Lamish war

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Lamish war
date 323-322 BC Chr.
place Greece
output Macedonian victory
consequences End of the Corinthian League and direct Macedonian rule in Greece
Parties to the conflict

Hellenic League under the leadership of Athens



Menon of Pharsalus

Kleitos the White

The Lamian War ( Greek  Λαμιακὸς πόλεμος ) was a military conflict in ancient Greece in the late 4th century BC. An alliance of Greek city-states led by Athens rose unsuccessfully against the hegemony of Macedonia after the death of Alexander the Great .

The name of this war comes from the biography of Phokion of the imperial author Plutarch , while it was propagated in several contemporary inscriptions as "War of the Hellenes" ( Greek  Ἑλληνικοῦ πολέμου ). The political leader of Athens, Hypereides , characterized this war as a struggle of free Greeks against barbarians .


Since the victory of King Philip II in the battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC Macedonia exercised dominance over almost all Greek poleis ( hēgemonía tēs Hellados ) with the exception of Sparta , manifested in the 337 BC. The Hellenic League founded by Corinth in BC . In this alliance, the Greeks had agreed a general peace ( koinē eirēnē ) among themselves and recognized Philip II as their military leader for the decided campaign of revenge against Persia. Nevertheless, Macedonian hegemony was difficult to accept for many Greek cities, especially for the "three heads" Athens , Thebes and Sparta, who had held a hegemonic position over parts of Greece before the rise of Macedonia and were striving to regain it. Consequently, in every phase of weakness in Macedonia, they saw an opportunity to rise up under the willing breach of the sworn peace. The assassination of Philip II in 336 BC BC first used Thebes for secession, which ended, however, with the destruction of the city by Alexander the Great . When this 334 BC When the bulk of the Macedonian army had set out on its famous Asian campaign , the Spartans saw the opportunity to recapture rule in the Peloponnese . But in the so-called " Mouse War " they were defeated by Alexander's deputy in Europe, Antipater , in 330 BC. Defeated BC.

Athens was involved in both surveys under the influence of anti-Macedonian politicians such as Demosthenes , Hypereides or Lycurgus , supported with Persian gold, but Alexander and Antipater refrained from taking any punitive measures against this venerable city, even though the federal constitution would have legitimized such steps. Between the years 330 and 324 BC The situation in Greece remained largely calm, but the rejection of Macedonian hegemony remained subliminal, fueled by mutual breaches of treaty by the allies as well as the hegemon. So was before the year 331 BC. In Pellene, at the instigation of Macedonia, the democratic order was abolished in favor of tyranny , which violated the clearly defined powers of the hegemon, who was not allowed to interfere in the internal constitution of the cities. On the other hand, the Aitolians conquered the city of Oiniadai in the following year, breaking the peace, and driving its population away . Antipater did nothing against it, but after his return from India in 324 BC Alexander declared. Chr. To take care of this matter and thus angry the Aitolians against them. In the same year, under Alexander's snub, Athens took in the escaped treasurer Harpalus , who had been made an honorary citizen a few years earlier in gratitude for grain deliveries and was therefore entitled to admission.


Alexander provided the immediate cause for the outbreak of war through his exile decree , which he issued during the opening of the Olympic Games of 324 BC. By the nephew of Aristotle , Nikanor . In it, in a renewed violation of his competencies, he pronounced an amnesty for all Greeks living in exile and granted them the right to return to their hometowns, including property restitution. In doing so he plunged Greece into chaos with his eyesight and offended those Hellenes who had supported him, because the exiles who were now supposed to return were usually their enemies. The economic implications in particular were enormous, as the former property of the exiles had already changed hands years ago. This concerned not only the repatriation of the Oiniadaians, but also of the Samians living in Carian exile to their home island of Samos , which was dated 365 BC. Was conquered by Athens and settled with its own colonists ( clergy ). Athens, however, did not want to give up Samos under any circumstances and was determined to go to war with Alexander.

