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Olympias


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Daughter of Neoptolemus of Molossia, married Philip II of Macedon (c.357 bc) and bore him two children, Alexander (2) the Great and Cleopatra. Her husband's last marriage (to Cleopatra, niece of Attalus) led to a serious quarrel in which she retired to her native Epirus. Returning after Philip's assassination, she murdered her erst-while rival along with her infant daughter. After Alexander's departure (334) her relations with his viceroy, Antipater, were turbulent, and by late 331 she had resumed residence in Epirus, which she treated as her fief. There she remained until 317, when the regent Polyperchon enlisted her aid against the nominal queen Eurydice, who had disowned him and sided with Cassander. She invoked the memory of her husband and son, and the royal couple fell into her hands without a blow. That good will disappeared after she forced Eurydice and her wretched consort to their deaths and conducted a bloody purge in Macedon. Her armies in turn melted away before Cassander, and she was forced to surrender (spring 316). She was condemned by the Macedonian assembly and killed by relatives of her victims. Passionate in her political hatreds, she was devoted to ecstatic Dionysiac cults (see dionysus; ecstasy; maenads; women in cult), and her influence may have helped engender his son's belief in his divinity. See ruler‐cult.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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