Antigonus I Monophthalmus

From 1st decamillennium wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Antigonus I Monophthalmus on Wikipedia

Antigonus I Monophthalmus
Ἀντίγονος ὁ Μονόφθαλμος
Antigone le Borgne (pièce).jpg
Coin of Antigonus, the Greek inscription reads "ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΑΝΤΙΓΟΝΟΥ" meaning [coin] of King Antigonus
Basileus of the Antigonid Empire
Reign306–301 BC
Coronation306 BC, Antigonia.
PredecessorAlexander IV
SuccessorDemetrius I
Born382 BC
Elimeia, Macedon, Ancient Greece
Died301 BC (aged 81)
Ipsus, Phrygia
DynastyAntigonid dynasty
FatherPhilip (the son of Machatas?)

Antigonus I Monophthalmus (Ancient Greek: Ἀντίγονος ὁ Μονόφθαλμος, romanized: Antigonos ho Monophthalmos, Antigonus the One-eyed, 382–301 BC), son of Philip from Elimeia, was a Macedonian nobleman, general, satrap and king. During the first half of his life he served under Philip II; after Philip's death in 336 BC, he served his son Alexander. He was a major figure in the Wars of the Diadochi after Alexander's death, declaring himself king in 306 BC and establishing the Antigonid dynasty.

Early career

Not much is known about Antigonus' early career. He must have been an important figure in the Macedonian Army because when he emerges in historical sources he is in command of a large part of Alexander's army (Antigonus commanded Alexander's 7,000 allied Greek infantry).[1] There is a story in Plutarch about an Antigonus who lost an eye at the Siege of Perinthos (340 BC) when he was struck by a catapult bolt.[2] Since Antigonus was of the same age as Philip, and a nobleman, he almost certainly must have served during Philip’s campaigns. He might even have served under Philip’s brothers (Alexander II and Perdiccas III).

Serving Alexander

In 334 BC, Antigonus must have participated in the battle of the Granicus since he commanded a division of the army, and Alexander's entire army was at the Granicus. When Alexander marched east he appointed Antigonus as satrap (governor) of Phrygia. After the Battle of Issus, he succeeded the Achaemenid satrap of Greater Phrygia Atizyes, who died in the battle. Antigonus successfully performed his primary responsibility: to defend Alexander's lines of supply and communication during the latter's extended campaign against the Achaemenid Persian Empire. Following Alexander's victory at Issus, part of the Persian army regrouped in Cappadocia and attempted to sever Alexander's lines of supply and communication running through the centre of Asia Minor; however, Antigonus defeated the Persian forces in three separate battles.[3] After defeating the Persian counter-attack, Antigonus focused on conquering the rest of Phrygia and maintaining Alexander's lines of communication and supply.

Alexander's death

At the division of the provinces (the so-called Partition of Babylon) after Alexander's death in 323 BC, Antigonus had his authority over Phrygia, Lycaonia, Pamphylia, Lycia and western Pisidia confirmed by Perdiccas, the regent of the empire. However, he incurred the enmity of Perdiccas by refusing to assist Eumenes to obtain possession of the provinces allotted to him; Paphlagonia and Cappadocia.[4] Leonnatus had left with his army for Greece, leaving Antigonus alone to deal with Cappadocia, a task he apparently could not or would not complete without additional aid. Perdiccas seems to have viewed this as a direct affront to his authority and led the royal army to conquer the area. From there Perdiccas turned west towards Phrygia in order to humble Antigonus, who escaped with his son Demetrius to Greece, where he obtained the favour of Antipater, the viceroy of Macedonia (321 BC),[4] and Craterus, one of Alexander’s top generals. During the First War of the Diadochi, he formed a coalition with Antipater, Craterus and Ptolemy. In 320 BC, Antigonus sailed to and secured Cyprus.[5] The war ended in 320 BC when Perdiccas was murdered by discontent officers (Seleucus and Antigenes) while unsuccessfully trying to invade Ptolemy's satrapy of Egypt.[6]

Perdiccas's death

With the death of Perdiccas in 321 BC, a new attempt at dividing the empire took place at Triparadisus. Antipater was made the new Regent of the Empire and Antigonus became Strategos of Asia. Antigonus was entrusted with the command of the war against the former members of the Perdiccan faction who had been condemned at Triparadisus.

