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Athens and Macedonia, in the Absence of Alexander 

Christopher W. Blackwell, edition of July 1, 2005

page 6 of 9

· Olympias ·

The previous chapter discussed how Antipater worked to maintain Macedonia’s (and his own) position in Europe, amid conflicting pressures from Alexander and from the Greeks, and from political structures as they were defined and political structures as they were realized. Out of this analysis emerged a picture of Macedonian authority that was at once dependent on the existence of the Common Peace and undermined by the terms of the treaty and the general lack of enthusiasm that the Greeks displayed toward the supposed pan-Hellenic war against Persia. We also saw that Antipater exercised power in Greece as a Macedonian general but did not assume authority either as a proxy for the ἡγεμών of the Common Peace or as Alexander’s voice in Europe; he did not call on the member-states of the Peace to contribute toward the war with Agis, and after the war he deferred to Alexander. Finally, we saw that Alexander’s proclamation of freedom and an end of tyranny in Greece flew in the face of Antipater’s efforts to secure Macedonian power there. We should now turn to Alexander’s mother Olympias, the only Macedonian in Greece whose status rivaled Antipater’s. Olympias is interesting in her own right, for there are few if any ancient Greek women as well documented as she, and by all accounts her career was remarkable, marking a fundamental change in the roles of royal women; as Elizabeth Carney writes: “before her royal Macedonian women were virtually invisible, while after her, in the Hellenistic period, queens often had important roles as co-rulers and regents.” 212 Her importance is such that the dynamics of the Macedonian hegemony from 335 to 323 BC are unintelligible without an examination of how she participated in the public sphere. Despite her importance, however, Olympias has not received worthy treatment from historians: the ancients are, to a man, hostile toward her, and until most recently modern scholarship has not produced a sufficiently sophisticated picture of her place in history.213 She usually appears either as a dutiful advocate of her son’s career, diligently performing an assigned office, or as a manipulative and ambitious threat to the organization of Alexander’s domain and the orderly succession of the Argead line. So, for example, regarding the well-attested quarrel between Olympias and Antipater, we find diametrically opposed interpretations. I. Kaerst blames Olympias for whatever problems arose between Alexander and Antipater: “Die Trübung des Verhältnisses des Königs zu seinem Feldherrn wurde wahrscheinlich noch gesteigert durch die Anklagen der herrschebegierigen und auf die Autorität des A. eifersüchtigen Olympias.” 214 N.G.L. Hammond, on the other hand, sees Olympias and Antipater as filling well-defined places in Alexander’s machinery of empire: “She and Antipater acted together (as Craterus and Antipater were to do later). It is clear that neither outranked the other.” 215 Neither of these interpretations is entirely accurate, although both contain elements of truth. The scholarly views of Olympias that see her as inherently divisive and utterly untrustworthy fail to consider the immediate foundation of her security.216 Those who would see her as doing only what Alexander bade her do in the interest of empire fail to grant her any foresight.

I mentioned the interaction between Olympias and Antipater as an example because this relationship had much to do with the politics of hegemony in Greece. The Macedonians were, in some sense, leaders of the Greeks, and these two individuals were, in some sense, leaders among Macedonians after Alexander went to Asia. For both Olympias and Antipater, position, authority and security derived most immediately from Alexander. Particularly in the early years of Alexander’s reign, neither could have hoped to survive, much less prosper, without the charismatic heir to the diplomacy and military adventurism of Philip. But to assume that the well-being of Alexander’s hegemony was the only concern for Olympias and Antipater is to deny them any foresight or prudence. From the vantage point of any year after 335 BC, either of these skilled political operators could have seen one of two possible courses for the immediate future: Alexander could live and prosper, or he could die, intestate and heirless. Olympias’ actions and her relationship with Antipater seem logical consequences of just such an apprehension, as I hope to show in this chapter. Her position was defined less by any title than by her actions, as we have already seen to have been the case with Antipater. She worked to advance Macedonian prosperity and power in Greecein this I agree with Hammond that she and Antipater “acted together”, at least in working toward a common goal. But apart from supporting the larger context which afforded her so much opportunity for action, she worked as well to define a position of autonomous power, security apart from Alexander. In this Olympias inevitably came into conflict with Antipater, whose position was very much like her own. Olympias, however, although commanding much less power than Antipater did by virtue of his generalship of the Macedonian army, seems to have enjoyed authority in Greek affairs to a greater extent. Once we have followed Olympias’ career from 335 to the end of 330, as we have done with Antipater, we will be in a position to examine the crises that beset the Macedonian hegemons of Greece in the last years of Alexander’s life, and the nature and limits of their authority that were debilitating to the Macedonian hegemony.

· Olympias’ Position ·

Olympias, who went by the names Myrtale, Polyxena and Stratonice before her marriage, was the fifth of Philip’s seven wives. He married her in 357, thus cementing a relationship between Macedonia and Molossia, and Alexander was born in 356.217 With Philip’s death and her son’s assumption of leadership in Macedonia and Greece, Olympias’ influence in affairs, her scope of action, and her authority increased dramatically; accordingly, it is not surprising to find numerous ancient and modern historians accusing her of having orchestrated her husband’s assassination.218 After Philip’s death, Olympias took an increasingly active role in Greek affairs. When her son invaded Asia in 335, she remained behind in Pella with Antipater.

Since neither Olympias nor Antipater seem to have answered to anyone other than Alexander himself, it is perhaps inevitable that they appear as rivals in our sources. Diodorus’ description of their relationship is typical (17.118.1): They say that Antipater, left by Alexander as general of Europe, was inimical towards the king’s mother Olympias. And at first he did not take her seriously because Alexander did not pay any attention to her complaints against him, but later, as their enmity grew and the king wished to please his mother in every way, out of piety, Antipater gave many indications of his dissatisfaction. φασὶ γὰρ Ἀντίπατρον ἐπὶ τῆς Εὐρώπης στρατηγὸν u(p*) αὐτοῦ καταλειφθέντα διενεχθῆναι πρὸς Ὀλυμπιάδα τὴν μητέρα τοῦ βασιλέως καὶ τὸ μὲν πρῶτον καταφρονεῖν αὐτῆς διὰ τὸ μὴ προσδέχεσθαι τὸν Ἀλέξανδρον τὰς kat*) αὐτοῦ διαβολάς, ὕστερον d*) αἰεὶ τῆς ἔχθρας αὐξομένης, τοῦ βασιλέως διὰ τὸ πρὸς τὸ θεῖον εὐσεβὲς πάντα βουλομένου τῇ μητρὶ χαρίζεσθαι, πολλὰς ἐμφάσεις διδόναι τῆς πρὸς αὐτὸν ἀλλοτριότητος·

Arrian reports Olympias’ “slanders” (τῶν διαβολῶν ) against Antipater (Arr. 7.12.5). And both Justin and Plutarch mention her writing Alexander many letters of complaint and calumny against Antipater (Justin 12.14.3; Plut. Alex. 39.7-14; Reg. et Imp. Apoth. 180d). These sources are all biased against Olympias, and any reported epistolary evidence should be held in suspicion. Carney has noted that the famous quarrel might be entirely fictional, invented later when Cassander, Antipater’s son, was interested in discrediting Olympias as a leader of Macedonians.219 Nevertheless, the nature of Olympias’ and Antipater’s position made tension between the two inevitable, and the course of events from 335 until Alexander’s death shows that the two often worked at cross purposes, to the detriment of Macedonian authority.220

Macedonia had, by the late 4th century BC, a long tradition in which power went to those who took it, and the political context of Alexander’s career was, for Macedonia and Greece in general, utterly unprecedented. In this context we should not assume that a person who acted politically necessarily held a clearly defined office and title which determined and limited political action; nor is it necessarily useful to explain or justify political actions in terms of institutions.221 For example, after the death of Olympias’ brother, she and her daughter held power in Epirus. G.N. Cross has argued that these two women were technically proxies for Alexander III (“the Great”), who became de jure “king” of Epirus by virtue of his descent from the late king’s younger sister.222 While this may well be true, it does very little to illuminate any political reality and may in fact obscure it. Whenever Alexander’s mother or sister acted, it is always possible for us to “justify” their actions by invoking some hierarchical path to Alexander, but this does little to explain what happened, why, or the consequences thereof. Formal titles, lines of succession, and duties of office constitute an explanation for a specific event only when the structure is secure and amply precedented. Olympias and Antipater could conceivably have worked in a spirit of cooperation for the perpetuation of Macedonian power, but only if their official actions took place in the context of formally defined and limited offices. On the contrary, in a setting that did not regard functional jurisdictions, two such powerful and capable people must have come into conflict, although not necessarily an overtly acrimonious one.

