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Biographies (21)



TYMFEI (Ancient country) EPIRUS
, , 394 - 303
Macedonian officer, regent for king Philip Arridaeus and Alexander, the son of Alexander the Great.
  Polyperchon was born as the son of a Macedonian nobleman named Simmias in the district of Tymphaea, the valley of the Upper Haliacmon. This was the most backward part of Macedonia. When Alexander became king and invaded the Achaemenid empire (334), Polyperchon was an officer in the Tymphaean brigade. Soon, he was promoted: during the battle of Gaugamela (331), he commanded either the Tymphaean brigade or the foreign troops.
  He is usually described as a conservative man, sticking to the old Macedonian traditions and opposing Alexander's orientalism. For example, he seems to have mocked the introduction of the Persian court ritual (proskynesis). He was befriended with other men of his generation, such as Parmenion, Antipater, and especially Craterus.
  His first recorded independent command was in Gandara, where he captured the town Ora in the Swat valley (spring 326). During the campaign in the Indus valley, he belonged to the army of Craterus, which returned earlier than the main army. In 324, both men were ordered to lead 11,500 veterans from Babylonia to Macedonia. It is likely that Alexander wanted to have conservative commanders like Craterus and Polyperchon as far as possible from the main force; it was a way to silence the opposition against his oriental policy.
  It took some time to arrive in Macedonia. In Cilicia, the veterans had to built the fleet that Alexander wanted to use to attack Carthage. The soldiers were still working when they heard that on June 11, 323, Alexander had died in Babylon.
  Immediately, the Greeks revolted. The commander of the Macedonian forces in Europe, Antipater, was for some time besieged in a fortress named Lamia, but managed to break out. It was only when Craterus and Polyperchon arrived, that the rebels could be defeated at Crannon in Thessaly (September 5, 322).
  Not much later, civil war broke out, the First Diadoch War (322-320). Alexander had died without successor: his half-brother Philip Arridaeus was a bastard and mentally unfit to rule, and his queen Roxane gave birth to a baby (Alexander) who would not be old enough to rule until 305. Therefore, one of the generals, Perdiccas, was made regent. However, several other generals felt neglected, and when Perdiccas engaged himself to the sister of Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, they became afraid of the regent's power.
  The main rebels were Craterus, Antipater, Antigonus Monophthalmus, and Ptolemy of Egypt. On the other side, Perdiccas was supported by Eumenes, who defeated Craterus. Perdiccas himself was less successful: when his invasion of Egypt failed, he was killed by his officers Antigenes, Peithon, and Seleucus (summer 320).
  Now the regency was offered to Ptolemy, who did not accept this impossible task, and instead appointed Peithon and Arridaeus, officers without much prestige and experience, who would never keep the empire united. Antipater, on the other hand, still wanted to maintain the unity. He went to Syria, where he organized a meeting with the other generals. (Polyperchon was in charge of Macedonia.) Late in 320, Antipater was made regent and remained supreme commander of the Macedonian forces in Europe; Antigonus was to be commander in Asia; and Ptolemy's independence was more or less recognized. The royal family now went to Macedonia.
  Within a year, Antipater succumbed to old age. On his death bed, he made Polyperchon regent and supreme commander; Antipater's son Cassander was to be his vizier. However, the latter was not content with this position, organized a rebellion, was supported by king Philip's wife Eurydice, and allied himself to Ptolemy. In fact, this was the end of all attempts to keep the empire intact. From now on, the political role of the Macedonian house was ended; within three years, most of its members were dead.
  At the same time, Antigonus decided that he could try to become more independent. He commanded the world's largest army, and had established his superiority over the satraps in what is now Turkey. It is likely that he was already dreaming of universal rule. He joined the coalition of Cassander and Ptolemy. This was the beginning of the Second Diadoch War (319-315).
  Polyperchon, however, was not defeated yet and briefly rose to the occasion. For example, he made king Philip write a letter patent to Eumenes, who was still fighting a guerilla war against Antigonus. The letter said that he could take command of several military units from Antigonus' army; since it was written by Alexander's beloved brother, this was a serious drawback for Antigonus. Eumenes immediately seized one of the royal treasures, and having men and money, he went to Phoenicia, where he repelled Ptolemy's forces and started to build a navy for Polyperchon (spring 318).
