The Great Empires of Prophecy, from Babylon to the Fall of Rome
CHAPTER XVII. EMPIRE OF GRECIA—ALEXANDER’S SUCCESSORS. THE EMPIRE DIVIDED
The Governors and Generals—Plot and Counterplot—“King” Aridaeus Is Murdered—Seleucus Obtains Babylon—The Siege of Rhodes—Four Kingdoms Did Stand Up
NO immediate heir was left by Alexander. Roxana was his legitimate queen; but as yet she had no child. There was indeed a son, named Hercules, by his mistress Barsiné; but he, being not a legitimate heir to the kingdom, could not be seriously considered. There was also an imbecile half-brother to Alexander, named Aridaeus. As Alexander had given to Perdiccas his signet-ring, this gave to that general the precedence in the government and the official charge of affairs. 1 GEP 188.1
2. In a council of the army, the cavalry and the horse-guards under the leadership of Perdiccas favored a government by a small council of the chief officers until the birth of the expected heir by Roxana. The infantry, on the other hand, at once set up the imbecile Aridaeus as king. There came near being a desperate battle of the two branches of the army to decide the question thus raised. A compromise was effected by which Aridaeus was acknowledged by all as king until the expected heir should attain the age at which he might assume the kingly authority. As Aridaeus was himself incapable, it was essential that there should be a regent, and to this office Perdiccas was chosen. Within two or three months from this time, Roxana gave birth to a son, who was named Alexander, of course for his father. The infant was proclaimed king jointly with Aridaeus, with Perdiccas now guardian of the infant as well as regent of the empire. All this made Perdiccas practically king. GEP 188.2
3. The death of Alexander left thirty-six able generals, most of whom were with the army at Babylon, while others were stationed as governors at pivotal points in the empire. The first act of the new government was an effort to secure the stability of the empire by appointing these generals to be governors of the various provinces, or districts,—the ablest generals to the most important provinces, of course,—each one with full military power in his province, or district. GEP 189.1
4. This distribution to the ones with whom this history must deal, was as follows:— GEP 189.2
Lysimachus to Thrace.
Antigonus and his son Demetrius to Lycia, Pamphylia, and Greater Phrygia.
Cassander to Caria.
Leonatus to Lesser Phrygia.
Eumenes to Cappadocia and Paphlagonia.
Ptolemy to Egypt.
Menander to Lydia.
Atropates to Media.
Laomedon to Syria and Phenicia.
Peucestes to Persia.
Antipater and Craterus to Macedon, Greece, and Epirus.
Arcesilas to Mesopotamia.
Philip to Bactria and Sogdiana.
Neoptolemus to Armenia.
Phrataphernes to Parthia and Hyrcania.
Perdiccas to Media Magna.
Archon to Babylonia.
Seleucus was made Master-General of the cavalry.
Pithon, Clitus, Aridaeus, and Polysperchon were four to whom no province was given at first, but who come in later. GEP 189.3
5. Each of these provincial governors was ready to grasp all that he possibly could of the empire; and each of the leading generals was ready to grasp for himself the whole of the empire. The infant king was held by all merely as a puppet before themselves and the world as a means of advantage. In the nature of things war was inevitable. It began very shortly, and continued so generally and so persistently that it is literally true that war became, and was considered, a vocation, as much as any every-day occupation, and was carried on more as a test of strength and military skill than as involving any matter of either principle or passion. It is essential to an intelligent understanding of the history, that the ambitions and the fortunes of these generals and their charges shall be followed; though it will have to be done as briefly as possible, consistent with retaining the thread of the universal story. GEP 189.4
6. It must be remembered that Macedonia was the original of Alexander’s empire; and that when he started from Greece to Persia he was absenting himself from his real kingdom and capital. This required that a regent should occupy his place in Macedonia, and rule this kingdom in his absence. Antipater was appointed by Alexander as this regent. Upon the distribution of provinces after the death of Alexander, Greece was added to Macedonia as the portion of Antipater. GEP 190.1
7. And now, as the curtain rises on the long drama, the first scene is that in which Antipater goes into Greece to take possession as governor. Athens, however, formed a confederation of Greek cities and resisted him, under the leadership of an Athenian—Leosthenes. Antipater was defeated in battle, and was shut up in Lamia in Thessaly. Leonatus crossed over from Lesser Phrygia to assist Antipater; but was defeated and slain before he could join his forces to those of Antipater. Upon this Antipater surrendered to Leosthenes; but was let go, and at once assumed command of the troops left without a leader by the death of Leonatus. Craterus, who had been appointed to the province of Epirus, now marching from Cilicia to Epirus, joined forces with Antipater in Thessaly. The united army numbered forty-eight thousand men, and defeated the Greek allies, who all surrendered. Antipater then went at once to Athens, which also surrendered. Demosthenes fled, but was pursued and overtaken, and rather than surrender to Antipater with the danger of being tortured, he took poison, and in a few minutes was dead (October, 322 B. C.). About this time also, Craterus married Antipater’s daughter Phila. GEP 190.2
