Lysimachus: A Study in Early Hellenistic Kingship

By Helen S. Lund | Go to book overview

5

GOVERNOR OF THE GREEKS

‘It is neither descent nor legitimacy which gives monarchies to men, but the ability to command an army and to govern a state wisely, as was the case with the Successors of Alexander’ (basileia—Suda Lexicon).

Lysimachus’ possession of this first quality deemed essential for successful kingship has been amply demonstrated in the last three chapters, which examined his rise from satrap of Thrace to ruler of a vast and powerful kingdom. The swiftness of his fall from these dizzy heights, ending in defeat at Seleucus’ hands and death on the field at Corupedium in February 281 BC, is commonly ascribed to a failure to fulfil the second requirement for basileia.

Lysimachus is often characterised as a ‘harsh’ ruler, unpopular with his Greek subjects on whom he imposed oppressive taxation. ‘Proverbially avaricious’, he piled up the revenues thus extorted in the famous treasuries which earned him the title gazophylax, and which have been seen as exceptional for the period. Other practices cited to uphold the view that it was his unphilhellene behaviour which brought him down are his foundation of new cities by synoecism, which ‘destroyed’ existing cities and forced their inhabitants to leave their ancestral homes and shrines; his garrisoning of the poleis; his suppression of city coinages; his support of tyrannies and oligarchic governments. Frequently his regime is contrasted with that of the ‘liberal’ Antigonids which preceded it; they saw the Greeks as ‘allies’, Lysimachus treated them as ‘subjects’, incorporating them directly into his kingdom, under the administration of a strategos.1

Despite past attempts to redress the balance, this view continues to dominate the most recent research, although the evidence is scant and sometimes uncertain. Before examining the material, mostly from Asia Minor, which bears on Lysimachus’ relations with the Greek

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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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