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Coin of Cassander, Portrait of Alexander the Great, ( London , British Museum )

Kassander ( Greek Κάσσανδρος, Kassandros; * around 350 BC ; † 297 BC ) was a Macedonian general and one of the most important diadochi (successors) of Alexander the Great . In the time of the Diadoch Wars , he eliminated the old ruling dynasty of the Argeads , made himself king of Macedonia and founded the dynasty of the Antipatrids .

Early years

Kassander was the eldest of several sons of Antipater . He did not take part in Alexander's campaign in Asia. Cassander's father reigned in Macedonia for the absent King Alexander. As a result, the Antipatrids attracted the hatred of Queen Mother Olympias , who was excluded from the reign and conspired against them from her exile in Epirus (her actual home). Kassander was born in 324 BC. Sent by his father to Babylon , where he defended his father against the charges of Olympias before Alexander. Nevertheless, their allegations had ensured that Krateros was given royal powers and ordered to Macedonia with the veterans. When Alexander died shortly afterwards, it was clear to Olympias that the Antipaters family had murdered him.

Nothing is known about Kassander during the first Diadoch war against the imperial regent Perdiccas . His father Antipatros emerged victorious from these battles and was appointed the new ruler of the Alexander Empire at the Triparadeisus conference (320 BC) . Kassander was placed at the side of the new strategist of Asia, Antigonos Monophthalmos , as his general of the cavalry. However, he returned to Macedonia, where the father shortly after arriving in 319 BC. BC died.

Second diadoch war against Polyperchon

Antipater had chosen the old veteran and friend Polyperchon as his successor as Reich Regent, and his son was to stand by the new regent as Chiliarch (vizier). Kassander felt that he had been left out in accordance with the current Macedonian tradition and fled to Asia, where he allied himself with Antigonus Monophthalmos, Lysimachus and Ptolemy against Polyperchon. He himself had his own power base in the Greek cities ( Poleis ), in which the oligarchic regimes set up by his father existed. Polyperchon therefore had the freedom of all Greek cities proclaimed in the hope of being able to win them over against Kassander. In Athens this resulted in the overthrow of the oligarchs under Phocion by a democratic movement based on Polyperchon. The regent also allied himself with Olympias and the Perdiccan Eumenes of Cardia , who was already fighting against Antigonus in Asia.

In the spring of 317 BC BC Kassander could enter Piraeus with a fleet from Asia Minor , whose commander Nikanor had passed over to him. After Polyperchon in the summer of 317 BC BC failed despite great efforts in the siege of Megalopolis and whose Admiral Kleitos the White was defeated before Byzantion , several cities went over to Kassander. In the fall of 317 BC He was finally able to take Athens again, in which he again installed an oligarchic regime with Demetrios von Phaleron at its head. To secure his rule, Kassander left a crew on the Munychia . This success gave Kassander new followers in Macedonia as well. From the royal family, Eurydice , the ambitious wife of the weak-minded King Philip III, allied herself . Arrhidaios , with him, by whom he was appointed the new regent of the empire. Then Olympias returned from Epirus to Pella and murdered King Philip III. Arrhidaios and Eurydice. Cassander's brother Nikanor also fell victim to their revenge, and at the same time the grave of the supposed murderer of Alexander Iolaos was desecrated. Kassander broke off the siege of Tegea and immediately marched against Macedonia. Because the Aetolians had sealed off the Thermophylen on behalf of Polyperchons , he crossed with a fleet from Euboea to Thessaly , thus cutting off his enemy from Macedonia and locking Olympias in Pydna .

After a relief army of King Aiakides of Epirus had mutinied in part and even Polyperchon was unable to attempt a liberation, Olympias, isolated and struggling with provisioning problems, surrendered in the spring of 316 BC. Although Kassander promised her mercy, he had her executed immediately. Thus the whole of Macedonia fell into his hands almost without a fight, and Polyperchon withdrew defeated to the Peloponnese . Cassander had the underage King Alexander IV Aigos and his mother Roxane put under house arrest in Amphipolis . At about the same time, Antigonus Monophthalmos was victorious in Asia over Eumenes in the battle of Gabiene , whereby the second Diadoch war ended again with a defeat of the official representatives of the imperial constitution against the opponents.