If we are to reject, as we should, arguments based on Olympias’ reported personality then her famous conflict with Antipater is explicable only in the absence of a well-defined office for Alexander’s mother. Hammond (who does not accept the Antipater-Olympias enmity), has argued that she did indeed hold an office and have a formal title; his work on this problem deserves close scrutiny, although I do not, finally, accept his conclusions. He argues that we can reconstruct the formal offices and titles of Alexander’s administration based on Diodorus, Justin, and Photius, because they rely heavily on Hieronymus of Cardia for their histories (or epitomes of histories) of Macedonian affairs, and because Hieronymus was himself a Macedonian official.223 The argument and evidence are as follows. Hammond sees Plut. Alex. 68.3, describing how Olympias and Cleopatra “divided” Antipater’s ἀρχή, as evidence that Olympias enjoyed a formal position in Greece. In addition he notes a passage in which Diodorus describes how in 319 BC Polyperchon invited Olympias to “take over the care of Alexander’s son, who was a child, and live in Macedonia with royal προστασία ” (ἐπιμέλειαν τοῦ Ἀλεξάνδρου υἱοῦ παιδὸς ὄντος παραλαβεῖν καὶ διατρίβειν ἐν Μακεδονίᾳ τὴν βασιλικὴν ἔχουσαν προστασίαν ) (Diod. 18.49.4). Hammond says that Polyperchon “was probably offering to her the position which she had held in the years 334 to 324 bc.” 224 Since the sentence that follows immediately in Diodorus says that Olympias had left Macedonia after a quarrel with Antipater, it does indeed seem likely that Diodorus or his source saw the offer as one of reinstatement. The question, though, is whether the word προστασία should be taken as referring to a formal office, rather than as a loosely defined position of authority. Hammond thinks it does; after summarizing Olympias’ actions he says, “For an office of such eminence we have only one title in the tradition, προστασία τῆς βασιλείας .” 225

We have comparative evidence for this word. Thucydides (2.80.5) says that the Chaeonians were led successively by Photius and Nicanor, each being προστάτης for a year.226 Hammond notes Molossian inscriptions, c. 370-368 and onwards, in which a προστάτης appears beside the king; accordingly, he suggests that Cleopatra was προστάτης in Epirus following her husband’s death.227 A decree from Amphipolis, c. 357 BC, has προστάτας responsible for inscribing the resolution of the assembly.228 More important for this argument, however, are passages reporting that Craterus also held προστασία after Alexander’s death. A fragment of Dexippus says (FGrH 100 F 8.4): Craterus was entrusted with the care of, and all the things pertaining to, the προστασία of the kingship, which was the function229 foremost among the Macedonians. τὴν δὲ κηδεμονίαν καὶ ὅση προστασία τῆς βασιλείας Κρατερὸς ἐπετράπη, δὴ πρώτιστον τιμῆς τέλος παρὰ Μακεδόσι.

Another fragment, this one of Arrian, also mentions a “ προστάτης of the kingship of Arrhidaeus” (προστάτης τῆς Ἀρριδαίου βασιλείας ) in connection with Craterus (Arr. Succ. F 1.3, ed. A.G. Roos and G. Wirth). Craterus’ reported προστασία, Hammond says, had to do with care for either “the king’s royal presence” or the “royal property” or both.230

Hammond’s article is a vital compendium of textual and epigraphical evidence for Greek administrative vocabulary, but the evidence does not allow us to see προστασία as an “office” in the strict, formal sense. The weight of evidence suggests that the term applies to positions of public responsibility generally and is applied on an ad hoc basis. For example, one Molossian inscription Hammond cites says that when the monarchy fell “someone holding a generalship assumed προστασία ” (στραταγοῦντος προστατεύοντος δέ ); in other words, in the absence of a de jure head of state, someone filled in.231 Diodorus uses the term inconsistently, now to refer to Perdiccas’ leadership in a battle (17.34.6), and now to refer to some idea of protection (17.23.2; 33.3.1). Furthermore, he often qualifies itτὴν τῶν βασιλέων προστασίαν at 18.23.2, τὴν βασιλικὴν προστασίαν at 18.49.4which suggests that the term is insufficiently precise on its own.232 Since Diodorus, whom we should expect to be relatively consistent due to his reliance on Hieronymus, offers differing and contradictory uses of the term, we may as well see how other sources for Alexander-history use it. Appian (Syr. 52) uses προστατεύω in reference to Antipater; and Arrhidaeus, the notoriously unfit brother of Alexander, seems to have performed many of the same functions that Hammond would assign to a holder of προστασία (Curt. 10.7.2; cf. Arr. Succ. F 1.3, ed. A.G. Roos and G. Wirth).233 With these we must conclude either that Olympias, Cleopatra, Craterus, Arrhidaeus, Perdiccas and Antipater all held the same office, or that words related to προστασία were general terms.

The traditional vocabulary of Greek politics was insufficient to describe Alexander’s empire, and in this unprecedented context nominal “offices” cannot have been anything but vaguely defined. Terminology is further confused by the many ephemeral arrangements that marked the period of the successors. For example, our sources must resort to both Greek and Persian nomenclature to describe Perdiccas’ function: he is χιλίαρχος, ἐπιμελητής, and στρατηγός by turns (Arr. Succ. F 1.3, ed. Roos and Wirth; Diod. 18.2.4; Plut. Eum. 3.6).234 As titles became increasingly fluid beginning under Alexander, the positions they represented carried less ex officio authority, and, more importantly, the converse is true: actions conferred power and status, and whatever titles followed served, at best, to legitimize.235

In 324 Olympias was in a position to send an embassy to Athens demanding Harpalus, but instead of trying to explain this with a formal definition for Olympias’ place in the Macedonian hegemony, we should instead look for a practical one. Her position was the product of a series of successful exercises. These often served the interests of Alexander’s empire, to be sure, but they also served Olympias. In fact, she may have been better prepared to operate in this new order than her male counterparts. Macedonian women were traditionally most powerful in matters of succession, that is, when established structures did not necessarily obtain.236 And, as Carney describes in her 1987 discussion of Olympias, a royal mother’s position was otherwise mutable: while the child was still heir, the mother’s and son’s interests would necessarily coincide, but with the accession of the son, their interests would almost certainly diverge.237 Thus, the protean nature of authority in Greece during Alexander’s in absentia reign might not have been very different for Olympias from life in Pella prior to 336 BC, when Philip was king and Alexander only a probable heir. Olympias’ Molossian heritage, too, may have served her well, since women in Epirus enjoyed more social and economic status than did most other Greek women.238 Operating from this background Olympias assumed a role that insured both her own prominence and growing tensions between herself and Antipater.

· Olympias’ Actions ·

Olympias maintained as close a relationship with her son as she could, given his distance from Greece after 335; this relationship was, after all, the sine qua non of her authority, the base from which she could use her own considerable abilities. She gave her son advice on religious matters, recommending a priest/soothsayer versed in the Bacchic and Argeadic rites (Athen. 14 659f).239 In 333, when her son was sick in Cilicia, she made a dedication at the temple of Hygieia in Athens (Hyp. Pro Eux. col. 19). She gave gifts of Alexander’s spoils to the god at Delphi in 333 (Plut. Alex. 25.4; FGrH 151 F 1; Syll. 3 I3 252 N 5).240 Alexander may well have instructed his mother regarding these gifts, but whether according to his will or on her own initiative, wealthy dedications to temples must have drawn attention to her as an arbiter of Alexander’s munificence.

The best evidence of Olympias’ assumption of authority in Macedonia is an inscription listing recipients of grain from Cyrene during a time of shortage (ἐν τῇ σπανοσιτίᾳ ) (SEG IX 2 = Tod no. 196). Among the list of state-names appear the names Olympias and Cleopatra (who must be Olympias’ daughter and Alexander’s sister). These two women are the only individuals listed; all other recipients are states, which has been taken to indicate that Olympias and Cleopatra were acting as heads of state in this matter.241 The inscription records Olympias as having received 72,600 μέδιμνοι of grain (ll. 6, 22), second only to Athens, which received 100,000 (l. 1). Cleopatra got 50,000 (l. 10), as did Argos, Larissa, and Corinth (ll. 7-9). Megara, Sicyon, and Rhodes each got 30,000 (ll. 14, 36, 12, 11), and the remaining states each received between 1,000 and 15,000 μέδιμνοι. These shipments were probably Alexander’s doing, and were probably not outright gifts but subsidized sales intended to keep local prices low during a time of shortage.242 Because the grain shipments are listed in diminishing order according to quantity, we can suppose that the whole list was inscribed at once, and can therefore speculate that the shipments were sent during a limited period.243 Unfortunately the inscription alone does not indicate either when the shipments occurred or which state or states Cleopatra and Olympias represented.

