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As somatophylakes ( singular : Somatophylax, ancient Greek σωματοφύλαξ = bodyguards ) were in ancient Greece , the bodyguards of high-ranking persons referred.

Philip II of Macedonia and Alexander the Great called their mounted bodyguards somatophylakes. It was composed of seven noble officers who belonged to the king's closest circle of friends. In addition to their function as bodyguards, they also served as hostages to bind the various noble houses of Macedonia to the royal family. The somatophylakes are to be regarded as the most important group of people of the Macedonian system of rule, as they also held the highest positions in the army in addition to administrative tasks. Subordinate to them were the Agema (the royal body squadron), then the Hetairoi (companions) and the Hypaspistes (shield bearers) and finally the Pezhetairoi (companions on foot).

Somatophylakes of Philip II

Probably the most famous bodyguard of Philip II was Pausanias , who is also said to have been one of his lovers. It was also Pausanias who gave the king in the summer of 336 BC. In Aigai , allegedly in retaliation for a previous desecration by the general and father-in-law of the king, Attalus . Pausanias himself was killed by three other bodyguards immediately after the crime. These were Perdiccas , Leonnatos, and Attalus , the first two of whom later also became Alexander's bodyguards.

Somatophylakes of Alexander the Great

336-334 BC Chr. Arybbas Ptolemy Lysimachus Aristonous Balacros Demetrios Peithon ---
334-333 BC Chr. Hephaistion
333-332 BC Chr. Menes
332-331 BC Chr.
331-330 BC Chr. Leonnatos Perdiccas
330-325 BC Chr. Ptolemy
325-324 BC Chr. Peukestas
324-323 BC Chr. ---

In 325 BC With Peukestas another bodyguard was added, so that their number increased to eight. Hephaestion was not replaced when he died a year later, reducing the corps to seven.

The best-known somatophylakes of Alexander the great are the later diadochs Ptolemaios, Perdickas, Peukestas, Leonnatos and Lysimachos, who were involved in the protracted disputes about the succession after the death of the Macdonald king. They too received the office and position of somatophylax in their realms.

Somatophylakes of Philip III. Arrhidaios and Alexander IV. Aigos

After Alexander the Great's death in 323 BC, the generals determined His half-brother Philip III. Arrhidaios and his son Alexander IV. Aigos as kings with equal rights. The first was considered to be mentally incapable of acting and the second was still an infant, which is why the military leaders ( Diadochi ) themselves took over the actual rule. No measures are known from the imperial order of Babylon that affect the personal protection of the kings. It can therefore only be assumed that Aristonous was the only one of Alexander's seven bodyguards to perform this service for the new kings, since he was the only one who had not been given an office or a province. Only after the first Diadoch war did the victors in the conference of Triparadeisos 320 BC For King Philip III. Arrhidaios four bodyguards known by name. These were:

  • Autodikos , son of Agathocles and younger brother of Lysimachus
  • Amyntas, son of Alexandros and younger brother of Peukestas
  • Ptolemy, son of Ptolemy
  • Alexandros , son of Polyperchon

King Philip III Arrhidaios was at the end of the Second Diadoch War in 317 BC. Murdered by Olympias .

The extent to which protective measures were also taken for King Alexander IV Aigos in Triparadeisus has not been recorded by any of the ancient authors. Only a fragmentary inscription from Athens , which dates from between 307 and 301 BC. Three followers of Demetrios Poliorketes and Antigonos Monophthalmos were honored by the speaker Stratocles , which gives an indication of this. The three honorees, of whom only two are named (Philippos and Jolaos), are named in it as former bodyguards of a king Alexander. It is possible that these three men were the bodyguards of Alexander IV Aigos and, together with the four of Philip III. Arrhidaios complimented the seven-man corps of bodyguards. Presumably, the three switched to the side of Antigonus Monophthalmos after King Alexander IV Aigos in 316 BC. Fell into the hands of Kassander in Pydna and from then until his murder in 310 BC. Was held in permanent detention.


Individual evidence

  1. IG II² 561 Epigraphic Museum Athens
  2. see Waldemar Heckel : Honors for Philip and Iolaos (IG II² 561). In: Journal of Papyrology and Epigraphy . Vol. 44, 1981, pp. 75-77, JSTOR 20186160 .

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