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Family connections to Philip II of Macedon
In 338 BCE, Attalus' niece Cleopatra Eurydice married king Philip II of Macedonia. It is said that at the wedding, Attalus made a prayer that Cleopatra may give birth to a legitimate male heir to Philip. This was seen as a direct insult to Alexander the Great.
Revenge-rape of Pausanias of Orestis
According to a story of Aristotle's, lengthened by Cleitarchus and Diodorus Siculus, Attalus sexually assaulted Pausanias of Orestis in retribution for besmirching the reputation of Attalus' friend (possibly relation), also named Pausanias, an event that led to the death of Pausanias the beloved of Attalus while attempting to prove his honour after public humiliation by Pausanias of Orestis.
Philip II of Macedon's later assassination by Pausanias of Orestis has been tied to this affair as Pausanias of Orestis was upset that Phillip had not punished Attalus.
Execution by Alexander
After Philip II had been assassinated and Alexander became king (October 336 BCE) his stepmother Cleopatra Eurydice and her two children were all killed (Cleopatra Eurydice may have died by her own hand after the murders of her children).
At the time of the assassination of Phillip and accession of Alexander the Great to the Macedonian throne, Attalus was stationed with Parmenion and the Macedonian advance army in Asia Minor. In the wake of Phillip II's death, it is alleged by hostile sources that Demosthenes of Athens wrote a letter to Attalus promising Athens' support if the two made war on Alexander.
Attalus submitted Demosthenes' letters to Alexander and pledged his support to the king. However, Alexander had Attalus killed, remembering the past insult of Attalus. Even without the resentment between the two men, Alexander probably felt Attalus was too ambitious to remain alive, and would have good reason for revenge after the deaths of Cleopatra Eurydice and her children.
In popular media
- In the 1956 Richard Burton film Alexander the Great, he was played by Stanley Baker.
- In the 1990 and 1991 historical fiction books Lion of Macedon and Dark Prince by David Gemmell. Attalus is portrayed as an assassin, swordsman and later general of Philip II of Macedonia.
- In the 2004 film Alexander, Attalus was portrayed by actor Nick Dunning.
- "Peter Green. <italic>Alexander to Actium: The Historical Evolution of the Hellenistic Age</italic>. (Hellenistic Culture and Society, number 1.) Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. 1990. Pp. xxiii, 970. $65.00". The American Historical Review. 1991. doi:10.1086/ahr/96.5.1515. ISSN 1937-5239.
- Habicht 1998, p. 32.
- Attalus by Jona Lendering