There is sufficient evidence for us to posit, with some argument, answers to both questions. The second of themfor which state or states did the two women receive grainis more straightforward. In the years immediately after 335 bc, while Olympias remained in Macedonia her daughter, Cleopatra, lived in Epirus, for she had married the king Alexander of Epirus (Diod. 16.91.4; Justin 9.6.1, 13.6.4; Plut. Pyrrh. 5.5).244 This man was also Olympias’ brother (Diod. 16.72.1; Justin 8.6.5, 17.3.15). Alexander of Epirus died on a campaign in Italy in 330 BC (Justin 12.2.4), and Livy says that his body was conveyed home “to his wife Cleopatra and his sister Olympias” (ad Cleopatram uxorem sororemque Olympiadem). This would put both mother and daughter in Epirus in late 330, although Olympias was probably merely attending her brother’s funeral, not currently residing there.245 On the other hand, Cleopatra was almost certainly acting as a state official in Epirus around that time.246 The Athenians sent an embassy to her, specifically, to express sympathy at the death of her husband (Aesch. 3.242). More important, though, is an inscription from Argos listing thearodochs (θεαροδόκοι ), officials in various πόλεις whose function was to receive sacred envoys.247 This list, dated to 330, names Cleopatra as theorodoch for the Epirote League, and Hammond draws our attention to a similar list for c. 360-355 BC, on which Arybbas (or “Tharyps”), who was then king of Molossia, held the office of theorodoch.248 From this evidence we can state with a degree of confidence that Cleopatra’s name on the list of grain-recipients represents Epirus.

If Cleopatra stands for Epirus, we must conclude that Olympias stands for Macedonia. First, the size of the shipments to both Cleopatra and Olympias suggest that the two were not receiving grain on behalf of the same state. It is difficult to imagine why Epirus would receive 122,600 μέδιμνοι, more than even Athens, while Macedonia, which would have suffered a shortage along with everyone else, received none. On the other hand, as B. Kingsley has noted, if Olympias represents Macedonia, and Cleopatra Epirus, they will have received 72,600 and 50,000 μέδιμνοι respectively, two reasonable figures and well in keeping with amounts listed for other states.249

On at least this one occasion Olympias took or was given authority as a representative of Macedonia. We might see this matter as essentially similar to the booty Olympias received from her son and gave to the temples at Delphi and elsewhere. The Cyrenean grain, however, is different in at least two ways. First, receiving over seventy thousand μέδιμνοι of grain for distribution was a far more public event than temple dedications. It implied not only wealth and a connection to power, but a share of sovereignty, or at least management of the state. This official act would have put Olympias more directly in competition with Antipater for authority in Greece than any other gifts Alexander sent to her from abroad. D. Mendels suggests that “The edict of Cyrene for the supply of corn to the Greek states may also reveal the emergence in Mainland Greece of something like two blocks: the ‘Alexandrian’, represented by Olympias and Cleopatra, leading the now almost united Epirus, and the ‘Antipatran’ ”.250 Mendels probably goes too far, particularly when he continues to argue that Alexander self-consciously supported a “zone of influence” for his mother against Antipater. In 331, the interests of Olympias, Antipater, and Alexander were still largely the same, and with a rebellion brewing in the south it is hard to imagine Alexander taking steps designed expressly to weaken Antipater’s control over the Greeks.251 Mendels is right, however, to note that the distribution of grain increased Olympias’ authority, and in doing so effectively weakened Antipater’s, as well as that of the Macedonian hegemony. Olympias was Alexander’s mother, and Antipater was notgifts of expensive baubles from a dutiful son were to be expected. Antipater was, however, στρατηγός of the Macedonian army, and historically he who commanded the army was the de facto political leader of Macedonia. If Olympias acted in a similar capacity, even if only to manage an effort at relieving a famine, then she took for herself an authority that would otherwise have been his. Taken in the context of Antipater’s war against Agis, the ensuing rhetoric of hostility toward Macedonia and Antipater, and the steps Antipater took in 330 to secure his power over the Greeks, Olympias’ public beneficence will have made a stark contrast to the harsher impositions of hegemony from the στρατηγός.

Also, while lavish temple dedications from wealthy individuals were ubiquitous, Olympias’ and Cleopatra’s names stand out on this list. For some reason, the Cyreneans chose to make two exceptions on their catalogue of states, recording personal names in places of the states they represented. They may have done so only to flatter Alexander’s mother and sister, but we might see in their choice a suggestion that Olympias and Cleopatra seemed, like Philip and Alexander, to hold particularized authority, independent of titles and undelimited either politically or locally.252 In other words, Olympias may have appeared, or may have presented herself, as a public figure of authority without a specific arena. Certainly, in the absence of formal definitions, an ambitious person would do well to redefine herself in as unlimited a way as possible, and some Athenian remarks on Olympias suggest that she did just that.

Hyperides’ speech in defense of Euxenippus has given historians problems because of the seemingly confused picture it offers of Olympias’ province. In the latter part of the speech the orator denies that his client Euxenippus pandered to Macedonians. After pointing out that Polyeuctus, the man bringing the charge, had been free to complain about the Macedonians at any previous time, he says (Hyp. Pro Eux. col. 21): But you never stood up there [in the συνέδριον] nor did you ever make a speech about these things, but now you hate Olympias in order to convict Euxenippus, and you say that he is a toady to her and the Macedonians. σὺ d*) ἐκεῖ μὲν οὐδεπώποτε ἀνέστης οὐδὲ λόγον περὶ αὐτῶν ἐποιήσω, ἐνθάδε δὲ μισεῖς Ὀλυμπιάδα ἐπὶ τῶι ἀπολέσαι Εὐξένιππον, καὶ φὴς κόλακα αὐτὸν εἶναι ἐκείνης καὶ Μακεδόνων·

The orator continues and suggests, rhetorically, that the jury is free to convict Euxenippus if, among other things, “you can show that he ever went to Macedonia” (ὃν ἐὰν δείξῃς ἀφιγμένον πώποτε εἰς Μακεδονίαν ). In this passage the orator includes Olympias among the Macedonians, and suggests that to have commerce with Olympias one must go to Macedonia. A little later in the speech, however, the orator describes how Olympias complained to the Athenians about their efforts to redecorate a statue of Dione at the temple of Zeus in Dodona, a cult-center in Epirus. Hyperides says (Hyp. Pro Eux. 19): After these events, letters of complaint came to you from Olympias, to the effect that the Molossian land, where the temple was, belonged to her; therefore, it was not appropriate for you to disturb a single thing there. ὑπὲρ τούτων ὑμῖν τὰ ἐγκλήματα ἦλθε παρ?̓ Ὀλυμπιάδος ἐν ταῖς ἐπιστολαῖς, ὡς χώρα εἴη Μολοττία αὑτῆς, ἐν τὸ ἱερόν ἐστιν· οὔκουν προσήκε[2ι]2ν ἡμᾶς τῶν ἐκεῖ οὐδὲ ἓν κινεῖν.

Historians have debated whether to take these passages from Hyperides’ speech as evidence that Olympias was residing in Epirus or Pella at that time.253 Unfortunately, neither excerpt is sufficiently specific to locate Olympias. Also, using this speech to date her move is to argue in a circle, since the speech has been dated to 331/0 based mainly on the passages pertaining to Olympias.254 The speech is nevertheless revealing of Olympias’ position. It suggests, first, that Olympias was seen as a figure of authority, and that her authority and Alexander’s could seem coincident. Hyperides tells his opponent that he should not simply invoke the names of Olympias and Alexander, but should wait until “whenever they command the δῆμος of the Athenians either unjustly or inappropriately” (ὅταν ἐκεῖνοι πρὸς τὸν δῆμον Ἀθηναίων ἐπιστέλλωσι μὴ τὰ δίκαια μηδὲ τὰ προσήκοντα ) (Hyp. Pro Eux. 19). The passage implies that the Athenians would acknowledge, or at least receive commands from Alexander or Olympias.255 Second, the orator associates her not only with the Macedonians, but with the Macedonians in Macedoniahe challenges the prosecution to demonstrate that his client “had ever been to Macedonia, or had entertained anyone from there in his house” (ἀφιγμένον πώποτε εἰς Μακεδονίαν ἐκείνων τινὰ ὑποδεξάμενον εἰς τὴν αὑτοῦ οἰκίαν ) (Hyp. Pro Eux. col. 16). Third, the problem over Dodona shows that Olympias was willing to claim “the Molossian land” as hers (αὐτῆς ), seemingly without reference to Alexander. The muddiness with which Hyperides delineates Olympias’ position has sparked debate over Olympias’ whereabouts, and this same obscurity suggests that her position in Greece was not necessarily clear to contemporaries, and therefore whatever authority she could claim was not necessarily contingent upon her place of residence, and not limited by any fixed office or title.256

· Olympias’ Move to Epirus ·

Olympias eventually moved from Pella in Macedonia to Epirus. The date of this move has been widely debated, but it is now possible to place it in the latter part of 330 bc and to see this event as an important development in the political dynamics of Macedonian hegemony in Greece. The traditional view of Olympias’ movements holds that, shortly after Alexander invaded Asia, she quarreled with Antipater and moved from Macedonia to Epirus in Molossia, where she soon came to control affairs of state; this happened around the time her brother Alexander of Epirus died, winter 331/0 BC.257 In its broadest outlines, this model satisfies the evidence, but before Olympias’ change of residence can serve as the basis for analysis of her authority, we should examine more closely the evidence and attendant circumstances.