8. Eumenes was to have been helped by Leonatus and Antigonus to the possession of Cappadocia and Paphlagonia; but Leonatus being killed in Thessaly, and Antigonus not caring to fulfil the agreement, Eumenes went with his five hundred men to Perdiccas in Media Magna. Perdiccas conducted him to Cappadocia, defeated and captured the king of that country, and established Eumenes in the government of the two countries assigned him. GEP 190.3
9. Perdiccas then went to Pisidia and Cilicia, and determined to divorce his wife, who was a daughter of Antipater, and take for his wife Cleopatra, the sister of Alexander the Great. Cleopatra was at Sardis, and Perdiccas sent Eumenes to her with his proposition. Antigonus, learning of this scheme, and seeing what an advantage Perdiccas was aiming at in securing Alexander’s sister for his wife, when he was already guardian of the infant king and regent of the empire, went over to Greece and told the story to Antipater and Craterus, whom he induced to march at once to the Hellespont. He sent word also to Ptolemy, whom he also enlisted on his side. GEP 190.4
10. Perdiccas, learning of this plot against him, sent Eumenes back to Cappadocia with orders to watch Neoptolemus of Armenia. He next sent his troops into Cappadocia. He then held a council of war as to whether he should first march against Antipater and Craterus in Macedonia, or against Ptolemy in Egypt. It was decided that Perdiccas himself should go to Egypt against Ptolemy, while Eumenes should watch Neoptolemus on the one side, and Antipater and Craterus on the other. That Eumenes might the better do all this there was now added to his dominion Caria, Lycia, and Lesser Phrygia, he being made generalissimo of all the troops, and governor of all the governors, in all these countries. GEP 191.1
11. Eumenes at once collected an army to meet Antipater and Craterus, who had crossed the Hellespont. They tried by every means to induce Eumenes to desert Perdiccas and join them, but without avail. They did succeed in persuading Alcetas, brother to Perdiccas, to remain neutral, and Neoptolemus really to declare for them. Eumenes defeated Neoptolemus; but Neoptolemus himself, with three hundred of his cavalry, escaped to Antipater and Craterus. Antipater started to Egypt to help Ptolemy against Perdiccas, and sent Neoptolemus and Craterus against Eumenes in Cappadocia. A battle was fought in which both Neoptolemus and Craterus were slain—Neoptolemus by Eumenes himself, after a long and desperate hand-to-hand struggle (321 B. C.). GEP 191.2
12. Perdiccas went to Egypt by way of Damascus and Palestine. Ptolemy had been a personal friend, and one of the most trusted officers, of Alexander, and on his own part was popular with the army. Consequently, when Perdiccas reached Egypt, many of his troops hesitated much to fight against the personal friend of the mighty chief whose memory they adored. Perdiccas, in forcing them to cross the Nile, caused the drowning of about two thousand of them, the half of whom were eaten by the crocodiles. This so angered his already sullen army that they broke out into open mutiny, assassinated him, and went over bodily to Ptolemy, B. C. 321. Thus already in the brief space of about two years the guardian and regent and three of the chief governors came to their death—Perdiccas, Leonatus, Neoptolemus, and Craterus. GEP 191.3
13. Ptolemy induced his associates, with himself to issue a public decree devoting to destruction Eumenes and fifty other principal men as “enemies of the Macedonian State.” Pithon and Aridaeus were appointed guardians of the infant king and regents of the imbecile king Aridaeus. They led the army back to Syria, and delivered it, with the regency and guardianship, to Antipater; also, the decree and the authority to war against Eumenes. GEP 192.1
14. Antipater as regent now made a new distribution of some of the provinces. To Seleucus was given the province of Babylonia. To Pithon was given Media; but he was not able to take it: Atropates was too powerful for him, and was able to keep Media all his days. And so that region acquired the name of Media Atropatene, which it held even till modern times. Antipater himself returned to Macedonia, taking with him the puppet-kings, and left his son Cassander, general of cavalry, to watch Antigonus. GEP 192.2
15. In the war that was made on Eumenes, that general was defeated through the treachery of one of his generals, whom, for it, he caught and hanged on the spot. Eumenes, after retreating from place to place, at last shut himself up with five hundred men in the castle of Nora, between Cappadocia and Lycaonia, where he withstood siege for a whole year. Then Antigonus tried to buy him over, but could not; but by changing the words of a proposed treaty, the siege was raised for a short time, and Eumenes escaped (320 B. C.). GEP 192.3
