Lysimachus: A Study in Early Hellenistic Kingship

By Helen S. Lund | Go to book overview

3

THE ACQUISITION OF EMPIRE

Ambition, enmity and alliance

This chapter and the next will follow Lysimachus through the complex political manoeuvrings of an era in which allegiances shift as fast as the protagonists rise and fall. The aim is to examine how his political choices contributed to the acquisition of his great Hellespontine empire, which foreshadowed those of Pergamum and Byzantium and made him, by 285 BC, an object of fear and loathing to his contemporaries. 1 His aims and aspirations will be considered and the extent to which success represented the fruits of a consistent and deliberate ‘policy’, as opposed to the rewards of successful opportunism. Lysimachus’ abilities as warrior and diplomat will also be examined.

Before this discussion can proceed, however, an assumption underlying many modern reconstructions of the Diadoch period must be challenged. In the narrative of ancient and modern historians alike, Hieronymus of Cardia exerts a powerful influence. 2 This is nowhere more apparent than in the belief that after Perdiccas’ death, only Antigonus, and perhaps his son Demetrius, dreamed of reuniting Alexander’s empire under their own rule. The other Diadochs, it is said, had different and far more modest aims, to be recognised as rulers of a limited territory, comprising only a part of Alexander’s realm. Lysimachus, in particular, is often presented as a cautious and relatively unambitious character. Will, for example, remarks vis-à-vis Antigonus’ dream of a united Europe and Asia, ‘ce que réalisera un instant Lysimaque, sera d’une partie et d’un caractère differents de ce qu’avait rêvé Antigonus’. Struggle between the ‘unitarist and particularist tendencies’ is seen as a major theme of the period. 3

A central feature of Hieronymus’ narrative is Antigonus’ greed for power or pleonexia, his desire for pasa arche and ta hola. The negative element in such a presentation of events by Hieronymus, the

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Lysimachus: A Study in Early Hellenistic Kingship
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements viii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • 1 - The Road to Babylon 1
  • 2 - Thrace and Pontus 19
  • 3 - The Acquisition of Empire 51
  • 4 - After Ipsus: The Empire Extended 80
  • 5 - Governor of the Greeks 107
  • 6 - Kingship, Cult and Court 153
  • 7 - Scheming Women and Senile Decay? 184
  • Appendix I 207
  • Notes 209
  • Bibliography 261
  • Index 276
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