Three passages indicate that Olympias left Macedonia sometime before her son’s death; all of them attribute the move to tension with Antipater. When speaking of Olympias’ later association with Polyperchon, Diodorus says (18.49.4), “And Olympias in previous times happens to have fled to Epirus because of an estrangement from Antipater” ( d*) Ὀλυμπιὰς ἐν τοῖς ἐπάνω χρόνοις ἐτύγχανεν εἰς Ἤπειρον πεφευγυῖα διὰ τὴν πρὸς Ἀντίπατρον ἀλλοτιότητα ). Pausanias mentions “Olympias, who had returned to Epirus because of her fear of Antipater” (Ὀλυμπιάδας δὲ διὰ τὸν Ἀντιπάτρου φόβον ἐπανελθούσης ἐς Ἤπειρον ) (Paus. 1.11.3). And Plutarch suggests that at some point Olympias took over Epirus and her daughter, Cleopatra, took some authoritative position in Macedonia, both actions to the detriment of Antipater (Plut. Alex. 68.4).

Based on these passages Hammond would revise the “traditional” date from 331/0 to as late as 324. Ignoring the alleged quarrel with Antipater, he argues that Alexander himself orchestrated his mother’s and sister’s movementswhile this argument involves interpretation of events in 324/3 BC, its sine qua non are the three passages from Diodorus, Pausanias, and Plutarch.258 Of these, the former two offer only general statements that Olympias left Pella at some point. Plutarch’s comment, however, admits of fuller interpretation (Plut. Alex. 68.3-5) (the second sentence is usually cited alone, but interpretation requires the surrounding context):259

The military difficulties that had happened earlier, and the wound he [Alexander] received fighting the Malli, and the great losses that were reported among his forces created doubt as to his safe return and set the subject people to revolt; it also created much injustice, greed, and arrogance among the generals and satrapsturmoil and unrest ran amok everywhere. And when Olympias and Cleopatra had formed a faction against Antipater, they divided the empire between them, Olympias taking Epirus and Cleopatra taking Macedonia. And having heard of this Alexander said that his mother had planned rather well, for the Macedonians would not have abided being ruled by a woman. d*) ἄνω στρατεία χαλεπὴ γενομένη, καὶ τὸ περὶ Μαλλοὺς τραῦμα, καὶ φθορὰ πολλὴ λεχθεῖσα τῆς δυνάμεως ἀπιστίᾳ τῆς σωτηρίας αὐτοῦ τά q*) ὑπήκοα πρὸς ἀποστάσεις ἐπῆρε, καὶ τοῖς στρατηγοῖς καὶ σατράπαις ἀδικίαν πολλὴν καὶ πλεονεξίαν καὶ ὕβριν [2ἐν]2εποίησε, καὶ ὅλως διέδραμε σάλος ἁπάντων καὶ νεωτερισμός. ὅπου καὶ πρὸς Ἀντίπατρον Ὀλυμπιὰς καὶ Κλεοπάτρα στασιάσασαι, διείλοντο τὴν ἀρχήν, Ὀλυμπιὰς μὲν Ἤπειρον, Κλεοπάτρα δὲ Μακεδονίαν παραλαβοῦσα. καὶ tou=t*) ἀκούσας Ἀλέξανδρος βέλτιον ἔφη βεβουλεῦσθαι τὴν μητέρα· Μακεδόνας γὰρ οὐκ ἂν ὑπομεῖναι βασιλευομένους ὑπὸ γυναικός.

Plutarch is writing here of events after Alexander’s return from the expedition to India, thus Hammond’s date of 324 BC. The passage as a whole, however, suggests another interpretation. Plutarch is not only describing the state of things in 324, but also how things had come to such a pass. Alexander was wounded fighting the Malli in 326 (Diod. 17.98.3-99.4; Arr. 6.9.11; Curt. 9.4.26-9.5.18; Justin 12.9.5-11). Dissent among the subjects and debauchery among the satraps had grown over time, to become apparent to Alexander only upon his return. In this context, we cannot read 68.3 as referring to events contemporaneous to Alexander’s return. The aorist διείλοντο with the temporal/causal indefinite ὅπου has the force of a pluperfect (cf. Xen. Anab. 1.2.17; Cyr. 5.1.19).260 This “division” of Antipater’s ἀρχή, then, took place sometime before Alexander returned from his Indian expedition. Thus we have a terminus ante quem of winter, 325 BC.

Plutarch’s description cannot provide a definite terminus post quem, but it might hint at one. Alexander apprehended how his mother and sister had divided his ἀρξηή, according to Plutarch, upon his return from India, so we might suppose that it had not yet happened when he left for places east of Ecbatana, in 330 BC. Here, however, we are on the shakiest of ground, and should turn to other evidence that might define the date of her move with more precision. Scholars have suggested that Livy 8.24.17saying that Olympias received the body of her brotherputs Olympias in Epirus before winter 331/0, but this shows only that Olympias attended the funeral.261 The other piece of evidence often cited as a terminus post quem are the shipments of grain from Cyrene, since whenever they happened, Olympias was probably still in Macedonia.262

The traditional date for the shipments, 330-326 BC, is based on Athenian evidence for a shortage of grain during that period, inscriptions honoring those who helped in the crisis and speeches prosecuting profiteers ( IG II2 360, 400, 407, 408, 409, 1628; Dem. 34.39-40; Dem. 42.20, 31).263 Also, the ancient sources say that Alexander met with envoys from Cyrene while he was on the road to Siwa, winter 332/1 (Curt. 4.7.6-9; Diod. 17.49.2-3).264 Thus it made sense to date these shipments of grain after this meeting and during the well-attested σπανοσιτία . However, Demosthenes complains, when attacking grain dealers in 327/6, that prices were already inflated in 335 (Dem. 34.39), and whatever shortage already existed must have grown worse when the Persians began to wage naval warfare in the Aegean in 333 (Curt. 3.1.19-21).265 An episode from that year shows how Persian activities hindered grain imports to Athens: the author of Dem. 17 describes how the fleet under Hegelochus could not escort the Athenian grain fleet through the Aegean until Athens produced another one hundred triremes.266 Finally, so large a purchase of grain from Cyrene suggests that Alexander was not yet in control of Egypt.267 So we may conclude, with Kingsley, that “there is no more reason to suppose that arrangements for grain purchases were made in Libya at the end of 332 than that they had been completed to the satisfaction of Alexander and the Cyreneans before that time.” 268

Further evidence appears in the form of another grain-transaction involving Cleopatra (Lyc. In Leocr. 26): And Leocrates, without regard for custom, country, or anything sacred, caused (as much as he could) even the gods’ aid to become for you something that could be exported.269 For living in Megara, where on a pretense he had brought your money, he exported grain from Cleopatra in Epirus to Leucas, and thence to Corinth. Λεωκράτης d*) οὔτε νομίμων οὔτε πατρίδος οὔθ?̓ ἱερῶν φροντίσας τὸ kaq*) ἑαυτὸν ἐξαγώγιμον ὑμῖν καὶ τὴν παρὰ τῶν θεῶν βοήθειαν ἐποίησε. καὶ οὐκ ἐξήρκεσεν αὐτῷ τοσαῦτα καὶ τηλικαῦτα τὴν πόλιν ἀδικῆσαι, a)ll*) οἰκῶν ἐν Μεγάροις, οἷς par*) ὑμῶν ἐξεκομίσατο χρήμασιν ἀφορμῇ χρώμενος, ἐκ τῆς Ἠπείρου παρὰ Κλεοπάτρας εἰς Λευκάδα ἐσιτήγει καὶ ἐκεῖθεν εἰς Κόρινθον.

G. Oliverio has suggested that the grain Leocrates bought was Cleopatra’s surplus from the Cyrene distribution.270 This makes sense, but his date for the event, 330-327following the traditional date for the Cyrene shipmentsdoes not. Leocrates had returned to Athens by 330 to stand trial (Aesch. 3.252).271 If we connect Leocrates’ grain with that from Cyrene, we must conclude that the large shipments to the Greek cities took place at least some time before 330.

