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Hellenistic marble bust of Lysimachus at the Ephesus Archaeological Museum, dated circa 300 BC.
King of Thrace
Reign306–281 BC
PredecessorAlexander IV
SuccessorPtolemy Keraunos
King of Asia Minor
Reign301–281 BC
PredecessorAntigonus I Monophthalmus
SuccessorSeleucus I Nicator
King of Macedon
with Pyrrhus of Epirus
Reign288–281 BC
PredecessorDemetrius I Poliorcetes
SuccessorPtolemy Keraunos
Bornc. 360 BC[1][2]
Crannon or Pella
DiedFebruary 281 BC (aged approximately 79)
Corupedium, near Sardis
(modern-day Salihli, Manisa, Turkey)
Among others

Lysimachus (/lɪˈsɪməkəs/; Greek: Λυσίμαχος, Lysimachos; c. 360 BC – 281 BC) was a Thessalian[3] officer and successor of Alexander the Great, who in 306 BC, became king of Thrace, Asia Minor and Macedon.

Early life and career[edit]

A marble bust of Lysimachus, an Augustan Roman era copy of a Hellenistic Greek original dated to the 2nd century BC, National Archaeological Museum, Naples

Lysimachus was born in circa 360 BC, to a family of Thessalian stock but they were citizens of Pella in Macedonia.[3][4] He was the second son of Agathocles[5] and his wife; there is some indication in the historical sources that this wife was perhaps named Arsinoe, and that Lysimachus' paternal grandfather may have been called Alcimachus. His father was a nobleman of high rank who was an intimate friend of Philip II of Macedon, who shared in Philip II’s councils and became a favourite in the Argead court.[6] Lysimachus and his brothers grew up with the status of Macedonians; all these brothers enjoyed with Lysimachus prominent positions in Alexander’s circle[6] and, like him, were educated at the Macedonian court in Pella.[7][8]

Pausanias and the historian Justin both record a story that Alexander had Lysimachus thrown to a lion as a punishment. According to Justin this was because Lysimachus had smuggled poison to a person Alexander had condemned to a slow death. Both Pausanias and Justin report that Lysimachus overcame the lion with his bare hands and subsequently became one of Alexander's favorites.[9][10] Some coins issued during Lysimachus's appointment had his image on one side and a lion on the other.

He was probably appointed Somatophylax during the reign of Philip II.[7] During Alexander's Persian campaigns, in 328 BC he was one of his immediate bodyguards.[11] In 324 BC, in Susa, he was awarded a ceremonial crown in recognition of his actions in India.[12] After Alexander's death in 323 BC, he was appointed to the government of Thrace as strategos[13] although he faced some difficulties from the Thracian king Seuthes.[11]


Obverse of coin of Lysimachus: The horned Alexander appears as the king's divine patron.

In 315 BC, Lysimachus joined Cassander, Ptolemy and Seleucus against Antigonus, who, however, diverted his attention by stirring up Thracian and Scythian tribes against him.[14] However, he managed to consolidate his power in the east of his territories, suppressing a revolt of the cities on the Black Sea coast.[11]

In 309 BC, he founded Lysimachia in a commanding situation on the neck connecting the Chersonese with the mainland,[14] forming a bulwark against the Odrysians.

In 306/305 BC, Lysimachus followed the example of Antigonus and assumed the royal title.[15]

In 302 BC, when the second alliance between Cassander, Ptolemy and Seleucus was made, Lysimachus, reinforced by troops from Cassander, entered Asia Minor, where he met with little resistance. On the approach of Antigonus he retired into winter quarters near Heraclea, marrying its widowed queen Amastris, a Persian princess. Seleucus joined him in 301 BC, and at the Battle of Ipsus Antigonus was defeated and slain. Antigonus' dominions were divided among the victors. Lysimachus' share was Lydia, Ionia, Phrygia and the north coast of Asia Minor.[16]

  Kingdom of Lysimachus
Other diadochi
  Kingdom of Cassander
  Kingdom of Seleucus I Nicator
  Kingdom of Ptolemy I Soter