Third Diadoch War against Antigonus

Kassander was now ruler of Macedonia and established ruler of the Alexander Empire. He consolidated his power through his marriage to Thessalonike , a sister of Alexander, the reconstruction of Thebes and the founding of Thessaloniki , where he settled the population of Potidaia . In elaborate celebrations he let Philip III. Arrhidaios, Eurydice and Cynane buried, which at the same time further undermined the legitimacy of King Alexander IV Aigos.

However, Kassander now felt threatened by his former ally Antigonos Monophthalmos, who in fact ruled over Asia unrestrictedly and repeatedly questioned his authority as regent. When Cassander joined Ptolemy and Lysimachus, Antigonus was proclaimed the new regent of the empire against him. This opened the third Diadoch War. In order to bind cassander in Europe, Antigonus took up the policy of Polyperchon and proclaimed 315 BC. Before Tire the freedom of the Greeks. An Antigonid army landed shortly afterwards on the Peloponnese, where it joined forces with Polyperchon. Cassander immediately marched to meet the enemy, took the port of Corinth and captured Arcadia . In Argos he then held the Nemean Games and withdrew to Macedonia. His conquests were then lost again to Polyperchon.

In order to weaken his opponent, Kassander succeeded in persuading Alexander , the son of Polyperchon, to change sides, thereby winning Sicyon and Corinth. 314 BC BC he achieved the rule over the Epiroten and Illyrer by conquering Leukas and Apollonia . He then won a battle against Glaucias , under whose protection the young Pyrrhos stood, and took Epidamnos . In the Aegean , Cassander suffered a defeat after the failure of the conquest of Lemnos ; he also lost an army on the coast of Caria . He also suffered setbacks in Greece after the Antigonid generals Telesphorus and Ptolemy had landed there. Aitolia , Boeotia and Euboea were subsequently lost, only Attica remained under his control. Only in the summer of 313 BC An attempt to recapture Aiakides in Epirus by Kassander's brother Philippos was successfully prevented. Peace negotiations taking place at the Hellespont (between Kassander and Antigonus in person) failed. In 312 BC The Epiroten successfully revolted against Kassander and made Alketas II their king. Kassander made a peace with him in order to turn against Apollonia again, who had renounced him. The siege of this city turned out to be costly and had to be broken off without success.

When in 311 BC B.C. exhausted the forces of the war opponents, they agreed on a general peace ( Diadochian Peace ). Kassander gave up the imperial reign in favor of Antigonus, but was recognized by him as a strategist and thus de facto ruler in Macedonia. The recognition of the freedom of the Greeks, which was also required, was only a matter of form. The unity of the Alexander Empire was shaken again in this peace, as the Diadochi actually recognized themselves as sovereign masters of their spheres of power. Only in kingship was the idea of ​​unity still preserved. To this end, it was decided that the twelve-year-old King Alexander IV Aigos 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. Shortly afterwards, he quietly murdered the king and his mother in Amphipolis. The Macedonian kingdom thus ceased to exist for the time being. In 309 BC Cassander made a peace with his old opponent Polyperchon, to whom he left the Peloponnese. In accordance with the contract, Polyperchon eliminated Alexander's illegitimate son, Heracles , and his mother Barsine .

Fourth diadoch war and elevation to king

Cassander coin with the imprint ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΚΑΣΣΑΝΔΡΟΥ (German: Basileus Kassander )

Cassander's position in Greece was established in 309 BC. BC unexpectedly strengthened after the general Ptolemy betrayed his uncle Antigonus and left the country. Kassander was able to regain control of several cities in an instant. Antigonus therefore sent in 307 BC. His son Demetrios Poliorketes to Greece, who was able to take Megara and Athens in a very short time and set up democratic governments there. The Epirots took advantage of this to free themselves from the influence of Cassander. They murdered their king and called Glaukias with the young Pyrrhus to their land. The threat from Demetrios made it impossible for Kassander to prevent this.

