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Antigonus Monophthalmus Notes

Classics Notes > Alexander the Great and his early Successors (336 BC – 302 BC) Notes

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Is it reasonable to regard the period 321-301 as "the period of Antigonus Monophthalmus?
The period after the death of Alexander down to 301 BC is distinguished by the activities of various dynasts, Antigonus Monophthalmus, Cassander, Ptolemy, Seleucus and Lysimachus, as they attempted to establish themselves in regions of the now fractured empire. Antigonus was certainly the most powerful of these; he is the most aggressive, has a large and strong army and occupies a very central position as the ruler of Asia. This meant that most conflicts were caused by him or directed against him by one or more of the other prominent Macedonians, but to say that the period belongs to him alone is perhaps a little misleading and certainly over exaggerates his individual role all the way down to 301 (it must be remembered that he was already seventy one years old in 311). It is precisely because of men such as Ptolemy, Seleucus and Cassander that he was unable to create a hegemony over the empire after the death of Perdiccas and to call it his period alone would be to diminish these important individuals completely. Another man who must also not be forgotten in an assessment of this period is his son, Demetrius, who dominates the narrative of Diodorus' twentieth book at the expense of his father, who is rarely seen leading an army or acting with any particular energy. In light of his heavy involvement from 309 to 301 it would seem hard to argue that this was the period of his father alone. As events of this period showed without the forceful and brilliant personality of a man like Alexander it was highly unlikely that any one man could dominate and control an empire as vast as the one the Macedonians created under him and this fact came to define the period after his death until 301. Even Antigonus came to realise that, for many practical reasons, any dreams of a single empire united under a single king could not be entertained since he was forced to delegate the majority of his campaigns in the Mediterranean and Greece to Demetrius. If there cannot be one man dominating all things alone, as Alexander had done, then naturally there must be several and during this period of ambition and entrenchment five dynasts fought with and against one another to secure their kingdoms. Each man fought not for any principle, they often proclaimed loyalty to the line of Alexander without any sincerity, but rather out of ambition and a desire to get the largest share of the spoils of empire as he could; Antigonus was arguably the most successful but he was certainly not unique in what he was doing. Diodorus, consistently throughout his long narrative, makes it clear that the defining and unifying theme of this period is a desire for more land or to secure what each already held. In the Triparadeisos agreement Antigonus was charged by Antipater with the task of crushing Eumenes, the man who had taken up Perdiccas' mantle after his death, but once he was successful in this task he took Eumenes' satrapies and monies and refused to stand down. In 18.41 Diodorus says that Antigonus realised that he was now the master of all Asia and could not be challenged by anyone, as a result at this point he stopped taking orders from the kings and started aspiring to greater things. Furthermore in the very next chapter he attributes an interesting remark to Eumenes, "He

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