  In the meantime, Polyperchon had decreed that the Greek towns, which had been garrisoned by Antipater, would be 'free and autonomous' again. The result was less than satisfactory. Most towns sided with the new ruler of Macedonia, but Piraeus, the important port of Athens, sided with Cassander. The decision in the war was to take place somewhere else.
  In the autumn of 318, Polyperchon's navy was defeated by Antigonus' fleet in the Bosporus, and because the navy that Eumenes was building never appeared, Polyperchon lost the control of the Aegean Sea to Antigonus. Cassander was the main profiteer. He secured the support of Athens and in the spring of 317, he was recognized as ruler of Macedonia and regent of king Philip Arridaeus.
  Polyperchon, however, had made his escape to Epirus in the west. In his presence were Alexander's wife Roxane and his son, the infant Alexander. He was joined by Olympias, the mother of Alexander the Great, and king Aeacidas of Epirus. It was not a very powerful coalition, but it stillcould play a trump card: the boy Alexander was the lawful successor of the great Alexander, whereas Philip Arridaeus was a mere bastard of Philip. When they invaded Macedonia in October 317, king Philip and queen Eurydice met them at the frontier -Cassander was campaigning in the Peloponnese- but their entire army deserted them and joined the enemy. Olympias had her stepson executed, forced Eurydice to commit suicide, and massacred many supporters of Cassander. However, Cassander was approaching and besieged Olympias in Pydna, a harbor town at the foot of the holy mountain Olympus. Although both Polyperchon and Aeacidas tried to relieve her, she was forced to surrender and killed (spring 316).
  In the meantime, Antigonus was fighting a war against Eumenes, which lasted some time. In the end, Antigonus was victorious: now he controlled all Asia between the Aegean Sea and the Hindu Kush mountain range. And he was dangerously powerful. As one could expect, a new civil war broke out: the Third Diadoch War, in which Cassander and Ptolemy opposed Antigonus (314-311).
  By now, Polyperchon was almost powerless, but he still controlled parts of the Peloponnese, and could still claim that he was, officially, the regent of the boy king Alexander and his mother Roxane (who were kept in custody by Cassander). Antigonus allied himself to the old man: he sent him money, and in return accepted the title of regent. Polyperchon was now reduced from general to officer. At the same time, Cassander offered him a more prestigious position, but Polyperchon refused. His son accepted, but was murdered. His widow kept the two cities which he had commanded, Sicyon and Corinth, for Polyperchon and Antigonus. Other towns now gave up their alliance with Cassander, and in 313, large parts of the Peloponnese were for Antigonus. Cassander was now forced to open negotiations, which led to nothing.
  In the next two years, Cassander and Ptolemy seized the initiative again, and Antigonus suffered several drawbacks. In the autumn of 311, a peace treaty was concluded, in which they agreed to an armistice, recognized each other as rulers, and agreed that the boy Alexander would be king in 305. At the same time, Antigonus distanced himself from Polyperchon.
  The results of the treaty were, as one could expect, the murder of Roxane and her son, and the preparation of a new round of war. This time, Antigonus was occupied in the east, where Seleucus and Peithon were in open revolt. (Both were murderers of Perdiccas, but this is coincidence.) To keep some pressure on Cassander, Antigonus sent a young man named Heracles to Polyperchon; he was the son of Alexander the Great and his Persian mistress Barsine.
  Again, Cassander opened negotiations, pointing at Antigonus' unreliable behavior. This time, Polyperchon understood that he was not fighting for the Macedonian royal house, but for an usurper. He sided with Cassander and ordered the execution of Barsine and Heracles (309).
  This was the end of Polyperchon's' political career. He remained master of the Peloponnese, where he was still active in 304. He died, not much later. The year is not known, but he was more than ninety years old.
  Polyperchon was an officer and possessed all qualities of an officer: he was courageous, loyal, and was willing to stubbornly defend a hopeless position - such as the Macedonian royal house, long after it had become clear that there was no place for the royals in the world of the Diadochi. Only at the end of his career, he understood that he had become a relict of an ancient time.

