Antigonus I. Monophthalmos

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Antigonus I Monophthalmus (Antigonus the One-eyed '; ancient Greek Ἀντίγονος ὁ Μονόφθαλμος or Μονοφθαλμός . * Around 382 BC .; † . BC three hundred and first at Ipsos) was a Macedonian general and after the death of Alexander the Great one of the main Diadochen . As the first of his successors, he claimed the title of king for the entire Alexander Empire and founded the Antigonid dynasty , the last ruling house of Macedonia .

Tetradrachm of Antigonos
(left: Heracles head; right: an enthroned Zeus holding an eagle in his hand, plus the monogram ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΝΤΙΓΟΝΟΥ ( basileos Antigonou ))


Origin and advancement

Antigonus was a son of Philip, he probably grew up in the house of his stepfather Periandros in Pella . He had at least two brothers and a half-brother ( Marsyas ). He was married to Stratonike , who may have been a member of the Macedonian royal family of the Argeads . They had two sons, Demetrios Poliorketes († 283 BC) and Philippos († around 306 BC). Like Parmenion , Antipatros and Polyperchon, Antigonus belonged to the generation of the Macedonian King Philip II , whom he served as a general and companion ( hetairos ).

The fact to which he owes the loss of an eye and thus his nickname has not been passed down in detail. However, a few centuries later, the Greek philosopher and biographer Plutarch reported in his Moralia that Antigonus did not tolerate any disrespect or insulting allusions to his visual impairment. In later years the sophist and Macedonian opponent Theokritus of Chios is said to have lived in his surroundings, who, despite the rule of the Macedonian diadochi, kept his sharp tongue towards him. One day Antigonus invited him to a banquet with a subsequent conversation through an envoy. Theokritus, however, turned down the invitation and referred to Antigonus in an insulting sense as " Cyclops ". For this Theokritus was locked in a dungeon and sentenced to death, but his friends successfully campaigned for him at Antigonus. Antigonus declared himself ready to forgive the insult if Theocritus showed himself ready to ask for mercy before his eyes. But he explained, alluding to the missing eye, that such a penance was impossible, whereupon Antigonus had the death sentence carried out.

At the beginning of Alexander the Great's Asian campaign , Antigonos commanded the 7,000-strong phalanx of the Greek federal troops. After the battle of Granikos in 334 BC He was entrusted with the governorship of the province of Phrygia (today's western Turkey), and in this function he was responsible for the further conquest of Asia Minor. In three victorious battles against Persian armies before 331 BC he was able to Bring western Asia Minor under control. For his use he was additionally endowed by Alexander with the provinces of Pamphylia , Lycaonia and Lycia , only Cappadocia could assert itself against him under the Persian Ariarathes .

Although Antigonus was built in 323 BC. BC himself had not stood on Alexander's deathbed, Plutarch later referred to him in his description of the alleged murder of the king by Antipater and Aristotle . According to this, Antigonus once told the course of events to a follower named Hagnothemis, whose notes Plutarch finally got insight. However, Plutarch also stated that most of the historians he knew considered the story of the murder of Alexander to be pure fiction.


After Alexander's death, Antigonus was confirmed in his satrapies by the imperial regent Perdiccas ( Babylonian imperial order ). Nevertheless, he positioned himself against him after Perdiccas in 321 BC. Cappadocia had subdued and given to his follower Eumenes of Kardia . As a result, his claims were set back, Antigonus criticized the regent's marriage plans with the Alexander sister, Cleopatra . When he was quoted by Perdiccas in his camp, Antigonus preferred to flee to Europe with his family in order to ally himself with Antipater. This marked the beginning of the first Diadoch war, in which Antigonus only played a subordinate role. While Antipatros and Krateros were fighting in Asia, Antigonos was active as a naval commander in the eastern Mediterranean. The war ended on the Nile with the murder of Perdiccas in 320 BC. Decided.