Antigonus took charge of a part of the Royal Army, and after being reinforced with more reliable troops from Antipater’s European Army, he marched against the ex-Perdiccans Eumenes, Alketas, Domikos, Attalos and Polemon in Asia Minor. Antigonus decided to deal with Eumenes, who was in Cappadocia, first. Despite being outnumbered Antigonus adopted a bold attacking strategy. He eventually outgeneraled and defeated Eumenes at the Battle of Orkynia and forced him to retire to the fortress of Nora (Greek: Νῶρα). Leaving Eumenes under siege, Antigonus now marched on the combined forces of Alketas, Domikos, Attalos and Polemon near Cretopolis in Pisidia. Antigonus surprised and defeated his opponents at the Battle of Cretopolis. So Antigonus, in two brilliant campaigns, in the course of one campaigning season had annihilated the remnants of the Perdiccan faction with the exception of Eumenes who was bottled up in Nora.[7]

Antipater's death and the Second Diadochi War

When Antipater died in 319 BC, he left the regentship to Polyperchon, excluding Cassander, his son. Antigonus and the other dynasts refused to recognize Polyperchon, since it would have undermined their own ambitions. Antigonus entered into negotiations with Eumenes, but Eumenes had already been swayed by Polyperchon, who gave him authority over all other generals within the empire. Affecting his escape from Nora through trickery, Eumenes raised a small army and fled south into Cilicia. Antigonus did not move against Eumenes directly because he was tied up in northwestern Asia Minor campaigning against Cleitus the White who had a large fleet at the Hellespont.[8]

Cleitus was able to defeat Antigonus's admiral Nicanor in a sea battle but he was caught off guard the next morning when Antigonus and Nicanor launched a double assault by land and sea on his camp, Cleitus was taken completely by surprise and his entire force was captured or killed.[9] Meanwhile, Eumenes had taken control of Cilicia, Syria and Phoenicia, he had formed an alliance with Antigenes and Teutamos, the commanders of the Silver Shields and the Hypaspists[10], and began to raise a naval force on behalf of Polyperchon. [11] When it was ready he sent the fleet west to reinforce Polyperchon, but off the coast of Cilicia it was met by Antigonus’s fleet and changed sides.[12] Antigonus had settled his affairs in Asia Minor and marched east into Cilicia intent on doing battle with Eumenes in Syria.[13] Eumenes somehow had advance knowledge of this and marched out of Phoenica, through Syria into Mesopotamia, with the idea of gathering support in the upper satrapies.[14]

Eumenes gained the support of Amphimachos, the satrap of Mesopotamia[15], then marched his army into Northern Babylonia, where he put them into winter quarters. During the winter he negotiated with Seleucus, the satrap of Babylonia, and Pheiton Karteau, the satrap of Media, seeking their help against Antigonus.[16] Antigonus, finding out Eumenes had left his provinces, took some time securing Cilicia and northern Syria before he marched into Mesopotamia. Unable to sway Seleucus and Pheiton, Eumenes had left his winter quarters early and marched on Susa, a major royal treasury, in Susiana.[17] In Susa, Eumenes sent letters to all the satraps to the north and east of Susiana, ordering them in the kings' names to join him with all their forces.[18] When the satraps joined Eumenes he had a considerable force, with which he could look forward with some confidence to doing battle against Antigonus.[19] Eumenes then marched southeastwards into Persia, where he picked up additional reinforcements[20] Antigonus, meanwhile, had reached Susa and left Seleucus there to besiege the place, while he himself marched after Eumenes. At the river Kopratas, Eumenes surprised Antigonus during the crossing of the river and killed of captured 4,000 of his men.[21] Antigonus, faced with disaster, decided to abandon the crossing and turned back northward, marching up into Media, threatening the upper satrapies.[22] Eumenes wanted to march westward, and cut Antigonus's lines of supply, but the satraps refused to abandon their satrapies and forced Eumenes to stay in the east. In the late summer of 316 BC, Antigonus moved southward again in the hope of bringing Eumenes to battle and ending the war quickly. Eventually the two armies in southern Media and fought in the indecisive battle of Paraitakene.[23] Antigonus, whose casualties were more numerous, force marched his army to safety the next night.[24] During the winter of 316–315 BC, Antigonus tried to surprise Eumenes in Persia by marching his army across a desert and catching his enemy off guard, unfortunately, he was observed by some locals who reported it to his opponents.[25] A few days later both armies drew up for battle. The battle of Gabiene was as indecisive as previous the previous battle at Parataikene.[26] According to Plutarch and Diodorus, Eumenes had won the battle but lost control of his army's baggage camp thanks to his ally Peucestas' duplicity or incompetence. This baggage also included all the loot of the Silver Shields (treasure accumulated over 30 years of successful warfare; it contained not only gold, silver, gems and other booty but also the soldiers' women and children) and they wanted it back. Antigonus responded to a request for the return of the baggage train sent by Teutamus, one of their commanders, by demanding they give him Eumenes, the Silver Shields complied, arrested Eumenes and his officers and handed them over.[27] The war was thus at an end. Eumenes was placed under guard while Antigonus held a council to pondered his fate. Antigonus was disinclined to kill Eumenes, in this he was backed up by his son Demetrius, but most of the council insisted he execute Eumenes and so it was decided.[28]

As a result, Antigonus now was in possession of the empire's Asian territories, his authority stretching from the eastern satrapies to Syria and Asia Minor in the west. He seized the treasuries at Susa and entered Babylon. The governor of Babylon, Seleucus, fled to Ptolemy and entered into a league with him, Lysimachus and Cassander.

