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The Argeads ( Greek  Ἀργεάδαι ) were an ancient ruling family that existed until 310 BC. The kings of Macedonia . The most famous members of this dynasty were the kings Philip II and his son Alexander the Great , under whom Macedonia first achieved hegemony over the Hellenes, then dominated the then known world ( Alexander Empire ) and thus became an important bearer of the cultural epoch of Hellenism has been. The Argeads died out with the sons of Alexander the great in the male line.

The golden larnax from the tomb tumulus of Vergina (Aigai) presumably contains the mortal remains of King Philip II of Macedon. (Museum of the Royal Tombs, Vergina)

The fact that the Macedonians were Greeks can now be taken for granted. Their royal family was given this status at least since the 5th century BC. BC, which is why the Argeads, unlike their subjects, were also allowed to take part in the Olympic Games , which " barbarians " was forbidden. This was justified by the alleged descent of the kings: According to Greek mythology , the Argeads descended from the legendary family of the Temenids, which ruled Argos , which is why they were mainly used by early ancient historians, e.g. B. Thucydides , also known as "Temenids". The designation as "Argead" has only been attested by Strabo , Pausanias and Appian since the late Hellenism . The progenitor of the Temenids, Temenos , was considered a great-great-grandson of the demigod Heracles , to whom the Argeads could also refer.


There are two divergent accounts of the origin of the Argeadians and the founding of the Macedonian kingdom ascribed to them, both of which are of dubious value. Both agree that the dynasty came from Argos in the Peloponnese and from the ruling family there, the Temenids.


The oldest known founding mythology of the Argeads is handed down by the historian Herodotus (5th century BC) in the eighth book of his histories (§ 137 f.). Accordingly, the three brothers Gauanes, Aëropos and Perdikkas were descendants of Temenos , who had to flee from their hometown Argos for reasons not mentioned. They first settled in Illyria , but then moved on to the Upper Macedonian countryside and entered the service of the king of the city of Lebaia, whose horses, cattle and cattle were each looked after by one of them. Due to the barreness and poverty of the country, it was customary there for even the king's wife to bake bread for her servants with her own hands, with the loaf intended for perdiccas each time being larger than intended. The troubled king interpreted this as a miraculous sign of an imminent important event, whereupon he asked the three brothers to leave his city. But these first asked for the wages due to them, whereupon the king pointed to the sun , which was shining through the chimney of his house, and gave it as the wages due to them. While the two older brothers, Gauanes and Aëropos, remained perplexed, Perdiccas took a knife, used it to make a circle around the sunlit area of ​​the screed and symbolically scooped the sunlight three times into his wad. He then left Lebaia with his brothers, but the king sent horsemen after them to have them killed after he had become aware of the again ominous significance of these actions by the youngest of the brothers. However, the three brothers had crossed a small river on their way, which shortly afterwards swelled to such a size that their pursuers could no longer pursue them. (The descendants of the three founding fathers would regularly make offerings to the same river as the savior of their family.) Now the brothers reached another region of Macedonia and settled there near the gardens of Midas , son of Gordias, at the foot of the mountains called Bermion low. From there they began to subject the rest of Macedonia to their rule and thus founded their own kingdom, with the descendants of the sun-favored Perdiccas forming the royal family.

At its core, this legend obviously describes the emergence of the Macedonian kingdom, after which the Macedonians, as Thucydides later described, originally found their first residences in the mountainous Upper Macedonian landscapes characterized by inhospitable wildness and poverty ( Orestis , Lynkestis , Elimiotis , Pelagonia and Eordaia ) and from there finally expanded into the fertile Lower Macedonian landscapes on the thermal Gulf . The actual ancestors of the Argeadians would have distinguished themselves particularly successfully as leaders of one of the advancing tribes and would have built an important power base with the strategically exposed fortress Aigai between the Highlands and the Netherlands, from which they would establish a kingdom over the peoples settling in the Netherlands of which only the tribal cousins ​​who remained in Upper Macedonia were initially not recorded.

