Lysimachus (360 281)
was a Macedonian officer and diadochus (i.e. "successor") of
Alexander the Great, who became a basileus ("King") in 306, ruling
Thrace (306 - 281), Asia Minor (301-281)and Macedon (288-281).
Early life and career:
Lysimachus was born in circa 360, to a family of Thessalian Greek stock. He was
the second son of Agathocles and his wife; there is some indication in the
historical sources that this wife was perhaps named Arsinoe, and that
Lysimachus' paternal grandfather may have been called Alcimachus. His father
was a nobleman of high rank who was an intimate friend of Philip II of Macedon,
who shared in Philip IIs councils and became a favourite in the Argead
court. Lysimachus and his brothers grew up with the status of Macedonians; all
these brothers enjoyed with Lysimachus prominent positions in Alexanders
circle and, like him, were educated at the Macedonian court in Pella. The
historian Justin relates the story that Lysimachus smuggled poison to a person
Alexander had condemned to a slow death and was himself thrown to a lion as
punishment, but overcame the beast with his bare hands and became one of
Pausanias writes that Lysimachus was one of Alexander's body-guards, whom
Alexander once in anger shut up in a chamber with a lion but he won the lion
and after that Alexander treated him with respect, and honored him as much as
the noblest Macedonians. He was probably appointed Somatophylax during the
reign of Philip II. During Alexander's Persian campaigns, in 328 he was one of
his immediate bodyguards. In 324, in Susa, he was crowned in recognition for
his actions in India. After Alexander's death in 323, he was appointed to the
government of Thrace as strategos although he faced some difficulties from the
Thracian king Seuthes.
In 315, Lysimachus joined Cassander, Ptolemy and Seleucus against Antigonus,
who, however, diverted his attention by stirring up Thracian and Scythian
tribes against him. However, he managed to consolidate his power in the east of
his territories, suppressing a revolt of the cities on the Black Sea coast. In
309, he founded Lysimachia in a commanding situation on the neck connecting the
Chersonese with the mainland, forming a bulwark against the Odrysians. In
306/305, Lysimachus followed the example of Antigonus and assumed the royal
title. In 302, when the second alliance between Cassander, Ptolemy and Seleucus
was made, Lysimachus, reinforced by troops from Cassander, entered Asia Minor,
where he met with little resistance. On the approach of Antigonus he retired
into winter quarters near Heraclea, marrying its widowed queen Amastris, a
Persian princess. Seleucus joined him in 301, and at the Battle of Ipsus Antigonus was defeated and slain.
Antigonus' dominions were divided among the victors. Lysimachus' share was
Lydia, Ionia, Phrygia and the north coast of Asia Minor.
Kingdom of Lysimachus:
Feeling that Seleucus was becoming dangerously powerful, Lysimachus now allied
himself with Ptolemy, marrying his daughter Arsinoe II of Egypt. Amastris, who
had divorced herself from him, returned to Heraclea. When Antigonus' son
Demetrius I renewed hostilities in 297, during his absence in Greece,
Lysimachus seized his towns in Asia Minor, but in 294 concluded a peace whereby
Demetrius was recognized as ruler of Macedonia. He tried to carry his power
beyond the Danube, but was defeated and taken prisoner by the Getae king
Dromichaetes (or Dromihete), who, however, set him free in 292 on amicable
terms in return for Lysimachus surrendering the Danubian lands he had captured.
Demetrius subsequently threatened Thrace, but had to retire due to a sudden
uprising in Boeotia and an attack from King Pyrrhus of Epirus.
In 287, Lysimachus and Pyrrhus in turn invaded Macedonia and drove Demetrius
out of the country. Lysimachus left Pyrrhus in possession of Macedonia with the
title of king for around seven months before Lysimachus invaded. For a short
while the two ruled jointly but in 285 Lysimachus expelled Pyrrhus, seizing
complete control for himself.
Domestic troubles embittered the last years of Lysimachus life. Amastris
had been murdered by her two sons; Lysimachus treacherously put them to death.
On his return, Arsinoe II asked the gift of Heraclea, and he granted her
request, though he had promised to free the city. In 284 Arsinoe, desirous of
gaining the succession for her sons in preference to Lysimachus first
child, Agathocles, intrigued against him with the help of Arsinoe's paternal
half-brother Ptolemy Keraunos; they accused him of conspiring with Seleucus to
seize the throne, and Agathocles was put to death. This atrocious deed by
Lysimachus aroused great indignation. Many of the cities of Asia Minor
revolted, and his most trusted friends deserted him. The widow of Agathocles
and their children fled to Seleucus, who at once invaded the territory of
Lysimachus in Asia Minor. In 281, Lysimachus crossed the Hellespont into Lydia
and at the decisive Battle of Corupedium
was killed. After some days his body was found on the field, protected from
birds of prey by his faithful dog. Lysimachus' body was given over to another
son, Alexander, by whom it was interred at Lysimachia.