16. When Antipater had returned to Macedonia, and while Antigonus was engaged against Eumenes, Ptolemy marched out of Egypt and overran Phenicia, and Syria; and on his return carried captive to Egypt about one hundred thousand Jews. In 319 B. C., Antipater was seized of a sickness, of which he died. Before he died, he appointed Polysperchon regent and guardian of the infant and of the imbecile king. The death of Antipater left Antigonus the most powerful commander in the empire. Antigonus knew this, and began to assume kingly authority by removing two governors—Aridaeus of Phrygia, and Clitus of Lydia. Upon this, Polysperchon as regent, in the name of the two puppet kings, sent to Eumenes a commission as captain-general of Asia Minor, and ordered all available troops to support him against Antigonus. Eumenes first attempted to recover Syria and Phenicia; but was defeated by the loss of his fleet. Learning this, Antigonus started to attack him wherever he might be found. Eumenes avoided a battle by crossing the Euphrates and marching into Mesopotamia, where he wintered. In the spring, 318 B. C., he went on toward Babylonia. Seleucus opposed him at first, but soon let him pass on to Susa, where he was joined by Peucestes and the other governors in that region. Antigonus, with his army, followed Eumenes to the east; and after a long campaign Eumenes was defeated by treachery, and was delivered to Antigonus, who put him to death. GEP 192.4
17. Cassander was the son of Antipater, and was greatly disappointed and supremely jealous when he found that Polysperchon, instead of himself, was made regent, although he was associated with Polysperchon in the regency. From that moment he set himself diligently to work to secure the kingdom of Macedonia and Greece for himself by any means, fair or foul. He took Athens and, indeed, secured the support of most of the Greek cities. He appointed as governor of Athens, 317 B. C., the Athenian, Demetrius Phalereus, who ruled the city ten years, and so pleased the people that they set up three hundred and sixty statutes to his honor. As soon as Polysperchon learned that Cassander held Athens, he besieged him there, but was obliged to raise the siege and retire from the place. GEP 193.1
18. About this time—317 B. C.—old Olympias, the mother of Alexander the Great, caused to be murdered the imbecile king Aridaeus and his wife, and also Cassander’s brother Nicanor, and about a hundred of his friends. She then retired to Pydna with her family; but Cassander followed her to that place, besieged her there, captured her, and put her to death. He then married Thessalonice, sister to Alexander the Great, and shut up Roxana and the young Alexander in the castle of Amphipolis. He next marched into Boeotia against Polysperchon. He gave orders also for the rebuilding of Thebes and the return of the Theban exiles; and in a few years Thebes became greater and richer than ever before. Eight years had now passed since the death of Alexander, and there were seven of the principal men dead, and the queen-mother Olympias besides. GEP 193.2
19. After the death of Eumenes, Antigonus considered himself master of all Asia, and began to destroy all governors who possessed any considerable ability, of whom Pithon was one. He attempted to destroy Seleucus with the others; but Seleucus escaped and went to Ptolemy, and showed him what Antigonus was designing, and also sent information to Lysimachus and Cassander to the same effect. The result was that a league was formed, 314 B. C., of these four—Seleucus, Ptolemy, Lysimachus, and Cassander—against Antigonus. GEP 194.1
20. Antigonus had sent to Ptolemy, Lysimachus, and Cassander, solicitations of peace; but the answers that he received convinced him at once that war was the only thing that he could expect. He therefore marched immediately from the east to Cilicia, raised new levies, regulated the affairs of Asia Minor, and then invaded Syria and Phenicia to take them from Ptolemy. He was able to take Joppa and Gaza with but little difficulty; but he was obliged to besiege Tyre for fifteen months. While this siege was being conducted, Cassander began to gain considerable advantage in Asia Minor. Antigonus, therefore, left his son Demetrius, aged twenty-two, to carry on the siege of Tyre, 313 B. C., while he himself, with as many troops as could be spared, should try to hold Asia Minor against Cassander. GEP 194.2
21. Antigonus met Cassander, and pressed him so closely that Cassander came to an agreement with him; but broke it as soon as he was out of danger, and sent to Ptolemy and Seleucus for help, and renewed the war. This gave Ptolemy a chance to go up with a fleet and possess himself of Cyprus, make a descent on Cilicia and northern Syria, and return victorious to Egypt. He then marched out with an army and defeated Demetrius at Gaza, and recovered Palestine, Phenicia, and the Hollow Syria. Shortly afterward, however, Demetrius defeated Ptolemy’s general; and immediately Antigonus joined him, and together they recovered all the Hollow Syria, Phenicia, and Palestine. As Ptolemy was being driven out, he broke down the defenses of Acco, Samaria, Joppa, and Gaza, and carried off another large company of Jews and planted them in Alexandria (312 B. C.). GEP 194.3
