Alexander I of Macedon

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Alexander I
King of Macedon
Vassal of Achaemenid Persia
Subordinate King to Achaemenid Persia
Oktadrachm of Alexander I 498 – 454 BCE.jpg
silver tetradrachm of Alexander I
Reign traditional: 498–454 BC
Predecessor Amyntas I
Spouse unknown
Issue Alcetas II
Perdiccas II
Prince Philip
Prince Amyntas
House (Ancient) Macedon
Dynasty Argead
Father Amyntas I
Mother Queen Eurydice
Religion Ancient Greek religion

Alexander I (Greek: Ἀλέξανδρος ὁ Μακεδών) was the ruler of the ancient Greek Kingdom of Macedon from c. 498 BC until his death in 454 BC. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Alcetas II.


Alexander was the son of Amyntas I and Queen Eurydice.

Alexander I came to the throne during the era of the kingdom's vassalage at the hand of Achaemenid Persia. From the time of his father, Amyntas I, the kingdom was reduced to a Persian vassal state, while in 492 BC it was made to a fully subordinate part of the Persian Kingdom by Mardonius' campaign. At that time, Alexander was on the nominal Macedonian throne. Alexander further acted as a representative of the Persian governor Mardonius during peace negotiations after the Persian defeat at the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC. In later events, Herodotus several times mentions Alexander as a man who is on Xerxes' side and follows the assigned tasks.[1]

In 492 BC already, Macedon was forced to become fully subordinate to Persia through the campaign of Mardonius.[2] Priorly, since the late 6th century BC it had already been a vassal state, but retained a broad scope of autonomy.[3] From the time of Mardonius' campaign that conquered Macedon, Alexander I is referred to as hyparchos by Herodotus, meaning subordinate governor.[4] Despite his cooperation with Persia, Alexander I frequently gave supplies and advice to the rest of the Greek city states, and warned them of Mardonius' plans before the Battle of Plataea in 479 BC. For example, Alexander I warned the Greeks in Tempe to leave before the arrival of Xerxes' troops, as well as notified them of an alternate route into Thessaly through upper Macedonia.[5] After their defeat in Plataea, the Persian army under the command of Artabazus tried to retreat all the way back to Asia Minor. Most of the 43,000 survivors were attacked and killed by the forces of Alexander at the estuary of the Strymon river. Alexander eventually regained Macedonian independence after the end of the Persian Wars.

Alexander claimed descent from Argive Greeks and Heracles, although Macedon was considered a "barbaric" state by some in Athens, whose territories were threatened by its expansion.[6] After a court of Elean hellanodikai determined his claim to be true, he was permitted to participate in the Olympic Games[7][8] possibly in 504 BC,[9] an honour reserved only for Greeks. He modelled his court after Athens and was a patron of the poets Pindar and Bacchylides, both of whom dedicated poems to Alexander.[10] The earliest reference to an Athenian proxenos, who lived during the time of the Persian wars (c. 490 BC), is that of Alexander I.[11] Alexander I was given the title "Philhellene" (Greek: "φιλέλλην", fond of the Greeks, lover of the Greeks), a title used for Greek patriots.[12][13]

He furthermore gave his sister Gygea for marriage to the Persian general Bubares in the late 6th century BC who was in Macedon at the time.[14]


Alexander had four sons:

Alexander's grandson was Archelaus I.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Joseph Roisman,Ian Worthington. "A Companion to Ancient Macedonia" p138
  2. ^ Joseph Roisman,Ian Worthington. "A companion to Ancient Macedonia" John Wiley & Sons, 2011. ISBN 144435163X pp 135-138
  3. ^ Joseph Roisman,Ian Worthington. "A companion to Ancient Macedonia" John Wiley & Sons, 2011. ISBN 144435163X pp 343
  4. ^ Joseph Roisman,Ian Worthington. "A Companion to Ancient Macedonia" p138
  5. ^ Herodotus (1954). The Histories. Aubrey De Selincourt (trans.). Penguin Group. p. 477. ISBN 9780140449082. 
  6. ^ Malcolm Errington, "A History of Macedonia", University of California Press, 1993, p.4: "Ancient allegations that the Macedonians were non-Greeks all had their origin in Athens at the time of the struggle with Philip II. Then as now, political struggle created the prejudice. The orator Aeschines once even found it necessary, in order to counteract the prejudice vigorously fomented by his opponents, to defend Philip on this issue and describe him at a meeting of the Athenian Popular Assembly as being 'Entirely Greek'. Demosthenes' allegations were lent an appearance of credibility by the fact, apparent to every observer, that the life-style of the Macedonians, being determined by specific geographical and historical conditions, was different from that of a Greek city-state. This alien way of life was, however, common to western Greeks of Epiros, Akarnania and Aitolia, as well as to the Macedonians, and their fundamental Greek nationality was never doubted. Only as a consequence of the political disagreement with Macedonia was the issue raised at all."
  7. ^ Herodotus 5.22
  8. ^ Justin-7.2.14
  9. ^ A History of Macedonia. Volume 2 Review: John Cole
  10. ^ Thucydides and Pindar: Historical Narrative and the World of Epinikian Poetry Page 180 By Simon Hornblower ISBN 0-19-924919-9
  11. ^ Conrad Lashley; Paul Lynch; Alison J. Morrison, eds. (2006). Hospitality : a social lens (1st ed.). Amsterdam: Elsevier. p. 25. ISBN 0-08-045093-8. 
  12. ^ φιλέλλην, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  13. ^ Plato, Republic, 5.470e, Xenophon Agesilaus, 7.4 (in Greek)
  14. ^ Joseph Roisman,Ian Worthington. "A Companion to Ancient Macedonia" p136
  15. ^ Satyrus the Peripatetic, FGrH 631 fr 2

External links[edit]

Alexander I
Died: 454 BC
Royal titles
Preceded by
Amyntas I
King of Macedon
498–454 BC
Succeeded by
Alcetas II