Parmenion, Paeonian chief?

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delos13
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Parmenion, Paeonian chief?

Post by delos13 »

I recently finished reading a very interesting book - "Philip II of Macedonia" written by Ian Worthington. For those who are not familiar with this book, I highly recommend it. In addition to good structure and clear language, the book boasts quite a few helpful maps, lots of reference to the sources and extensive bibliography. Unfortunately, despite this abundance of helpful information, it failed to supply the source of this very interesting passage, "If there was any opposition from the nobles of Upper Macedonia who preferred not to be brought under the powers of Pella, it appears to have been inconsequential....Some may have fled....Others probably saw the writings of the wall and pledged their loyalty to Philip in return for recognition of their local powers and perhaps other rewards. The latter took the form of important positions in the army. For example, Parmenion, one of the Paeonian chieftains, was made a general soon after coming over the Philip's side. He remained Philip's most trusted general throughout his reign and also served Alexander well....."

This information came as a complete surprise to me since I always presumed that Parmenion was of "pure" Macedonian blood. Not so much because it was stated somewhere but because it was nowhere stated otherwise and because of the trust that Philip put in him. Apparently so did Alexander himself and on the surface the only reason for Parmenion's elimination was Philotas' betrayal/stupidity - either real and imagined.

I made an effort into looking for the source of information about Parmenion origin but wasn't able to discover anything. So, a few questions, first, does anybody knows the original source of this information? Secondly, I found it extremely strange that Parmenion Paeonian origin wasn't mentioned anywhere else. Granted, I can't admit that I read all the information on Philip/Alexander but I read quite a few and I don't remember this fact from my previous readings. If the information is correct, I would think that it was a fact worthy of mentioning while discussing the reasons for Alexander's decision to execute Philotas, wouldn't it?

And thirdly, what do you think on the matter? If the information is true, would it be one of the reasons Alexander couldn't believe in Philotas' innocence?
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Re: Parmenion, Paeonian chief?

Post by agesilaos »

I can find no evidence for Parmenion being a Paeonian, nor do I find it particularly likely. It may well be a typo for Perrharabian, or even Pierian. Parmenion was a commander from the begining of Philip's reign and thus almost certainly a member of the kingdom when Perdikkas III was king; Paeonia was not annexed until the 280's by Lysimachos. It could be a slip of Worthington's or a result of spell-checkitis :D
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Re: Parmenion, Paeonian chief?

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I don't think it was a typo, "a result of spell-checkitis" (sorry, what does it mean?) or result of slip of Worthington because he stresses that Parmenion came to Philip side after being some sort of chieftain of the enemy tribe and how he was promoted and that some others followed the suit. This piece is part of the chapter dedicated to the time when Philip just became the king and how he united different parts of Macedon and surrounding areas by successful campaigns, negotiations, bribery and such. It sounds like a deliberate piece of information though it possible that "Paeonian" was a typo and he was from some other enemy tribe. Point is, not a pure Macedonian, enemy. That what most puzzled me because Parmenion is too prominent and well known figure to be put as example of something that can't be proved. Why an established author, writing a historical book would do that? On the other side, it is so difficult to believe (and this is why I posted this question here) that nobody before Worthington noticed such piece of information in some of the original sources.
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Re: Parmenion, Paeonian chief?

Post by agesilaos »

'Spellcheckitis' is the over reliance of publishing houses on spell check programs rather than human proof-readers, with the consequence that only the spelling of words are checked against a data base and their context is not considered. Thus 'Paeonian' would not be picked up as an error as it is spelled correctly.

Parmenion was from 'Upper Macedonia' in the normal view these were Macedonians, but were frequently independant of the Argaead kings of 'Lower Macedonia'.
macedonia.jpg
macedonia.jpg (46.14 KiB) Viewed 6365 times
Philip attached the 'Upper Kingdom' more firmly, viz Lynkos, Tymphaia, Elimiotis, Orestis and Pelagonia, which does, indeed, border Paeonia. The animosity of these kingdoms would be greatly overstated by calling them 'enemies', they baulked at control by a weak king in Aegai, but appreciated the protection a strong one could provide against the Illyrians and Paeonians who otherwise raided their lands. Philip does not seem to have needed to take up arms against these quasi-kingdoms. Worthington can only be assuming that Parmenion was of the 'royal' house of one of these kingdoms. By assuming that the leaders of Alexander's Phalanx were scions of their respective dynasties we can assign Perdikkas to Orestis, Koinos to Elimiotis which was linked with Tymphaia, Lynkos was represented by Alexandros and his brothers who were killed after the assassination of Philip, the former after a long delay and the latter almost at once. This leaves Pelagonia for Parmenion but one has to assume that this was his background. There is no evidence beyond the Alexander sources (if one includes Diodoros Book XVI and the Philippic part of Justin), therein this background is not stated, so it is only supposition. I cannot see any reason why Parmenion need not be from the heart of the Lower Kingdom, just as Antipatros seems to have been.
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Re: Parmenion, Paeonian chief?