Jona Lendering, ed.
This text is cited July 2003 from the Livius Ancient History Website URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks.



EPIRUS (Ancient country) GREECE
Son of Arybbas, father of Pyrrhus

Aeacides (Aiakides), the son of Arymbas, king of Epirus, succeeded to the throne on the death of his cousin Alexander, who was slain in Italy (Liv. viii. 24). Aeacides married Phthia, the daughter of Menon of Pharsalus, by whom he had the celebrated Pyrrhus and two daughters, Deidameia and Troias. In B. C. 317 he assisted Polysperchon in restoring Olympias and the young Alexander, who was then only five years old, to Macedonia. In the following year he marched to the assistance of Olympias, who was hard pressed by Cassander; but the Epirots disliked the service, rose against Aeacides, and drove him from the kingdom. Pyrrhus, who was then only two years old, was with difficulty saved from destruction by some faithful servants. But becoming tired of the Macedonian rule, the Epirots recalled Aeacides in B. C. 313; Cassander immediately sent an army against him under Philip, who conquered him the same year in two battles, in the last of which he was killed (Paus. i. 11; Diod. xix. 11, 36, 74; Plut. Pyrrh. i. 2).

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Sep 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Alcetas I

Alcetas (Alketas), king of Epirus, was the son of Tharypus. For some reason or other, which we are not informed of, he was expelled from his kingdom, and took refuge with the elder Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, by whom he was reinstated. After his restoration we find him the ally of the Athenians, and of Jason, the Tagus of Thessaly. In B. C. 373, he appeared at Athens with Jason, for the purpose of defending Timotheus, who, through their influence, was acquitted. On his death the kingdom, which till then had been governed by one king, was divided between his two sons, Neoptolemus and Arybbas or Arymbas. Diodorus (xix. 88) calls him Arybils. (Paus. i. 11.3; Dem. Timoth. pp. 1187, 1190 ; Diod. xv. 13. 36)

Alcetas II

Alcetas II., king of EPIRUS, was the son of Arymbas, and grandson of Alcctas I. On account of his ungovernable temper, he was banished by his father, who appointed his younger son, Aeacides, to succeed him. On the death of Aeacides, who was killed in a battle fought with Cassander B. C. 313, the Epirots recalled Alcetas. Cassander sent an army against hint under the command of Lyciscus, but soon after entered into an alliance with him (B. C. 312). The Epirots, incensed at the outrages of Alcetas, rose against him and put him to death, together with his two sons; on which Pyrrhus, the son of Aeacides, was placed upon the throne by his protector Glaucias, king of the Illyrians, B. C. 307. (Paus. i. 11.5; Diod. xix. 88, 89 ; Plut Pyrrh. 3)

Alexander I

Alexander (Alexandros) I., king of Epirus, was the son of Neoptolemus and brother of Olympias, the mother of Alexander the Great. He came at an early age to the court of Philip of Macedonia, and after the Grecian fashion became the object of his attachment. Philip in requital made him king of Epirus, after dethroning his cousin Aeacides. When Olympias was repudiated by her husband, she went to her brother, and endeavoured to induce him to make war on Philip. Philip, however, declined the contest, and formed a second alliance with him by giving him his daughter Cleopatra in marriage (B. C. 336). At the wedding Philip was assassinated by Pausanias. In B. C. 332, Alexander, at the request of the Tarentines, crossed over into Italy, to aid them against the Lucanians and Bruttii. After a victory over the Samnites and Lucanians near Paestum he made a treaty with the Romans. Success still followed his arms. He took Heraclea and Consentia from the Lucanians, and Terina and Sipontum from the Bruttii. But in B. C. 326, through the treachery of some Lucanian exiles, he was compelled to engage under unfavourable circumstances near Pandosia, on the banks of the Acheron, and fell by the hand of one of the exiles, as he was crossing the river; thus accomplishing the prophecy of the oracle of Dodona, which had bidden him beware of Pandosia and the Acheron. He left a son, Neoptolemus, and a daughter, Cadmea (Justin, viii. 6, ix. 6, 7, xii. 2, xvii. 3, xviii. 1, xxiii. 1 ; Liv. viii. 3, 17, 24; Diod. xvi. 72).

Alexander II

   The son of the celebrated Pyrrhus. To avenge the death of his father, who had been slain at Argos, fighting against Antigonus, he seized upon Macedonia, of which the latter was king. He was soon, however, driven out, not only from Macedonia, but also from his own dominions, by Demetrius, son of Antigonus. Taking refuge, on this, among the Acarnanians, he succeeded, by their aid, in regaining the throne of Epirus.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Alexander II. king of Epirus, was the son of Pyrrhus and Lanassa, the daughter of the Sicilian tyrant Agathocles. He succeeded his father in B. C. 272, and continued the war which his father had begun with Antigonus Gonatas, whom he succeeded in driving from the kingdom of Macedon. He was, however, dispossessed of both Macedon and Epirus by Demetrius, the son of Antigonus; upon which he took refuge amongst the Acarnanians. By their assistance and that of his own subjects, who entertained a great attachment for him, he recovered Epirus. It appears that he was in alliance with the Aetolians. He married his sister Olympias, by whom he had two sons, Pyrrhus and Ptolemaeus, and a daughter, Phthia. On the death of Alexander, Olympias assumed the regency on behalf of her sons, and married Phthia to Demetrius. There are extant silver and copper coins of this king. The former bear a youthful head covered with the skin of an elephant's head, as appears in the one figured below. The reverse represents Pallas holding a spear in one hand and a shield in the other, and before her stands an eagle on a thunderbolt. ((Justin, xvii. 1, xxvi. 2, 3, xxviii. 1; Polyb. ii. 45, ix. 34; Plut. Pyrrh. 9.)

