Argead dynasty

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Royal house
Parent houseTemenids (Heracleidae)
Founded7th century BC
Final rulerAlexander IV of Macedon
TitlesBasileus of Macedonia, King of Persia, King of Asia, Pharaoh of Egypt (Thirty-second Dynasty of Egypt), Hegemon of the Hellenic League, Strategos Autokrator of Greece
Dissolution310 BC
Cadet branchesPtolemaic dynasty (?)

The Argead dynasty (Greek: Ἀργεάδαι, romanizedArgeádai), also known as the Temenid dynasty (Greek: Τημενίδαι, Tēmenídai) was an ancient Macedonian royal house of Dorian Greek provenance.[1][2][3] They were the founders and the ruling dynasty of the kingdom of Macedon from about 700 to 310 BC.[4]

Their tradition, as described in ancient Greek historiography, traced their origins to Argos, of Peloponnese in Southern Greece, hence the name Argeads or Argives.[5][6][1] Initially rulers of the tribe of the same name,[7] by the time of Philip II they had expanded their reign further, to include under the rule of Macedonia all Upper Macedonian states. The family's most celebrated members were Philip II of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great, under whose leadership the kingdom of Macedonia gradually gained predominance throughout Greece, defeated the Achaemenid Empire and expanded as far as Egypt and India. The mythical founder of the Argead dynasty is King Caranus.[8][9] The Argeads claimed descent from Heracles through his great-great-grandson Temenus, also king of Argos.


Triobol of Argos (top), and a bronze coin of King Amyntas II of Macedon (bottom). The early Argead kings often copied the wolf of Argos' coins on their own coinage to highlight their supposed ancestry from this city.[10]

The words Argead and Argive derive (via Latin Argīvus)[11] from the Greek Ἀργεῖος (Argeios meaning "of or from Argos"),[12] which is first attested in Homer where it was also used as a collective designation for the Greeks ("Ἀργείων Δαναῶν", Argive Danaans).[13][14] The Argead dynasty claimed descent from the Temenids of Argos, in the Peloponnese, whose legendary ancestor was Temenus, the great-great-grandson of Heracles.[1]

In the excavations of the royal palace at Aegae, Manolis Andronikos discovered in the "tholos" room (according to some scholars "tholos" was the throne room) a Greek inscription relating to that belief.[15] This is testified by Herodotus, in The Histories, where he mentions that three brothers of the lineage of Temenus, Gauanes, Aeropus and Perdiccas, fled from Argos to the Illyrians and then to Upper Macedonia, to a town called Lebaea, where they served the king. The latter asked them to leave his territory, believing in an omen that something great would happen to Perdiccas. The boys went to another part of Macedonia, near the garden of Midas, above which mount Bermio stands. There they made their abode and slowly formed their own kingdom.[16]

Herodotus also relates the incident of the participation of Alexander I of Macedon in the Olympic Games in 504 or 500 BC where the participation of the Macedonian king was contested by participants on the grounds that he was not Greek. The Hellanodikai, however, after examining his Argead claim confirmed that the Macedonian kings were Greeks and allowed him to participate.[17]

The route of the Argeads from Argos, Peloponnese, to Macedonia according to Herodotus.

Another theory supported by the Greek historian Miltiades Hatzopoulos, following the opinion of the ancient author Appian, is that the Argead dynasty actually came from Argos Orestikon.[18][19]

House of Argos

According to Thucydides, in the History of the Peloponnesian War, the Argeads were originally Temenids from Argos, who descended from the highlands to Lower Macedonia, expelled the Pierians from Pieria and acquired in Paionia a narrow strip along the river Axios extending to Pella and the sea. They also added Mygdonia in their territory through the expulsion of the Edoni, Eordians, and Almopians.[20]


Succession disputes[edit]

The death of the king almost invariably triggered dynastic disputes and often a war of succession between members of the Argead family, leading to political and economic instability.[21] These included:

Additionally, long-established monarchs could still face a rebellion by a relative when the former's kingship was perceived to be weak. An example was Philip's rebellion against his older brother, king Perdiccas II, in the prelude to the Peloponnesian War (433–431 BCE).

List of rulers[edit]