War preparations

In a secret meeting of the Ekklesia in the autumn of 324 BC The city leaders of Athens authorized their strategos Leosthenes to recruit mercenaries for fifty talents , at the same time he was supposed to establish contact with the Aitolians and to sound out their readiness to form alliances for a common fight against Alexander. At that time he was still in distant Asia on the march from Susa to Ekbatana , which made the Athenians optimistic. Their domestic political situation was also characterized by the power struggle between the Antimacedonians (Demosthenes, Hypereides) and the Promakedonians ( Demades , Phokion ) and by the corruption affair surrounding Harpalos, in which the anti-Macedonian faction was at odds with one another. Hypereides brought charges against Demosthenes for bribery, so ousted him from the leadership of the faction and compelled him in the spring of 323 BC. To escape. Meanwhile, Leosthenes moved to the Peloponnese to recruit 8,000 mercenaries in Tainaron , most of whom had previously fought with Alexander in Asia (see mercenary decree ), and to conduct alliance negotiations with the cities there. These activities took about a year to complete. To what extent Alexander or Antipater became aware of this is unclear.

The Greek cause received an unexpected boost when on June 10, 323 BC. BC Alexander died surprisingly in Babylon without a regular succession. The news of his death meant that the king's enemies prevailed in many cities and a rapid movement of apostasy from the Macedonian hegemony began, especially since this was based only on a contractual agreement between the Graubünden and the Macedonian king, which was irrelevant due to his death had become. In Athens, the anti-Macedonian faction led by Hypereides was able to win the majority of the demos for the war. Under his leadership, the city headed a new league against Macedonia, which a large number of war-willing cities joined. In conscious distancing from the Macedonian ruling practice, the new federation did not give itself a hegemonic form of organization; the relationship between the members was to be based on political equality, but in fact Athens held the military and political leadership. The federal government was also not based on a constitutional regulation that applied equally to everyone, but on bilateral agreements between the members. A Federal Council ( koinon synhēdriōn ) was present in the army as a joint decision- making body .

According to Diodorus, the members of the covenant were:

Allies comment Allies comment
Athens the doloper all
the Aitolians all the athamans all
the Thessalians except for Pelinna the leukaders all
the Oitaier with the exception of Herakleia the Molossians only those who were subordinate to Aryptaios (probably Arybbas ); later they went over to the Macedonians
the painters with the exception of Lamia Karystus
the Achaeans of Phthiotis with the exception of Thebes Argos
the Dorians all Sicyon
the Lokrians all Elis
the phoker all the messengers all
the Ainians all the inhabitants of Akté ( Athos peninsula )

Only the Boioter stayed away from the alliance and supported the alliance with Macedonia, from which they had benefited most in the past. Also striking is the uprising of the Thessalians, who of all had been under Macedonian rule for the longest (since the 350s BC).

Course of war

At the time of Alexander's death, Leosthenes was marching with his mercenaries hired from the Peloponnese into the land of the Aitolians, who reinforced his army with 7,000 of their warriors. Athens, meanwhile, reactivated its fleet of 40 quadriremes and 200 triremes and called up its civil army, with the posse of three phyls taking over the city defense and those of the seven others being ready for use beyond Attica . In the autumn of 323 BC Leosthenes marched from Aitolia to Boiotien, where the Athenian army of 5,000 infantrymen, 500 cavalrymen and 2,000 other mercenaries united with his forces. In the vicinity of Plataiai the Boioter faced him for battle, which he quickly defeated. Then he occupied the strategically important Thermopylae .

In Macedonia, in response to the news of Alexander's death, Antipater had immediately sent messengers to Asia Minor to warn the generals Leonnatos and Krateros who were encamped there to return urgently. Actually, according to Alexander's will, he should have been recalled from his deputy post, but the king's death had made this decision invalid. In addition, Antipatros knew above all to bind the Krateros, under whose command the veterans of the Asian train were, by offering a marriage to his daughter. But when the Greeks began the fight in Boiotia, the Macedonian generals were still in Asia Minor. To prevent their migration to Europe, Athens ordered its fleet to the Hellespont to seal off the most important crossing from Asia to Europe. After the defeat of the Boioter Antipater took up the march to Thermopylae with the Macedonian army of 13,000 infantrymen and 600 cavalrymen at his disposal. For this he had to go through Thessaly, whose cities he believed loyally on his side. Only when he was deep in Thessaly did the inhabitants of the Greeks acknowledge the cause of the Greeks and close their gates to him. Thereupon Antipater refrained from marching further and withdrew with his troops to the city of Lamia , the only Thessalian city to declare itself to Macedonia. There he holed up in the winter of 323 to 322 BC. To await the arrival of Leonnatos and Krateros.