The Third Diadochi War

In 314 BC, Antigonus received envoys from the allied dynasts Ptolemy, Cassander and Lysimachus who demanded he cede Cappadocia and Lycia to Cassander, Hellespontine Phrygia to Lysimachus, Phoenicia and Syria to Ptolemy, and Babylonia to Seleucus, and that he should share the treasure he had accumulated.[29] His only answer was to advise the dynasts to be ready for war.[30] Antigonus sent Aristodemus with a 1,000 talents to the Peloponnesus to raise an army there and also to make an alliance with his old enemy Polyperchon, he and Polyperhon were then to make war on Cassander[31], he sent an army under his nephew Polemaios through Cappadocia to the Hellespont to keep Cassander and Lysimachus from invading Asia Minor[31], he himself invaded Phoenicia which was under Ptolemy's control, and besieged Tyre. The siege of Tyre took a year, and after securing Phoenicia he marched his main army into Asia Minor intent on taking out Asander (satrap of Lydia and Caria, and ally to Ptolemy and Cassander), leaving the defence of Syria and Phoenicia to his oldest son Demetrius.[32]

In 312 BC, Antigonus captured Lydia and all of Caria[33], and drove off Asander, he then sent his nephews Telesphorus and Polemaios against Cassander in Greece. While Antigonus was engaged in the west, Ptolemy took advantage of the situation and invaded from the south. He met Demetrius's forces at the battle of Gaza where Ptolemy won a stunning victory. After the battle, Seleucus, who was fighting for Ptolemy, made his way back to Babylonia, and soon established control over his old satrapy and went on to secure the eastern provinces against Antigonys. Seleucus's conquest led to the Babylonian War, during which Seleucus defeated both Demetrius and Antigonus, and secured control over the eastern provinces. After the Babylonian War, which lasted from 315 BC to 311 BC, a peace was concluded between Antigonus and Seleucus leaving them both to consolidate their power in their respective realms (Antigonus in the West and Seleucus in the East).

In the West, Antigonus had worn down his enemies and forced a peace upon them.[34] By this peace he had attained the zenith of his power.[35] Antigonus' empire and alliance system now comprised: Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, Phoenicia and northern Mesopotamia.

The Fourth Diadochi War

The peace agreement was soon violated by Ptolemy and Cassander based on the pretext that garrisons had been placed in some of the free Greek cities by Antigonus. Ptolemy and Cassander renewed hostilities against Antigonus. Demetrius Poliorcetes, the son of Antigonus, wrested part of Greece from Cassander.[4]

In 306 BC, Philip, Antigonus’s youngest son, died a premature death, aged about 26–28.[36] This was a severe blow to Antigonus, who not only lost a son, but also a general who might have been of the greatest value to him in the campaigns to come.[37]

After defeating Ptolemy at the naval Battle of Salamis in 306 BC, Demetrius conquered Cyprus. Following that victory Antigonus assumed the title of king and bestowed the same upon his son.[4] This was effectively a declaration by Antigonus that he now was independent from the empire. The other dynasts, Cassander, Ptolemy, Lysimachus and Seleucus, soon followed Antigonus' lead and declared themselves to be kings.

Antigonus now prepared a large army and a formidable fleet, the command of which he gave to Demetrius, and hastened to attack Ptolemy in his own dominions. His invasion of Egypt, however, proved a failure as he was unable to penetrate Ptolemy's defences and was obliged to retire,[4] although he inflicted heavy losses on Ptolemy.

In 305 BC, Demetrius attempted the reduction of Rhodes, which had refused to assist Antigonus against Egypt.[4] The siege of Rhodes lasted a year and ended in 304 BC when Demetrius, meeting with obstinate resistance, was obliged to make a peace treaty upon the terms that the Rhodians would build ships for Antigonus and aid him against any enemy except for Ptolemy, on whom they bestowed the title Soter (savior) for his aid during the lengthy siege.