22. After the victory of Ptolemy at Gaza, Seleucus took one thousand three hundred troops and went to Babylon. At Carrhae he was joined by a considerable body of Macedonian troops; and when he reached Babylon, the people opened their gates and received him with joy, because of the severity with which Antigonus had treated them when he was there. Seleucus next defeated Nicanor, governor of Media, whose troops then all joined Seleucus, making for him a strong army. Antigonus immediately sent Demetrius to recover Babylon from Seleucus. When Demetrius reached Babylon, Seleucus was in Media, and his governor retreated into the marshes, leaving Demetrius to take possession without a battle. However, Antigonus was obliged to recall Demetrius to his assistance, who, before he left Babylon, gave up the city to be plundered by his troops, which so enraged the Babylonians that as soon as Demetrius was well away they gladly welcomed back Seleucus, who never again lost possession of Babylon and the east. This was in 312 B. C.; and with this date began the Era of the Seleucidae, that is, of Seleucus and his successors. GEP 195.1
23. When Demetrius reached Asia Minor from Babylon, and joined his father there, Ptolemy was besieging Halicarnassus; but by the re-enforcements which Demetrius brought he was obliged immediately to raise the siege. The confederate princes—Ptolemy, Cassander, Lysimachus, and Seleucus—then agreed to allow Antigonus to claim as his dominion all Asia Minor, until the young Alexander should be old enough to reign. This agreement was all disconcerted, however, by Cassander’s murdering both Alexander and Roxana (310 B. C.). Upon this Polysperchon brought from Pergamus, Hercules, the son of Alexander by his mistress Barsine, and proposed to the Macedonians that they make him king; but Cassander succeeded in inducing Polysperchon to murder Hercules instead of making him king (309 B. C.). Cleopatra, the sister of Alexander the Great, was dwelling at Sardis, and seeing what had overtaken these other relations of Alexander, she began to fear for her own life, and therefore started from Sardis to seek safety under the protection of Ptolemy. As soon as her flight was discovered, however, she was pursued, overtaken, brought back, and murdered (308 B. C.). Thus and now had perished the whole house of Alexander, excepting only Cassander’s wife—Thessalonice. GEP 195.2
24. In the year 306 B. C., Demetrius defeated Cassander’s forces, invaded Greece, took Athens, and declared it free—a democracy as of old. Demetrius Phalereus, the governor, was allowed to depart to Thebes and afterward to Egypt, to Ptolemy. The inconstant Athenians, out of gratitude for their “freedom,” conferred upon both Demetrius and Antigonus the title of king, with much other flattering foolishness, and broke down the three hundred and sixty statutes which they had so recently erected in honor of Demetrius Phalereus. Demetrius, with a powerful fleet, made a descent upon Cyprus, which was held by Ptolemy, defeating Ptolemy’s forces that defended it. Ptolemy sent out a fleet from Egypt, which was also defeated by Demetrius. Then Ptolemy himself went out with large re-enforcements to his fleet, and he likewise was defeated by Demetrius. When Antigonus learned of this great success of Demetrius, he sent to him the kingly crown. Upon hearing of this, the Egyptians proclaimed Ptolemy king. Lysimachus and Seleucus learning what had been done, each assumed for himself the title of king. Cassander did not on his own part assume the title; but the others, in all their dealings with him, gave it to him and addressed him as king. This he tacitly accepted, and with the others stood as a king. This occurred in the year 305 B. C. GEP 196.1
25. During this period of the victorious career of Demetrius in Greece, about Cyprus, and on the sea, Seleucus carried his power, and fixed his authority, over all Central Asia from Babylon to the river Indus. GEP 197.1
26. Antigonus now—305 B. C.—determined to invade Egypt with one hundred thousand men, by land, while Demetrius should go against it with a fleet. But Ptolemy made such good defense that Antigonus could do nothing, and after beating about for a time, was compelled to return to Syria to keep his troops from all going over to Ptolemy. As his part of the expedition so signally failed, so also did that of Demetrius come to naught. GEP 197.2