The locations of states receiving grain from Cyrene give further support to this conclusion. Kingsley connects the grain with the Persian counter-offensive of 334/3, noting that the cities receiving grain were, with the exception of Elis, in some way threatened by the Persian forces; some, like Athens, were suffering because of naval warfare; and others were directly on the route a Persian invasion would take (cf. Arr. 2.1.1-5, 2.20.2, 3.2.6; Diod. 17.18.2, 29.1-4; Curt 3.1.19-21).272 The Eleans’ 10,000 μέδιμνοι of grain, attested by the inscription, is sensible around 333 BC, when they sent 150 mercenaries to Alexander at Gordium (Arr. 1.29.4), but would be strange indeed in 330, when Elis had sided in revolt with the Spartans and was besieging Megalopolis (Aesch. 3.165; Din. 1.34; Curt. 6.1.20).273 The evidence surrounding SEG IX 2, then, suggests that Cleopatra and Olympias received large shipments of grain from Cyrene some time before 331/0 (Agis’ revolt), and probably closer to 334/3, with Cleopatra acting on behalf of Epirus and Olympias acting on behalf of Macedonia. Thus Olympias probably did not leave Macedonia until at least 333 BC.

We have, then, a relatively sound terminus post quem at 333 (the grain shipments from Cyrene). We have a possible one at 331/0 (Alexander of Epirus’ funeral), mitigated but not contradicted by evidence that Cleopatra was acting as theorodoch in Epirus that year. And we have a suspicion based on Plutarch 68.3-5 that Olympias did not move until after her son marched toward India, in 330. Plutarch provides a terminus ante quem, Alexander’s return in 325 BC. In other words, we have returned to the traditional date: Olympias moves around the time Alexander of Epirus died. To say more than this it is necessary to look at a broader context and ask why Olympias might have exchanged Macedonia for Epirus.

The most commonly cited reason (among both ancients and moderns) is enmity between her and Antipater (Diod. 17.118.1; Plut. Alex. 39.7-14, 68.4; Arr. 7.12.5-6; Justin 12.14.3). Plutarch says that Alexander prevented his mother from interfering (πολυπραγμονεῖν ) in political and military affairs, going as far as to scold her on at least one occasion (Plut. Alex. 39.7). Thus the consensus has been that Olympias left to avoid continuing humiliation.274 Whether or not Olympias felt “humiliated” cannot serve as a focus for argument, but we can instead ask two questions: first, what advantage might a move to Epirus have held for Olympias?275 And second, since she did not leave Macedonia immediately upon Alexander’s departure, what circumstances might have caused her to do so later?

An answer to the first question is readily at hand. When Alexander of Epirus died, he left the infant Neoptolemus as his only heir (Plut. Pyrrh. 5).276 Since Macedonian women often became more powerful in matters of successionwhich we see most clearly with the death of Philip IIthe lack of an adult heir will have presented an opportunity not only to Cleopatra, but also to Olympias, who was both brother of the dead king and grandmother to the heir. In fact, the presence of both Macedonian women could have helped prevent any attempt at a coupArrybas, whom Alexander of Epirus had displaced with help from Macedonia, did have adult heirs, who might have sought to take advantage of any perceived weakness.277 Olympias’ marriage to Philip had brought Molossia and Macedonia together, and Cleopatra’s marriage to Alexander of Epirus had cemented the alliance between him and the Macedonian Alexander. So, Olympias’ presence in Epirus after Alexander’s death would have reaffirmed that relationship.278 We have already seen Olympias through Athenian eyes, as a public figure associated simultaneously with Alexander, with Macedonia, and with Epirus (Hyp. Pro Eux.; see above, page 88). A physical presence in Epirus would not necessarily have cost Olympias any of her status as a Macedonian, while granting her greater freedom of action and a more independent platform from which to exercise authority.

Why then did Olympias wait to move? I have already noted that Plutarch (Alex. 68.3-5) might suggest that Olympias left Macedonia in the latter half of 330 BC since the biographer indicates that the move happened after Alexander had departed on his Indian expedition. While this datum alone is tenuous, the possibility it raises finds support when we look at the larger political context of the period 331-330 (for which see the preceding chapter). Throughout 331 BC the Macedonians in Greece were occupied with the nascent war against Agis III of Sparta.279 With the coming of winter 331/0, the rebellion was yet unresolved, and both sides were accumulating forces for a decisive battle. The battle, extraordinary in its casualties on both sides, took place at Megalopolis in the spring of 330 bc.280 In the aftermath, the Macedonian hegemony in Greece seems to have been secured, both by the destruction of Sparta’s army and by the stern measures Antipater took to insure order.281 Shortly thereafter, later in 330, Alexander marched eastward from Persia and seems to have thought himself quit of Greece.282 In other words, during the winter of 331/0 the immediate future for Macedonian power must have been unclear; Antipater’s future must have been especially doubtful, since he faced a war against a large and (so far) successful army. On the other hand, later in 330 matters were much more settled, with Antipater victorious, active, and in Alexander’s absence more autonomous than ever before.

If Olympias was at all ambitious and at all interested in securing for herself a position of responsibility, authority, and powerand there is every reason to think that she wasthen Pella might have seemed to her a more opportune residence in the winter of 331/0. Antipater’s efforts to collect an army sufficient to face Agis must have taken him away from other affairs, a situation Olympias could have exploited. Second, Antipater’s death in the coming battle was a distinct possibility; that event would have begun a crisis of succession (of sorts), which would have been an excellent opportunity for Olympias, whose status in the Macedonian hegemony only Antipater, of those in Europe at least, could rival. After Megalopolis, however, Macedonia must have been much more limiting to whatever ambitions Olympias harbored, especially when compared with Epirus, which had no adult ruler but her own daughter.

The possibilities Epirus offered in contrast to the limitations of Macedonia after Agis’ defeat stand out more starkly when we consider the Epirote League. Two literary fragments, one of Arrian (F 1.7, FGrHist 156) and one of Dexippus (F 8.3, FGrHist 100), refer to parts of Europe that were under Antipater’s control during Alexander the Great’s life.283 Arrian refers to Ἤπειρος ὡς ἐπὶ τὰ ὄρη τὰ Κεραύνια ἀνήκουσα (“Epirus extending up to the Ceraunian mountains”), and Dexippus calls this ὅσα τῆς Ἠπείρου ἐξέτι Ἀλεξάνδρου στρατηγὸς αὐτοκράτωρ ἐτέτακτο (“the parts of Epirus [Antipater] controlled as plenipotentiary general under Alexander”). The portion of Epirus in question does not include Pandosia, Cassope, Thesprotoi, or Molossia, which formed the Epirote League mentioned on the Argive list of theorodochs. The date of the Epirote League is not certain, but the few indications we have suggest a date earlier between 335 and 326 bc.284 G.N. Cross explicitly connects its formation with Olympias’ move;285 while this may go too far, we can surmise that once an Epirote Alliance came into being, Olympias’ home at Molossia enjoyed a greater degree of autonomy from Pella and Antipater.

The direct evidence and broader picture of surrounding events point to this model: Olympias remained in Pella, acting on occasion in an official capacity, through the beginning of 330 BC. During this time she enjoyed an authority based on her own actions and her relationship with Alexander. Her actions, in fact, are more clearly authoritative than Antipater’s. Her assertion that the temple of Dodona was in her charge, for example, stood on no immediate threat of force and seems to have been advanced without negotiation; her claim stood only on her authority. Her handling of the grain-shipments, too, can be seen as the foundation for further exercises of authority. By representing Alexander officially in disbursing frumentary relief, Olympias demonstrated to the Greeks both her privileged relationship with Alexander (and the power he represented) and the potential she had for conferring benefits on those she favored. The grain-affair itself was not an exercise in authority, but it gave her the apparatus of authority: a perceived potential for coercion, and a perceived potential for material persuasion. After Antipater’s victory at Megalopolis, however, her possibilities for action seemed more limited, and her derivative authority less firm, since her son was increasingly invisible from Greece. At the same time, her brother’s death and the new Epirote League offered her greater independence and the opportunity to exercise more authority as a prominent figure in Epirus, and this without the loss of her identity as Macedonian and mother to Alexander.