Argead Rulers
Image Reign Monarch Name Comments
c. 808-778 BC Karanos Founder of the Argead dynasty and the first king of Macedon. (Possibly Fictional)
c. 778-750 BC Koinos (Possibly Fictional)
c. 750-700 BC Tyrimmas (Possibly Fictional)
c. 700-678 BC Perdiccas I
c. 678-640 BC Argaeus I
c. 640-602 BC Philip I
c. 602-576 BC Aeropus I
576-547 BC Alcetas
547-498 BC Amyntas I Vassal of the Achaemenid Empire in 512/511 BC. Historians recognize Amyntas as the first Macedonian monarch of historical importance.
497-454 BC Alexander I Fully subordinate part of the Achaemenid Empire after 492 BC, then full Independence after 479 BC following the withdrawal of the Achaemenid army.
454-413 BC Perdiccas II
413-399 BC Archelaus
399-396 BC Orestes Ruled jointly with Aeropus II, until he was murdered by Aeropus II
399-394/393 BC Aeropus II Joint rule with Orestes until 396 BC, then sole rule
393 BC Amyntas II Very brief reign ended with his assassination by an Elimieotan nobleman named Derdas
393 BC Pausanias Assassinated by, Amyntas III in the year of his accession
393 BC Amyntas III (First Reign)
393-392 BC Argaeus II Usurped throne from Amyntas III for about a year with the aid of the Illyrians
392-370 BC Amyntas III (Second Reign) Restored to the throne after around one year
370-368 BC Alexander II Assassinated by his maternal uncle Ptolemy of Aloros
368-359 BC Perdiccas III Ptolemy of Aloros was his regent from 368-365 BC, until he was murdered by Perdiccas III
359 BC Amyntas IV Young son of Perdiccas III, throne usurped by Philip II
359-336 BC Philip II Expanded Macedonian territory and influence to achieve a dominant position in the Balkans, confederated most of the Greek city-states in the League of Corinth under his hegemony.
336-323 BC Alexander III the Great The most notable Macedonian king and one of the most celebrated kings and military strategists of all time. By the end of his reign, Alexander was simultaneously King of Macedonia, Pharaoh of Egypt and King of Persia, and had conquered the entire former Achaemenid Empire as well as parts of the western Indus Valley.
323-317 BC Philip III Arrhidaeus Half-Brother of Alexander the Great, Titular figurehead king of the Macedonian Empire, during the early Wars of the Diadochi; was mentally disabled to at least some degree. Executed by Olympias.
323/317-309 BC Alexander IV Son of Alexander the Great and Roxana of Bactria, who was yet unborn at the time of his father's death. A pretender upon his birth, from 317 BC the titular figurehead king of the Macedonian Empire, during the early-middle Wars of the Diadochi. Executed by Cassander.

Family tree[edit]

Modern historians disagree on a number of details concerning the genealogy of the Argead dynasty. Robin Lane Fox, for example, refutes Nicholas Hammond's claim that Ptolemy of Aloros was Amyntas II's son, arguing that Ptolemy was neither his son nor an Argead.[24] Consequently, the charts below do not account for every chronological, genealogical, and dynastic complexity. Instead, they represent one common reconstruction of the Argeads advanced by historians such as Hammond, Elizabeth Carney, and Joseph Roisman.[25][26][27][28]