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Thanks, Agesilaos, for the explanation and a lovely map. I was hoping to discover that maybe there are some sources that I wasn't aware of, that mention the fact that Parmenion was from Paeonia. After all, "Paeonian chief" doesn't necessarily mean "from Paeonian royal house", he could have been a military chief and for whatever reason he came to conclusion that Philip would be a better master. The book does mention some original sources on Philip that are different from those on Alexander so I thought the information might be there.

What makes me difficult to accept the fact that it is just a wrong spelling of the area, is that the author intentionally stresses the fact that Parmenion wasn't a Macedonian.
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Re: Parmenion, Paeonian chief?

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Yet he did not source this assertion :shock: which makes me think it is supposition; there are not many sources on Philip that do not also count as Alexander sources, if one defines things broadly, Alexander was at court while Aeschines and Demosthenes wheeled and dealed for instance. That said I would not claim an exhaustive knowledge of every potential source, there are various scholia which I have not read, for instance, but this sort of evidence is especially prone to error and whilst we must be careful of dismissing things just because only one source retails them we also have to be wary of accepting things on the testimony of a sole late source. The case is even more fraught where no source is apparent :roll:

From some of your former comments it seems that Worthington considers the Upper Macedonians non-Macedonian, this is b#ll#cks, of course, I have not got this book but was not impressed with his Alexander; I will have to check in J R Ellis' "Philip IIand Macedonian Imperialism" which did impress me as a sensible and well annotated marshalling of frequently confused and partial evidence.
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Re: Parmenion, Paeonian chief?

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Agesilaos, I want to correct myself because I realized that I applied the term "not Macedonian" in maybe broader term that I should have. Also, I was a little lazy in my initial post and didn't type the whole passage from the book. The piece about Parmenion is a part of the paragraph that deals with Upper Macedonia and the by extension one can presume that Paeonia was part of Upper Macedonia (which, as maps show) was not.

By nature, I am a very pedantic person. In novel, I can accept any kind of fantasies without explanation but if it is a historical book, for me the facts stated should have come from some source. And if a author makes an educated guess, it is fine with me, since many things are simply unknown to us but in this case I think the author should say, it is an educated guess. It was not the case with Parmenion's origin. And just as any auditor who finds a mistake will extrapolate the issue and assume there are more mistakes to be found, same is my reaction - how many other things are wrong? I liked the style of the book, it is very informative and presents a captivating read but if I have to recheck each of the statements, it's better to go directly to the sources; not that it is a bad idea, I simply like to read about the same issue from different POV.

In any case, thanks a lot for all your insights. If you find any pertinent information in Ellis' book I hope you will share. I'll try to look at this book in library as well.
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Re: Parmenion, Paeonian chief?

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agesilaos wrote:From some of your former comments it seems that Worthington considers the Upper Macedonians non-Macedonian, this is b#ll#cks, of course, I have not got this book but was not impressed with his Alexander; I will have to check in J R Ellis' "Philip IIand Macedonian Imperialism" which did impress me as a sensible and well annotated marshalling of frequently confused and partial evidence.
I thought Worthington's Alexander book was a thinly, and poorly-veiled polemic against Alexander, without an awful lot of support for his wild accusations. That isn't to say that I, in any way, favour a white-washing of Alexander's 'crimes' and 'atrocities'; but Worthington became almost hysterical at times, going over the top with his descriptions of wholesale pogroms and the culling of the satrapies in 325.

His Philip was, I thought, much better. I don't remember this business about Parmenion, but it sounds very dodgy to me. I must have frowned when I read it, although I don't recall it now. It does seem rather typical of Worthington, however, to make strange assertions and fail to back them up with any evidence (I'm sorry to say). But, otherwise, his Philip is a good read, overall.
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Re: Parmenion, Paeonian chief?

