Antigonus II Gonatas

Antigonus II Gonatas

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Antigonus II Gonatas (319 BC – 239 BC) was a powerful ruler who firmly established the Antigonid dynasty
Antigonid dynasty
The Antigonid dynasty was a dynasty of Hellenistic kings descended from Alexander the Great's general Antigonus I Monophthalmus .-History:...

 in Macedon
Macedon
Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....

ia and acquired fame for his victory over the Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

s who had invaded the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

.

Birth and family


Antigonus Gonatas was born around 319 BC, probably in Gonnoi
Gonnoi
Gonnoi is a former municipality in the Larissa regional unit, Thessaly, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Tempi, of which it is a municipal unit. Population 3,119...

 in Thessaly
Thessaly
Thessaly is a traditional geographical region and an administrative region of Greece, comprising most of the ancient region of the same name. Before the Greek Dark Ages, Thessaly was known as Aeolia, and appears thus in Homer's Odyssey....

 unless Gonatas is derived from an iron plate protecting the knee (Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek
Ancient Greek is the stage of the Greek language in the periods spanning the times c. 9th–6th centuries BC, , c. 5th–4th centuries BC , and the c. 3rd century BC – 6th century AD of ancient Greece and the ancient world; being predated in the 2nd millennium BC by Mycenaean Greek...

 gonu, genitive gonatos).He was related to the most powerful of the Diadochi
Diadochi
The Diadochi were the rival generals, family and friends of Alexander the Great who fought for the control of Alexander's empire after his death in 323 BC...

 (the generals of Alexander who divided the empire after his death in 323 BC). Antigonus's father was Demetrius Poliorcetes
Demetrius I of Macedon
Demetrius I , called Poliorcetes , son of Antigonus I Monophthalmus and Stratonice, was a king of Macedon...

, who was the son of Antigonus I Monophthalmus
Antigonus I Monophthalmus
Antigonus I Monophthalmus , son of Philip from Elimeia, was a Macedonian nobleman, general, and satrap under Alexander the Great. During his early life he served under Philip II, and he was a major figure in the Wars of the Diadochi after Alexander's death, declaring himself king in 306 BC and...

, who then controlled much of Asia. His mother was Phila
Phila of Macedonia
For other persons named Phila, see PhilaPhila , daughter of Antipater, the regent of Macedonia, is celebrated by the ancient sources as one of the noblest and most virtuous women of the age in which she lived...

, the daughter of Antipater
Antipater
Antipater was a Macedonian general and a supporter of kings Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great. In 320 BC, he became Regent of all of Alexander's Empire. Antipater was one of the sons of a Macedonian nobleman called Iollas or Iolaus and his family were distant collateral relatives to the...

. The latter controlled Macedonia and Greece and was recognized as regent of the empire, which in theory remained united. In this year, however, Antipater died, leading to further struggles for territory and dominance.

The careers of Antigonus's grandfather and father showed great swings in fortune. After coming closer than anyone to reuniting the empire of Alexander, Antigonus Monophthalmus was defeated and killed in the great battle of Ipsus
Battle of Ipsus
The Battle of Ipsus was fought between some of the Diadochi in 301 BC near the village of that name in Phrygia...

 in 301 BC and the territory he formerly controlled was divided among his enemies, Cassander
Cassander
Cassander , King of Macedonia , was a son of Antipater, and founder of the Antipatrid dynasty...

, Ptolemy
Ptolemy I Soter
Ptolemy I Soter I , also known as Ptolemy Lagides, c. 367 BC – c. 283 BC, was a Macedonian general under Alexander the Great, who became ruler of Egypt and founder of both the Ptolemaic Kingdom and the Ptolemaic Dynasty...

, Lysimachus
Lysimachus
Lysimachus was a Macedonian officer and diadochus of Alexander the Great, who became a basileus in 306 BC, ruling Thrace, Asia Minor and Macedon.-Early Life & Career:...

, and Seleucus
Seleucus I Nicator
Seleucus I was a Macedonian officer of Alexander the Great and one of the Diadochi. In the Wars of the Diadochi that took place after Alexander's death, Seleucus established the Seleucid dynasty and the Seleucid Empire...

.

Demetrius's general


The fate of Antigonus Gonatas, now 18, was closely tied with that of his father Demetrius, who escaped from the battle with 9,000 troops. Jealousy among the victors eventually allowed Demetrius to regain part of the power his father had lost. He conquered Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 and much of Greece and in 294 BC he seized the throne of Macedonia from Alexander
Alexander V of Macedon
Alexander V of Macedon was the third and youngest son of Cassander and Thessalonica of Macedon, who was a half-sister of Alexander the Great. He ruled as King of Macedon along with his brother Antipater from 297 to 294 BC...

, the son of Cassander.

Because Antigonus Gonatas was the grandson of Antipater and the nephew of Cassander through his mother, his presence helped to reconcile the supporters of these former kings to the rule of his father.

In 292 BC, while Demetrius was campaigning in Boeotia
Boeotia
Boeotia, also spelled Beotia and Bœotia , is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Central Greece. It was also a region of ancient Greece. Its capital is Livadeia, the second largest city being Thebes.-Geography:...