Herodotus explicitly located the city of Lebaia in "Upper Macedonia" and the "other landscapes of Macedonia" he describes, where the Temenid brothers moved after they left Lebaia, are likely to have been the fertile areas of Lower Macedonia, whereupon the one of always flourishing Rose-covered "Garden of Midas" refers. The river that the brothers had to cross to escape their pursuers could mean the Aliakmonas , on whose upper and lower reaches the Upper Macedonian landscapes Orestis and Elimiotis lay. And just in Orestis, not far from the river, are the ruins of the town of Argos Orestikon , which, according to Appian, was the hometown of the Argeads. Even if the majority of historical scholars regard this assertion as implausible, it nevertheless recognizes an awareness of the later Macedonians of the origin of their people and royal family from the Upper Macedonian mountainous countries. The "Bermion Mountains" continue to be identified as the modern Vermio , at the foot of which leads to the Macedonian lowlands the city of Beroia (today Veria ), which was one of the oldest Macedonian royal seats.

Thucydides also apparently accepted King Perdiccas I as the founder of the dynasty. The younger historian counted eight other rulers before Archelaus I , all of whom were named as descendants of Perdiccas I in Herodotus' list of kings.


It was not until about half a century after Herodotus and Thucydides that the historians began to expand the tribal legend of the Argeadians and, with Karanos, to set a new first king of Macedonia who lived before Perdiccas and thus a new founder of the dynasty. The beginning was made by the poet Euripides , who in his around 410 BC In honor of King Archelaos I completed the drama Archelaos who praised him as "Karanos, son of Temenos" and had him found the Macedonian kingdom. This literary fiction quickly entered the historical canon, first in Theopompus (4th century BC), who wrote at the time of King Philip II , according to which Karanos was a son of King Pheidon. This patronymic was later taken over by Diodorus , while with Satyrus the king Aristodamidas is the father of Karanos. Diodorus, however, also mentioned the descent of Karanos from Poeas, with which he would belong to an alternative line of the Temenid family than that of Pheidon and Aristodamidas.

The story of how Karanos founded the Macedonian kingdom has been told in several variations. According to Diodorus, even before the first Olympic Games , Karanos gathered a warband from Argos and the Peloponnese to help the beleaguered King of Orestis in the fight against the King of Eordeia, for which he received half of the kingdom as a reward Orestis, which eventually became Macedonia. With Justin , Karanos followed an oracle from Delphi by following the footsteps of a herd of goats with a group of Greeks who moved to the land of Emathia, occupied the city of Edessa and renamed it Aigai . From there he drove out Midas and the other kings of the region and created the kingdom of Macedonia. After Pausanias , Karanos defeated the tribal prince Kisseus, who ruled in a border country, and thus laid the foundation for his kingdom. The Byzantine author Georgios Synkellos (8th century AD) kept to Diodor's report and wrote how Karanos and his warriors from Argos and the Peloponnese conquered Macedonia with the help of the King of Orestis. With Synkellos too, Karanos was a descendant of Poeas, a genealogical line that Diodorus was already familiar with.

Karanos was also adopted by Marsyas , Plutarch and Eusebius as the founder of the dynasty.


Alexander the Great conquered the great Persian empire and became the pioneer of Hellenism. Bust made by Leochares in the 4th century BC. BC ( Acropolis Museum , Athens )

There is no historical evidence of the first kings of the Argeadians, which is why their existences are regarded as legendary, although Diodorus and other authors ascribed years of reign to them. Only Amyntas I and his son Alexander I came into the focus of contemporary historians (Herodotus, Thucydides) because of their contact with the Persian empire that extended to the European continent . For Thucydides, Alexander I was even the first king whom he knew by name, while he was not even familiar with the names of his predecessors. Previously, Macedonia, considered to be backward in terms of civilization and wild, simply could not arouse any interest in the learned Greek world. The geographical location of the country at the very edge of the horizon of perception of the Greek pole world and its seemingly archaic state based on kingship, made it from the perspective of the Greeks more like a barbaric country that had nothing in common with the civilized Greek city-states .