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Oct 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Queen Olympias (c. 376 BC-316 BC)

  Daughter of Neoptolemus, king of Epirus, wife of Philip II of Macedon, and mother of Alexander the Great.
  Her father claimed descent from Pyrrhus, son of Achilles. It is said that Philip fell in love with her in Samothrace, where they were both being initiated into the mysteries. The marriage took place in 359 B.C., shortly after Philip's accession, and Alexander was born in 356. The fickleness of Philip and the jealous temper of Olympias led to a growing estrangement, which became complete when Philip married a new wife, Cleopatra, in 337. Alexander, who sided with his mother, withdrew, along with her, into Epirus, whence they both returned in the following year, after the assassination of Philip, which Olympias is said to have countenanced.
  During the absence of Alexander, with whom she regularly corresponded on public as well as domestic affairs, she had great influence, and by her arrogance and ambition caused such trouble to the regent Antipater that on Alexander's death (323) she found it prudent to withdraw into Epirus. Here she remained until 317, when, allying herself with Polyperchon, by whom her old enemy had been succeeded in 319, she took the field with an Epirote army; the opposing troops at once declared in her favour, and for a short period Olympias was mistress of Macedonia.
  Cassander, Antipater's son, hastened from Peloponnesus, and, after an obstinate siege, compelled the surrender of Pydna, where she had taken refuge. One of the terms of the capitulation had been that her life should be spared; but in spite of this she was brought to trial for the numerous and cruel executions of which she had been guilty during her short lease of power. Condemned without a hearing, she was put to death (316) by the friends of those whom she had slain, and Cassander is said to have denied her remains the rites of burial.

This text is cited July 2003 from the Malaspina Great Books URL below, which contains image.