, he received news that Lysimachus, the ruler of Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

 and the enemy of his father, had been taken prisoner by Dromichaetes
Dromichaetes
Dromichaetes was king of the Getae on both sides of the lower Danube around 300 BC.- Background :The Getae had been federated in the Odrysian kingdom in the 5th century BC. It is not known how the relations between Getae and Odrysians developed...

, a ruler of the Getae
Getae
The Getae was the name given by the Greeks to several Thracian tribes that occupied the regions south of the Lower Danube, in what is today northern Bulgaria, and north of the Lower Danube, in Romania...

. Hoping to seize Lysimachus's territories in Thrace and Asia, Demetrius delegated command of his forces in Boeotia to Antigonus and immediately marched north. While he was away, the Boeotians rose in rebellion, but were defeated by Antigonus, who bottled them up in Thebes
Thebes, Greece
Thebes is a city in Greece, situated to the north of the Cithaeron range, which divides Boeotia from Attica, and on the southern edge of the Boeotian plain. It played an important role in Greek myth, as the site of the stories of Cadmus, Oedipus, Dionysus and others...

.

After the failure of his expedition to Thrace, Demetrius rejoined his son at the siege of Thebes. As the Thebans defended their city stubbornly, Demetrius often forced his men to attack the city at great cost, even though there was little hope of capturing it. It is said that, distressed by the heavy losses, Antigonus asked his father: "Why, father, do we allow these lives to be thrown away so unnecessarily?" Demetrius appears to have showed his contempt for the lives of his soldiers by replying: "We don't have to find rations for the dead." But he also showed a similar disregard for his own life and was badly wounded at the siege by a bolt through the neck.

In 291 BC, Demetrius finally took the city after using siege engines to demolish its walls. But control of Macedonia and most of Greece was merely a stepping stone to his plans for further conquest. He aimed at nothing less than the revival of Alexander's empire and started making preparations on a grand scale, ordering the construction of a fleet of 500 ships, many of them of unprecedented size.

Such preparations and the obvious intent behind them, naturally alarmed the other kings, Seleucus, Ptolemy, Lysimachus, and Pyrrhus
Pyrrhus of Epirus
Pyrrhus or Pyrrhos was a Greek general and statesman of the Hellenistic era. He was king of the Greek tribe of Molossians, of the royal Aeacid house , and later he became king of Epirus and Macedon . He was one of the strongest opponents of early Rome...

, who immediately formed an alliance. In the spring of 288 BC Ptolemy's fleet appeared off Greece, inciting the cities to revolt. At the same time, Lysimachus attacked Macedonia from the east while Pyrrhus did so from the west. Demetrius left Antigonus in control of Greece, while he hurried to Macedonia.

By now the Macedonians had come to resent the extravagance and arrogance of Demetrius, and were not prepared to fight a difficult campaign for him. In 287 BC, Pyrrhus took the Macedonian city of Verroia and Demetrius's army promptly deserted and went over to the enemy who was much admired by the Macedonians for his bravery. At this change of fortune, Phila, the mother of Antigonus, killed herself with poison. Meanwhile in Greece, Athens revolted. Demetrius therefore returned and besieged the city, but he soon grew impatient and decided on a more dramatic course. Leaving Antigonus in charge of the war in Greece, he assembled all his ships and embarked with 11,000 infantry and all his cavalry to attack Caria
Caria
Caria was a region of western Anatolia extending along the coast from mid-Ionia south to Lycia and east to Phrygia. The Ionian and Dorian Greeks colonized the west of it and joined the Carian population in forming Greek-dominated states there...

 and Lydia
Lydia
Lydia was an Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the modern Turkish provinces of Manisa and inland İzmir. Its population spoke an Anatolian language known as Lydian....

, provinces of Lysimachus.

By separating himself from his son and departing into Asia, Demetrius seemed to take his bad luck with him, but in reality it was the fear and the jealousy of the other kings. As Demetrius was chased across Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

 to the Taurus Mountains
Taurus Mountains
Taurus Mountains are a mountain complex in southern Turkey, dividing the Mediterranean coastal region of southern Turkey from the central Anatolian Plateau. The system extends along a curve from Lake Eğirdir in the west to the upper reaches of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in the east...

 by the armies of Lysimachus and Seleucus, Antigonus attained success in Greece. Ptolemy's fleet was driven off and Athens surrendered.

In the wilderness



In 285 BC, Demetrius, worn down by his fruitless campaign, surrendered to Seleucus. At this point he wrote to son and his commanders in Athens and Corinth
Corinth
Corinth is a city and former municipality in Corinthia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Corinth, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit...

 telling them to henceforth consider him a dead man and to ignore any letters they might receive written under his seal. Macedonia, meanwhile had been divided between Pyrrhus and Lysimachus, but like two wolves sharing a piece of meat, they soon fought over it with the result that Lysimachus drove Pyrrhus out and took over the whole kingdom.

Following the capture of his father, Antigonus proved himself a dutiful son. He wrote to all the kings, especially Seleucus, offering to surrender all the territory he controlled and proposing himself as a hostage for his father's release, but to no avail. In 283 BC, at the age of 55, Demetrius died in captivity in Syria. When Antigonus heard that his father's remains were being brought to him, he put to sea with his entire fleet, met Seleucus's ships near the Cyclades
Cyclades
The Cyclades is a Greek island group in the Aegean Sea, south-east of the mainland of Greece; and a former administrative prefecture of Greece. They are one of the island groups which constitute the Aegean archipelago. The name refers to the islands around the sacred island of Delos...

