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Empire of Antigonus - 316-301 BC

Map - Successors of Alexander the GreatAll the Macedonian world was at first divided into two masses, which fought against each other both in Europe and in Asia. Cassander was engaged in Greece against Polysperchon, and Antigonus in Asia against Eumenes, still pretending that he was obliged to carry into effect the decrees of the Macedonian army against Eumenes.

The power of Antigonus increased immensely through the war with which he was commissioned: he not only made himself master of Eumenes' satrapy of Cappadocia in western Asia, and of other satrapies in Asia Minor, such as Pisidia and Lycia, but he also occupied Media and the intermediate provinces, so that his rule extended from the Hellespont to Persia. He took his headquarters at Ecbatana, whence he made war upon the southern provinces. In order to attack them he had to pass through the desert of Rhei and Kom, which separates Ears and Kerman from Media. Antigonus there undertook the celebrated expedition through the desert, in order to attack the allies in their winter quarters; but the manner in which Eumenes discovered and thwarted his march, is much more brilliant, for he deceived his enemy, and induced him to give up his plan, which could not have failed, and to make his retreat.

In the eighth year after Alexander's death, Antigonus concluded the war against Eumenes, by attacking him with a far superior force. Peucestas had displayed a miserable character, but Antigonus had conducted the war in a most able manner. In the end (316 BC), he defeated the allies, and conquered the immense oriental train and their harems, which they carried about with them; and in order to recover these, they concluded peace with Antigonus. This was the price for which the unfortunate Eumenes was delivered up by his own troops, as Charles I was delivered up by the Scotch. Antigonus would willingly have saved him, but he was obliged to sacrifice him to the national hatred of the Macedonians against the Greeks.

This war established the dominion of Antigonus, who through his victory over Eumenes and the satraps under him, obtained the supremacy over their provinces, and now was in possession of a large empire. Antigonus, by his conquest of Eumenes, became master of all Asia, while Lysiraachus ruled in Thrace, and Ptolemy in Egypt. We need hardly observe, that Antigonus' dominion in the most eastern satrapies was merely nominal, or did not exist at all; but, in regard to Babylonia, Persia, and other interior provinces, the case was different, for there he really ruled as master. But none of the princes had yet assumed the kingly title. This was the state of things in 316 BC.

Antigonus was the first who was courageous enough to drop all hypocrisy, and in 306 BC assumed the diadem and the kingly title. No one had as yet ventured to do this, just as Napoleon hesitated for a long time to assume the imperial title. Antigonus was already advanced in years, being of about the same age as Perdiccas, and somewhat younger than Antipater (who was the oldest among the generals) taking into consideration the age at which he died in 301 BC.

Seleucus, who was master of Babylon and the upper satrapies, after having subdued all Iran as far as India without any effort, formed, together with Ptolemy, Cassander, and Lysimachus, a coalition against Antigonus. This is the first instance known in history, of a great coalition of princes of equal rank and equal independence. Antigonus, who now possessed only Asia Minor, Cyprus, a portion of Syria and the greater part vf Greece, was thus opposed by all the rest of the Macedonian world.

It appears that the enemies pressed into Asia Minor from all sides. The decisive battle was fought near Ipsus in Phrygia; it was decided especially by the admirable infantry of Lysimachus and Cassander. Seleucus had only Asiatics; the phalanx of Ptolemy was of little importance, and only his mercenaries fought bravely; but the truth is that in reality he had no talent as a commander. Antigonus fell in the battle, and the defeat was so complete, that his whole empire was destroyed.

The empire of Antigonus was now cut up: the western provinces were divided between Cassander and Lysimachus, the upper provinces were assigned to Seleucus, and Cyprus and Syria to Ptolemy, who, however, did not maintain upper Syria but confined himself to Phoenicia and Cyprus. Plistarchus, a brother of Cassander obtained Cilicia as a special indemnification for Cassander, who himself received Caria and Pamphylia, while Lysimachus acquired Lydia, Ionia, Phrygia, and the north coast of Asia Minor.

Antigonus was one of the old officers of Philip, and a good one too. He was, indeed, like most of them, nothing beyond a soldier, but in ability he was superior to most of them.Ptolemy distinguished himself only by his skilful defence of Egypt against Perdiccas; subsequently in the war against Antigonus, not much is to be said of him. Among those who contended for the empire (excepting Eumenes, the stranger, and Craterus, who fell early), Antigonus and Lysimachus were probably the best. Besides Antipater and his son Cassander, they alone were true generals. Antigonus had conquered for himself an empire by campaigns, labors, and hardships; he lost one eye, and, in the end, his life.

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Page last modified: 13-09-2012 19:11:52 ZULU