The Kingdoms of Antigonus and his rivals circa 303 BC

The most powerful dynasts of the empire, now kings in their own right, Cassander, Seleucus, Ptolemy and Lysimachus, responded to Antigonus' successes by allying with each other, often through marriage. Antigonus soon found himself at war with all four, largely because his territory shared borders with each of them. At one point, Antigonus had Cassander in a difficult position, having gained the support of the Greeks and defeating Cassander repeatedly, Antigonus demanded from Cassander the unconditional submission of Macedonia. Seleucus, Lysimachus and Ptolemy responded by joining forces and attacking him. Lysimachus and Cassander's general Prepelaos invaded Asia Minor from Thrace, crossing the Hellespont. Lysimachus had soon secured most of the Ionian cities. Meanwhile, Seleucus was marching through Mesopotamia and Cappadocia. Antigonus was obliged to recall Demetrius from Greece, where his son had recently had an indecisive encounter with Cassander in Thessaly. Now Antigonus and Demetrius moved against Lysimachus and Prepelaos.

However, the army of Antigonus and Demetrius was defeated by the united forces of Seleucus, Lysimachus and Prepelaos at the decisive Battle of Ipsus in 301 BC. Antigonus died in the battle after being struck by a javelin, in the eighty-first year of his life. Prior to Ipsus, he had never lost a battle. With his death, any plans for reuniting Alexander's empire came to an end. Antigonus' kingdom was divided up, with most of his territories ending up in the hands of the new kingdoms ruled by Lysimachus and Seleucus. The victors largely followed Antigonus' precedent and had themselves named as kings, but they did not claim power over the erstwhile empire of Alexander nor each other. Instead, these kings established a troubled (and in the end failed) modus vivendi with each other, and accepted their kingdoms as separate realms.

Meanwhile, Antigonus' surviving son Demetrius took control of Macedonia in 294 BC. Antigonus' descendants held this possession, off and on, until it was conquered by the Roman Republic after the Battle of Pydna in 168 BC.


  • Antigonus's father was a nobleman named Philip (Philippos)
  • His mother's name is unknown (after his father's death she married Periandros of Pella)
  • He had an older brother named Demetrius (Demetrios)
  • He also had a younger brother named Ptolemy (Polemaios)
  • There might have been another younger brother (the father of his nephew Telesphoros)
  • From his mother's second marriage he had a half-brother named Marsyas
  • Antigonus was married to Stratonike (his older brother's widow)
  • He had an older son named Demetrius (the famous Demetrios I Poliorketes)
  • And a younger son named Philip (Philippos)

Physical appearance

Antigonus was an exceptionally large man. His son Demetrius is described as being of “heroic stature”[38], meaning no doubt he was a large man, but Antigonus was even taller. Besides this huge physique, he was made even more formidable in appearance because he was missing an eye, having lost it in battle (possibly at the Siege of Perinthus).[39]

Monophthalmus in historical fiction

Mary Renault, in Funeral Games, translates the sobriquet into English: "One Eye."

In the 2004 Oliver Stone film Alexander, Antigonus is played by Ian Beattie.

Antigonus appears (under the Greek form of his name, Antigonos) in L. Sprague de Camp's historical novel, The Bronze God of Rhodes.

Antigonus figures as the main antagonist in Christian Cameron’s historical novel, A Force of Kings.

Antigonus also figures in the earlier chapters of Alfred Duggan's historical novel "Elephants and Castles" though this is mainly about his son Demetrius.