Instead, he again entered into an alliance with Lysimachus and Ptolemy, but in 306 BC. Chr. Demetrios triumphed in the double battle of Salamis (Cyprus) over the latter, whereupon Antigonus raised himself to king in the succession of Alexander the great. But when Antigonus in 305 BC When the conquest of Egypt failed, Cassander and his allies also assumed the title of king ( basileus ) to counteract Antigonus' claims. While Demetrios was busy with the siege of Rhodes , Kassander tried to recapture Athens. But when Demetrios 304 BC When he returned to Greece in the 3rd century BC, he had to break off this project and flee to Macedonia. In the following years he lost all influence in Greece when Boeotia and Aitolia had allied themselves with Demetrios.

The enormous armor of Demetrios up to the year 302 BC. Were increasingly threatened Kassander's survival. He encouraged Lysimachus to take offensive action against Antigonus in Asia Minor, for which he sent his brother Pleistarchus with an army to support him. In this situation Demetrios began his offensive against Macedonia. Cassander hastily occupied the Thermophyls, but Demetrios landed at Larissa with a fleet and a vast army behind him . He immediately moved towards the enemy and stood opposite him on the Othrys . But before the battle started, Demetrios was summoned by his father to Asia for a decisive battle. Benefiting from this, Cassander brought Thessaly back under his control and drove Pyrrhus out of Epirus.

Meanwhile, the Alliance of Kings, with the support of Seleucus, won the decisive victory in the Battle of Ipsos ; Antigonus fell and Demetrios fled to the sea.

Last years and judgment

Jean-Joseph Taillasson (1745–1809): Kassander and Olympias, oil on canvas, 1799, Musée des beaux-arts de Brest .

The defeat of the Antigonids freed Cassander from his greatest threat. At the news of the victory he marched 300 BC. BC back to Greece to take over his old positions again. But although Athens had renounced Demetrios, the city was not ready to fall under Cassander's sovereignty again. Athens therefore quickly joined forces with the Aetolian League , forcing it to give up the siege of Elateia . Cassander was only able to regain his influence in Athens through the tyrant Lachares , who had leaned against Macedonia in terms of foreign policy.

Kassander died in 297 BC Chr. At the dropsy . From his marriage to Thessalonike he had three sons ( Philip IV , Antipater I and Alexander V ) who fought each other for the succession and led Macedonia into a time of anarchy. Only the Antigonid Antigonos II Gonatas was able to re-establish a stable royal rule.

Kassander was characterized negatively by the historical tradition. His unscrupulousness in the murder of the child king Alexander IV. Aigos and the rest of the royal family contributed to this. The German historian Johann Gustav Droysen described him as selfish, ruthless and tyrannical, but also recognized in him a high willpower and education, whereby Kassander came close to the prince described by Machiavelli . (Droysen: History of Hellenism , second volume, fourth book)


In the American feature film Alexander from 2004 (director: Oliver Stone ) the (historically incorrect) role of Kassander was played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers .


  • Diodorus , Chapter XVIII, XIX, XX
  • Plutarch , Demetrius , 18, 31; Phocion , 31.


  • 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 (= Munich contributions to papyrus research and ancient legal history. Vol. 73). Beck, Munich 1982, ISBN 3-406-07673-4 .
  • Franca Landucci Gattinoni: L'arte del potere. Vita e opere di Cassandro di Macedonia (= Historia . Individual writings. Vol. 171). Steiner, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-515-08381-2 .
predecessor Office successor
Polyperchon Regent of Macedonia
317–305 BC Chr.
Polyperchon Regent of the Alexander Empire
317–311 BC Chr.
Antigonus I. Monophthalmos
Office since 309 BC Orphaned King of Macedonia
305–297 BC Chr.
Philip IV