Lysimachus: A Study in Early Hellenistic Kingship

Lysimachus: A Study in Early Hellenistic Kingship

Lysimachus: A Study in Early Hellenistic Kingship

Lysimachus: A Study in Early Hellenistic Kingship

Synopsis

Although shortlived, Lysimachus' Hellespontine empire foreshadowed those of Pergamum and Byzantium. Lund's book sets his actions significantly within the context of the volatile early Hellenistic world and views them as part of a continuum of imperial rule in Asia minor. She challenges the assumption that he was a vicious, but ultimately incompetent tyrant.

Excerpt

On 10 June 323 BC Alexander the Great lay dead in Babylon. Among the Companions mourning at his bedside was Lysimachus, son of Agathocles. When the regent Perdiccas redistributed the empire’s satrapies after Alexander’s death, Lysimachus received the territory of Thrace. By 284 BC he ruled an empire embracing Thrace, the West Pontic coast, Macedonia, Thessaly, most of Anatolia, Heracleia Pontica and its Paphlagonian realm. His power had reached its zenith.

Probably in the following year his greatest enemy Demetrius Poliorcetes, taken prisoner by Seleucus, king of Syria, in 286 BC, drank himself to death, an ignominious end for one who had worn the diadem and been hailed by the Athenians as the only true god. If, however, immortality is conferred through fame, then Lysimachus lost his last battle against Demetrius, whose exploits and excesses are preserved for us in the biography of Plutarch. There is no comparable record of Lysimachus’ life.

Information, from literature, on Lysimachus’ career is restricted to scattered notices in the narratives of the Alexander and Diadoch historians, themselves mostly preserved in the works of later historians and epitomators. Then there are Plutarch’s biographies of Lysimachus’ more favoured contemporaries, the work of geographers and travel writers like Strabo and Pausanias, chroniclers like Porphyry of Tyre. Finally, a string of anecdotes survives in the writings of Athenaeus, Diogenes Laertius, the moralising works of Plutarch, Seneca and other Roman writers. Some of these may go back to contemporary authors like Duris or Cleitarchus.

Both the passage of time and the possibility of bias in the sources used by these late writers lead to distortions and some conflict of evidence. The literary evidence on Lysimachus is fragmentary and often suspect. This, together with the fact that written history is

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