· Olympias and Antipater ·

From 330 BC, then, the two most prominent Macedonians in Greece operated apart from one another, if not necessarily at cross-purposes. This state of affairs complicates the already nebulous and complex web of individual ends and institutional imperatives that we call a Macedonian hegemony. In this unprecedented context, Olympias described for herself an unprecedented position. Her actions proclaimed her to be a representative of state, by turns of Macedonia or her native Epirus. She told the Athenians that χώρα εἴη Μολοττία αὐτῆς , “the Molossian land was hers” (Hyp. Eux. col. 25), inserting herself into an affair that was in one sense trivialthe redecoration of a templebut with larger implications: no one could interfere in Molossian affairs without her approval, even if, as the Athenians claimed, a god invited them.286 Hyperides suggests that the Athenians would at least entertain commands from Olympias, as from Alexander (Pro Eux. 19-20), thereby granting her a degree of authority in that city beyond that which Antipater may have enjoyed. Olympias and her daughter Cleopatra are the only individuals named in the list of states that received grain from Cyrene (SEG IX 2). Although Alexander was king and Antipater was στρατηγός, Olympias on this occasion appears to stand for Macedonia in the same way that “Perdiccas” and “Tharyps”, rulers of states, appear on earlier lists.287

Olympias complicated the relationship between Antipater and Alexander formally by securing an independent platform in Epirus from which to act authoritatively.288 But any attempt to take a share of Antipater’s locational authority would have fallen short of success if she did not command at least the potential for practical power such as Antipater enjoyed with his army.289 While Olympias clearly did not control, nor could have hoped to assemble, a military force comparable to Antipater’s, there is evidence that she was neither ignorant of military matters, nor reticent to engage in them if necessary. During the struggle among Alexander’s successors, in the years 317-316 bc, we find her ordering the Macedonian garrison at Athens to surrender to the Athenians (Diod. 18.64.1-6), taking command of the Macedonian army itself (19.11.2), winning the military support of the Aetolians against Antipater and Cassander (19.11.4-9), and finally fighting a battle against Cassander’s forces (19.35.3). It is particularly noteworthy that the general Polyperchon, Olympias’ principal ally, remained on the sidelines during these events.290 There is comparable evidence for other Macedonian womenPhila, Cynnane, Cratersipolis, Adeashowing both willingness to involve themselves in military matters and ability at military leadership (Polyaen. Strat. 8.60; Arr. FGrH F 9.23, 33; Diod. 18.39.2-4; Duris apud Athen. 13.560).291

While this evidence does not suggest that Olympias enjoyed a personal army at any time before the chaos of the 310s, we may conclude that she was well aware of the necessary underpinnings of authority and was not prepared to let the traditional limits of royal women describe her actions. Moreover, there is evidence that she did not completely ignore the relationship between coercive force and authority even during the relative stability of Alexander’s reign.292 When Curtius describes the “trial” of Philotas, who was accused of plotting against Alexander in 330 BC, he includes a speech supposedly made by Amyntas, also implicated in the plot. Amyntas claims innocence and attributes his plight to Olympias’ hostility, and he reminds Alexander of its origin (Curt. 7.1.37-40): Do you not remember that, when you sent me to convey soldiers back from Macedonia, you told me that many able-bodied young men were hidden in your mother’s house? Accordingly, you instructed me not to obey anyone but you, and to bring to you those avoiding conscription. And I did just that, carrying out your order with more diligence than was probably good for me. I brought Gorgias, Hecataeus, and Gorgatas from there, and you have gotten good service from them. What can be more unfair than if I should die because I obeyed you, when I would have been punished if I had not obeyed you? For there is no other reason for your mother to persecute us, except that we put your welfare above a woman’s favor. I brought 6,000 Macedonian infantry and 600 cavalry here, some of whom would not have followed me if I had been willing to indulge those reticent toward military service. Because she is angry at us for this reason, it therefore follows that you should be the one to placate your mother, because you brought her ire down on us. Quippe meministi, cum me ad perducendos ex Macedonia milites mitteres, dixisse te multos integros iuvenes in domo tuae matris abscondi. Praecepisti igitur mihi, ne quem praeter te intuerer, sed detrectantes militiam perducerem ad te. Quod equidem feci et liberius, quam expediebat mihi, executus sum tuum imperium. Gorgiam et Hecataeum et Gorgatan, quorum bona opera uteris, inde perduxi. Quid igitur iniquius est quam me, qui, si tibi non paruissem, iure daturus fui poenas, nunc perire, quia parui? Neque enim ulla alia matri tuae persequendi nos causa est, quam quod utilitatem tuam muliebri praeposuimus gratiae. VI milia Macedonum peditum et DC equites adduxi, quorum pars secutura me non erat, si militiam detrectantibus indulgere voluissem. Sequitur ergo, ut, quia illa propter hanc causam irascitur nobis, tu mitiges matrem, qui irae eius nos obtulisti. Evidently, a number of soldierssurely not the whole 6,600 Curtius mentions, but sufficient for Amyntas to have made the effort to secure their servicehad associated themselves with Olympias, and both they and she resented Amyntas’ efforts to recruit them for the Asian campaigns.293 Carney suggests that Olympias might have been hostile to Amyntas because he had connections to the family of Parmenio, but her anger is more readily explicable in terms of power and authority. The “able-bodied young men” Amyntas recruited from Olympias’ house should probably be seen as a bodyguard, if perhaps a larger one than Alexander thought necessary. Amyntas’ mission to recruit troops in Macedonia dates to 331 BC, the year when Antipater was preparing to face Agis, and Olympias was still at Pella (cf. Diod. 17.49.1; Curt. 4.6.30). As we have seen, this year was full of uncertainty for Antipater, and therefore full of potential for Olympias. Even a small force of Macedonian troops would have given Olympias an important and visible trapping of authority, the ability to employ coercive force.

Olympias enjoyed a potential for authority because she was Alexander’s mother, but she realized authority through her own efforts. Without the benefit of a title or formal office, she inserted herself in Greek affairs. Her actions and movements between 335 and 330 BC are sensible as a series of ad hoc exercises in authority. As a representative of the Macedonian state she received grain shipments from Cyrene; as a representative of Epirus she intervened in the renovation of Dione’s temple at Dodona; and she appears in Athenian oratory as a bearer of her son’s authority. She remained in Pella while it served her as a platform for political action. Before 330 Alexander was engaged in European affairs while still campaigning against Darius’ vast army, and Antipater had not yet clearly established himself as the guarantor of Macedonian power in Greece. Pella offered Olympias the best arena in which to share in her son’s authority and take advantage of any opportunities that the uncertain future might offerwere Antipater to be killed in battle, for example, Olympias would be the pre-eminent Macedonian in Europe and in a position (geographical and political) to take full advantage. In Pella, too, she seems to have assumed at least a token bodyguard, a symbolic potential for coercive force to bolster her authority. But with Antipater’s victory over Agis in 330 and Alexander’s march eastward, Olympias had to re-establish herself. Her son was no longer as visible from Greece, and her de facto rival Antipater had demonstrated his ability to exert power over the Greeks. So Olympias moved to Epirus, where she could enjoy greater autonomy and could continue to project authority as a Molossian and a leader of the Epirote state. She was to remain there until Alexander’s death in 323. Regarding her actions in the intervening years our sources are generally silent, except to mention her demand, in 324, that the Athenians surrender Harpalus.

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Note 212  

E. Carney (1987a) 38.

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Note 213  

Regarding the hostility and bias with which most ancient sources regard Olympias - for examples cf. Plut. Alex. 68.3, 39.7; Diod. 19.11.9; Justin 14.6.1; Arr. 7.12-13 - and the problem this poses for any treatment of her career, I will try to follow the course recommended by Carney in her definitive 1987 treatment of Olympias. She notes, following G.H. Macurdy (1932) 45, that “our sources react much more negatively to violence and murder engineered by Olympias than to similar acts committed by her husband or son. They tend to blame Olympias rather than Alexander for reprehensible actions which cannot plausibly be supposed to have been committed without, at the very least, her son’s acquiescence” (E. Carney [1987a] 36). Carney summarizes her approach to these sources thus: “…argument solely based on the supposed nature of her personality should be rejected. Assumptions about her personal motivation tend to obscure consideration of her policy. The largely anecdotal information about Olympias preserved in our literary sources for Alexander’s reign should always be distrusted, whereas information preserved by outside sources (inscriptions, speeches) should be treated as authoritative” (E. Carney [1987a] 38); this argument is further developed in E. Carney (1993).

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Note 214  

I. Kaerst (1894) 2504. Likewise, H. Berve (1926) 286: “O. fühlte sich durchaus als Vertreterin Al.s, vor allem Antipatros gegenüber, und suchte sich, von unbezwingbarer Herrschsucht getrieben, auch in die Regierungsgeschäfte des eichsverwesers einzumischen.”

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Note 215  

N.G.L. Hammond (1985) 158.