However, Leosthenes tried to prevent their union, which is why he moved from Thermopylae to Lamia in order to decide the war with a quick victory over Antipater. But during the assault on the city, which was carried out immediately, Leosthenes was fatally hit by a stone or a spear. His death prevented the capture of Lamias and the newly appointed strategos Antiphilos decided to siege the city. This played into the hands of the Macedonians, because Leonnatos managed to cross the Hellespont and now marched with 20,000 infantrymen and 1,500 cavalrymen against Lamia, which he he in the spring of 322 BC. Reached. In order to intercept him, Antiphilos decided to break off the siege and delivered the Macedonians not far from the city a victorious battle, which was mainly determined by the use of cavalry and in which Leonnatos was killed. This success turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory for the Greeks , because the lifting of the siege of Lamia had enabled Antipater to escape, who was now able to combine his forces with those of Leonnato. He did not face the battle at first because he was inferior to the Greeks in cavalry.

In the meantime Antipatros withdrew to the Pinios river , where at the beginning of summer 322 BC. At last Krateros arrived with the veterans and united with him. He had been able to cross the Hellespont because, in the face of a Macedonian fleet, the Athenian fleet had failed to take control of this strait. Around the same time that Krateros had reached Pinios, the Athenian fleet was defeated in the sea ​​battle of Amorgos by a Macedonian under Kleitos the white , with which Athens suddenly lost its naval power. The Greek allies now saw themselves forced to the decisive battle on land in order to save their cause. On the 7th Metageitnion (August 6th) at Krannon they faced 25,000 infantrymen and 3,500 cavalrymen against a Macedonian superior force of 40,000 infantrymen, 3,000 archers and spear throwers as well as 5,000 cavalrymen. In the battle that followed, the Macedonians were able to maintain the field and inflict the greater losses on the Greeks. The defeated Greeks were able to maintain the unity of their army, but they became aware of the hopelessness of the overall situation in which they were completely inferior to the Macedonians without any significant reinforcement. Even before Krannon, Antiphilos and his Thessalian cavalry general Menon had sent a request for peace to Antipater on behalf of the Allied Greeks, who however preferred to conclude a separate peace with each individual city, which the Federal Council of Greeks refused to accept. Thereupon the Macedonians set about subjugating the Thessalian cities, which they could quickly take by storm and dictate peace to them.

End of war

The defeat of Athens in the Lamian War had forced Demosthenes to commit suicide. Bust of Polyeuktus , Roman copy. Louvre Museum, Paris.

With the loss of Thessaly, the Greek alliance collapsed. Their warriors withdrew to their hometowns to arm them for defense against the Macedonians. Other cities decided to conclude a separate peace after all, thereby giving up their support for the federal government. When Antipater began his march towards Attica, there was also a political change in Athens, when the citizens turned to Demades , who was one of the oldest leaders of the Promakedon faction. Together with Phocion and the philosopher Xenocrates , he was given full powers by the Ekklesia to negotiate a peace with Antipater, with which the delegation met on the Kadmeia of the destroyed Thebes . Here they had no choice but to accept the four most important conditions of the Macedonian regent. This demanded the extradition of the Macedonian enemies Hypereides and Demosthenes, the abolition of the democratic constitution in favor of an oligarchic one, the acceptance of a Macedonian garrison on Munychia Hill , which controlled the port of Piraeus , and the payment of reparations for war damage. Athens also had to give up the island of Samos and hand it over to its citizens, thus realizing one of Alexander's last provisions. Then Antipater moved to Kleonai in the Peloponnese , where the Peloponnesian cities submitted to him. Here, on 9th Pyanepsion (October 6th), Hypereides was handed over to him after an unsuccessful escape. He first had his tongue cut out and then executed. Despite his exile, Demosthenes was in the spring of 322 BC. Returned to Athens after the defeat of Krannon, only to have to flee again with the other Macedonian enemies. Although he had not played an active role in the Lamian War, Antipater also insisted on his extradition in order to judge him for his work against Macedonia over the past decades. The most important Attic orator had always been treated with indulgence by Philip II and Alexander, which he could no longer expect from Antipater. Before he could be taken, he committed on 16 Pyanepsion (Oct. 13) at the Poseidon sanctuary on Kalavria suicide .