Antigonus benefited from his friendship with Antipater at the subsequent conference of Triparadeisos , where he was not only returned his satrapies, but also received the strategy over Asia. With half of the Imperial Army , he devoted himself to fighting the remaining Perdiccans in the following years. In the spring of 319 BC He defeated Eumenes in the battle of Orkynia and locked him in the mountain fortress of Nora. Even during the siege he achieved a complete victory in Pisidia in the battle of Cretopolis over Alketas , the brother of Perdiccas, who committed suicide. Before Antigonus could end the fight with Eumenes, the death of the imperial regent Antipater in the summer of 319 BC brought about A new unstable relationship in the power structure of the Alexander empire emerged, which forced him to a peace with Eumenes, whom he withdrew from Nora.

The second diadoch war was triggered by the successor arrangement of the Antipater in favor of Polyperchons, as Kassander claimed the reign for himself. Polyperchon and the Queen Mother Olympias allied themselves with Eumenes, whom they appointed as the new strategist of Asia, which in turn caused Antigonus to ally himself with Cassander. Antigonus first brought Lydia , then the Hellespont, under his control and defeated in 317 BC. BC Clitus the white before Byzantion . Then he turned against Eumenes again, whom he had after the undecided battle of Paraitakene in the autumn of 316 BC. Chr. Pushed further to the east. Meanwhile, King Philip III was in Macedonia . Arrhidaios , who had supported Cassander, was executed. In the winter of 316 BC BC Antigonus pursued his opponent to Persis , where he put him in the battle of Gabiene . Again the fight ended in a stalemate, which Antigonus was nevertheless able to convert into a victory after he had succeeded in seizing the enemy's camp. The veterans of the "Silver Shields", who feared for the lives of their families, turned him over to Eumenes, who was killed shortly afterwards under inexact circumstances.

At the same time, the decision was made in Europe, since Kassander could capture and execute Olympias, who had been trapped in Pydna . In addition, the child king Alexander IV. Aigos and his mother Roxane fell into his hands, while Polyperchon, defeated, retreated to the Peloponnese .

Peak of power and third diadoch war

With the victory over Eumenes in 316 BC BC Antigonus was at the height of his power. Since the death of Alexander, no Diadoche had achieved such a prominent position as he. From the Hellespont to the Indus he ruled the entire Asian part of the Alexander Empire, the integrity of which had been badly shaken by the previous battles. He consolidated his rule by reorganizing the satrap order and eliminating governors who were not convenient for him. While the provinces west of the Euphrates , those of Asia Minor and Syria, remained under his direct control, he left those east of the river under the administration of satraps. The “upper provinces” of Central Asia were largely left untouched in terms of their personnel, although most of these governors had still fought for Eumenes. However, Antigonos made changes in the Iranian provinces with the important centers Ekbatana , Susa , Persepolis and Babylon . While still in Ekbatana, he had Peithon executed immediately after Gabiene for a plot. Arrived in Persepolis, where he was received by the local population as "Lord of Asia", he confirmed most of the upper satraps in their provinces, but relieved the unreliable Peukestas of his office. Then Antigonos moved on to Susa, where he installed a Persian as his governor, which, however , caused displeasure with the governor of Babylon, Seleukos . Before this powerful factor of unrest could be eliminated, Seleucus fled to Egypt, whereupon Antigonus was able to establish his rule in Mesopotamia. He made Nikanor his military commander in chief in the country east of the Euphrates .

The profile of this rider on the " Alexander sarcophagus " was often mistaken for a representation of Antigonos Monophthalmos. However, since this is a scene from the battle of Issus, this is now doubted because Antigonus did not take part in it. Istanbul Archaeological Museum
old satrap Satrap appointed by Antigonus province annotation
Peithon Orontobates Large media
("lower media")
Peithon was executed in Ekbatana for treason
Peukestas Asklepiodorus Persis
Tlepolemos Tlepolemos Carmania
Stasandros Euitos Areia & Drangiana Euitos died shortly after his appointment and was Euagoras replaced
Stasanor Stasanor Bactria & Sogdia
Oxyartes Oxyartes Paropamisades
Sibyrtios Sibyrtios Arachosia & Gedrosia
Antigen Aspisas Susia Antigen was already executed after Gabiene
Seleucus Peithon Babylon Seleucus fled to Egypt
Blitor Peithon Mesopotamia Blitor was executed as Seleucus's helper to escape

