The Lamian War was one of the first serious
revolts to break out in Alexander the Greats empire after his death.
Alexanders unexpected death left a power vacuum which would soon result
in a series of wars between his generals (the diadochi, or successors). This
apparent weakness was noticed in Athens, already resentful of Macedonian
control after Alexander forced them to take back all of their political exiles
in 324. With Alexander gone, and no clear heir to his empire, Athens decided
the time was right to make a bid for freedom. She certainly had the money to
fight a war. Alexanders treasurer Harpalus had fled to the city after
Alexander returned from India with at least some of Alexanders plunder.
There were also a large number of mercenaries cheaply available in the
aftermath of Alexanders stunning victories in Persia. Athens raised a
sizable army, created a fleet of 200 warships and appointed Leosthenes to
command. In 323 the Aetolians and Thessalians joined the rebellions, soon to be
joined by Corinth and Argos.
Leosthenes took up a defensive position in the pass of Thermopylae, and
then advanced north to besiege Lamia. There he trapped
Antipater, the regent of
Macedonia, but was then himself killed by a slingshot fired from the walls of
the town. The Greeks had moved too soon. Enough of Alexanders former
generals still saw each other as colleagues (or rivals) rather than as enemies,
and when Antipater sent out a call for help, Leonnatus and Craterus both responded.
Leonnatus had been allocated
Phrygia (the north-west corner of Asia Minor) in the division of commands
at Babylon after Alexanders death. He was now planning to marry
Alexanders sister Cleopatra, and possibly to claim the Macedonian throne.
In the first half of 322 he led his army into Europe, but was defeated and
killed in a cavalry battle against the Thessalians.
Craterus was both more cautious and more successful. He had been allocated the
honorary guardianship of the monarchy in the division of commands. However,
prior to Alexanders death he had been on his way to replace Antipater as
regent of Macedonia, and had been dispatched back home with 10,000 veteran
troops. When Alexander died he had reached Cilicia (south-east Asia Minor).
When the news of Alexanders death reached him, he stopped where he was to
wait for events to unfold at Babylon. When news reached him of the Greek
revolt, Craterus sent one of his officers, Cleitus, to take command of the
powerful Macedonian fleet. For the final time Athens had created a powerful
fleet of her own, hoping to win control of the Aegean, and perhaps prevent
reinforcements reaching Antipater from the rest of the empire. This fleet
suffered two defeats at the hands of Cleitus, close to Abydos (on the south
coast of the Hellespont) in the spring of 322, and then decisively off the
island of Amorgos (south west of Samos) in July 322. Athenian naval power would
never rise again. With the Athenian fleet gone, Craterus was free to transport
his army across the Aegean to Greece. There the combined Macedonian forces
inflicted a defeat on the allied Greek army at Cronnon in August 322.
Faced with the prospect of a siege, Athens surrendered. Her constitution was
re-written to reduce the franchise, and a Macedonian garrison placed in the
Piraeus. The orator Demosthenes, who had played an important role in provoking
the revolt committed suicide, his colleague Hyperides was captured and
executed. The Aetolians managed to hold out until 321, at which point
Macedonian politics intervened to save them. Antigonus and Craterus needed to
cross over into Asia Minor to deal with Perdiccas, another of Alexanders
generals with pretensions to the throne of Macedonia, and so arranged a truce
with the Aetolians. The Lamian War was the last time Athens would play an
important military role in Greece, although the city would retain her
democratic traditions for longer, and would continue to produce writers and
philosophers into Roman times.
Antipaters Dynasty Alexander the Greats Regent and
his Successors, John D Grainger . A useful study of the short-lived dynasty
founded by Antipater, Alexander the Greats deputy in Macedonia during his
great campaign, and continued by his son Cassander, who overthrew
Alexanders dynasty and declared himself to be king of Macedonia. A good
choice of topic, filling a gap in the history of the period, and demonstrating
just how significant this pair of father and son were in the creation and then
the destruction of Alexanders empire.