After the criminal court and the settlement of the situation in the Peloponnese, Antipater withdrew to Macedonia in order to prepare the plans for a campaign against the Aitolians, who were the only participants in the war who had refused to submit. In the late autumn of 322 BC He and Krateros marched into Aitonia with 30,000 infantry and 2,500 cavalrymen. But already after the conquest of the first Aetolian cities, Antigonus Monophthalmos appeared in their camp to inform them of the suspicious actions of Perdiccas, who ruled Asia . Antipater broke off the Aitolian campaign immediately and prepared his troops for a march to Asia to wage the first Diadoch war against Perdiccas (321-320 BC). The Aitolians took advantage of his absence in the spring of 321 BC. To an offensive in the Lokris , where they defeated a Macedonian army and occupied some cities. Then they united in Thessaly with the last free Thessalians to form an army of 25,000 infantrymen and 1,500 cavalrymen. An attack by the Akarnans on Aitolia forced them to split up the army, half of which marched back to Aitolia and the other half were to remain in Thessaly under the command of the Menon. Shortly afterwards, however, this army was defeated by a Macedonian under Polyperchon and Menon was killed.

The failed Aitoler procession in the spring of 321 BC The last military action was in the autumn of 323 BC. Combat operations of the Lamian War began. Only two years later, Antipater's death triggered the Second Diadoch War (319–316 BC), in which Greece again became a theater of war.


After his victory, Antipater did not reestablish the Corinthian alliance founded by Philip II, which at least still granted the Greek cities their internal autonomy. Instead, he established direct Macedonian rule over them by installing oligarchs or tyrants loyal to him in the cities and ensuring their loyalty to Macedonian occupation troops. In doing so, he apparently took into account the insight that the Greeks could not and would not get used to a Macedonian hegemony even after several decades. Above all, however, he also achieved an expansion of his personal position of power in Europe, since a restoration of the covenant would only have thrown him back into the position of trustee on behalf of Alexander's heirs ( Philip III Arrhidaios , Alexander IV Aigos ), while the now appointed governors in the Greek cities were only obliged to follow him. However, this order also contained the causes for the future political destabilization of Greece. Because as Antipater in 319 BC His governors did not remain loyal to his designated successor, Polyperchon , but to his son Kassander and thus contributed to the reason for further military conflicts in Greece during the Diadoch Wars.

The Lamian War with its outcome represents an important turning point in the ancient history of Greece; it marks the transition from the classical to the Hellenistic age , which began with the conquest of Alexander. For the last time Athens had emerged as an independently acting power at the head of a federation made up of city-states . The defeat not only led to the loss of Athens' maritime power and, for the first time, to foreign occupation of the city, but also to the end of the old Attic democracy . Not least for this reason, the outcome of the war was already linked by ancient authors to the end of the original Greek idea of ​​freedom, which in the following Diadoch Wars was only used as a propagandistic justification for the Diadoch rulers' striving for power in Greece.


