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Wednesday, January 02, 2008


Philip Arridaios

Gabriel challenged me to this meme so I decided to write seven things about one of the most pathetic characters in my novel, "Shadow of the Lion", Philip Arridaios, a half-brother of Alexander the Great who became a victim of the Wars of Alexander's Successors.


1. Arridaios was the illegitimate son of the Macedonian king Philip II and a Thessalian woman named Philinna -- one of Philip's many 'conquests'. Arridaios was probably a year or two old when Philip's lawful wife, Olympias, gave birth to Alexander. To make certain that her son would be recognized as the crown prince, heir to Philip's throne, it is alleged that Olympias had the little boy, Arridaios, poisoned. The poisoning didn't kill Arridaios, but it stunted his mental development so that he did not advance past his childhood age, although he grew physically in the likeness of his esteemed father. It also caused him to have epilepsy.

2. Philip was always protective of Arridaios and provided him with a keeper who attended to him for all of his lifetime. Once Philip proposed to engage Arridaios to the daughter of the satrap of Karia. This was purely a political motive, but Alexander saw it as his father's attempt to reject him. Alexander and his Companions intervened and the 'engagement' was annulled. But Philip was furious and threatened to expel Alexander and his friends and execute the famous actor, Thetallos, who Alexander had sent as an envoy to stop the engagement. It turned out the girl was only a child, and fortunately Alexander and his friends were spared punishment by his irate father.

3. After Philip's assassination in 336 BC, for which Olympias was also implicated, Alexander , who had then inherited his father's throne, engaged Arridaios by proxy to one of Philip's granddaughters, Adeia, who was the daughter of Philip's nephew who was executed for treason after Philip's death, and Philip's daughter Kynna by his Illyrian war-bride Audata. This engagement was later annulled by the Regent, Antipater. When Alexander left on his conquests against Persia, he took Arridaios with him for safe-keeping.

4. When Alexander died under mysterious circumstances in 323 BC in Babylon, he left no heir. Under normal circumstances, because the generals of Alexander had to choose a new king, the most likely candidate was Arridaios. However he was illegitimate and mentally unfit to rule. At the same time, Alexander's Soghdian wife, Roxana, was about to give birth. If she had a son, he would be the legitimate heir to the throne. This created dissension among the Successors, some of whom supported Arridaios because he was of pure Macedonian blood. When Roxana gave birth to a son (Alexander IV) the generals decided to name both Arridiaos and the newborn as titular kings. Arridiaos then assumed the royal title of Philip III.

5. Now that Philip Arridaios was officially the "king" it meant that General Perdikkas, who had assumed the role of commander-in-chief of the Macedonian army, was able to issue his own orders under the king's name. Meanwhile, Adeia and her mother, disguised as men, were en route to Sardis where Perdikkas and his army were camped, with the intention of her marrying Arridiaos. (This was a ploy for her to regain control of the throne and avenge the execution of her father.) Perdikkas sent men to stop them. The royal women were ambushed and Adeia's mother, Kynna, was killed. But when the Macedonian soldiers discovered who they were, they rescued Adeia and took her to the Macedonian camp insisting she should be allowed to marry Arridaios. After the marriage, Adeia assumed the royal name "Eurydike" and proceeded to use her idiot husband and control his affairs, in an attempt to rule in his stead.

6. A year later, when Perdikkas was murdered by his own officers, the royal family King Philip Arridaios, the baby Alexander and Roxana, were placed under the guardianship of the regency of Antipater. Adeia-Eurydike continued to use her husband as a pawn in the game of kingship, but was prohibited by Antipater. A year later, Antipater succumbed to old age and Adeia Eurydike again took control of her husband's affairs, siding with Kassandros who had been rejected for the regency by his father, in an attempt to oust Polyperchon the new Regent, and get rid of Roxana and her child.

7. Philip Arridiaos was still under Polyperchon's guardianship however, and was used to pass royal edicts, until finally in 317, Polyperchon persuaded Olympias and her Epirote troops to invade Macedon to drive out the usurper, Adeia-Euryidike, who had attempted a coup to oust him and the young Alexander IV. This impetuous move by Adeia-Eurydike resulted in the beginning of a civil war that would bring tragic results to the royal family and the entire country. Arridaios was imprisoned and cruelly treated by Olympias. Eventually Adeia-Eurydike, who had fled in hopes of amassing more troops, was also arrested. Both she and Arridaios were killed on Olympias' orders making the way clear for her only grandson, Alexander IV, to be the sole legal heir to Alexander's throne.

This was actually kind of fun and a good way to get into your character's background quite thoroughly if you haven't already done so.


Gabriele C. said...

Oh, you picked an interesting one there. I didn't know much about Philipp Arridaios.

Is there anyone whom Olympias did not murder? :)

Wynn Bexton said...

She didn't kill Polyperchon or Roxana although no doubt in time she might have found a reason to get rid of both of them but unfortunately (or fortunately) she got executed before she could. (In my novel though I have P & R carrying on a secret affair (each for their own self-interests) and worried that if Olympias finds out she might do them in.

Meghan said...

His life sounds so sad. :(

Still VERY interesting historical figure. I shall try to pick a really interesting one to feature...

Scott Oden said...

Oooh . . . I've been tagged! I'll get on it asap! I have an interesting real-life personage in mind (though he plays only a small background part in LoC).

Adrian Swift said...

Absolutely fascinating story! I'm amazed. What a life.

Thanks for tagging me -- I'm not sure I want to share my answers publicly since they'll give away too much about the story, but I will certainly do this activity to help me advance my understanding.

Wynn Bexton said...

Scott and Adrian, I will look forward to seeing what you have written about your characters. I found this a most interesting and useful meme.

Marie said...

Thanks for the tag, Wynn. Looks like an interesting meme. I will try to do it without revealing too much about my story.

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