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Guide Antigonus II Gonatas: A Political Biography

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Churchill Infantry Tank New Vanguard. Kokoda Updated Edition. Europe A Natural History. Gathering an army of twenty-five thousand foot, two thousand horse, and twenty-four elephants, he crossed over to the Peloponnese and occupied Megalopolis in Arcadia. Antigonus, after reoccupying part of Macedonia, gathered what forces he could and sailed to Greece to oppose him. As a large part of the Spartan army led by king Areus was in Crete at the time, Pyrrhus besieged Sparta with great hopes of taking the city easily, but the citizens organized stout resistance, allowing one of Antigonus's commanders, Aminias, the Phocian , to reach the city with a force of mercenaries from Corinth.

Soon after this, the Spartan king, Areus, returned from Crete with 2, men. These reinforcements stiffened resistance, and Pyrrhus, finding that he was losing men to desertion every day, broke off the attack and started to plunder the country.

The most important Peloponnesian city after Sparta was Argos. The two chief men, Aristippus and Aristeas , were keen rivals. As Aristippus was an ally of Antigonus, Aristeas invited Pyrrhus to come to Argos to help him take over the city. Antigonus, aware that Pyrrhus was advancing on Argos, marched his army there as well, taking up a strong position on some high ground near the city.

When Pyrrhus learned this, he encamped about Nauplia and the next day dispatched a herald to Antigonus, calling him a coward and challenging him to come down and fight on the plain. Antigonus replied that he would choose his own moment to fight and that if Pyrrhus was weary of life, he could find many ways to die. The Argives, fearing that their territory would become a war zone, sent deputations to the two kings begging them to go elsewhere and allow their city to remain neutral.

Both kings agreed, but Antigonus won over the trust of the Argives by surrendering his son as a hostage for his pledge. Pyrrhus, who had recently lost a son in the retreat from Sparta, did not. Indeed, with the help of Aristeas, he was plotting to seize the city. In the middle of the night, he marched his army up to the city walls and entered through a gate that Aristeas had opened. His Gallic troops seized the market place, but he had difficulty getting his elephants into the city through the small gates.

This gave the Argives time to rally. They occupied strong points and sent messengers asking Antigonus for help. When Antigonus heard that Pyrrhus had treacherously attacked the city, he advanced to the walls and sent a strong force inside to help the Argives. At the same time Areus arrived with a force of 1, Cretans and light-armed Spartans. These forces attacked the Gauls in the market place. Pyrrhus, realising that his Gallic troops were hard pressed, now advanced into the city with more troops, but in the narrow streets this soon led to confusion as men got lost and wandered around.

The two forces now paused and waited for daylight. When the sun rose, Pyrrhus saw how strong the opposition was and decided the best thing was to retreat. Fearing that the gates would be too narrow for his troops to easily exit the city, he sent a message to his son, Helenus , who was outside with the main body of the army, asking him to break down a section of the walls.


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The messenger, however, failed to convey his instructions clearly. Misunderstanding what was required, Helenus took the rest of the elephants and some picked troops and advanced into the city to help his father.

Antigonus II Gonatas

With some of his troops trying to get out of the city and others trying to get in, Pyrrhus's army was now thrown into confusion. This was made worse by the elephants. The largest one had fallen across the gateway and was blocking the way, while another elephant, called Nicon, was trying to find its rider. This beast surged against the tide of fugitives, crushing friend and foe alike, until it found its dead master, whereupon it picked him up, placed him on its tusks, and went on the rampage.

In this chaos Pyrrhus was struck down by a tile thrown by an old woman and killed by Zopyrus, a soldier of Antigonus. Thus ended the career of the most famous soldier of his time. Alcyoneus, one of Antigonus's sons, heard that Pyrrhus had been killed. Taking the head, which had been cut off by Zopyrus, he rode to where his father was and threw it at his feet.

Far from being delighted, Antigonus was angry with his son and struck him, calling him a barbarian and drove him away. He then covered his face with his cloak and burst into tears. The fate of Pyrrhus reminded him all too clearly of the tragic fates of his own grandfather and his father who had suffered similar swings of fortune. He then had Pyrrhus's body cremated with great ceremony. After the death of Pyrrhus, his whole army and camp surrendered to Antigonus, greatly increasing his power.