Antigonus' apparent superiority led the last independent Diadochi to form an alliance of convenience against him. The initiative came from Ptolemy , the ruler of Egypt, who felt threatened directly by Antigonus. He was joined by Kassander in Macedonia, Lysimachus in Thrace and Asandros in Caria . On the other hand, Antigonus had himself proclaimed by a meeting of the imperial army subordinate to him as imperial administrator against Kassander, whom he declared an imperial enemy. He legitimized himself in the name of King Alexander IV, who was in captivity in Kassander. In the spring of 314 BC BC he brought the Syria held by Ptolemy under his control, conquered Gaza and took up the siege of Tire . At the same time he had a fleet built in the shipyards of Sidon , Tripoli and Byblos , with which he could break Ptolemy 's supremacy at sea.

In order to bind cassander in Europe, Antigonos made contact with the opposition in Greece and proclaimed the freedom of the Greek cities against the Macedonian hegemony. In his former opponent Polyperchon, who ruled the Peloponnese, he found a natural ally. He sent the general Aristodemos to Greece, who raised an army there and conquered the Peloponnese. After this success, Antigonos sent his nephew Telesphoros with 50 ships as reinforcement to Greece. At the same time, however, Cyprus was lost to Ptolemy. In 313 BC After a year and three months of siege, Tire could be conquered, with which Antigonus gained control of the Phoenician coast. His second nephew Ptolemy was able to book further successes in Asia Minor, who fought back an invasion of Cassander and subjugated Bithynia. In the fall of 313 BC BC Antigonus first moved to Egypt to negotiate unsuccessfully with Ptolemy on the Sirbonian Sea for a peace, then he moved to Asia Minor where he brought Caria under his control. At the Hellespont he met Kassander for a peace talks, which also ended with no results. He then sent his nephew Ptolemy to Greece with 150 ships and 5,000 men.

In the spring of 312 BC BC Antigonus' son Demetrios suffered a heavy defeat against Ptolemy in the battle of Gaza . As a result, Phenicia, which had recently been won, was lost, as was Babylon, which could be taken back by its old owner, Seleukos. In the following year, however, Antigonus was able to force Ptolemy through his superior army to withdraw from Syria and Phenicia, which he repossessed.

Diadoch peace

Antigonus' domain after the Peace of the Diadochi in 311 BC And the Babylonian War in 309 BC Chr.

In 311 BC The forces of the warring factions were exhausted without the previously existing power structure being able to be changed decisively. Only the unity of the Alexander Empire was further weakened, as the opponents recognized each other as rulers in their areas of power in which they now ruled in fact sovereign. Antigonos granted Cassander the strategy over Macedonia, during which the freedom of the Greek cities had to be accepted. The principle of imperial unity was only taken into account with the renewed recognition of Alexander IV as their rightful king. To this end, it was decided that the twelve-year-old king should be given full power of government when he soon came of age. In later historical research, this addition was viewed as a covert invitation from the contracting parties to Kassander to take care of this matter. A little later, Kassander had the king and his mother murdered without any reaction from the Diadochi, especially from Antigonus as the regent of the empire. He himself had 310 BC BC sent the illegitimate son of Alexander, Heracles , to the still fighting Polyperchon, but after he gave up the fight in the following year, he had Heracles and his mother eliminated. In 308 BC BC Antigonus had Cleopatra, the sister of Alexander, killed to prevent her marriage to Ptolemy.

