusade" any longer could have led to all sorts of problems in Greece which might have precluded any invasion. On balance, as a twenty-year-old new king, with designs on immortality, Alexander might not have felt he had the luxury to wait until he had an heir.

I'm not saying that his failure to produce a son was not ill-judged; but idiotic is, I think, a bit harsh.

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Re: Amyntas

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marcus wrote:I think it's a bit harsh to say "idiotic". Ill-judged, perhaps, especially as Alexander was going into battle and was not one to hold back. Having said that:

1. It was twelve years before the lack of an heir became an issue.
2. Perhaps Alexander judged that he could not delay the invasion of Persian lands any longer - certainly not the (absolute minimum) nine months to find out if his child was a son ... and that after (a) finding a suitable wife, and (b) getting her pregnant. After the destruction of Thebes and the clearly forced subjection of Greece and confirmation of the League of Corinth, to leave the "Hellenic Crusade" any longer could have led to all sorts of problems in Greece which might have precluded any invasion. On balance, as a twenty-year-old new king, with designs on immortality, Alexander might not have felt he had the luxury to wait until he had an heir.

I'm not saying that his failure to produce a son was not ill-judged; but idiotic is, I think, a bit harsh.

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Producing a Macedonian heir was one of his most basic duties as king. He failed to fulfil it. He did find the time to try to force his own soldiers to bow down to him, to murder an officer in a drunken rage, to torture people and have sex with eunuchs...but not to fulfil one of his most basic obligations to the Macedonian people.

1. The lack of an heir was an issue every single day from the day Alexander became king. Those 12 years could just as well have been 3, or 10, or 1.

2. Both Antipater and Parmenion thought there was sufficient time. But then, they were responsible leaders who cared about more than themselves and their "immortality" - such as the welfare of the Macedonian people and the future of their kingdom. Before the campaign against Persia, Alexander could have married a number of women and made them pregnant. If 9 months later none of them had given birth to a son, he could have sent for them. It was not a problem that could not have been solved. Alexander's "designs on immortality" didn't protect the Macedonians after his death, and didn't prevent the decline of the Macedonian kingdom. Rather the opposite, in fact. "Idiotic" seems to me entirely fair.
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Re: Amyntas

Post by athenas owl »

To further what Marcus said, which I agree with...

Judging by what happened on Alexander's death, I don't know that even having a 10,11, or 12 year old Argead in the wings would have prevented the scramble for empire that rolled across it. The Diadochi, freed from the backwater of Macedonia and having a huge empire to divvey up, while paying lip service to the Argeads (when they weren't killing them all off, of course), had their sights on their own dynasties and kingdoms. Eumenes aside.

And Alexander was one lucky boy, he could have died anywhere along the way, rather than in Babylon where he did. Having a minor child, baby...how would that have assured the continuation of anything. Remember, if I am recalling correctly, that Philip himself gained the throne from his own minor nephew, the subject of this topic. And he managed to kill off his remaining brothers as well...narrowing the Argead line considerably himself.

Was Philip a great king? Certainly, and very underrated, living in the shadow of his glamorous son through history. But the comparisons are more subjective, IMHO. Philip had the "luxury" of being close to home when he was fathering his children and could keep a hand on the factions (well, until one of them killed him) Had he died, istead of losing an eye, would the younger Alexander have been so fortunate. or successful?...he wasn't in in India, he started his regnal and apparently, his marital one as well, a bit later than Alexander's age when ATG crossed the Hellespont. He was in his mid forties when he planned to cross the same.

Lastly, I do not believe that Alexander, himself was all that concerned with the Argead or Macedonian legacies. His eyes (not being Tarnesque) were on his own horizon and his own new future as he saw it. GLory and all that. I doubt he really said "To the Strongest" on his death bed, but it would have been appropriate. His own loyalty was not to his dynasty but to himself. The tender concern for the Macedonian kingdom post ATG seems odd. Not that that is a bad thing, of course. Just saying. 8)


And lastly I am always amused that a modern person would approve of world domination, or rather castigate the failure of such. Alexander served his "cosmic" purpose in that his advance brought a cultural exchange that altered the civilisations to this day.
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Re: Amyntas

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athenas owl wrote:And lastly I am always amused that a modern person would approve of world domination, or rather castigate the failure of such. Alexander served his "cosmic" purpose in that his advance brought a cultural exchange that altered the civilisations to this day.
Where have I "approved of world domination" or "castigated the failure of such"?
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Re: Amyntas

Post by athenas owl »

Where did I single you out?

I was talking about the whole discussion, everywhere, that "if only Alexander had done this or that" his empire wouldn't have "crumbled"..though words like "idiotic" do suggest a certain subjectivity and judgement.

as does:
Producing a Macedonian heir was one of his most basic duties as king. He failed to fulfil it. He did find the time to try to force his own soldiers to bow down to him, to murder an officer in a drunken rage, to torture people and have sex with eunuchs...but not to fulfil one of his most basic obligations to the Macedonian people.
I am agnostic about Alexander. Which is why I still find him and his era fascinating. I save my axe-grinding for modern politicians who I can send "sternly worded e-mails" to. :D

And I should ask...why was it a basic duty? A duty to whom? The Macedonians? Henry V of England produced an heir, and then died...how did that work out?
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Re: Amyntas

Post by marcus »

athenas owl wrote:I am agnostic about Alexander. Which is why I still find him and his era fascinating. I save my axe-grinding for modern politicians who I can send "sternly worded e-mails" to. :D

And I should ask...why was it a basic duty? A duty to whom? The Macedonians? Henry V of England produced an heir, and then died...how did that work out?
I suppose we should add that Alexander did provide an heir, anyway. And he nearly provided one in 325BC, as well, if the Metz Epitome is to be believed.

So by 323BC he was obviously not being idiotic ... it's just rather unfortunate that he died before his heir was actually born. And, as you say, had Alexander IV been 3 years old, 10 years old, 12 years old ... why should that have made any difference to what happened after Alexander III died?

(By the way, "the_accursed", I am by no means saying that Alexander or Philip was the greater king, and I will not make a judgement on that - different times, different circumstances, and a whole host of different definitions of "great" would need to be discussed, as well. I'm just responding to what I feel is a rather harsh judgement of Alexander's failure to provide an heir earlier than he did.)

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