Alexander I of Macedon

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Alexander I
Vassal of Achaemenid Persia
Subordinate King to Achaemenid Persia
KINGS of MACEDON. Alexander I. 498-454 BC. AR Obol (8mm, 0.46 g). Struck circa 460-450 BC. Young male head right, wearing petasos.jpg
Coin from the end of the reign of Alexander I, struck circa 460-450 BC. Young male head right, wearing petasos.
King of Macedon
Reign498–454 BC
PredecessorAmyntas I
IssueAlcetas II
Perdiccas II
HouseMacedon (Ancient Greece)
FatherAmyntas I
MotherQueen Eurydice
ReligionAncient Greek religion

Alexander I of Macedon (Greek: Ἀλέξανδρος ὁ Μακεδών), known with the title Philhellene (Greek: φιλέλλην, literally "lover of the Greeks", meaning "patriot") 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.


Early coinage of Alexander I, under Achaemenid Macedonia, Aegae, circa 500-480 BC. Goat kneeling right, head reverted; pellet above and before / Quadripartite incuse square.

Alexander was the son of Amyntas I and Queen Eurydice (Greek: Εὐρυδίκη). He had a sister named Gygaea (Greek: Γυγαίη).[1]

He gave his sister for marriage to the Persian general Bubares, in the late 6th century BC who was in Macedon at the time, in order to stop him from searching for Persian soldiers who had been killed by Alexander's men following his commands.[2][3]

Coin of Alexander I in the decade following the Second Persian invasion of Greece (struck in 480-470 BC).
Silver tetradrachm of Alexander I, struck at the end of his reign, circa 465-460 BC.

Alexander I came to the throne during the era of the kingdom's vassalage at the hand of Achaemenid Persia, dating back to the time of his father, Amyntas I, although Macedon retained a broad scope of autonomy.[4] In 492 BC it was made to a fully subordinate part of the Persian Kingdom by Mardonius' campaign.[5] 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.[6]

Aristides, commander of the Athenians, informed by Alexander I of Macedon that delaying the encounter with the Persians would help further diminish their already low supplies. Battle of Plataea, 479 BC.

From the time of Mardonius' conquest of Macedon, Alexander I is referred to as hyparchos by Herodotus, meaning subordinate governor.[7] Despite his cooperation with Persia, Alexander I frequently gave supplies and advice to 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.[8] 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. After a court of Elean hellanodikai determined his claim to be true, he was permitted to participate in the Olympic Games[9][10][11] possibly in 504 BC,[12] 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.[13] The earliest reference to an Athenian proxenos, who lived during the time of the Persian wars (c. 490 BC), is that of Alexander I.[14] Alexander I was given the title "philhellene" (Greek: "φιλέλλην", fond of the Greeks, lover of the Greeks), a title used for Greek patriots.[15][16]


Alexander had four sons and a daughter:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Herodotus, Book 5: Terpsichore, 21
  2. ^ Joseph Roisman,Ian Worthington. "A Companion to Ancient Macedonia" p136
  3. ^ Herodotus, Book 5: Terpsichore, 21
  4. ^ Joseph Roisman,Ian Worthington. "A companion to Ancient Macedonia" John Wiley & Sons, 2011. ISBN 144435163X pp 343
  5. ^ Joseph Roisman,Ian Worthington. "A companion to Ancient Macedonia" John Wiley & Sons, 2011. ISBN 144435163X pp 135-138
  6. ^ Joseph Roisman,Ian Worthington. "A Companion to Ancient Macedonia" p138
  7. ^ Joseph Roisman,Ian Worthington. "A Companion to Ancient Macedonia" p138
  8. ^ Herodotus (1954). The Histories. Aubrey De Selincourt (trans.). Penguin Group. p. 477. ISBN 9780140449082.
  9. ^ 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."
  10. ^ Herodotus 5.22
  11. ^ Justin-7.2.14
  12. ^ A History of Macedonia. Volume 2 Review: John Cole
  13. ^ Thucydides and Pindar: Historical Narrative and the World of Epinikian Poetry Page 180 By Simon Hornblower ISBN 0-19-924919-9
  14. ^ Conrad Lashley; Paul Lynch; Alison J. Morrison, eds. (2006). Hospitality : a social lens (1st ed.). Amsterdam: Elsevier. p. 25. ISBN 0-08-045093-8.
  15. ^ φιλέλλην, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  16. ^ Plato, Republic, 5.470e, Xenophon Agesilaus, 7.4 (in Greek)
  17. ^ a b Roisman, Joseph (2010), "Classical Macedonia to Perdiccas III", in Roisman, Joseph; Worthington, Ian (eds.), A Companion to Ancient Macedonia, Blackwell Publishing, pp. 145–165, ISBN 978-1-4051-7936-2
  18. ^ Satyrus the Peripatetic, FGrH 631 fr 2
  19. ^ Carney, Elizabeth (2000). Women and Monarchy in Macedonia. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-3212-4.

External links[edit]

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