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Empire of Lysimachus

By around 316 BC Antigonus, by his conquest of Eumenes, became master of all Asia, while Lysiraachus ruled in Thrace, and Ptolemy in Egypt. 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. In the feuds which henceforth arose among the rulers, a younger generation of men already appeared on the stage, and they can in no way be compared with the older men who had gone forth from the school of Philip.

It is uncertain whether Lysimachus was a Thessalian or a Macedonian. He was captain of the king's bodyguard, and very distinguished, especially for his lion-like bravery. When Callisthenes was tortured by Alexander, Lysimachus, on seeing his frightful condition, gave him poison out of compassion a bold thing to do under a tyrant of Alexander's temperament. This story shows that Lysimachus was considered as a man of independence of mind, who preserved his free and proud spirit, when Alexander had already become an eastern despot.

He established his empire with small means, and for the greater part of his life he was reasonable enough to be satisfied with his dominion. It was not till his old age that ambition overcame him and carried him away, though, perhaps, not without some deeper motive and the desire to save himself. He once crossed the Danube in the vain attempt to make conquests in the country beyond the river; this may, perhaps, have been only an attempt to keep off the invading nations of the north.

He had a difficult problem to solve, to conquer the wild and warlike Thracians, whose country appears to northern people as a fair southern sort of paradise, but was terrible to the Greeks on account of the severe arctic cold; and the terror was increased by the savage manners of the inhabitants. On the coast, however, there were large and magnificent Greek cities, and the beautiful Chersonesus. Little is known of the reign of Lysimachus, and history is not even informed whether he resided at Byzantium or elsewhere. In later times, during the war against Antigonus, his residence seems to have been in Asia, at Sardis or at Ephesus.

Lysimachus had, after the murder of Antipater, his son-in-law, and the last heir of the elder Antipater (perhaps as a punishment for an attempt upon his own life), been in possession of a portion of Macedonia; but he had afterwards given it up to Demetrius. The Macedonians now recognised Pyrrhus as their king; but Lysimachus invaded his kingdom, and after having reigned alone for seven months, Pyrrhus was obliged to divide his empire between himself and Lysimachus. The Macedonians deserting him as a stranger, surrendered to Lysimachus, whom they honoured as an ancient companion of Alexander, and whom they regarded as being nearly related to themselves, being either a Thessalian or a Macedonian. The division, however, between Lysimachus and Pyrrhus did not last for any length of time; for shortly after Lysimachus drove Pyrrhus out of his kingdom. He had reigned over Macedonia altogether five years and six months, partly in conjunction with Lysimachus and partly alone.

The empire of Lysimachus had been gradually extended and consolidated. His real residence seems to have been Lysimachia in Chersonesus, in the neighborhood of the ancient Cardia. Besides Macedonia proper and Thrace, Lysimachus ruled over Lydia, Mysia, Ionia, Caria, and, no doubt over Phrygia Major also an empire as beautiful as he could have wished, and just of that extent which Alexander ought to have given to his empire in order to insure its stability.

Previously to the conquest of Macedonia, Lysimachus had undertaken an expedition across the Danube, against Dromichaetes, a king of the Getae. In the plain of Bessarabia his retreat was cut off, and he, with all his army, was taken prisoner. The generous conduct of the Dacian king, Dromichaetes, is celebrated in the collection of anecdotes; Lysimachus was set free, and his power was not weakened by this defeat.

Lysimachus was married to Arsinoe, a daughter of Ptolemy by his second wife, by whom he had two sons. This Arsinoe had recourse to intrigues in the house of Lysimachus, whose eldest son, Agathocles stood to succeed him. She accordingly determined to deprive him of both his throne and his life. It must be borne in mind, that in case of Lysimachus' death she had reason to fear for her own life, and that according to the practice of the age, the step-mother and her children would have been murdered by Agathocles as soon as he had ascended the throne. As everyone felt that his life was in danger, his nobles began to apply for protection to Seleucus, to whom Lysandra, the wife of Agathocles, had fled with one of her husband's brothers. Seleucus had no objection to being thus called upon to interfere. He marched from Babylon across Mount Taurus down into Western Asia, and, though chiefly by treachery, gained a decisive victory over the aged king in Lower Phrygia. Lysimachus, as at all other times, showed great valor, but fell in the battle. With the exception of Cassandrea, where the widow Arsinoe resided with her children, the whole of the Macedonian state surrendered to Seleucus.

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