Seleucus was excluded from peace, and it was Antigonus' primary goal to fight him. But in the so-called Babylonian War he did not succeed in retaking Babylon despite two sieges, he even had to accept the loss of Ekbatana and Susa to Seleucus. Around the year 309 BC BC Antigonus was defeated in an incomplete battle against Seleucus, which forced him to make a peace agreement with him. In it he recognized his losses to Seleucus and probably also renounced all satrapies in the east, where Seleucus went on a campaign lasting several years.

Elevation to King

Around the same time, Antigonus' nephew Ptolemy changed sides, which meant that Greece was lost for the time being. The Egyptian Ptolemy tried to use this for an attack on Cilicia, which was repulsed by Demetrios. In order to regain Greece, Antigonus endowed his son with a significant naval power and sent him in 307 BC. BC to Europe, who immediately succeeded in conquering Athens and Megara . With an accompanying uprising of the Greek cities against the Macedonian occupations, Kassander could be neutralized in Europe. In Athens, Antigonus and his son were raised to the status of a saving god, just a prominent example of a cultic exaltation for a diadoch ruler, as was characteristic of the beginning Hellenism . Antigonus himself is said to have thought little of his divinity. When one day he was praised as the “son of the sun”, he is said to have said that the slave who was emptying his chamber pot saw it somewhat differently. Furthermore, based on his war wounds, he is said to have recognized that although Greek gods bleed, they apparently had no digestion. In the following year Demetrios achieved a complete victory over the Ptolemaic fleet in the double battle of Salamis (Cyprus) , whereby Antigonus felt legitimized to accept the title of king. Through his kingdom won in this way, he raised a claim to the sole succession of Alexander the Great in the kingdom conquered and undivided by him. A fragment by an anonymous historian presents the facts as follows:

"... Antigonus, the son of Philip, was the first to proclaim himself king, convinced that he would destroy all those in power with ease, but would rule over the entire Oikumene and, like Alexander, would take over the state ... "

Together with his co-crowned son, he decided in 305 BC For the military enforcement of this claim in a simultaneous attack from land and sea on Egypt against Ptolemy. But despite the greatest efforts, he failed in crossing the Nile in the bitter defense of Ptolemy. After his army was increasingly weakened by disease and hunger, Antigonus decided to retreat to Syria. He wanted to avoid a fate similar to that of Perdiccas. Through this defeat Ptolemy, Kassander, Lysimachus and Seleucus were also encouraged to accept the royal diadem, which thereby denied Antigonus' claim to undivided rule and at the same time questioned the further unity of the Alexander Empire.

Downfall at Ipsos

The failure on the Nile and Demetrios' subsequent failure in the siege of Rhodes in 304 BC In the following three years Antigonos could only compensate for his son's success in Greece. From there, Demetrios planned a decisive attack on Macedonia, which led Cassander to a renewed alliance with Lysimachus and Ptolemy. Lysimachus marched in 302 BC. BC to Asia Minor and took several cities there, Antigonus went to meet him over the mountains of the Taurus , but could not put him to battle. Ptolemy in turn used this to launch an offensive to Phenicia, which he broke off for no apparent reason and withdrew to Egypt. Presumably the false report of Lysimachus' defeat by Antigonus had prompted him to do so. At about the same time, Seleucus returned from the east and immediately allied himself with Lysimachus; Antigonos then called his son back from Greece to join him in a decisive battle.

The warring armies met in the summer of 301 BC. BC at Ipsos in Central Anatolia. Antigonos offered around 70,000 infantrymen, 10,000 cavalrymen, 120 sickle wagons and 75 elephants, while the enemy was able to field around 64,000 infantrymen, 10,500 cavalrymen and over 400 elephants that Seleucus had brought from India. On the morning of the fight, Antigonus, over eighty years old, allegedly stumbled while leaving his tent; on his knees he is said to have asked the gods for victory or death without the knowledge of defeat. The battle was decided by Demetrios 'zeal, who let himself be lured away from the battlefield with the cavalry, which Seleucus used to surround Antigonus' phalanx with his elephants. While the battle was still in progress, his mercenaries went over to the enemy, but Antigonus is said to have continued to believe in victory, as Demetrios managed to return to the battlefield. Before that happened, he was killed by several arrow hits.