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Note 216  

This characterization of some scholars’ approaches to Olympias is not quite hyperbole. See H. Berve (1926) 287; H. Strasburger (1939) col. 287; P.R. Franke (1955) 42; J.R. Hamilton (1973) 190. All these scholars argue that Olympias quarreled with her daughter Cleopatra. E. Carney (1987a) 53 n.53, points out, however, that these arguments stand solely on the assumption that no one could be close to Olympias and not quarrel with her.

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Note 217  

For Olympias’ names see Justin 9.7.13; Plut. De Pyth. Or. 401a; also H. Berve (1926) 283. K.J. Beloch (1923) 3.2, 68-70, gives the order and speculative dates for Philip’s wives: Audata of Illyria, 360; Phila of Elimeia, 359/8; Nicesipolis of Pherae and Philinna of Larissa, 358/7; Olympias of Epirus, 357 (Alexander born in 356); Meda of Thrace, ?340/339; Cleopatra of Macedon, 337. These dates are based on Athen. 13 557b-e = Satyrus Fr. 21 (ed. Kumaniecki, Krakow, 1929), for recent discussion of which see A. Tronson (1984). The fragment of Satyrus is notable not only for its information on the names and dates of Philip’s wives, but because it is the only ancient source that explicitly describes Philip conducting diplomacy through marriages.

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Note 218  

Plut. Alex. 10.4: blames Olympias for killing Philip’s last bride, Cleopatra, and her child; also Justin 9.7.12; Paus. 8.7.7. Modern historians have reacted strongly to the image of Olympias participating in her husband’s murder. P. Green (1991) 107, says, “Her subsequent behavior, indeed, suggests that she not only planned her husband’s death but openly gloried in it”, and W. Heckel (1981) 57, calls the murder of Cleopatra and the child “unnecessary”, which supposes that we are in a better position to judge than Olympias was herself; see E. Carney (1987a) 48, for full discussion.

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Note 219  

E. Carney (1987a) 55-56. For discussion of the sources’ bias, see E. Carney (1987a) 49 and n.43; J.R. Hamilton (1969) 89.

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Note 220  

We do not even need a specific focus of disagreement, although several have been suggested. G.H. Macurdy (1932) 310, and H. Berve (1926) 285, for example, see Philip as the origin of the quarrel between Antipater, his general, and Olympias, who was often at odds with her husband. E. Carney (1987a) 55 n.55, cautions against seeing competition between Olympias and Antipater as a fight over a formal title.

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Note 221  

So E. Carney (1995) 368-376; cf. E. Carney (1987a) 51. Carney argues that Olympias’ membership in the Argead clan was sufficient to legitimize her participation in Alexander’s rule, despite the absence of any discernible office or job-description for her.

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Note 222  

G.N. Cross (1932) 42. The Epirote kingdom and the role Olympias and Cleopatra played there are discussed below.

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Note 223  

N.G.L. Hammond (1985) 156. For Hieronymus as the source see J. Hornblower (1981) 64-5 (for Justin), 39 (for Diodorus); also F. Schachermeyr (1970) 104-130; P.A. Stadter (1980) 148.

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Note 224  

N.G.L. Hammond (1985) 156.

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Note 225  

N.G.L. Hammond (1985) 158.

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Note 226  

N.G.L. Hammond (1985) 156 and n.6. See also G.N. Cross (1932) 16 and n.1, 18 and n.2; N.G.L. Hammond (1967) 501.

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Note 227  

N.G.L. Hammond (1985) 156 n.6.

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Note 228  

M.N. Tod (1948) no. 150.

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Note 229  

Hammond translates τέλος as ‘office’.

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Note 230  

N.G.L. Hammond (1985) 157. He quotes Justin 13.4.5: “Antipater is placed in charge of Macedonia and Greece; Craterus is given charge of the Royal Property” (“Macedoniae et Graeciae Antipater praeponitur, regiae pecuniae custodia Cratero traditur”).

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Note 231  

N.G.L. Hammond (1985) 158 n.7; SEG 1969 35.

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Note 232  

E. Carney (1994) 363-364. See also H. Bengtson (1937) 75; E. Will (1966) 31.

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Note 233  

N.G.L. Hammond (1985) 159: “The office of προστάτης became vacant with the departure and death of Craterus in Asia in 321 BC. We do not hear of any immediate replacement. Between 320 and 317 there was no need for a προστάτης because both kings were in Macedonia and Arrhidaeus was able to carry out state sacrifices, as he had done in the lifetime of Alexander.”

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Note 234  

F.W. Walbank (1957) 533-534; N.G.L. Hammond (1985) 157; J. Hornblower (1981) 13.

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Note 235  

See E. Carney (1994) 360-361 and n.6.

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Note 236  

E. Carney (1994) 360.

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Note 237  

E. Carney (1987a) 37. Her discussion is based on P. Stafford (1978).

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Note 238  

P. Cabanes (1980) 333: “L’Épire, qui est actuellement la région la plus riche in documents épigraphicques intéressant cette communauté familiale des biens grâce aux inscriptions d’affranchissements conservées sur le mur du théâtre de Bouthrōtos, paraît aussi faire une place très particulière à la femme, très différente de celle qu’elle occupe dans la Grèce classique des cités. La femme peut, d’abord, prendre seule la décision d’affranchir son esclave, prouvant par là qu’elle dispose d’un véritable droit de propriété et donc de la possibilité d’aliéner celle ci. De plus, la femme figure aussi en tēte de l’énumération du groupe d’affranchisseurs dans un petit nombre de cas; cette place n’est pas fortuite mais signifie bien alors que la femme tient le rōle de chef de famille, qui a gérité des droits de son père ou du mari décédé.”

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Note 239  

The advice is reported as having been given via letter, so we might approach it cautiously; on the other hand, as Athenaeus says, such matters were “right up her alley” (o(/sa te *)olumpia\s proqu/etai) (14 659F); cf. Plut. Alex. 2.2, 2.7-9; E.A. Fredricksmeyr (1966) 180.

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Note 240  

See H. Berve (1926) 287; N.G.L. Hammond (1980) 474; E. Carney (1987a) 51-52. These dedications have been dated to 331-330; see B. Keil (1902) 511-525.

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Note 241  

E. Carney (1988) 396 and n.30; see also R. Lane-Fox (1973) 91, 413, 513.

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Note 242  

M.N. Tod (1948) 274; B.M. Kingsley (1986) 169.

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Note 243  

B.M. Kingsley (1986) 169-170.

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Note 244  

See H. Berve (1926) 19-20, 186 and 273 (for Cleopatra’s and Alexander of Epirus’ children); E. Carney (1988) 395 and n.6.

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Note 245  

N.G.L. Hammond (1980) 474 n.52.

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Note 246  

She almost certainly acted in an official capacity during her husband’s absence; the Athenian merchant Leocrates bought a large shipment of grain from “Cleopatra in Epirus” (e)k th=s *)hpei/rou para\ *kleopa/tras) (Lyc. In Leocr. 26). For discussion of the date of this event, see below, p. 93.

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Note 247  

SEG 23.189 in P. Charneux (1966); further discussion and bibliography at N.G.L. Hammond (1980) 472 n.46; E. Carney (1987a) 50-51; E. Carney (1988) 395-396 and n.28.

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Note 248  

IG IV2 95; see P. Cabanes (1976) 116-117; N.G.L. Hammond (1980) 473-474.

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Note 249  

B.M. Kingsley (1986) 170. N.G.L. Hammond (1980) 474, agrees with this picture, but suggests a date later than Kingsley’s.

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Note 250  

D. Mendels (1984) 138-139.

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Note 251  

The levies of troops Alexander took from Macedonia for the Asian war had a similar effect, though not by design.

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Note 252  

For Olympias having no title, cf. Syll. 3 252N, 5 with N.3; also E. Carney (1987a) 39 n.8. The epigram on her tomb at Pydna refers to her only as “daughter of Neoptolemus” ([*kou/ran *neop]tole/moio); for the restoration, see A.N. Oikonomides (1982) 13.

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Note 253  

Cf. N.G.L. Hammond (1980) 474, who argues that Olympias meant only that she was a native Molossian, and therefore could veto the Athenian efforts; E. Carney (1987a) 52 n.49, says “This reading is unconvincing since Olympias is telling the Athenians to keep their hands off the temple rather than telling them to go sacrifice at their own shrines.” Hammond, on the other hand, would see Hyperides’ association of Olympias and the Macedonians as evidence that she was still in Pella, while Carney points out that this need not be so.

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Note 254  

G. Colin (1946) 164 (on the date of the trial of Euxenippus): “Quant à la date de l’affair, elle se place sùrement entre 330 et 324: avant 324, parce que cette année est celle de la mort de Lycurgue; après 330, parce qu’Olympias, dans ses plaintes au sujet de la restauration de la statue de Dioné à dodone, arguë (§25) de ce qu’elle est souveraine du pays; or, elle ne l’a été qu’à la mort d’Alexandre le Molosse (assassiné en Lucancie vers 330), en usurpant d’ailleurs son royaume, qui aurait dû revenir à sa fille Cléopátre, veuve du dit Alexandre.”