, and took the relics to Corinth with great ceremony. After this, the remains were interred at the town of Demetrias
Demetrias
Demetrias was an ancient Greek city in Magnesia , near the modern city of Volos. It was founded by Demetrius Poliorcetes, one of the successors of Alexander the Great.-External links:*...

 that his father had founded in Thessaly
Thessaly
Thessaly is a traditional geographical region and an administrative region of Greece, comprising most of the ancient region of the same name. Before the Greek Dark Ages, Thessaly was known as Aeolia, and appears thus in Homer's Odyssey....

.

In 282 BC, Seleucus declared war on Lysimachus and the next year defeated and killed him at the Battle of Corupedium
Battle of Corupedium
The Battle of Corupedium, also called Corupedion or Curupedion is the name of the last battle of the Diadochi, the rival successors to Alexander the Great. It was fought in 281 BC between the armies of Lysimachus and Seleucus I Nicator. Lysimachus had ruled Thrace for decades and parts of modern...

 in Lydia. He then crossed to Europe to claim Thrace and Macedonia, but Ptolemy Ceraunus, the son of Ptolemy, murdered him and seized the Macedonian throne. Antigonus decided the time was ripe to take back his father's kingdom, but when he marched north, Ptolemy Ceraunus defeated his army.

Ptolemy's success, however, was short-lived. In the winter of 279 BC, a great horde of Gauls
Gauls
The Gauls were a Celtic people living in Gaul, the region roughly corresponding to what is now France, Belgium, Switzerland and Northern Italy, from the Iron Age through the Roman period. They mostly spoke the Continental Celtic language called Gaulish....

 descended on Macedonia from the northern forests, crushed Ptolemy's army, and killed him in battle, starting two years of complete anarchy in the kingdom. After plundering Macedonia, the Gauls invaded Greece. Antigonus cooperated in the defence of Greece against the barbarians, but it was the Aetolians
Aetolian League
The Aetolian League was a confederation of tribal communities and cities in ancient Greece centered on Aetolia in central Greece. It was established, probably during the early Hellenistic era, in opposition to Macedon and the Achaean League. Two annual meetings were held in Thermika and Panaetolika...

 who took the lead in defeating the Gauls
Celt
The Celts were a diverse group of tribal societies in Iron Age and Roman-era Europe who spoke Celtic languages.The earliest archaeological culture commonly accepted as Celtic, or rather Proto-Celtic, was the central European Hallstatt culture , named for the rich grave finds in Hallstatt, Austria....

. In 278 BC, a Greek army with a large Aetolia
Aetolia
Aetolia is a mountainous region of Greece on the north coast of the Gulf of Corinth, forming the eastern part of the modern prefecture of Aetolia-Acarnania.-Geography:...

n contingent resisted the Gauls at Thermopylae
Thermopylae
Thermopylae is a location in Greece where a narrow coastal passage existed in antiquity. It derives its name from its hot sulphur springs. "Hot gates" is also "the place of hot springs and cavernous entrances to Hades"....

 and Delphi
Delphi
Delphi is both an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis.In Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god...

, inflicting heavy casualties and forcing them to retreat.

The next year (277 BC), Antigonus, sailed to the Hellespont, landing near Lysimachia
Lysimachia (Thrace)
Lysimachia was an important Hellenistic Greek town on the north-western extremity of the Thracian Chersonese in what is now the European part of Turkey, not far from the bay of Melas .- History :...

 at the neck of the Thracian Chersonese
Thracian Chersonese
The Thracian Chersonese was the ancient name of the Gallipoli peninsula, in the part of historic Thrace that is now part of modern Turkey.The peninsula runs in a south-westerly direction into the Aegean Sea, between the Hellespont and the bay of Melas . Near Agora it was protected by a wall...

. When an army of Gauls under the command of Cerethrius appeared, Antigonus laid an ambush. He abandoned his camp and beached his ships, then concealed his men. The Gauls looted the camp, but when they started to attack the ships, Antigonus's army appeared, trapping them with the sea to their rear. In this way, Antigonus was able to inflict a crushing defeat on them and claim the Macedonian throne. It was around this time, under these favorable omens, that his son and successor, Demetrius II Aetolicus was born by his niece-wife Phila
Phila (daughter of Seleucus)
For other persons named Phila, see Phila.Phila a daughter of Seleucus I Nicator and Stratonice. She became the wife of Antigonus II Gonatas and was mother of Demetrius II Aetolicus.-References:...

.

Antigonus against Pyrrhus


Pyrrhus
Pyrrhus of Epirus
Pyrrhus or Pyrrhos was a Greek general and statesman of the Hellenistic era. He was king of the Greek tribe of Molossians, of the royal Aeacid house , and later he became king of Epirus and Macedon . He was one of the strongest opponents of early Rome...

, king of Epirus
Epirus
The name Epirus, from the Greek "Ήπειρος" meaning continent may refer to:-Geographical:* Epirus - a historical and geographical region of the southwestern Balkans, straddling modern Greece and Albania...