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Ellis does, indeed clear things up; note 70 to chapter two reads:
See Beloch III, 1.226 and n.2. C F Edson, in an exporatory, unpublished paper entitled, 'Who was Parmenion?', suggests the P. stemmed from the ruling familiy of Pelagonia. The identification, depending primarily on the uncertain restoration of his name in IG II/III2 190 is possible but far from certain. However his son Philotas may have an association with the Upper Macedonian cavalry of Alexander.
The Philotas mentioned is generally thought NOT to be the son of Parmenion but another of that name. It does show that Pelagonia is the true reading and that the case was weak in any case; stating that he was a Paeonian with no reference nor any caveats is sharp practice.
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Re: Parmenion, Paeonian chief?

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Thank you, Agesilaos. I checked bibliography in Worthington's book, and saw that he has Ellis' books on his list. Not only the one that you've mentioned and quoted below, but some others as well. So, maybe he misread (or read too hastily?) the info about Parmenion. But I agree with you, the jump from the fact that Parmenion may be from a ruling family of Pelagonia to Parmenion being a Paeonian chief quite a big and unfounded one especially since he went to elaborate on the fact and put it up as an example. One has only wonder how many mistakes of this type pepper the works of Arrian, Plutarch, Diodorus and Justin. But of course it's not a novel thought. Thanks for clearing up things for me.

Marcus, thank you for the "warning" about Worthington's book on Alexander. I was considering taking this book in the library but now I think I am going to skip this reading.
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Re: Parmenion, Paeonian chief?

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delos13 wrote:Marcus, thank you for the "warning" about Worthington's book on Alexander. I was considering taking this book in the library but now I think I am going to skip this reading.
I'm glad I have it in my library, but I really don't think it's a particularly good book, and rather too hysterical to be considered a properly academic book. Worthington clearly has an axe to grind, and grind it he does!

For all their own faults, Peter Green, Robin Lane Fox, Hammond and Maxwell O'Brien wrote much better books on Alexander. Personally, I'll lap up anything by Bosworth, Heckel or Holt.
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Re: Parmenion, Paeonian chief?

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It was a by-product of Stone's film, alot of crud was thrown out on the back of that publicity, much of it striving for a 'new take' and generally falling short. One day I will get round to reviewing all the books I have, but at the moment I have to answer a couple of threads, Xenophon, be warned :lol: I also have to moderate my tone, it's just that I love the more acidic review 'Paul Cartledge runs the whole gamut of Alexander scholarship, from A to B!' to paraphrase... :roll:
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Re: Parmenion, Paeonian chief?

Post by marcus »

agesilaos wrote:'Paul Cartledge runs the whole gamut of Alexander scholarship, from A to B!' to paraphrase... :roll:
As Dorothy Parker would have said ... :D

I wonder how far it could be called a "by-product", however, as it must have been written before the film was released. (The film was released in 2004 - I can't remember the exact date, but I can say with 100% certainly that it was after April; the book was published in September 2004.) However, there can be no doubt that, knowing that the film was being made, a whole slew of people knocked off books on Alexander, expecting what was undoubtedly a bit of a bumper crop of sales coinciding with the film.

I notice that Worthington has a new book coming out this year: the UK Amazon link. One does wonder whether it's truly necessary, as within the last ten years he has produced a book on Alexander and a book on Philip. Does he have anything new to say, I wonder? (Or is he, perhaps, moderating his diatribe against Alexander?)
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Re: Parmenion, Paeonian chief?

Post by Nicator »

agesilaos wrote:It was a by-product of Stone's film, alot of crud was thrown out on the back of that publicity, much of it striving for a 'new take' and generally falling short. One day I will get round to reviewing all the books I have, but at the moment I have to answer a couple of threads, Xenophon, be warned :lol: I also have to moderate my tone, it's just that I love the more acidic review 'Paul Cartledge runs the whole gamut of Alexander scholarship, from A to B!' to paraphrase... :roll:
The Cartledge history was a surprise in its balanced view. I particularly enjoyed his care in handling the evil tyrant/benevolent leader dichotomy.
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Re: Parmenion, Paeonian chief?

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I did not think his book brought anything new to the table, but then I 'm a jaded old sod and like many, I think that straight biography has run its course and that the future is in more detailed essays (though one must immediately add that just being an essay does not mean that it is superior to the analysis one might find in a good biography! :shock: ).
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