Feeling that Seleucus was becoming dangerously powerful, Lysimachus now allied himself with Ptolemy, marrying his daughter Arsinoe II of Egypt. Amastris, who had divorced herself from him, returned to Heraclea. When Antigonus' son Demetrius I renewed hostilities (297 BC), during his absence in Greece, Lysimachus seized his towns in Asia Minor, but in 294 BC concluded a peace whereby Demetrius was recognized as ruler of Macedonia. He tried to carry his power beyond the Danube, but was defeated and taken prisoner by the Getae king Dromichaetes (or Dromihete), who, however, set him free in 292 BC on amicable terms in return for Lysimachus surrendering the Danubian lands he had captured.[11] Demetrius subsequently threatened Thrace, but had to retire due to a sudden uprising in Boeotia and an attack from King Pyrrhus of Epirus.[14]

In 287 BC, Lysimachus and Pyrrhus in turn invaded Macedonia and drove Demetrius out of the country. Lysimachus left Pyrrhus in possession of Macedonia with the title of king for around seven months before Lysimachus invaded.[14] For a short while the two ruled jointly but in 285 BC Lysimachus expelled Pyrrhus, seizing complete control for himself.[17]

Tetradrachm of Lysimachus. The Greek inscription reads: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΛΥΣΙΜΑΧΟΥ "[coin] of King Lysimachus".

Later years[edit]

Domestic troubles embittered the last years of Lysimachus’ life. Amastris had been murdered by her two sons; Lysimachus treacherously put them to death. On his return, Arsinoe II asked the gift of Heraclea, and he granted her request, though he had promised to free the city. In 284 BC Arsinoe, desirous of gaining the succession for her sons in preference to Lysimachus’ first child, Agathocles, intrigued against him with the help of Arsinoe's paternal half-brother Ptolemy Keraunos; they accused him of conspiring with Seleucus to seize the throne, and Agathocles was put to death.[14]

This atrocious deed by Lysimachus aroused great indignation. Many of the cities of Asia Minor revolted, and his most trusted friends deserted him. The widow of Agathocles and their children fled to Seleucus, who at once invaded the territory of Lysimachus in Asia Minor. In 281 BC, Lysimachus crossed the Hellespont into Lydia and at the decisive Battle of Corupedium was killed. After some days his body was found on the field, protected from birds of prey by his faithful dog.[18] Lysimachus' body was given over to another son, Alexander, by whom it was interred at Lysimachia.[14]

Marriages and children[edit]

Lysimachus was married three times and his wives were:

Nicaea most probably died by 302 BC.

From an Odrysian concubine he had a son borne to him called Alexander.[23]

Family tree of Lysimachids[edit]

Agathocles of Pella
∞ Arsinoe
Alcimachus of Apollonia
1.Nicaea of Macedon
daughter of
regent of Mecedon
king of Thrace, Asia
Minor, Macedonia
∞ 2.Amastrine
3.Arsinoe II
daughter of
Ptolemy I of Egypt
(1) Eurydice
Antipater I of Macedon
(1) Agathocles
Lysandra (daughter
of Ptolemy I of Egypt)
(1) Arsinoe I
Ptolemy II of Egypt
(3) Ptolemy I Epigonus
king of Telmessos
(3) Lysimachus
(3) Philip
king of Telmessos
Ptolemy II
king of Telmessos
Antipater Epigonos

