strategist who skillfully used political rivalries &
volatile military alliances to rise to prominence among the
successors of Alexander
the Great. After the battle of Gordium (333 BCE), Alexander
entrusted his one-eyed general to govern Phrygia in the central
highlands of Asia Minor as he pursued his conquest of Asia. In
the wake of the conqueror's death (323 BCE), Antigonus annexed
the provinces to the south & west as well. Then he initiated
an alliance with Antipater,
Ptolemy, & Lysimachus
against the autocratic regent Perdiccas
(321 BCE). When the new regent (Antipater) died (320
Antigonus used the struggle between rival successors to gain
control over all Asia Minor & proclaim himself regent (319 BCE).
attempt to reunite Alexander's fragmented empire however, provoked a
series of wars with a new coalition of former allies (Ptolemy,
Lysimachus, & Antipater's son Cassander)
& enemies (Perdiccas' successor, Seleucus).
In the first war (315-311 BCE) Antigonus promised the cities of
Greece freedom & formed a league of Aegean isles to counter
Cassander. Then his armies occupied Syria. Their
conquests were stopped by Ptolemy & Seleucus at Gaza (312 BCE). But when Seleucus returned to Babylon, Antigonus
negotiated a treaty with other opponents that recognized
Greece's independence & his control of all Syria in return
for his renunciation of any claim to the regency.
This detente lasted
less than a year. The second coalition war (310-301 BCE) was
launched by Ptolemy. Antigonus countered indirectly by ousting
the Macedonian governor of Athens appointed by Cassander
(Ptolemy's ally) & restoring the old Athenian democratic
constitution (307 BCE). Then with strong support from the
Greek fleet Antigonus' son, Demetrius, drove Ptolemy's forces
from Cyprus (306 BCE), leaving Antigonus master of most of the
eastern Mediterranean except for Egypt. His victorious
army celebrated by offering the royal diadem to the old general who had never lost a
battle & proclaiming him "king" (basileus).
was short-lived, however. For now that he openly claimed
supreme rule, he was less successful in eliminating opponents'
resistance than he had been in countering their
aggression. His unsuccessful attack on Egypt (305 BCE)
only inspired his rivals Ptolemy, Lysimachus, Cassander
& Seleucus to all proclaim themselves kings, thereby ending
any pretense of a single Macedonian monarchy. Then his forces
had to abandon their siege of Rhodes to counter an invasion of
Greece by Cassander. Though Antigonus briefly succeeded in
restoring the pre-Alexandrine Hellenic league & having the
Greeks unanimously elect him as their leader (302 BCE), his
attempt to subject the Macedonian homeland only provoked a
three-pronged coordinated attack on his territory by Ptolemy,
Seleucus & Lysimachus. The forces of the latter two came
together to confront Antigonus' army at Ipsus, Phrygia.
There the aged warrior finally fell, a victim of his own
_____, Against Apion
Diodorus, World History 19.
Plutarch, Demetrius 2-14, 28-31;
_____, Eumenes 3, 8-19.
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