Antigonus was buried with full royal honors by the victors, and his Asian dominion was divided among them. The greater part of Syria and Central Anatolia fell to Seleucus, the west coast of Asia Minor to Lysimachus, and Cilicia to Pleistarchus , the brother of Cassander. With this the idea of ​​the unity of the Alexander Empire came to an end. In the following years his son Demetrios tried in vain to bring the Macedonian heartland under his control, but only his grandson Antigonus II Gonatas was able to secure the Macedonian throne for himself and his successors.

Artistic reception

Both Pliny and Strabo reported that in the Asklepieion of Kos a portrait of the one-eyed Antigonus riding on a horse could be seen by the artist Apelles . He was shown in three-quarter profile to avoid the artistic documentation of his missing eye. Another portrait of Antigonus was made by Protogenes . However, both works are no longer preserved.



  • Richard A. Billows: Antigonos the One-Eyed and the Creation of the Hellenistic State . University of California Press, Berkeley / Los Angeles / London 1990, ISBN 0-520-06378-3 (standard work).
  • Kostas Buraselis: Hellenistic Macedonia and the Aegean Sea. Research on the politics of Kassander and the first three Antigonids (Antigonos Monophthalmos, Demetrios Poliorketes and Antigonos Gonatas) in the Aegean Sea and in western Asia Minor . CH Beck, Munich 1982, ISBN 3-406-07673-4 .
  • Jeff Champion: Antigonus the One-Eyed . Penn and Sword, Barnsley 2014, ISBN 978-1-78303-042-2 .
  • Rudolf Engel: Investigations into the power rise of Antigonus I. Monophthalmos. A contribution to the history of the early Diadoch period . Lassleben, Kallmünz 1976, ISBN 3-7847-7209-9 .
  • Hans-Joachim Gehrke : History of Hellenism . 4th edition. Oldenbourg, Munich 2008, ISBN 978-3-486-58785-2 , pp. 30-42 u. a . ( Oldenbourg floor plan of the story , Volume 1B).
  • Julius Kaerst : Antigonos 3 . In: Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Antiquity Science (RE). Volume I, 2, Stuttgart 1894, Col. 2406-2413.
  • Olaf Müller: Antigonos Monophthalmos and "The Year of Kings" . Habelt, Bonn 1973, ISBN 3-7749-1246-7 ( Saarbrücker Contributions to Antiquity , Volume 11).
  • Graham Shipley: The Greek World After Alexander, 323-30 BC . Routledge, London / New York 2000, ISBN 0-415-04618-1 , pp. 40 ff . (Brief overview with references to more recent literature).


  1. Plutarch, Moralia 11b-c; 633c.
  2. Plutarch, Alexander 77.
  3. ^ J. Charbonneaux: Antigone le Borgne et Démétrios Poliorcète sont-ils figurés sur le sarcophage d'Alexandre? In: Rev. Des Arts 2, 1952.
  4. Polyainos , Strategika 4,9,1.
  5. Plutarch, Moralia 180e, 182c, 341b. Seneca 59.12; Athenaios 251a.
  6. Historian fragment (possibly Zenon of Rhodes ) on the "Year of Kings", P. Cologne VI 247 = FGrHist 523, translated by Gregor Weber. See also GA Lehmann: The new Cologne historian fragment (P. Cologne No. 247) and the χρονιϰὴ ϲύνταξιϲ of Zenon of Rhodes (FGrHist 523). In: Journal of Papyrology and Epigraphy . Volume 72, 1988, pp. 1-17.
  7. Pliny, Naturalis historia 35.90.
  8. ^ Strabo, Geographika XIV, 657.
predecessor Office successor
Cassander Regent of the Alexander Empire
311–306 BC Chr.
--- King in Asia and Greece
(claiming the Alexander Empire )
306-301 BC. Chr.
Demetrios I. Poliorketes