This view was at least in relation to the Macedonian royal house in the early 5th century BC. After the competition judges of the Olympic Games ( Hellanodiken , "Hellenenrichter") allowed King Alexander I to participate in the competitions, after they had his Hellenism based on his family tree, which identified him as a descendant of the Temenids from Argos seen rendered. However, this was not unreservedly accepted, as, for example, Thrasymachus described King Archelaos I as a barbarian in his speech to Larisa . Above all, however, after the Macedonian hegemony over the Greek world emerged in the Corinthian League under King Philip II , his identity (as well as the Macedonian people as a whole) was stripped of his Greek identity by his political opponents. The sharpest of them was the Attic orator Demosthenes , who in his third speech against Philip denied him any Hellenism. In another speech he called a former Macedonian king a barbarian. Isocrates, on the other hand, defended the Hellenism of Philip II, whom he supported as a federal general against the Persians, although he wanted to know how to distinguish the Macedonian people from the Greeks. Speusippos went even further in his letter to Philip, calling him a fellow citizen of Athens because of his descent from Heracles and seeking to refute his slander as a barbarian.


The end of the Argead dynasty came with the untimely death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC. Sealed when he had barely conquered the Persian empire in the ten years before ( Alexanderzug ). Although he left with his half-brother Philip III. Arrhidaios and his son Alexander IV. Aigos two heirs to the throne, but due to mental and age-related government incompetence in the struggles of the Diadochi perished. Philip III Arrhidaios was born in 317 BC. Murdered by his stepmother Olympias and Alexander IV. Aigos as the last king of the Argeads in 310 BC. From Kassander . The last male offspring of the Herakles dynasty , an illegitimate son of Alexander the Great, was murdered by Polyperchon the following year . The same happened to all female family members, Kynane († 323 BC), her daughter Eurydice († 317 BC), as well as Cleopatra († 308 BC) and Thessalonike († 295 BC). ), of which the last was also the last member of the Argeadians.

The kings of the short-lived dynasty of the Antipatrids , as their mother, could relate to the Argeades via Thessalonike .

The ancestral mother of the Antigonids , the third and last Macedonian royal dynasty, Stratonike is occasionally associated with the Argeads in historical research. But only because her name was used in that dynasty.

List of the Argead Kings

Surname Domination Patronymic
Karanos Son of Pheidon or Aristodamides, kings of Argos, or a descendant of Poeas.
Koinos Son of Karanos
Tyrimmas ?
Perdiccas I. ?
Argaios I. Son of Perdiccas I.
Philip I. Son of Argaios I.
Aeropos I. Son of Philip I.
Alketas I. Son of Aeropos I.
Amyntas I. Son of Alketas I.
Alexandros I. ~ 500 / 492-450 BC Chr. Son of Amyntas I.
Perdiccas II ~ 450-414 / 411 BC Chr. Son of Alexandros I.
Alcetas II Son of Alexandros I.
Archelaus I. ~ 414 / 411-399 BC Chr. Son of Perdiccas II.
Orestes 399-396 BC Chr. Son of Archelaus I.
Aeropos II. 396-393 BC Chr. probably son of Perdiccas II.
Pausanias 393 BC Chr. Son of Aeropos II.
Amyntas II the little one 393 BC Chr. Son of Menelaus
Argaios II 393-392 BC Chr. ?
Amyntas III. 392-370 BC Chr. Son of Arrhidaios
Alexandros II 370-368 BC Chr. Son of Amyntas III.
Perdiccas III. 370-359 BC Chr. Son of Amyntas III.
Amyntas IV. 359-356 BC Chr. Son of Perdiccas III.
Philip II 359-336 BC Chr. Son of Amyntas III.
Alexander III the great 336-323 BC Chr. Son of Philip II
Philip III Arrhidaios 323-317 BC Chr. Son of Philip II
Alexander IV Aigos 323-310 BC Chr. Son of Alexandros III.
Heracles 309 BC Chr. Son of Alexandros III.

Argead Family Tree (simplified)

This family tree is taken from the papers by March and Roisman / Worthington, see literature.