, Macedonia's western neighbour, was a general of mercurial ability, widely renowned for his bravery, but he did not apply his talents sensibly and often snatched after vain hopes, so that Antigonus used to compare him to a dice player, who had excellent throws, but did not know how to use them. When the Gauls defeated Ptolemy Ceraunus and the Macedonian throne became vacant, Pyrrhus was occupied in his campaigns overseas. Hoping to conquer first Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 and then Africa, he got involved in wars against Rome
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 and Carthage
Carthage
Carthage , implying it was a 'new Tyre') is a major urban centre that has existed for nearly 3,000 years on the Gulf of Tunis, developing from a Phoenician colony of the 1st millennium BC...

, the two most powerful states in the western Mediterranean. He then lost the support of the Greek cities in Italy and Sicily
Sicily
Sicily is a region of Italy, and is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Along with the surrounding minor islands, it constitutes an autonomous region of Italy, the Regione Autonoma Siciliana Sicily has a rich and unique culture, especially with regard to the arts, music, literature,...

 by his haughty behaviour. Needing reinforcements, he wrote to Antigonus as a fellow Greek king, asking him for troops and money, but Antigonus politely refused. In 275 BC, the Romans fought Pyrrhus at the Battle of Beneventum which ended inconclusively, although many modern sources wrongly state that Pyrrhus lost the battle. Pyrrhus had been drained by his recent wars in Sicily, and by the earlier Pyrrhic victories over the Romans, and thus decided to end his campaign in Italy and return to Epirus.

Pyrrhus's retreat from Italy, however, proved very unlucky for Antigonus. Returning to Epirus with an army of eight thousand foot and five hundred horse, he was in need of money to pay them. This encouraged him to look for another war, so the next year, after adding a force of Gallic mercenaries to his army, he invaded Macedonia with the intention of filling his coffers with plunder. The campaign however went better than expected. Making himself master of several towns and being joined by two thousand deserters, his hopes started to grow and he went in search of Antigonus. attacking his army in a narrow pass and throwing it into disorder. Antigonus's Macedonian troops retreated, but his own body of Gallic mercenaries, who had charge of his elephants, stood firm until Pyrrhus's troops surrounded them, whereupon they surrendered both themselves and the elephants. Pyrrhus now chased after the rest of Antigonus's army which, demoralised by its earlier defeat, declined to fight. As the two armies faced each other, Pyrrhus called out to the various officers by name and persuaded the whole body of infantry to desert. Antigonus escaped by concealing his identity. Pyrrhus now took control of upper Macedonia and Thessaly while Antigonus held onto the coastal towns.

But Pyrrhus now wasted his victory. Taking possession of Aegae
Vergina
Vergina is a small town in northern Greece, located in the peripheral unit of Imathia, Central Macedonia. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Veroia, of which it is a municipal unit...

, the ancient capital of Macedonia, he installed a garrison of Gauls, who greatly offended the Macedonians by digging up the tombs of their kings and leaving the bones scattered about as they searched for gold. He also neglected to finish off his enemy. Leaving him in control of the coastal cities, he contented himself with insults. He called Antigonus a shameless man for still wearing the purple, but he did little to destroy the remnants of his power.

Before this campaign was finished, Pyrrhus had embarked upon a new one. In 272 BC, Cleonymus
Cleonymus of Sparta
Cleonymus was a member of the Spartan royal family of the Agiads. He was the second son of Cleomenes II and a pretender to the Spartan throne. He did not succeed his father , allegedly because he was violent and tyrannic. His nephew Areus I became new king instead...

, an important Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

n, invited him to invade Laconia
Laconia
Laconia , also known as Lacedaemonia, is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Peloponnese. It is situated in the southeastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula. Its administrative capital is Sparti...

. Gathering an army of twenty-five thousand foot, two thousand horse, and twenty-four elephants, he crossed over to the Peloponnese
Peloponnese
The Peloponnese, Peloponnesos or Peloponnesus , is a large peninsula , located in a region of southern Greece, forming the part of the country south of the Gulf of Corinth...

 and occupied Megalopolis
Megalopolis, Greece
Megalópoli is a town in the western part of the peripheral unit of Arcadia, southern Greece. It is located in the same site as ancient Megalopolis . "Megalopolis" is a Greek word for Great city. When it was founded, in 371 BC, it was the first urbanization in rustic and primitive Arcadia. In...

 in Arcadia
Arcadia
Arcadia is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the administrative region of Peloponnese. It is situated in the central and eastern part of the Peloponnese peninsula. It takes its name from the mythological character Arcas. In Greek mythology, it was the home of the god Pan...

. Antigonus, after reoccupying part of Macedonia, gathered what forces he could and sailed to Greece to oppose him. As a large part of the Spartan army led by king Areus
Areus I
Areus I was Agiad King of Sparta from 309 to 265 BC, who died in battle near Corinth during the Chremonidean War. He was the grandson of Cleomenes II and was succeeded by his son Acrotatus II.-Military Success:...

 was in Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

 at the time, Pyrrhus had great hopes of taking the city easily, but the citizens organised stout resistance, allowing one of Antigonus's commanders, Aminias, the Phocian
Phocis
Phocis is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the administrative region of Central Greece. It stretches from the western mountainsides of Parnassus on the east to the mountain range of Vardousia on the west, upon the Gulf of Corinth...

