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Spitamenes (in old Persian Spitamaneh; Greek Σπιταμένης; 370 BC – 328 BC) was a Sogdian warlord, leader of the uprising in Sogdiana and Bactria against Alexander the Great, King of Macedon, in 329 BC.
While Alexander was founding the new city of Alexandria Eschate on the Jaxartes river, news came that Spitamenes had roused Sogdiana against him and was besieging the Macedonian garrison in Maracanda. Too occupied at the moment to personally confront Spitamenes, Alexander sent an army under the command of Pharnuches which was promptly annihilated with a loss of no less than 2000 infantry and 300 cavalry.
The uprising now posed a direct threat to his army, and Alexander moved personally to relieve Maracanda, only to learn that Spitamenes had left Sogdiana and was attacking Bactria, from where he was repulsed with great difficulty by the satrap of Bactria, Artabazus (328 BC).
The decisive point came in December 328 BC when Spitamenes was defeated by Alexander's general Coenus at the Battle of Gabai. Spitamenes' wife killed him and sent his head to Alexander, suing for peace and effectively dissolving Spitamenes' army.
Spitamenes had a daughter, Apama, who was married to one of Alexander's most important generals and an eventual Diadochi (successor), Seleucus I Nicator (February 324 BC). The couple had a son, Antiochus I Soter, a future ruler of the Seleucid Empire. Several towns were named Apamea in her honour.
Spitamenes is a central, but indirect character in Steven Pressfield's novel The Afghan Campaign. In it, Spitamenes is described as a cunning military commander of natural talent. The novel is largely the description of the campaign which destroyed Spitamenes' Sogdian uprising. Spitamenes was not decapitated by his wife. He was seized by his allies, the Massagetae, who upon finding out that Alexander was going to invade their country, decapitated his head and sent it to Alexander as a peace offering.
- Magill, Frank N. et al. (1998), The Ancient World: Dictionary of World Biography, Volume 1, Pasadena, Chicago, London,: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, Salem Press, p. 1010, ISBN 0-89356-313-7.
- Holt, Frank L. (1989), Alexander the Great and Bactria: the Formation of a Greek Frontier in Central Asia, Leiden, New York, Copenhagen, Cologne: E. J. Brill, pp 64–65 (see footnote #63 for a discussion on Spitamenes and Apama), ISBN 90-04-08612-9.