Spitamenes

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Spitamenes (in old Persian Spitamaneh; Greek Σπιταμένης; born 370 BC and killed 328 BC) Sogdian warlord, leader of the uprising in Sogdiana and Bactria against Alexander of Macedon 329 BC.

When Alexander was founding the new city of Alexandria Eschate on the Jaxartes river, news came that Spitamenes had roused Sogdiana against him and was besieging the Macedonian garrison in Maracanda. Too occupied at the moment to personally confront Spitamenes he sent an army under the command of Pharnuches which was promptly annihilated with a loss of no less than 2000 infantry and 300 cavalry.

The uprising now posed a direct threat to his army, and Alexander moved personally to relieve Maracanda, only to learn that Spitamenes had left Sogdiana, attacking now Bactra, from where he was repulsed with great difficulty by the satrap of Bactria Artabazus (328 BC).

The decisive point came in December 328 BC when Spitamenes was defeated by Alexander's general Coenus at the Battle of Gabai. Spitamenes' wife killed him and sent his head to Alexander, suing for peace and effectively dissolving Spitamenes' army.

Spitamenes had a daughter, Apama, who was married to one of Alexander's most important generals and an eventual Diadochi (successor), Seleucus I Nicator (February 324 BC). The couple had a son, Antiochus I Soter, eventually a ruler of the successor Seleucid Empire. Several towns were named Apamea in her honour.

In fiction[edit]

Spitamenes is a central, but indirect character in Steven Pressfield's novel The Afghan Campaign. In it, Spitamenes is described as a cunning military commander of natural talent. The novel is largely the description of the campaign which destroyed Spitamenes' Sogdian uprising. Spitamenes was not decapitated by his wife. He was seized by his allies, the Massagetae, who upon finding out that Alexander was going to invade their country, decapitated his head and sent it to Alexander as a peace offering.

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