, , 375 - 316
  Epirote princess, married to the Macedonian king Philip II, and mother of Alexander the Great.
  The girl who was later to be called Olympias was the daughter of Neoptolemus, the king of the Molossians, one of the greatest tribes in Epirus. They lived in the neighborhood of modern Ioannina in Greece. During Neoptolemus' reign, the tribe became more sedentary; urbanization started and we hear about scribes and other administrative officials. In 358, the Molossians became the allies of the Macedonian king Philip II (359-336); the alliance was strengthened by a diplomatic marriage. In 357, Olympias became Philip's wife.
  Next year, a chariot that Philip had sent to the Olympic games, was victorious. Therefore, the queen received the name Olympias. In the same summer, she gave birth to her first child: Alexander. According to the Greek author Plutarch of Chaeronea (46-c.122), these events took place on the same day.
  In Antiquity, people believed that the birth of a great man was accompanied by portents. They are mentioned by Plutarch:
  The night before the consummation of their marriage, Olympias dreamed that a thunderbolt fell upon her body, which kindled a great fire, whose divided flames dispersed themselves all about, and then were extinguished. And Philip, some time after he was married, dreamt that he sealed up his wife's body with a seal, whose impression, as be fancied, was the figure of a lion (Plutarch, Alexander 2).
  Philip and Olympias also had a daughter Cleopatra, who was to play an important role in the years after the death of Alexander. The birth of the crown prince and a princess that could be used in international affairs must have enhanced Olympias' position, but political influence can not be proven. It is true, Philip appointed Olympias' brother Alexander -not to be confused with her more famous son- as king of Molossis (350), but this does not mean that Olympias was behind the arrangement. After all, the Molossian throne was rightfully Alexander's.
  In August 338, Philip defeated the Greeks; next year, he reorganized the conquered territories in the Corinthian league. At the same time, he married to a woman named Cleopatra, a relative of a Macedonian aristocrat named Attalus. This caused great tensions between the king, Olympias and the crown prince.
  Olympias went into voluntary exile, staying at the Molossian court of her brother Alexander. Her son Alexander and his friends (e.g., Ptolemy and Nearchus) were briefly expelled, but returned soon after. Olympias was further isolated when Philip married Olympias' own daughter Cleopatra to Alexander of Molossis (336): she could no longer count on her brother's support.
  However, Philip was killed during the wedding in October 336. Many suspected Olympias and her son Alexander. The fact that (after her return to Macedonia) she ordered Philip's wife Cleopatra and her child to be murdered, did not improve her reputation. However, her son was now king, and her position was safe.
  During Alexander's campaigns, she kept in touch with him. Our sources mention their correspondence. She probably confirmed the claim, made by her son during his visit to Egypt, that Alexander was the son not of Philip, but of the god Zeus Ammon. It is even possible that she made this claim before Philip's death (and, consequently, before Alexander's visit to Egypt): the events of 337-336 offered ample opportunity.   Although the relations with Alexander were cordial, he kept her far away from politics. Macedonia was ruled by Antipater, one of Philip's most reliable commanders and diplomats and the man who had helped Alexander become king. It seems that he and Olympias were not on speaking terms, and the queen-mother must have been glad that she could go back to Molossis in 330: her brother had died during a campaign in southern Italy, and she served as regent for her cousin Aeacidas.
  On June 11, 323, Alexander died in Babylon, and the age of the successors or Diadochi began. His wife Roxane was pregnant of a son, who was born a few months later and was called Alexander. He and Alexander's brother Philip Arridaeus, who was mentally unfit to rule, were subject to the regency of Perdiccas, Alexander's vizier. He tried to strengthen his position by a marriage with Antipater's daughter Nicaea. However, Olympias offered him the hand of her daughter Cleopatra, a full sister of Alexander the Great (and the former wife of Alexander of Molossis). Perdiccas accepted this marriage, Antipater felt insulted, and the result was a civil war in which Antipater was victorious. He was the new regent of the royal family. However, he died almost immediately (319).
  His successor as regent was an old general named Polyperchon. However, Antipater's son Cassander, who had taken Philip Arridaeus captive, forced him out of Macedonia. Polyperchon had to flee to Epirus, taking Roxane and the baby Alexander with him. Until then, Olympias had refused to support any side in the conflict, but now she realized that if Cassander were to rule, the crown would definitely be lost to her grandson. So, she took the army of Aeacidas, joined the remains of Polyperchon's army and invaded Macedonia (317).
  At the border, she captured Philip Arridaeus, who was executed immediately (October). Many supporters of Cassander were massacred as well. However, Cassander was approaching and besieged Olympias in Pydna, a harbor town at the foot of the holy mountain Olympus. Although both Polyperchon and Aeacidas tried to relieve her, she was forced to surrender. Cassander promised to save her life, but had her executed (316). Roxane and the baby Alexander were killed in secret.
  The succession of Philip and the last two years of Olympias' life were full of bloodshed, and many authors -both ancient and modern- have considered her a cruel woman. This is exaggerated. She was trying to stay alive and see to the succession of her son and grandson. Of the many Macedonian leaders who took part in the civil wars after the death of Alexander the Great, she was one of the few who were not fighting for their own power, but for the legitimate dynasty.

Jona Lendering, ed.
This text is cited July 2003 from the Livius Ancient History Website URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks.

Tharypus or Tharypas, 390 BC.

Father of Alcetas

Neoptolemus II

Son of Alcetas (Perseus Encyclopedia)

Pyrrhus I

, , 318 - 272
Cousin of Alexander the Great, man with high education, great bravery and excellent military training.During his reigh the state of Epeirus was very powerful because of his successful expeditions in S.Italy.