Perdiccas I.
Argaios I.
Philip I.
Aeropos I.
Alketas I.
Amyntas I.
Alexandros I.
Perdiccas II
Alcetas II
Archelaus I.
Aeropos II.
Amyntas II.
Amyntas III.
Alexandros II
Perdiccas III.
Philip II
Amyntas IV.
Philip III
Alexandros III.
Alexandros IV


Individual evidence

  1. Thucydides 2, 99, 3.
  2. Strabo 7, ask. 11; Pausanias , Achaia 7, 8, 9; Appian , Syriake 10-63 .
  3. The city of Lebaia is completely unknown and is nowhere mentioned except for Herodotus.
  4. Thucydides 2, 99, 2.
  5. a b Geyer: Macedonia up to Philip II's accession to the throne. P. 38.
  6. ^ Appian Syriake 10, 63.
  7. Thucydides 2, 100, 2; Herodotus 8, 139.
  8. Theopompos , Philippika , FGrHist. No. 115, ask. 393.
  9. Diodor 7:17 ; Satyrus, FGrHist. 631, ask. 1.
  10. ^ Diodorus 7, 17.
  11. Diodorus 7:15 , 1.
  12. Justin 7: 1.
  13. Pausanias, Boeotia 9:40 , 8.
  14. Synkellos 499, 12.
  15. Marsyas , FGrHist. 135, ask. 14; Plutarch , Alexander 2, 1; Eusebius , Chronik 1, 108, 21. Eusebius was based on the report of Diodorus.
  16. Diodorus 7:15 , 2.
  17. Herodotus 5:22 , 2.
  18. ^ Thrasymachos , in the name of the people by Larisa F2, In: Hermann Diels and Walther Kranz : The fragments of the pre-Socratics (Berlin, 1952). "Should we, who are Greeks, become slaves of Archelaus, a barbarian?"
  19. Demosthenes , third speech against Philip 9:31. "He [Philip II] is not a Greek, nor is he related to Greeks."
  20. Demosthenes, Third Olynthetic Speech 3, 24.
  21. Isocrates , Letter to Philip 5, 127.
  22. ^ Speusippos , letter to Philipp §2f.
  23. Thucydides 2, 101, 6.
  24. a b Diodorus 7, 15, 1. Tyrimmas is mentioned as the successor of Koinos, but Diodorus omitted an explicit mention of a patronymic.
  25. Herodotus did not give a father name to the brothers Gauanes, Aeropos and Perdickas.
  26. a b c d e f Herodotus 8, 139.
  27. Thucydides 1, 57, 2.
  28. Plato , Gorgias 471a-b. Alketas II is mentioned here as the brother of Perdiccas II. His rule as king is not undisputed; rather, like his brother Philippos, he only owned a partial principality ( arche ) as a subordinate of Perdiccas II, see Geyer, pp. 50–52.
  29. Thucydides 2, 100, 2.
  30. Diodor 14, 37, 6. Here Orestes is named simply as the successor of Archelaos I, without this being named as a patronymic. Nevertheless, he is certainly considered the son of Archelaos I.
  31. In an on the year 415 BC An Attic inscription dated to the 3rd century BC, which describes an agreement with Athens, is called an Aeropos, son of Perdiccas, who was probably identical with Aeropos II. See Inscriptiones Graecae I² 71.
  32. ^ Diodor 14, 84, 6.
  33. Claudius Aelianus Varia historia 12, 43. Menelaus was a son of Alexandros I, making Amyntas II his grandson. According to Aristotle ( Politik 5, 1311b), Amyntas II was a son of Archelaos I, which, however, is classified as unlikely. See Roisman / Worthington, p. 158.
  34. The counter-pretender Argaios II is assumed to be a member of the Argeadians, but the relationship between him and this class cannot be established. He is sometimes viewed as the son of King Pausanias.
  35. a b c d Diodorus 15, 60, 3. Arrhidaios was a son of Amyntas, who was a son of Alexandros I and Amyntas III. thus was his great-grandson. See March, p. 280.
  36. Justin 7: 5.
  37. Diodorus 16, 2, 1.
  38. Arrian , Tà metà Aléxandron F1, 1; Plutarch, Alexander 77, 7.
  39. Diodorus 19, 52, 4.
  40. Diodorus 20, 20, 1. In historical writing, Heracles was recognized as king only by Diodorus (20, 28, 2).