27. Demetrius, thus finding himself out of employment, selected the island and city of Rhodes (304 B. C.) as the place for the exercise of his abilities. In a long and terrible siege the Rhodians were aided by Lysimachus with four hundred thousand bushels of barley, and the same of wheat; by Cassander with one hundred thousand bushels of barley; and by Ptolemy with three hundred thousand measures of wheat and large quantities of vegetables, and fifteen hundred men. When the siege had continued a year, Antigonus sent letters urging Demetrius to make peace with the Rhodians by any means. Just then the Etolians also besought Demetrius to give peace to the Rhodians. Peace was concluded, the Rhodians agreeing to help Antigonus against anybody but Ptolemy. Demetrius made the Rhodians a present of all the machines of war that he had used against their city. These the Rhodians sold for three hundred thousand crowns, to which they added an equal amount from their own funds, and with the whole sum erected the Colossus of Rhodes,—a colossal image of Apollo standing astride the entrance to their harbor,—one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Also out of gratitude to Ptolemy the Rhodians made him a god, and called him Soter, that is, savior. GEP 197.3
28. Cassander was now again besieging Athens (303 B. C.). The Athenians applied to Demetrius for succor. He came, compelled Cassander to raise the siege, and drove him out of Attica, and, indeed, entirely out of Greece, overwhelmingly defeating him at Thermopylae. The Greeks then made Demetrius generalissimo of all the forces of Greece, as they had done to Philip and Alexander. They desired to bestow upon him the further “honor” of initiating him into their mysteries. But there was a difficulty: it was now the month of May, whereas the lesser mysteries were celebrated only in March, and the greater mysteries only in October; and the lesser were only preparatory to the greater, and the greater could not be entered except through the lesser. All difficulty, however, was overcome by their decreeing that the month of May should be both March and October—the first half of the month being March to accommodate the lesser mysteries, and the latter half being October to accommodate the greater mysteries; and all to accommodate Demetrius by putting him through the lesser directly into the greater. They also gave to Demetrius nearly three hundred thousand dollars in money, which he in turn handed over to his courtezans with which to supply themselves with washes, perfumery, and paints. GEP 197.4
29. Cassander and Lysimachus now sent ambassadors to Seleucus and Ptolemy to show to them that Antigonus, now that his son Demetrius was become so great, would certainly be content with nothing less than the whole empire; and that therefore it was high time to bring him down. They reported that already, in the language of the court flatterers of Demetrius, Ptolemy was but “a captain of a ship,” Seleucus “a commander of elephants,” and Lysimachus “a treasurer.” The result was that a strict confederacy was formed of these four—Ptolemy, Seleucus, Lysimachus, and Cassander. This was in the year 302 B. C. GEP 198.1
30. The plan of operations of these four in their confederacy was that Cassander should remain in Europe to hold it against Demetrius; while Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy should concentrate their forces in Asia Minor and crush Antigonus. Lysimachus took all the troops that could be spared, and crossed the Hellespont into Asia. He led a fine army, and soon reduced Phrygia, Lydia, and Lycaonia. GEP 198.2
31. Antigonus was in Upper Syria at a capital which he had built and called Antigonia. He immediately drew his forces together, marched into Cilicia to his treasury there, took what funds he needed, and went on to meet Lysimachus, who continually beat off till Seleucus and Ptolemy should arrive. Antigonus sent for Demetrius, who came immediately and landed at Ephesus with an army. Ptolemy was obliged to conquer his way through Palestine, Phenicia, and Syria, and was delayed by the sieges of Tyre and Sidon. While at the siege of Sidon he received a false report that Antigonus had defeated the other two allies; upon which he picked up everything and went straight back to Egypt. GEP 198.3
32. By this time a year had passed. Yet shortly, 301 B. C. Seleucus had joined forces with Lysimachus, and the long sought battle was fought at Ipsus in Phrygia. Antigonus was defeated and slain, at the age of eighty-one; Demetrius escaped to Ephesus with nine thousand men, again joined his fleet, and ruled the sea. GEP 199.1
33. Then 301 B. C., twenty-two years after the death of Alexander the Great, when all his house, whether relatives or posterity, had perished, the empire conquered by “the prince of Grecia” was divided among themselves, by Ptolemy, Seleucus, Lysimachus, and Cassander, “toward the four winds of heaven,” as follows:—in the north south lysimachus—Thrace, Bithynia, Ptolemy—Egypt, Libya Arabia, and some smaller provinces of and Palestine. Asia Minor. East west seleucus—Syria and all the country Cassander—Macedon and Greece. GEP 199.2
try to the river Indus. GEP 199.3
34. And thus was fulfilled to the letter the word of the prophecy of Daniel: “The rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king. Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.” 2 And “a mighty king [of Grecia] shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.” 3 GEP 199.4