Pyrrhus (Purros Ι). A king of Epirus, son of Aeacides and Phthia, born B.C. 318. His ancestors claimed descent from Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles, who was said to have settled in Epirus after the Trojan War, and to have become the founder of the race of Molossian kings. On the deposition of his father by the Epirots, Pyrrhus, who was then a child only two years old, was saved from destruction by the faithful adherents of the king, who carried him to Glaucias, the king of the Taulantians, an Illyrian people. Glaucias took the child under his care and brought him up with his own children. He not only refused to surrender Pyrrhus to Cassander, but about ten years afterwards he marched into Epirus at the head of an army, and placed Pyrrhus on the throne, leaving him, however, under the care of guardians, as he was then only twelve years of age. In the course of four or five years, however, Cassander, who had gained his supremacy in Greece, prevailed upon the Epirots to expel their young king. Pyrrhus, who was then only seventeen years of age, joined Demetrius, who had married his sister Deidamia, accompanied him to Asia, and was present at the battle of Ipsus (301), in which he gained great renown for his valour. Antigonus fell in the battle, and Demetrius became a fugitive; but Pyrrhus did not desert his brother-in-law in his misfortunes, and shortly afterwards went for him as a hostage into Egypt. Here he was fortunate enough to win the favour of Berenice, the wife of Ptolemy, and received in marriage Antigone, her daughter by her first husband. Ptolemy now supplied him with a fleet and forces, with which he returned to Epirus. Neoptolemus, who had reigned from the time that Pyrrhus had been driven from the kingdom, agreed to share the sovereignty with Pyrrhus. But such an arrangement could not last long, and Pyrrhus anticipated his own destruction by putting his rival to death. This appears to have happened in 295, in which year Pyrrhus is said to have begun to reign.
    He was now twenty-three years old, and he soon became one of the most popular princes of his time. His daring courage made him a favourite with his troops, and his affability and generosity secured the love of his people. He seems at an early age to have taken Alexander as his model, and to have been fired with the ambition of imitating his exploits and treading in his footsteps. His eyes were first directed to the conquest of Macedonia. By assisting Alexander, the son of Cassander, against his brother Antipater, he obtained possession of the whole of the Macedonian dominions on the western side of Greece. But the Macedonian throne itself fell into the hands of Demetrius, greatly to the disappointment of Pyrrhus. The two former friends now became the most deadly enemies, and open war broke out between them in 291. After the war had been carried on with great vigour and various vicissitudes for four years, Pyrrhus joined the coalition formed in 287 by Seleucus, Ptolemy, and Lysimachus against Demetrius. Lysimachus and Pyrrhus invaded Macedonia; Demetrius was deserted by his troops and obliged to fly in disguise, and the kingdom was divided between Lysimachus and Pyrrhus. But the latter did not long retain his portion; the Macedonians preferred the rule of their old general Lysimachus, and Pyrrhus was accordingly driven out of the country after a reign of seven months (286).
    For the next few years Pyrrhus reigned quietly in Epirus without embarking in any new enterprise. But a life of inactivity was insupportable to him, and accordingly he readily accepted the invitation of the Tarentines to assist them in their war against the Romans. He crossed over to Italy early in 280, in the thirty-eighth year of his age. He took with him 20,000 foot, 3000 horse, 2000 archers, 500 slingers, and either fifty or twenty elephants, having previously sent Milo, one of his generals, with a detachment of 3000 men. As soon as he arrived at Tarentum he began to make vigourous preparations for carrying on the war; and as the giddy and licentious inhabitants of Tarentum complained of the severity of his discipline, he forthwith treated them as their master rather than as their ally, shut up the theatre and all other public places, and compelled their young men to serve in his ranks. In the first campaign (280) the Roman consul M. Valerius Laevinus was defeated by Pyrrhus near Heraclea, on the bank of the river Siris. The battle was long and bravely contested, and it was not till Pyrrhus brought forward his elephants, which bore down everything before them, that the Romans took to flight. The loss of Pyrrhus, though inferior to that of the Romans, was still very considerable. A large proportion of his officers and best troops had fallen, and he said, as he viewed the field of battle, "Another such victory, and I must return to Epirus alone." He therefore availed himself of his success to send his minister Cineas to Rome with proposals of peace, while he himself marched slowly towards the city. His proposals, however, were rejected by the Senate. He accordingly continued his march, ravaging the Roman territory as he went along. He advanced within twenty-four miles of Rome; but as he found it impossible to compel the Romans to accept the peace, he retraced his steps and withdrew into winter-quarters at Tarentum. As soon as the armies were quartered for the winter, the Romans sent an embassy to Pyrrhus to endeavour to obtain the ransom of the Roman prisoners. The ambassadors were received by Pyrrhus in the most distinguished manner, and his interviews with C. Fabricius, who was at the head of the embassy, form one of the most celebrated stories in Roman history.