, to reach the city with a force of mercenaries from Corinth. Soon after this, the Spartan king, Areus, returned from Crete with 2,000 men. These reinforcements stiffened resistance, and Pyrrhus, finding that he was losing men to desertion every day, broke off the attack and started to plunder the country.

The most important Peloponnesian city after Sparta was Argos
Argos
Argos is a city and a former municipality in Argolis, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Argos-Mykines, of which it is a municipal unit. It is 11 kilometres from Nafplion, which was its historic harbour...

. The two chief men, Aristippus
Aristippus of Argos
Aristippus of Argos was the tyrant of Argos in the 3rd century BC. He was killed by Aratus of Sicyon in 235BC.-References:* Cambridge Ancient History Vol 7.1 Chap 12, Walbank-Macedonia and the Greek Leagues...

 and Aristeas, were keen rivals. As Aristippus was an ally of Antigonus, Aristeas invited Pyrrhus to come to Argos to help him take over the city. Antigonus, aware that Pyrrhus was advancing on Argos, marched his army there as well, taking up a strong position on some high ground near the city. When Pyrrhus learned this, he encamped about Nauplia
Nafplion
Nafplio is a seaport town in the Peloponnese in Greece that has expanded up the hillsides near the north end of the Argolic Gulf. The town was the first capital of modern Greece, from the start of the Greek Revolution in 1821 until 1834. Nafplio is now the capital of the peripheral unit of...

 and the next day dispatched a herald to Antigonus, calling him a coward and challenging him to come down and fight on the plain. Antigonus replied that he would choose his own moment to fight and that if Pyrrhus was weary of life, he could find many ways to die.

The Argives, fearing that their territory would become a war zone, sent deputations to the two kings begging them to go elsewhere and allow their city to remain neutral. Both kings agreed, but Antigonus won over the trust of the Argives by surrendering his son as a hostage for his pledge. Pyrrhus, who had recently lost a son in the retreat from Sparta, did not. Indeed, with the help of Aristeas, he was plotting to seize the city. In the middle of the night, he marched his army up to the city walls and entered through a gate that Aristeas had opened. His Gallic troops seized the market place, but he had difficulty getting his elephants into the city through the small gates. This gave the Argives time to rally. They occupied strong points and sent messengers asking Antigonus for help.

When Antigonus heard that Pyrrhus had treacherously attacked the city, he advanced to the walls and sent a strong force inside to help the Argives. At the same time Areus arrived with a force of 1,000 Cretans and light-armed Spartans. These forces attacked the Gauls in the market place. Pyrrhus, realising that his Gallic troops were hard pressed, now advanced into the city with more troops, but in the narrow streets this soon led to confusion as men got lost and wandered around. The two forces now paused and waited for daylight. When the sun rose, Pyrrhus saw how strong the opposition was and decided the best thing was to retreat. Fearing that the gates would be too narrow for his troops to easily exit the city, he sent a message to his son, Helenus, who was outside with the main body of the army, asking him to break down a section of the walls. The messenger, however, failed to convey his instructions clearly. Misunderstanding what was required, Helenus took the rest of the elephants and some picked troops and advanced into the city to help his father.

With some of his troops trying to get out of the city and others trying to get in, Pyrrhus's army was now thrown into confusion. This was made worse by the elephants. The largest one had fallen across the gateway and was blocking the way, while another elephant, called Nicon, was trying to find its rider. This beast surged against the tide of fugitives, crushing friend and foe alike, until it found its dead master, whereupon it picked him up, placed him on its tusks, and went on the rampage. In this chaos Pyrrhus was struck down by a tile thrown by an old woman and killed by Zopyrus, a soldier of Antigonus. Thus ended the career of the most famous soldier of his time.

Alcyoneus, one of Antigonus's sons, heard that Pyrrhus had been killed. Taking the head, which had been cut off by Zopyrus, he rode to where his father was and threw it at his feet. Far from being delighted, Antigonus was angry with his son and struck him, calling him a barbarian and drove him away. He then covered his face with his cloak and burst into tears. The fate of Pyrrhus reminded him all too clearly of the tragic fates of his own grandfather and his father who had suffered similar swings of fortune. He then had Pyrrhus's body cremated with great ceremony.

After the death of Pyrrhus, his whole army and camp surrendered to Antigonus, greatly increasing his power. Later, Alcyoneus discovered Hellenicus, Pyrrhus's son, disguised in threadbare clothes. He treated him kindly and brought him to his father who was more pleased with his behaviour. "This is better than what you did before, my son," he said, "but why leave him in these clothes which are a disgrace to us now that we know ourselves the victors?" Greeting him courteously, Antigonus treated Helenus as an honored guest and sent him back to Epirus.

This was not the end of Antigonus' problems with Epirus: shortly after Alexander II
Alexander II of Epirus
Alexander II was a king of Epirus, and the son of Pyrrhus and Lanassa, the daughter of the Sicilian tyrant Agathocles.-Reign:He succeeded his father as king in 272 BC, and continued the war which his father had begun with Antigonus II Gonatas, whom he succeeded in driving from the kingdom of Macedon...