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Pimlico Dictionary Of Classical Civilizations: "Lysimachus (360–281 BC), one of the close companions of Alexander the Great, assumed the title of king in 305 BC"
  2. ^ The Oxford Handbook of Greek and Roman Coinage: "Lysimachus (c. 360–281 BC), another diadoch and a past bodyguard of Alexander, received the greater part of Asia Minor."
  3. ^ a b Sear, David R. (1978). Greek Coins and Their Values, Volume 2. Seaby. p. 634. ISBN 9780900652509. Lysimachos, 323–281 B.C. (one of the most remarkable of the 'Successors' of Alexander, Lysimachos was of Thessalian stock and was a bodyguard of the great Macedonian King.
  4. ^ Traver, Andrew G. (2002). From Polis to Empire, the Ancient World, C. 800 B.C.-A.D. 500: A Biographical Dictionary. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 236. ISBN 9780313309427. Lysimachus was a citizen of Pella in Macedonia, although his father was said to have been a Greek from Thessaly.
  5. ^ Lund, Lysimachus: A Study in Early Hellenistic Kingship, p. 3
  6. ^ a b Lund, Lysimachus: A Study in Early Hellenistic Kingship, p.2
  7. ^ a b Heckel, Who’s who in the age of Alexander the Great: prosopography of Alexander’s empire, p. 153
  8. ^ Lysimachus had an elder brother called Alcimachus of Apollonia and had two younger brothers called Autodicus and Philip. He had two known nephews through his brother Alcimachus called Alcimachus and Philip; his known great-nephew was Lysippus the grandson of his brother Alcimachus and his known sister-in-law was Adeia the wife of Autodicus
  9. ^ http://www.attalus.org/translate/justin1.html#15.1 Justin, Epitome of Pompey Trogue’s “Philippic histories”, XV, 3, 1–9: Retrieved 18 January 2019
  10. ^ Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.9.5
  11. ^ a b c d Hornblower, Simon; Spawforth, Tony (2000). Who's Who in the Classical World. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 238. ISBN 0192801074.
  12. ^ Heckel, Who's Who in the Age of Alexander the Great: Prosopography of Alexander's Empire pp. 153-154. "Near Sangala in India some 1,200 of Alexander's troops were wounded, among them Lysimachus the Somatophylax. He had earlier boarded a thirty-oared vessel at the Hydaspes (in the company of two other Somatophylakes), before the battle with Porus, though his role in the actual battle is not attested; presumably he fought in the immediate vicinity of Alexander himself. When Alexander decided to sail down the Indus river system to the Ocean, Lysimachus was one of those from Pella charged with a trierarchy in the Attic fashion. He is named by Arrian in the only complete list of Somatophylakes. At Susa in spring 324 BC, Lysimachus and the rest of the Somatophylakes were crowned by Alexander, though unlike Leonnatus, Lysimachus appears to have earned no special distinction."
  13. ^ Heckel, Who's Who in the Age of Alexander the Great: Prosopography of Alexander's Empire p. 155." In 323 Lysimachus was assigned control of Thrace, and was probably strategos rather than satrap. The subordinate position of strategos may account for the failure of the sources to mention Lysimachus in the settlement of Triparadeisus; his brother Autodicus was, however, named as a Somatophylax of Philip III at that time."
  14. ^ a b c d e f  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Lysimachus". Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 184.
  15. ^ Heckel, Who's Who in the Age of Alexander the Great: Prosopography of Alexander's Empire, p. 155. "In 306 or 305 BC, he assumed the title of "King", which he held until his death at Corupedium in 282/1 BC."
  16. ^ Williams, Henry Smith. Historians History of the World (Volume 4), p. 450.
  17. ^ Williams, Henry Smith. Historians History of the World (Volume 4), p. 454.
  18. ^ Williams, Henry Smith. Historians History of the World (Volume 4), p. 505.
  19. ^ a b c d e f Bengtson, Griechische Geschichte von den Anfängen bis in die römische Kaiserzeit, p.569
  20. ^ a b c Heckel, Who’s who in the age of Alexander the Great: prosopography of Alexander’s empire, p.175
  21. ^ Billows, Kings and colonists: aspects of Macedonian imperialism, p. 110
  22. ^ Ptolemaic Genealogy: Ptolemy ‘the Son’, Footnotes 9 & 12
  23. ^ Pausanias, 1.10.4


Primary sources[edit]

Secondary sources[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
New creation
Governor of Thrace
323–306 BC
Succeeded by
Merged into kingship
Preceded by King of Thrace
306–281 BC
Succeeded by
Preceded by King of Asia Minor
301–281 BC
Succeeded by
Preceded by King of Macedon
288–281 BC
With: Pyrrhus of Epirus
Succeeded by