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The Year Of The Kings Notes

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

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Is this period witness to a greater emphasis on personal merit and military achievement as the basis for the Hellenistic Kingship?
The period afer the setlement of Triparadeisos collapsed was once again distnguished by the actvites of the various leading dynasts, Antgonus Monophthalmus, Cassander, Ptolemy, Seleucus and Lysimachus, as they jostled for supremacy in the various regions of Alexander's now fractured empire. In the year 306/305 all pretence of unity and loyalty to the Argead dynasty of Alexander was abandoned when all the dynasts assumed the diadem of royalty and pronounced themselves kings. This year, however, seems a strange tme to do such a thing given that Alexander's bloodline had been extnguished some years earlier by Cassander's murder of his son Alexander the fourth; another explanaton must be sought for their actons. The greater emphasis that this period did indeed place on personal merit and military achievement contributed greatly to the tme and nature of the assumpton of the royal garb; once Antgonus felt that he had achieved the predominance he needed in terms of military prestge he began to wore the diadem, promptng the others to follow suit or risk losing all legitmacy and be lef behind. The key to understanding the basis for the various dynasts claims to kingship is to examine their respectve places within the disputes of this period and their relatve successes, culminatng in the year 306/305. Firstly, however, it is useful to examine the nature of the premise that personal merit and military achievement were the basis for the Hellenistc Kingship in this period. Austn says that Hellenistc monarchies were, frst and foremost, personal regimes whose power was closely associated with great personalites and great achievements; these kings had to remain successful military fgures throughout their entre lives in order to assert their own authority and prevent others rising up to rival them. These ideas seem highly applicable to the period of the early successors because their inital positon is due to the fact they are the leading generals of Alexander, so they are already very militarily minded men, and also none of them had any blood line legitmacy which inevitably means that whatever they control will have been 'spear won'. This is exactly the term that Diodorus Siculus uses to describe how the dynasts viewed their own territory afer Cassander had handily murdered Alexander the fourth and thereby destroyed the Argead blood line completely along with any legal obstacle to any of the dynasts actually taking up the diadem themselves; doing so would have been very dangerous with Alexander's son stll alive because he would have been a rallying point for the others who in all likelihood would have joined forces to crush the one who dared challenge the Argead legitmacy. Plutarch remarks in his life of Demetrius that Antgonus and Demetrius are granted royal ttles by the Athenians but refuse them out of respect for the true king, but this seems to have been a cynical politcal move rather than any true royalty; their own supremacy had clearly become their only concern by this point. Just before the death of Alexander the fourth's death (311/10) the four leading dynasts (excluding Seleucus for the moment) carved up the empire into the spheres of infuence they already controlled, efectvely maintaining the status quo and a semblance of unity and

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