, the son of Pyrrhus and his successor as king of Epirus, repeated his father's adventure by conquering Macedonia. But only a few years after Alexander was not only expelled from Macedonia by Antigonus' son Demetrius, but he also lost Epirus and had to go into exile in Acarnania
Acarnania
Acarnania is a region of west-central Greece that lies along the Ionian Sea, west of Aetolia, with the Achelous River for a boundary, and north of the gulf of Calydon, which is the entrance to the Gulf of Corinth. Today it forms the western part of the prefecture of Aetolia-Acarnania. The capital...

. His exile didn't last long, as the Macedonians had at the end to abandon Epirus under pressure from Alexander's allies, the Acarnanians and the Aetolians
Aetolian League
The Aetolian League was a confederation of tribal communities and cities in ancient Greece centered on Aetolia in central Greece. It was established, probably during the early Hellenistic era, in opposition to Macedon and the Achaean League. Two annual meetings were held in Thermika and Panaetolika...

. Alexander seems to have died about 242 BC, leaving his country under the regency of his wife Olympias who proved anxious to have good relations with Epirus' powerful neighbour, as was sanctioned by the marriage between the regent's daughter Phthia
Phthia of Macedonia
For other uses, see PhthiaPhthia was a daughter of Alexander II , king of Epirus, who was married to Demetrius II , king of Macedonia...

 and Antigonus' son and heir Demetrius.

Chremonidean War



With the restoration of the territories captured by Pyrrhus, and with grateful allies in Sparta and Argos, and garrisons in Corinth and other cities, Antigonus securely controlled Macedonia and Greece. The careful way he guarded his power shows that he wished to avoid the vicissitudes of fortune that had characterized the careers of his father and grandfather. Aware that the Greeks loved freedom and autonomy, he was careful to grant a semblance of this in as much as it did not clash with his own power. Also, he tried to avoid the odium that direct rule brings by controlling the Greeks through intermediaries. It is for this reason that Polybius
Polybius
Polybius , Greek ) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic Period noted for his work, The Histories, which covered the period of 220–146 BC in detail. The work describes in part the rise of the Roman Republic and its gradual domination over Greece...

 says, "No man ever set up more absolute rulers in Greece than Antigonus."

The next stage of Antigonus's career is not documented and what we know has been patched together from a few historical fragments: Antigonus seems to have been on very good terms with Antiochus
Antiochus I Soter
Antiochus I Soter , was a king of the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire. He reigned from 281 BC - 261 BC....

, the Seleucid
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 ruler of Asia, whose love for Stratonice
Stratonice of Syria
For other persons with the same name, see StratoniceStratonice of Syria was the daughter of king Demetrius Poliorcetes and Phila, the daughter of Antipater...

, the sister of Antigonus, is very famous. Such an alliance naturally threatened the third successor state, Ptolemaic Egypt
Ptolemaic Egypt
Ptolemaic Egypt began when Ptolemy I Soter invaded Egypt and declared himself Pharaoh of Egypt in 305 BC and ended with the death of queen Cleopatra VII of Egypt and the Roman conquest in 30 BC. The Ptolemaic Kingdom was a powerful Hellenistic state, extending from southern Syria in the east, to...

. In Greece, Athens and Sparta, once the dominant states, naturally resented the domination of Antigonus. The pride, which in the past had made these cities mortal enemies, now served to unite them. In 267 BC, probably with encouragement from Egypt, an Athenian by the name of Chremonides
Chremonides
Chremonides , son of Eteokles, of Aithalidai, was an Athenian 3rd century BC statesman and general. He issued the Decree of Chremonides in 268 BC, creating an alliance between Sparta, Athens, and Ptolemy II, the Macedonian King of Egypt...

 persuaded the Athenians to join the Spartans in declaring war on Antigonus (see Chremonidean War
Chremonidean War
The Chremonidean War was fought by a coalition of Greek city-states against Macedonian domination.The origins of the war lie in the continuing desire of many Greek states, most notably Athens and Sparta, for a restoration of their former independence along with the Ptolemaic desire to stir up...

).

The Macedonian king responded by ravaging the territory of Athens with an army while blockading them by sea. In this campaign he also destroyed the grove and temple of Poseidon that stood at the entrance to Attica
Attica
Attica is a historical region of Greece, containing Athens, the current capital of Greece. The historical region is centered on the Attic peninsula, which projects into the Aegean Sea...

 near the border with Megara
Megara
Megara is an ancient city in Attica, Greece. It lies in the northern section of the Isthmus of Corinth opposite the island of Salamis, which belonged to Megara in archaic times, before being taken by Athens. Megara was one of the four districts of Attica, embodied in the four mythic sons of King...

. To support the Athenians and prevent the power of Antigonus from growing too much, Ptolemy II Philadelphus
Ptolemy II Philadelphus
Ptolemy II Philadelphus was the king of Ptolemaic Egypt from 283 BCE to 246 BCE. He was the son of the founder of the Ptolemaic kingdom Ptolemy I Soter and Berenice, and was educated by Philitas of Cos...