    In the second campaign (279) Pyrrhus gained another victory near Asculum over the Romans, who were commanded by the consuls P. Decius Mus and P. Sulpicius Saverrio. The battle, however, was followed by no decisive results, and the brunt of it had again fallen, as in the previous year, almost exclusively on the Greek troops of the king. He was therefore unwilling to hazard his surviving Greeks by another campaign with the Romans, and accordingly he lent a ready ear to the invitations of the Greeks in Sicily, who begged him to come to their assistance against the Carthaginians. The Romans were likewise anxious to get rid of so formidable an opponent, that they might complete the subjugation of Southern Italy without further interruption. When both parties had the same wishes, it was not difficult to find a fair pretext for bringing the war to a conclusion. This was afforded at the beginning of the following year (278) by one of the servants of Pyrrhus deserting to the Romans and proposing to the consuls to poison his master. The consuls Fabricius and Aemilius sent back the deserter to the king, stating that they abhorred a victory gained by treason. Thereupon Pyrrhus, to show his gratitude, sent Cineas to Rome with all the Roman prisoners without ransom and without conditions; and the Romans granted him a truce, though not a formal peace, as he had not consented to evacuate Italy.
    Pyrrhus now crossed over into Sicily, where he remained upwards of two years, from the middle of 278 to the latter end of 276. At first he met with brilliant success, defeated the Carthaginians and took Eryx; but having failed in an attempt upon Lilybaeum, he lost his popularity with the Greeks, who began to form cabals and plots against him. This led to retaliation on the part of Pyrrhus, and to acts which were deemed both cruel and tyrannical by the Greeks. His position in Sicily at length became so uncomfortable and dangerous that he soon became anxious to abandon the island. Accordingly, when his Italian allies again begged him to come to their assistance, he gladly complied with their request. Pyrrhus returned to Italy in the autumn of 276. In the following year (275) the war was brought to a close. Pyrrhus was defeated with great loss near Beneventum by the Roman consul Curius Dentatus, and was obliged to leave Italy. He brought back with him to Epirus only 8000 foot and 500 horse, and had not money to maintain even these without undertaking new wars. Accordingly, in 273, he invaded Macedonia, of which Antigonus Gonatas, the son of Demetrius, was then king. His only object at first seems to have been plunder, but his success far exceeded his expectations. Antigonus was deserted by his own troops, and Pyrrhus thus became king of Macedonia a second time. But scarcely had he obtained possession of the kingdom before his restless spirit drove him into new enterprises. On the invitation of Cleonymus he turned his arms against Sparta, but was repulsed in an attack upon this city. From Sparta he marched towards Argos in order to support Aristeas, one of the leading citizens at Argos, against his rival Aristippus, whose cause was espoused by Antigonus. In the nighttime Aristeas admitted Pyrrhus into the city, but the alarm having been given, the citadel and all the strong places were seized by the Argives of the opposite faction. On the dawn of day Pyrrhus saw that it would be necessary for him to retreat; and as he was fighting his way out of the city, an Argive woman hurled down from the housetop a ponderous tile, which struck Pyrrhus on the back of his neck. He fell from his horse stunned with the blow, and being recognized by some of the soldiers of Antigonus, was quickly despatched.
    His head was cut off and carried to Antigonus, who turned away from the sight, and ordered the body to be interred with becoming honours. Pyrrhus perished in B.C. 272, in the forty-sixth year of his age and in the twenty-third of his reign.
    He was the greatest warrior and one of the best princes of his time. With his daring courage, his military skill, and his kingly bearing, he might have become the most powerful monarch of his day if he had steadily pursued the immediate object before him. But he never rested satisfied with any acquisition, and was ever grasping at some fresh object: hence Antigonus compared him to a gambler, who made many good throws with the dice, but was unable to make the proper use of the game. Pyrrhus was regarded in subsequent times as one of the greatest generals that had ever lived. Hannibal said that of all generals Pyrrhus was the first, Scipio the second, and himself the third; or, according to another version of the story, Alexander was the first, Pyrrhus the second, and himself the third. Pyrrhus wrote a work on the art of war, which was read in the time of Cicero; and his commentaries are quoted both by Dionysius and Plutarch. Pyrrhus married four wives: (a) Antigone, the daughter of Berenice; (b) a daughter of Audoleon, king of the Paeonians; (c) Bircenna, a daughter of Bardylis, king of the Illyrians; (d) Lanassa, a daughter of Agathocles of Syracuse. His children were: (a) Ptolemy, born 295; killed in battle, 272; (b) Alexander, who succeeded his father as king of Epirus; (c) Helenus; (d) Nereis, who married Gelon of Syracuse; (e) Olympias, who married her own brother Alexander; (f) Deidamia or Laodamia. See the Life by Plutarch.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Pyrrhus (318 - 272 BC)