  1. ^ a b c Howatson & Harvey 1989, p. 339: "In historical times the royal house traced its descent from the mythical Temenus, king of Argos, who was one of the Heracleidae, and more immediately from Perdiccas I, who left Argos for Illyria, probably in the mid-seventh century BC, and from there captured the Macedonian plain and occupied the fortress of Aegae (Vergina), setting himself up as king of the Macedonians. Thus the kings were of largely Dorian Greek stock (see PHILIP (1)); they presumably spoke a form of Dorian Greek and their cultural tradition had Greek features."
  2. ^ Cosmopoulos 1992, p. 30.
  3. ^ Grant 1988, p. 259: "It was the descendants of these Dorians [...] who formed the upper class among the Macedonians of subsequent epochs."
  4. ^ Cosmopoulos 1992, "TABLE 2: The Argeiad Kings" (p. 30).
  5. ^ Argive, Oxford Dictionaries.
  6. ^ Hammond 1986, p. 516: "In the early 5th century the royal house of Macedonia, the Temenidae was recognised as Macedonian by the Presidents of the Olympic Games. Their verdict considered themselves to be of Macedonian descent."
  7. ^ Rogers 2004, p. 316: "According to Strabo, 7.11 ff., the Argeadae were the tribe who were able to make themselves supreme in early Emathia, later Macedonia."
  8. ^ Green 2013, p. 103.
  9. ^ According to Pausanias (Description of Greece 9.40.8–9), Caranus set up a trophy after the Argive fashion for a victory against Cisseus: "The Macedonians say that Caranus, king of Macedonia, overcame in battle Cisseus, a chieftain in a bordering country. For his victory Caranus set up a trophy after the Argive fashion, but it is said to have been upset by a lion from Olympus, which then vanished. Caranus, they assert, realized that it was a mistaken policy to incur the undying hatred of the non-Greeks dwelling around, and so, they say, the rule was adopted that no king of Macedonia, neither Caranus himself nor any of his successors, should set up trophies, if they were ever to gain the good-will of their neighbors. This story is confirmed by the fact that Alexander set up no trophies, neither for his victory over Dareius nor for those he won in India."
  10. ^ Hoover 2011, p. 161; Hoover 2016, p. 295.
  11. ^ Lewis & Short 1879, Argīvus.
  12. ^ Liddell & Scott 1940, Ἀργεῖος.
  13. ^ Cartledge 2011, Chapter 4: Argos, p. 23: "The Late Bronze Age in Greece is also called conventionally 'Mycenaean', as we saw in the last chapter. But it might in principle have been called 'Argive', 'Achaean', or 'Danaan', since the three names that Homer does in fact apply to Greeks collectively were 'Argives', 'Achaeans', and 'Danaans'."
  14. ^ Homer. Iliad, 2.155–175, 4.8; Odyssey, 8.578, 4.6.
  15. ^ The Greek inscription found in the tholos room of the royal palace at Aegae reads "ΗΡΑΚΛΗΙ ΠΑΤΡΩΙΩΙ" (Andronikos 1994, p. 38: "Η επιγραφή αυτή είναι: «ΗΡΑΚΛΗΙ ΠΑΤΡΩΙΩΙ», που σημαίνει στον «Πατρώο Ηρακλή», στον Ηρακλή δηλαδή που ήταν γενάρχης της βασιλικής οικογένειας των Μακεδόνων." [Translation: "This inscription is: «ΗΡΑΚΛΗΙ ΠΑΤΡΩΙΩΙ», which means "Father (Ancestor) Hercules", dedicated to Hercules who was the ancestor of the royal family of the Macedonians."])
  16. ^ Herodotus. Histories, 8.137.
  17. ^ Herodotus. Histories, 5.22.
  18. ^ Appian. Syrian Wars, 11.10.63.
  19. ^ Hatzopoulos 2017, pp. 314–324
  20. ^ Thucydides. History of the Peloponnesian War, 2.99.
  21. ^ a b Roisman, Joseph (2002). Brill's Companion to Alexander the Great. Leiden/Boston: Brill. pp. 71–75. ISBN 9789004217553. Retrieved 23 August 2020.
  22. ^ Errington, Robert Malcolm (1990). A History of Macedonia. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 28–29. ISBN 9780520063198. Retrieved 23 August 2020.
  23. ^  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainMason, Charles Peter (1870). "Argaeus". In Smith, William (ed.). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. Vol. 1. p. 279.
  24. ^ Fox, Robin Lane (2011). "399–369 BC". In Fox, Robin Lane (ed.). Brill's Companion to Ancient Macedon: Studies in the Archaeology and History of Macedon, 650 BC – 300 AD. Boston: Brill. pp. 231–232.
  25. ^ N.G.L., Hammond; Griffith, G.T. (1979). A History of Macedonia Volume II: 550-336 B.C. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 179. ISBN 9780198148142
  26. ^ Roisman, Joseph (2010). "Classical Macedonia to Perdiccas III". In Roisman, Joseph; Worthington, Ian (eds.). A Companion to Ancient Macedonia. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 158.
  27. ^ Carney, Elizabeth Donnelly (2000). Woman and Monarchy in Macedonia. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 250. ISBN 9780806132129.
  28. ^ Psoma, Selene (2012). "Arepyros or A(u)re(lius) Pyros?". Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik. 180: 202–204.


Further reading[edit]

  • Anson, Edward M. (2014). Alexander's Heirs: The Age of the Successors. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Carney, Elizabeth Donnelly (2009). "The Role of the BASILIKOI PAIDES at the Argead Court". In Howe, Timothy; Reames, Jeanne (eds.). Macedonian Legacies: Studies in Ancient Macedonian History and Culture in Honor of Eugene N. Borza. Claremont, CA: Regina. pp. 145–164.
  • Carney, Elizabeth Donnelly (2010). "Putting Women in their Place: Women in Public under Philip II and Alexander III and the Last Argeads". In Carney, Elizabeth D.; Ogden, Daniel (eds.). Philip II and Alexander the Great: Father and Son, Lives and Afterlives. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 43–53.
  • Errington, Robert Malcolm (1978). "The Nature of the Macedonian State under the Monarchy". Chiron. 8: 77–134.
  • Griffith, Guy Thompson (1979). "The Reign of Philip the Second: The Government of the Kingdom". In Hammond, Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière; Griffith, Guy Thompson (eds.). A History of Macedonia. Vol. 2. Oxford: Clarendon. pp. 383–404.
  • Hatzopoulos, Miltiades B. (1996). Macedonian Institutions under the Kings (2 Volumes). Paris: De Boccard.
  • Hatzopoulos, Miltiades B. (2017). "Recent Research in the Ancient Macedonian Dialect: Consolidation and New Perspectives". Studies in Ancient Greek Dialects. Berlin: De Gruyter. pp. 299–328. doi:10.1515/9783110532135-016. ISBN 978-3-11-053213-5.
  • King, Carol J. (2010). "Macedonian Kingship and Other Political Institutions". In Roisman, Joseph; Worthington, Ian (eds.). A Companion to Ancient Macedonia. Oxford, Chichester and Malden: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 373–391. ISBN 978-1-4051-7936-2.
  • Ogden, Daniel (2011). "The Royal Families of Argead Macedon and the Hellenistic World". In Rawson, Beryl (ed.). A Companion to Families in the Greek and Roman Worlds. Malden, MA: Blackwell-Wiley. pp. 92–107.

External links[edit]