, the king of Egypt, sent a fleet to break the blockade. The Egyptian admiral, Patroclus, landed on a small uninhabited island near Laurium
Laurium
Laurium or Lavrio is a town in southeastern part of Attica, Greece. It is the seat of the municipality of Lavreotiki...

 and fortified it as a base for naval operations.

The Seleucid Empire had signed a peace treaty with Egypt, but Antiochus's son-in-law, Magas
Magas of Cyrene
Magas of Cyrene was a Greek Macedonian nobleman. Through his mother’s second marriage he was a member of the Ptolemaic dynasty. He became King of Cyrenaica and he managed to wrestle independence for Cyrenaica from the Greek Ptolemaic dynasty of Ancient Egypt.-Family Background & Early Life:Magas...

, king of Cyrene
Cyrene, Libya
Cyrene was an ancient Greek colony and then a Roman city in present-day Shahhat, Libya, the oldest and most important of the five Greek cities in the region. It gave eastern Libya the classical name Cyrenaica that it has retained to modern times.Cyrene lies in a lush valley in the Jebel Akhdar...

, persuaded Antiochus to take advantage of the war in Greece to attack Egypt. To counter this, Ptolemy dispatched a force of pirates and freebooters to raid and attack the lands and provinces of Antiochus, while his army fought a defensive campaign, holding back the stronger Seleucid army. Although successfully defending Egypt, Ptolemy II was unable to save Athens from Antigonus. In 263 BC, the Athenians and Spartans, worn down by several years of war and the devastation of their lands, made peace with Antigonus, who thus retained his hold on Greece.

Ptolemy II continued to interfere in the affairs of Greece and this led to war in 261. After two years in which little changed, Antiochus II, the new Seleucid king, made a military agreement with Antigonus, and the Second Syrian War began. Under the combined attack, Egypt lost ground in Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 and Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

, and the city of Miletus
Miletus
Miletus was an ancient Greek city on the western coast of Anatolia , near the mouth of the Maeander River in ancient Caria...

, held by its ally, Timarchus
Timarchus of Miletus
Timarchus or Timarch was a tyrant of the ancient Greek city of Miletus in the 3rd century BC. He with Ptolemy I Epigone led a revolt against Ptolemy II Philadelphus of Egypt in 259 BC. He was slain the next year by the Seleucid king Antiochus II during the course of the second Syrian war between...

, was seized by Antiochus II Theos
Antiochus II Theos
Antiochus II Theos was a king of the Hellenistic Seleucid Kingdom who reigned 261 BC – 246 BC). He succeeded his father Antiochus I Soter in the winter of 262–61 BC...

. In 255 BC, Ptolemy made peace, ceding lands to the Seleucids and confirming Antigonus in his mastery of Greece.

Antigonus against Aratus


Having successfully repelled the external threat to his control of Greece, the main danger to the power of Antigonus lay in the Greek love of liberty. In 251 BC, Aratus
Aratus of Sicyon
Aratus was a statesman of the ancient Greek city-state of Sicyon and a leader of the Achaean League. He deposed the Sicyonian tyrant Nicocles in 251 BC. Aratus was an advocate of Greek unity and brought Sicyon into the Achaean League, which he led to its maximum extent...

, a young nobleman in the city of Sicyon
Sicyon
Sikyon was an ancient Greek city situated in the northern Peloponnesus between Corinth and Achaea on the territory of the present-day prefecture of Corinthia...

, expelled the tyrant
Tyrant
A tyrant was originally one who illegally seized and controlled a governmental power in a polis. Tyrants were a group of individuals who took over many Greek poleis during the uprising of the middle classes in the sixth and seventh centuries BC, ousting the aristocratic governments.Plato and...

 Nicocles, who had ruled with the acquiescence of Antigonus, freed the people, and recalled the exiles. This led to confusion and division within the city. Fearing that Antigonus would exploit these divisions to attack the city, Aratus applied for the city to join the Achaean League
Achaean League
The Achaean League was a Hellenistic era confederation of Greek city states on the northern and central Peloponnese, which existed between 280 BC and 146 BC...

, a league of a few small Achaea
Achaea
Achaea is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of West Greece. It is situated in the northwestern part of the Peloponnese peninsula. The capital is Patras. The population exceeds 300,000 since 2001.-Geography:...

n towns in the Pelopennese.

Preferring to use guile rather than military power, Antigonus sought to regain control over Sicyon through winning the young man over to his side. Accordingly, he sent him a gift of 25 talents
Talent (weight)
The "talent" was one of several ancient units of mass, as well as corresponding units of value equivalent to these masses of a precious metal. It was approximately the mass of water required to fill an amphora. A Greek, or Attic talent, was , a Roman talent was , an Egyptian talent was , and a...

, but, Aratus, instead of being corrupted by this wealth, immediately gave it away to his fellow citizens. With this money and another sum he received from Ptolemy II Philadelphus
Ptolemy II Philadelphus
Ptolemy II Philadelphus was the king of Ptolemaic Egypt from 283 BCE to 246 BCE. He was the son of the founder of the Ptolemaic kingdom Ptolemy I Soter and Berenice, and was educated by Philitas of Cos...

, he was able to reconcile the different parties in Sicyon and unite the city.