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Note 255  

Much later, in the period of internecine strife that followed Alexander’s death, the Athenians would prefer Olympias to Antipater’s son Cassander (Diod. 18.64.6-65.2). Diodorus says that they had “held Olympias in high regard for a long time” (oi( de\ *)aqhnai=oi pepoluwrhko/tes e)n toi=s e)/mprosqen xro/nois th\n *)olumpia/da) (18.65.2); cf. E. Carney (1994) 374-375.

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Note 256  

E. Carney (1987a) 52 n.49, states this clearly: “Mother and son worked in concert, granted the absence of the son in the east, but without any well-defined formal arrangement. Similarly, that Hyperides imagines someone flattering both Olympias and the Macedonians tells us that he associates the two, but does not tell us the basis of the association.”

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Note 257  

Those holding this view include: K.J. Beloch (1923) 3.2, 146; H. Berve (1926) 286-287; G.N. Cross (1932) 43; H. Strasburger (1939) col. 180; P.R. Franke (1955) 41-46; P. Charneux (1966) 179. Cf. E. Carney (1987a) 50 n.44, 52.

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Note 258  

N.G.L. Hammond (1980) 474: “It was in the year 324 BC that the friction between Antipater and Olympias reached a critical point. We may assume that Alexander took the decision that Olympias was to withdraw from Macedonia to Epirus (Diod. 18.49.4 and Paus. 1.11.3), and that Cleopatra, the sister of Alexander, should take over the προστασία in Macedonia.” Plutarch’s account, Hammond says, represents a “garbled” version of Diod. 18.49.4 and Paus. 1.11.3. and Diod. 17.108.7 - stating that both Antipater and Olympias demanded Harpalus’ extradition - which he takes as evidence that both prominent Macedonians were working together from Pella in early 324. This is not convincing, as I hope my subsequent discussion will show; see also my treatment of the Harpalus Affair in chapters II and VI, and E. Carney (1987a) 50, which addresses Hammond’s argument directly.

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Note 259  

G.N. Cross (1932) 42-43, and P. Cabanes (1976) 173, cite this passage as evidence that Olympias moved in 325.

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Note 260  

H.W. Smyth (1965) §1943 (p. 483).

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Note 261  

See above, page 86 and n.245.

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Note 262  

The traditional date for the grain-inscription is 330-326 bc, with both Olympias and Cleopatra receiving grain in Epirus; for bibliography supporting this view see M.N. Tod (1948) 273-276 and E. Carney (1988) 336 n.29. My argument follows B.M. Kingsley (1986), which Carney also accepts.

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Note 263  

G. Oliverio (1933) 33-35.

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Note 264  

B.M. Kingsley (1986) 170-171; P. Green (1991) 274.

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Note 265  

P. Marchetti (1976) 53; B.M. Kingsley (1986) 171.

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Note 266  

Dem. 17.22; see Cawkwell (1961) 77-78.

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Note 267  

W.L. Westerman (1929-1930) 16-19.

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Note 268  

B.M. Kingsley (1986) 171.

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Note 269  

The syntax and meaning of this sentence are obscure.

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Note 270  

G. Oliverio (1933) 33-35, 87.

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Note 271  

B.M. Kingsley (1986) 169 n.30. She establishes Leocrates’ date of return thus: He left Athens immediately after the battle of Chaeronea (338 BC), and Lycurgus says he was absent from Athens “six continuous years” (Lyc. In Leocr. 21, 56, 145).

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Note 272  

B.M. Kingsley (1986) 170-171, 174 and n.73.

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Note 273  

See E. Badian (1967) 190-192.

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Note 274  

H. Berve (1926) 28; G.H. Macurdy (1932) 33; H. Strasburger (1939) col. 179; J.R. Hamilton (1969) 105; P. Green (1991) 458. Regarding Plutarch’s account, note E. Carney (1987a) 53 n.52: “Even if the passage merits belief, it does not assume some sort of public humiliation which would drive Olympias to leave.” Of course, even private censure would rankle, but it is better not to rely too heavily on Plutarch’s censorious comments on Olympias.

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Note 275  

This approach is taken by G.N. Cross (1932) 48; E. Carney (1987a) 53; E. Carney (1988) 395. Opinions supposedly expressed in letters between Alexander and Antipater or Alexander and Olympias are very suspect. Cf. E. Carney (1987a) 49: “At best, each letter must be considered on its individual merits: granted the hostile tradition about Olympias, rejecting all ‘epistolary’ information about her is not unreasonable.”

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Note 276  

H. Berve (1926) 273.

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Note 277  

N.G.L. Hammond (1980a) 16; E. Carney (1987a) 56 and n.56.

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Note 278  

J.R. Fears (1975) 128; G.N. Cross (1932) 42.

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Note 279  

For arguments in support of this war beginning in early 331, see E. Badian (1967) 190-192; E.N. Borza (1971) 230-235; R.A. Lock (1972) 10-27; E. Badian (1994) 268-271; these contra G.L. Cawkwell (1969) 163-180, and A.B. Bosworth (1975) 30-31, but see E. Badian (1994) 268-271.

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Note 280  

Regarding the end of the war, see E. Badian (1967) 189-191; E.N. Borza (1971) 230-235; A.S. Sofman (1973) 117-136; A.B. Bosworth (1975); 36-37 E.I. McQueen (1978) 43; E. Badian (1994) 272-277.

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Note 281  

For Alexander’s confidence that the Greeks would cause no further troubles, see Arr. 3.19.5; Diod. 17.74.3; Curt. 6.2.17; Plut. Alex. 34.2; D. Kanatsulis (1958/59) 62; J.R. Hamilton (1969) 212 ad Plut. Alex. 42.5. Cf. F. Schachermeyr (1949) 238; E. Badian (1967) 190; U. Wilcken (1967) 147; G.L. Cawkwell (1969) 180.

For Antipater’s measures to insure that the Greeks would cause no further trouble, see Curt. 7.10.11-12; Dem. 17.4, 7, 10, 16; Diod. 18.8.1; Plut. Alex. 74.2; Justin 12.14.4; A.B. Bosworth (1986) 7; R. Sealey (1993) 207; E. Badian (1961) 28 and n.87.

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Note 282  

Cf. N.G.L. Hammond and F.W. Walbank (1988) 77.

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Note 283  

This argument given at N.G.L. Hammond (1967) 558, and N.G.L. Hammond (1980) 471-472. Both fragments refer immediately to the time Antipater and Craterus jointly held Europe, for which see Curt. 10.7.9 and Justin 13.2.13-14.

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Note 284  

The earliest mention of the league in a surviving source is at Diod. 19.36.3, which notes its existence c. 317 BC. P.R. Franke (1955) 36-37, cites a fragment/testimonium of Aristotle (Fr. 494 apud St. Byz. s. *)amu/ntai), mentioning h( tw=n *)hpeirwtw=n politei/a, a work, Franke says, Aristotle probably wrote before 326/5. S. Carapanos (1878) 1.39.1, describes an inscription mentioning *molossoi\ kai\ su/mmaxoi, which he dates to the 330s bc. P. Cabanes (1976) 177-181, argues based on this evidence that the alliance came about during Alexander of Epirus’ reign. Hammond’s argument that it came about much later derives from his late dating of Olympias’ removal to Epirus.

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Note 285  

G.N. Cross (1932) 42-43.

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Note 286  

See E. Carney (1987a) 52 n.49, contra N.G.L. Hammond (1980) 474 n.52. Based on this episode, H. Berve (1926) 287, sees Olympias as Herrin von Epeiros.

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Note 287  

Cf. IG IV2 95; P. Cabanes (1976) 166; N.G.L. Hammond (1980) 473.

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Note 288  

I leave aside Plutarch’s reports of Olympias slandering Antipater in letters to her son, although other scholars have given them a greater importance (see above, page 79).

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Note 289  

E. Badian (1961) 37, notes that Antipater’s army was, at least by 324 BC, potentially more loyal to their Macedonian general than to the orientalizing king. This ambivalence toward Alexander would have threatened his mother even more. After Alexander’s death the army chose Antipater over all of Alexander’s blood-relations; see Diod. 18.39.3-4, 18.48.4; E. Carney (1987b) 497-499 and n.11.

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Note 290  

E. Carney (1994) 371-372.

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Note 291  

E. Carney (1995) 389.

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Note 292  

cf. E. Carney (1987a) 61; E. Carney (1995) 386, 389.

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Note 293  

E. Carney (1987a) 54.

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