Later, Alcyoneus discovered Helenus, Pyrrhus's son, disguised in threadbare clothes. He treated him kindly and brought him to his father who was more pleased with his behaviour. This was not the end of Antigonus' problems with Epirus: shortly after Alexander II , the son of Pyrrhus and his successor as king of Epirus, repeated his father's adventure by conquering Macedonia.

But only a few years after Alexander was not only expelled from Macedonia by Antigonus' son Demetrius, but he also lost Epirus and had to go into exile in Acarnania. His exile didn't last long, as the Macedonians had at the end to abandon Epirus under pressure from Alexander's allies, the Acarnanians and the Aetolians. Alexander seems to have died about BC, leaving his country under the regency of his wife Olympias who proved anxious to have good relations with Epirus' powerful neighbour, as was sanctioned by the marriage between the regent's daughter Phthia and Antigonus' son and heir Demetrius.

With the restoration of the territories captured by Pyrrhus, and with grateful allies in Sparta and Argos, and garrisons in Corinth and other cities, Antigonus securely controlled Macedonia and Greece. The careful way he guarded his power shows that he wished to avoid the vicissitudes of fortune that had characterized the careers of his father and grandfather.

Aware that the Greeks loved freedom and autonomy, he was careful to grant a semblance of this in as much as it did not clash with his own power. Also, he tried to avoid the odium that direct rule brings by controlling the Greeks through intermediaries. It is for this reason that Polybius says, "No man ever set up more absolute rulers in Greece than Antigonus.

The next stage of Antigonus's career is not documented and what we know has been patched together from a few historical fragments: Antigonus seems to have been on very good terms with Antiochus , the Seleucid ruler of Asia, whose love for Stratonice , the sister of Antigonus, is very famous.

Such an alliance naturally threatened the third successor state , Ptolemaic Egypt. In Greece, Athens and Sparta, once the dominant states, naturally resented the domination of Antigonus. The pride, which in the past had made these cities mortal enemies, now served to unite them. In BC, probably with encouragement from Egypt, an Athenian by the name of Chremonides persuaded the Athenians to join the Spartans in declaring war on Antigonus see Chremonidean War.

The Macedonian king responded by ravaging the territory of Athens with an army while blockading them by sea.

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In this campaign he also destroyed the grove and temple of Poseidon that stood at the entrance to Attica near the border with Megara. To support the Athenians and prevent the power of Antigonus from growing too much, Ptolemy II Philadelphus , the king of Egypt, sent a fleet to break the blockade. The Egyptian admiral, Patroclus , landed on a small uninhabited island near Laurium and fortified it as a base for naval operations. Katharinen By Oxford University Press. Fraser tells the wonderful story of being inspired to study Hellenistic history by reading Tarn's masterpiece to while away idle time on a gun emplacement in Britain in World War II; see Cities of Alexander the Great Oxford viii.

To give just one well-known example: Tarn's view of the political character of many of the so-called "vase foundations" on Delos has been radically modified. Deborah Lucas Schneider Cambridge, Mass.

Antigonus II Gonatas, Macedonian king | Prabook

Gabbert cites only , but these two texts belong together: see K. See B. Admirably summarized by Stephen V. Hostilities are also attested in IG II 2 The mistaken case was worked out by Heinz Heinen, Untersuchungen zur hellenistischen Geschichte des 3. Jahrhundert v.

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Heinen, Untersuchungen text , analysis , with B. Petrakos, Praktika [] SEG 40 [] Gabbert cites only the editio princeps as SEG 24 at 77 n. Petrakos, AD Adams and E. Borza Washington, DC, See the views of Tarn, AG , Gabbert is agnostic. Here are a few further details in want of correction or amplification. IG II 2 should be read with the emendations of W.

Stephen V. Tracy, Attic Letter-Cutters of to 86 B. Bryn Mawr Classical Review Gabbert, Antigonus II Gonatas. A Political Biography. ISBN Reviewed by Gary Reger, Trinity College gary. Notes: 1.