Antigonus was troubled by the rising power and popularity of Aratus. If he were to receive extensive military and financial support from Ptolemy, Aratus would be able to threaten his position. He decided therefore to either win him over to his side or at least discredit him with Ptolemy. In order to do this, he showed him great marks of favour. When he was sacrificing to the gods in Corinth, he sent portions of the meat to Aratus at Sicyon, and complimented Aratus in front of his guests: "I thought this Sicyonian youth was only a lover of liberty and of his fellow-citizens, but now I look upon him as a good judge of the manners and actions of kings. For formerly he despised us, and, placing his hopes further off, admired the Egyptians, hearing much of their elephants, fleets, and palaces. But after seeing all these at a nearer distance, and perceiving them to be but mere stage props and pageantry, he has now come over to us. And for my part I willingly receive him, and, resolving to make great use of him myself, command you to look upon him as a friend." These words were readily believed by many, and when they were reported to Ptolemy, he half believed them.

But Aratus was far from becoming a friend of Antigonus, whom he regarded as the oppressor of Greek freedom. In 243 BC, in an attack by night, he seized the Acrocorinth
Acrocorinth
Acrocorinth , "Upper Corinth", the acropolis of ancient Corinth, is a monolithic rock overseeing the ancient city of Corinth, Greece. "It is the most impressive of the acropoleis of mainland Greece," in the estimation of George Forrest. Acrocorinth was continuously occupied from archaic times to...

, the strategically important fort by which Antigonus controlled the Isthmus
Isthmus of Corinth
The Isthmus of Corinth is the narrow land bridge which connects the Peloponnese peninsula with the rest of the mainland of Greece, near the city of Corinth. The word "isthmus" comes from the Ancient Greek word for "neck" and refers to the narrowness of the land. The Isthmus was known in the ancient...

 and thus the Pelopennese. When news of this success reached Corinth, the Corinthians rose in rebellion, overthrew Antigonus' party, and joined the Achaean League. Next Aratus took the port of Lechaeum
Lechaio
Lechaio is a village in the municipality of Assos-Lechaio in Corinthia. Distances are about 4 to 5 km W of Corinth, SE of Kiato...

 and captured 25 of Antigonus's ships.

This setback for Antigonus sparked a general uprising against Macedonian power. The Megarians
Megara
Megara is an ancient city in Attica, Greece. It lies in the northern section of the Isthmus of Corinth opposite the island of Salamis, which belonged to Megara in archaic times, before being taken by Athens. Megara was one of the four districts of Attica, embodied in the four mythic sons of King...

 revolted and together with the Troezen
Troezen
Troezen is a small town and a former municipality in the northeastern Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Troizinia, of which it is a municipal unit....

ians and Epidaurians
Epidaurus
Epidaurus was a small city in ancient Greece, at the Saronic Gulf. Two modern towns bear the name Epidavros : Palaia Epidavros and Nea Epidavros. Since 2010 they belong to the new municipality of Epidavros, part of the peripheral unit of Argolis...

 enrolled in the Achaean League. With this increased strength, Aratus invaded the territory of Athens and plundered Salamis
Salamis Island
Salamis , is the largest Greek island in the Saronic Gulf, about 1 nautical mile off-coast from Piraeus and about 16 km west of Athens. The chief city, Salamina , lies in the west-facing core of the crescent on Salamis Bay, which opens into the Saronic Gulf...

. Every Athenian freemen whom he captured was sent back to the Athenians without ransom to encourage them to join the rebellion. The Macedonians, however, retained their hold on Athens and the rest of Greece.

Relations with India


Antigonus is mentioned in the Edicts of Ashoka
Edicts of Ashoka
The Edicts of Ashoka are a collection of 33 inscriptions on the Pillars of Ashoka, as well as boulders and cave walls, made by the Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan dynasty during his reign from 269 BCE to 231 BCE. These inscriptions are dispersed throughout the areas of modern-day Bangladesh, India,...

 as one of the recipients of the Indian Emperor Ashoka
Ashoka
Ashok Maurya or Ashoka , popularly known as Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from ca. 269 BC to 232 BC. One of India's greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over most of present-day India after a number of military conquests...

's Buddhist
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 proselytism. No Western historical record of this event remains.

Death and appraisal


In 239 BC, Antigonus died at the age of 80 and left his kingdom to his son Demetrius II
Demetrius II of Macedon
Demetrius II Aetolicus son of Antigonus Gonatas and Phila, reigned as king of Macedonia from the winter of 239 to 229 BC. He belonged to the Antigonid dynasty and was born in 275 BC. There is a possibility that his father had already elevated to him to position of power equal to his own before his...

, who was to reign for the next 10 years. Except for a short period when he defeated the Gauls, Antigonus was not a heroic or successful military leader. His skills were mainly political. He preferred to rely on cunning, patience, and persistence to achieve his goals. While more brilliant leaders, like his father Demetrius and his neighbour Pyrrhus, aimed higher and fell lower, Antigonus achieved a measure of mediocre security. It is also said of him that he gained the affection of his subjects by his honesty and his cultivation of the arts, which he accomplished by gathering round him distinguished literary men, in particular philosophers, poets, and historians.

External links