  Pyrrhus was king of the Hellenistic kingdom of Epirus.
  In 281 BC Tarentum in southern Italy asked his assisstance against Rome. Pyrrhus crossed to Italy with 25,000 men and 20 elephants. He tried to create a kdm of Sicily and lower Italy, but his many victories against Rome were so costly that he had to withdraw from Italy. His remark “Another such victory and I shall be ruined” gave name to the term “Pyrrhic victory” for a victory obtained at to great a cost.
  Pyrrhus returned to Epirus, invaded Macedonia and made an unsuccessful attack on Sparta where he was killed.

This text is cited July 2003 from the Hyperhistory Online URL below.

Pyrrhus (c.318-272 BC)

  King of Epirus and cousin of Alexander the Great, known for his many battles. Married to Agathocles' daughter Lanassa.
  When the Greek colony Tarentum asked Pyrrhus for help against the Romans, the king gladly accepted. According to legend, he asked the philosopher Cineas for advice. The philosopher asked the king what he would do after conquering Italy, and got the answer “Then I will take Carthage”. Cineas asked what then, and got the reply “then we will take Macedonia, Egypt and Asia”. “Then what”, Cineas asked, “then we will celebrate and enjoy the pleasures of life”, replied the king. The philosopher then said “why can't we do that immediately without challenging our destiny?”
  At Heraclea Pyrrhus defeated the Romans with 25000men and 20 elephants in 280BC. The decisive factor for his victory was the elephants, an animal the Romans had never seen before. The horses ran away, terrified, and the Roman soldiers lost their courage. A year later Pyrrhus again defeated the Romans at the battle of Asculum.
  The victories cost him so much, though, that the expression Pyrrhic victory has become an expression for a bitter victory. After this he went to help the Sicilian Greeks against the Carthaginians, now allies with the Romans, but became unpopular with them because of his despotic attitude. In 275 BC he was defeated by the Romans at the battle of Beneventum, and returned to Greece with only one-third of his original force. Pyrrhus was also involved with battles in Greece, and extended his kingdom into parts of Macedonia and Thessaly.
  Lysimachus, king of Thrace and consequently of Macedonia, later drove Pyrrhus out of his new lands. Pyrrhus again managed to conquer part of Macedonia in his defeating of the Macedonian king Antigonus II Gonatas in 276 BC. He was defeated by the Spartan army the year after, and fled to Argos where he was killed in a streetfight.
  His tactics and use of elephants were later to influence Hannibal.

This text is cited Sept 2003 from the In2Greece URL below.


Deidameia. Daughter of Aeacides, king of Epeirus, and sister of Pyrrhus. While yet a girl she was betrothed by her father to Alexander, the son of Roxana, and having accompanied that prince and Olympias into Macedonia, was besieged in Pydna together with them. (Plut. Pyrrh. 4; Diod. xix. 35; Justin, xiv. 6.) After the death of Alexander and Roxana, she was married to Demetrius Poliorcetes, at the time when the latter was endeavouring to establish his power in Greece, and thus became a bond of union between him and Pyrrhus. (Plut. Demetr. 25, Pyrrh. 4.) When DIemetrius proceeded to Asia to support his father against the confederate kings, lie left Deidameia at Athens; but after his defeat at Ipsus, the Athenians sent her away to Megara, though still treating her with regal honours. She soon after repaired to Cilicia to join Demetrius, who had just given his daughter Stratonice in marriage to Seleucus, but had not been there long when she fell ill and died, B. C. 300. (Plut. Demetr. 30, 32.) She left one son by Demetrius, named Alexander, who is said by Plutarch to have spent his life in Egypt, probably in an honourable captivity. (Plut Demetr. 53.)

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Oct 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Helenus, son of Pyrrhus

Helenus, (Helenos), son of Pyrrhus, king of Epeirus, by Lanassa, daughter of Agathocles. He was very young when he accompanied his father on his expedition to Italy, B. C. 280; but Pyrrhus is said to have conceived the project, when elated with his first successes in Sicily, of establishing Helenus there as king of the island, to which as grandson of Agathocles he appeared to have a sort of hereditary claim. (Just. xviii, 1, xxiii. 3.) But the tide of fortune soon turned; and when Pyrrhus saw himself compelled to abandon both Sicily and Italy, he left Helenus at Tarentum, together with Milo, to command the garrison of that city, the place in Italy of which he still retained possession. It was not long before he recalled them both from thence, in consequence of the unexpected views that had opened to his ambition in Macedonia and Greece. Helenus accompanied his father on his expedition into the Peloponnese (B. C. 272), and after the fatal night attack on Argos, in which Pyrrhus himself perished, he fell into the hands of Antigonus Gonatas, who however behaved towards him in the most magnanimous manner, treated him with the utmost distinction, and sent him back in safety to Epeirus, bearing with him the remains of his father. (Just. xxv. 3, 5; Plut. Pyrrhs. 33, 34.) After this we hear no more of him.

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Nov 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Related to the place


Alexarchus (Alexarchos), a Greek historian, who wrote a work on the history of Italy (Italika), of which Plutarch (Parallel. 7) quotes the third book. Servius (ad Aen. iii. 334) mentions an opinion of his respecting the origin of the names Epeirus and Campania, which unquestionably belonged to his work on Italy. The writer of this name, whom Plutarch mentions in another passage (De, Is. et Os.), is probably a different person.

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