Perdiccas

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Perdiccas (Greek: Περδίκκας, Perdikkas; c. 355 BC – c. 320 BC) was a general in Alexander the Great's army and participated in Alexander's campaign against Persia.

His family background

According to Arrian, Perdiccas was a son of the Macedonian nobleman, Orontes,[1] a descendant of the independent princes of the Macedonian province of Orestis. While his actual date of birth is unknown, he would seem to have been of a similar age to Alexander.

Regent Alexander's half brother

Following Alexander's death, he was regent for Alexander's half brother and intellectually disabled successor, Philip Arridaeus (Philip III). As such, he was the first of the Diadochi who fought for control over Alexander's empire.

Revolt against him

In his attempts to establish a power base and stay in control of the empire, he managed to make enemies of key generals in the Macedonian army: Antipater, Craterus and Antigonus Monophtalmus, who decided to revolt against the regent. In response to this formidable coalition and a provocation from another general, Ptolemy, Perdiccas invaded Egypt, but when the invasion foundered his soldiers revolted and killed him.

Hetairos

As the commander of a battalion of the Macedonian phalanx, heavy infantry, Perdiccas distinguished himself during the conquest of Thebes (335 BC), where he was severely wounded. Subsequently, he held an important command in the Indian campaigns of Alexander. In 324 BC, at the nuptials celebrated at Susa, Perdiccas married the daughter of the satrap of Media, a Persian named Atropates. When Hephaestion unexpectedly died the same year, Perdiccas was appointed his successor as commander of the Companion cavalry and chiliarch. As Alexander lay dying on 11 June 323 BC, he gave his ring to Perdiccas.

Civil War and Death

As a result of these events and actions, Perdiccas earned Antipater's animosity, while Antigonus had reason to fear Perdiccas. Another general, Craterus, was also unhappy at being ignored by Perdiccas despite his important position within the army when Alexander was alive. So Antipater, Craterus and Antigonus agreed to revolt against Perdiccas.

In late 321 BC, Perdiccas had sent Alexander's remains to a tomb that had been prepared in Aegae in Macedonia, the town where Alexander had been proclaimed king. However, when Alexander's remains arrived in Damascus, Ptolemy, the satrap of Egypt, was able to persuade those accompanying the remains that Alexander had wanted to be buried in Egypt. So Alexander's remains were brought to Alexandria in Egypt. Perdiccas regarded Ptolemy's action as an unacceptable provocation and decided to punish Ptolemy by invading Egypt.

Perdiccas' most loyal supporter was Eumenes, satrap of Cappadocia and Paphlagonia. Leaving the war in Asia Minor to Eumenes, Perdiccas marched to attack Ptolemy in Egypt. Eumenes managed to defeat and kill Craterus in a battle that took place near the Hellespont. Perdiccas reached Pelusium but failed to cross the Nile. A mutiny broke out amongst his troops, who were disheartened by Perdiccas' failure to make progress in Egypt and exasperated by the severity of his discipline. Perdiccas was assassinated by his officers (Peithon, Antigenes, and Seleucus) some time in either 321 or 320 BC.

References

  1. Austin, M.M. (1981). The Hellenistic World from Alexander to the Roman Conquest: A Selection of Ancient Sources in Translation. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-29666-3.