Secondary literature:

  • HD Westlake: The Aftermath of the Lamian War . In: The Classical Review , Vol. 63 (1949), pp. 87-90.
  • RM Errington: Samos and the Lamian War . In: Chiron , Vol. 5 (1975), pp. 51-57.
  • NG Ashton: The 'naumachia' near Amorgos in 322 BC In: The Annual of the British School at Athens , Vol. 72 (1977), pp. 1-11.
  • Klaus Rosen : The "divine" Alexander, Athens and Samos . In: Historia. Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte , Vol. 27 (1978), pp. 20-39.
  • SG Miller: Kleonai, the Nemean, and the Lamian War . In: Hesperia Supplements , Vol. 20 (1982), pp. 100-108.
  • NG Ashton: The Lamian War. A false start? In: Antichthon , Vol. 17 (1983), pp. 47-63.
  • NG Ashton: The Lamian War. Start magni nominis umbra . In: Journal of Hellenic Studies , Vol. 104 (1984), pp. 152-157.


  1. Plutarch , Phocion 23, 1.
  2. Inscriptiones Graecae II² 448 (lines 43-44) , II² 505 (line 17) , II² 506 (lines 9-10) .
  3. ^ Hypereides , funeral speech (6), 12.
  4. Python, TGrF 1, No. 91, F 1, 16
  5. ^ Christian Habicht: Athens. The history of the city in the Hellenistic period, . Verlag CH Beck, Munich 1995, ISBN 3-406-39758-1 , p. 42 .
  6. For the exile decree, see Michael Zahrnt : Reconciling or splitting? Reflections on Alexander's exile decree . In: Hermes 131, 2003, pp. 407-432. For the dating see Marcus Niebuhr Tod : A Selection of Greek Historical Inscriptions , Vol. II (1948), Nos. 201 and 202. The games were played on August 4, 324 BC. Opened; see Stephen G. Miller: The Date of Olympic Festivals , In: Mitteilungen des Deutschen Archäologische Institut, Athenischeteilung , Vol. 90 (1975), pp. 223 and 230. Demosthenes was the head of the Attic delegation at the Olympic Games in 324 BC . Chr .; see Deinarchos , Gegen Demosthenes (1), 81–82.
  7. Diodorus 17, 111, 3.
  8. ^ Hypereides, Against Demosthenes (5).
  9. The Athenian strategos Leosthenes had the military supreme command over the united federal army ( Pausanias , 1, 25, 5) and his successor Antiphilos came from Athens.
  10. Diodorus 18, 17, 7.
  11. An Attic inscription from the year 306/5 BC. BC documents an honor for a Timosthenes of Karystos for his services as a delegate of the Federal Council ( synedros ) during the Lamian War. See Wilhelm Dittenberger : Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum , 3rd edition, 1915–1924, No. 327 = Inscriptiones Graecae II² 467 .
  12. Diodorus 18, 11, 1-2.
  13. ^ Diodorus 18, 9, 5.
  14. Diodorus 18, 10, 2-3.
  15. Diodorus 18, 11, 3-5.
  16. Diodorus 18, 12, 2-4.
  17. Diodorus 18, 13, 1-5; Justin 13, 5, 12. The funeral oration for Leosthenes and the first to fall was given by Hypereides ( Orationes 6).
  18. Diodor 18, 13, 6; Plutarch, Phokion 23, 1.
  19. Diodorus 18, 14, 5.
  20. Diodorus 18, 15, 1-4; Arrian , Tà metà Aléxandron (FGrHist. 156) 1, 9; Plutarch, Phokion 25, 5.
  21. Diodorus (18, 15, 9) wrongly located the decisive naval battle at the Echinades .
  22. Diodorus 18, 16, 5 and 17, 2. On the dating, see Plutarch, Camillus 19, 5.
  23. Diodorus 18, 17, 3-5.
  24. Diodor 18, 17, 6-8; Plutarch, Phokion 26, 1 and Moralia 846e.
  25. Diodorus 18, 18, 1-6; Plutarch, Phokion 27, 1-6. The garrison moved into Munychia on the 20th Boedromion (September 19th) under the command of Menyllos ; see Plutarch, Demosthenes 28, 1 and Camillus 19, 6.
  26. ^ Diodorus 18, 18, 9.
  27. Plutarch, moralia 849c = Decem oratorum vitae . 9
  28. Plutarch, Demosthenes 30, 4.
  29. Diodor 18, 25, 1-5; Arrian, Tà metà Aléxandron (FGrHist. 156) 1, 24.
  30. Diodorus 18:38.