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Ancient literary sources (1)


This Alexander (son of Amyntas) was seventh in descent from Perdiccas, who got for himself the tyranny of Macedonia in the way that I will show. Three brothers of the lineage of Temenus came as banished men from Argos to Illyria, Gauanes and Aeropus and Perdiccas; and from Illyria they crossed over into the highlands of Macedonia till they came to the town Lebaea. There they served for wages as thetes in the king's household, one tending horses and another oxen. Perdiccas, who was the youngest, tended the lesser flocks. Now the king's wife cooked their food for them, for in old times the ruling houses among men, and not the common people alone, were lacking in wealth. Whenever she baked bread, the loaf of the thete Perdiccas grew double in size. Seeing that this kept happening, she told her husband, and it seemed to him when be heard it that this was a portent signifying some great matter. So he sent for his thetes and bade them depart from his territory. They said it was only just that they should have their wages before they departed. When they spoke of wages, the king was moved to foolishness and said, "That is the wage you merit, and it is that I give you", pointing to the sunlight that shone down the smoke vent into the house. Gauanes and Aeropus, who were the elder, stood astonished when they heard that, but the boy said, "We accept what you give, O king", and with that he took a knife which he had with him and drew a line with it on the floor of the house round the sunlight. When he had done this, he three times gathered up the sunlight into the fold of his garment and went his way with his companions.
  So they departed, but one of those who sat nearby declared to the king what this was that the boy had done and how it was of set purpose that the youngest of them had accepted the gift offered. When the king heard this, he was angered, and sent riders after them to slay them. There is, however, in that land a river, to which the descendants from Argos of these men offer sacrifice as their deliverer. This river, when the sons of Temenus had crossed it, rose in such flood that the riders could not cross. So the brothers came to another part of Macedonia and settled near the place called the garden of Midas son of Gordias, where roses grow of themselves, each bearing sixty blossoms and of surpassing fragrance. In this garden, according to the Macedonian story, Silenus was taken captive. Above it rises the mountain called Bermius, which none can ascend for the wintry cold. From there they issued forth when they had won that country and presently subdued also the rest of Macedonia.
  Alexander himself is included. It is usual in ordinals to count in both the beginning and the end, but the method seems strange when it causes a man to be counted among his own ancestors or descendants. Thucydides agrees as to the number of the Macedonian kings and in tracing their descent from Temenus of Argos (ii. 99 f.; v. 80); but in the fourth century another account was current, probably derived from Theopompus (fr. 30, F. H. G. i. 283). By this Caranus (?head leader?), son or brother of the Argive king Pheidon, is made the founder of the Macedonian dynasty, and is succeeded by Koinos and Turimmas, who precede the first Perdiccas...
  Argos in the Peloponnese appears as the ancestral home of the family in all versions of the legend. But the Argos with which the Argeadae were really connected is <b>Argos Oresticum</b> (Strabo 326; Steph. Byz.), near the source of the Haliacmon. They first held the fruitful valleys there (valley of Kastoria), and the hill country as far as the source of the Erigon; this is the Upper Macedonia where the three brothers served (inf.), and to which Caranus went by order of an oracle (Euphorion, fr. 24 ekprolipon Argos te kai Hellada kalligunaika i chorei pros pegas Haliakmonos). The Argeadae (cf. Paus. vii. 8. 9) later made Aegae their capital, and established an hegemony over the kindred tribes (cf. Thuc. ii. 99) in Upper Macedon, the Lyncestae, Orestae, Elimiotae, as well as over the coastlands as far as the Axius.
  The likeness of name (Argos and Argeadae) led the Macedonian kings, at least from the time of Alexander I to claim descent from the Heracleid kings of Peloponnesian Argos, just as the princes of the Lyncestae did from the Corinthian Bacchiads, those of the Molossi from Achilles (Strabo 327), and the Illyrian Enchelees from Cadmus. Yet their names are not even Greek, and their origin is at least doubtful. In the legend the name Argos is misinterpreted, and Temenus is falsely inserted. Probably es Illurious is put in because these Argives are believed to have come to Macedon by land from the West. Otherwise the story is a folk-tale, current among the Argeadae, about their earlier homes and the claim of their princes to their possession.
  Gauanes: probably = boukolos, since in Sanskrit go = bous. If so, Aeropos may refer to horses (cf. Philippos) and Perdiccas to goats. The three brothers represent three tribes.
  The Scardus range, stretching south from the source of the Axius (Vardar), is crossed by two passes, one at Kalkandele, the other leading by Lake Lychnitis (Okhrida) eastwards to Aegae (Vodena), later the Via Egnatia. This route would take the brothers to the Lyncestis; Lebaea is otherwise unknown.

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