  1. Diodorus, Bibliotheca Historica, XVII, 17, 3–4.
  2. Richard A. Billows, Antigonos the One-Eyed and the creation of the Hellenistic State, pp. 28-29.
  3. Curtius Rufus, Historia Alexandri Magni, IV 34–35
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Antigonus Cyclops". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 125.
  5. Arrian, Ta Met’ Alex. 1,30; Richard A. Billows, Antigonos the One-Eyed and the Creation of the Hellenistic State, p. 66.
  6. Arrian, History of the Diadochi, 1,28; Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica, XVIII 33,1-36,5; Cornelius Nepos, Parallel Lives, Eumenes 5,1.
  7. Richard A. Billows, Antigonos the one-eyed and the creation of the Hellenistic State, p. 79.
  8. Diodorus, Bibliotheca Historica, XVIII 72, 2–3.
  9. Diodorus, Bibliotheca Historica, XVIII 72, 3–4.
  10. Diodorus, Bibliotheca Historica, XVIII 59, 1–3.
  11. Diodorus Sicilus, ’’Bibliotheca Historica’’, XVIII 63,6.
  12. Polyainos,’’Strategemata’’ IV 6,9.
  13. Richard A. Billows, Antigonos the One-Eyed and the Creation of the Hellenistic State p.88.
  14. Diodorus Sicilus, ’’Bibliotheca Historica’’, XVIII 73,1-2.
  15. Diodorus Sicilus, Bibliotheca Historica, XVIII 39,6 and XIX 27, 4.
  16. Diodorus Sicilus, Bibliotheca Historica, XIX 12, 1–2.
  17. Diodorus Sicilus, Bibliotheca Historica, XIX 12, 5–13, 5.
  18. Diodorus Sicilus, Bibliotheca Historica, XIX 13,6-7.
  19. Richard A. Billows, Antigonos the One-Eyed and the Creation of the Hellenistic State p.90.
  20. Diodorus Sicilus, Bibliotheca Historica, XIX 17, 3–7.
  21. Diodorus Sicilus, Bibliotheca Historica, XIX 18, 3–7; Plutarch, Life of Eumenes, 14, 1–2.
  22. Diodorus Sicilus, Bibliotheca Historica, XIX 19, 1–2.
  23. Diodorus Sicilus, Bibliotheca Historica, XIX 26–32,2; Richard A. Billows, Antigonos the One-Eyed and the Creation of the Hellenistic State pp. 95–98.
  24. Diodorus Sicilus, Bibliotheca Historica, XIX 32,1–2
  25. Diodorus Sicilus, Bibliotheca Historica, XIX 37, 2–6; Plutarch, Life of Eumenes, 15, 3–4; Polyainos, Strategemata IV 6,11 and 8,4.
  26. Diodorus Sicilus, Bibliotheca Historica, XIX 42,1–3; Plutarch, Life of Eumenes, 16,5-6; Polyainos, Strategemata IV 6,13; Richard A. Billows, Antigonos the One-Eyed and the Creation of the Hellenistic State pp. 100–102.
  27. Diodorus Sicilus, Bibliotheca Historica, XIX 42, 4–43,8; Plutarch, Life of Eumenes, 16,4-17,1; Polyainos, Strategemata IV 6,13; Richard A. Billows, Antigonos the One-Eyed and the Creation of the Hellenistic State pp. 102–103.
  28. Diodorus Sicilus, Bibliotheca Historica, XIX 43, 8–44, 3; Plutarch, Life of Eumenes, 17, 1–19, 1; Richard A. Billows, Antigonos the One-Eyed and the Creation of the Hellenistic State p. 104.
  29. Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica XIX 57,1.
  30. Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica XIX 57,2.
  31. 31.0 31.1 Diodorus Sicilus, Bibliotheca Historica, XIX 57,4-5.
  32. Diodorus Sicilus, Bibliotheca Historica, XIX 69, 1.
  33. Diodorus Sicilus, Bibliotheca Historica, XIX 64, 3–6.
  34. Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica XIX 105,1.
  35. Richard A. Billows, Antigonos the One-Eyed and the Creation of the Hellenistic State p. 132.
  36. Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historica XX 73, 1.
  37. Richard A. Billows, Antigonos the One-Eyed and the creation of the Hellenistic State, p.421.
  38. Plutarch, Demetrius 2,2; Diodorus, Bibliotheca Historica, XX 81,4 and 92,2-3.
  39. Richard A. Billows, Antigonos the One-Eyed and the Creation of the Hellenistic State, p. 7.


  • Austin, M. M. (1981). The Hellenistic World from Alexander to the Roman Conquest: A Selection of Ancient Sources in Translation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • The contemporary Babylonian Chronicles, especially the Chronicle of the Diadochi (= ABC 10 = BCHP 3).
  • Bar-Kochva, B. (1976). The Seleucid Army. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Billows, Richard A. (1990). Antigonos the One-Eyed and the Creation of the Hellenistic State. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-20880-3.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • De Ste. Croix, G.E.M. (1981). The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World: From the Archaic Age to the Arab Conquests. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
  • Diodorus Siculus xviii., xx. 46-86
  • Gardner, Jane F. (1974). Leadership and the Cult of Personality. London: Dent.
  • Gruen, Erich S. (1984). The Hellenistic World and the Coming of Rome. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Justin xv. 1-4
  • Köhler, "Das Reich des Antigonos," in the Sitzungsberichte d. Berl. Akad., 1898, p. 835 f.
  • Nepos, Eumenes
  • Plutarch, Demetrius, Eumenes
  • Simpson, R. H. (1959). "Antigonus the One-Eyed and the Greeks". Historia. 8: 385–409.
  • Walbank, R. W. (1981). The Hellenistic World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

External links

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Antigonid dynasty
306–301 BC
Succeeded by
Demetrius I of Macedon