A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890

(Ἀλέξανδρος), son of POLYSPERCHON, the Macedonian. The regent Antipater, on his death (B. C. 320), left the regency to Polysperchon, to the exclusion and consequent discontent of his own son, Cassander. (Diod. 18.48; Plut. Phoc. p. 755,f.) The chief men, who had been placed in authority by Antipater in the garrisoned towns of Greece, were favourable to Cassander, as their patron's son, and Polysperchon's policy, therefore, was to reverse the measures of Antipater, and restore democracy where it had been abolished by the latter. It was then, in the prosecution of this design, that his son Alexander was sent to Athens, B. C. 318, with the alleged object of delivering the city from Nicanor, who by Cassander's appointment commanded the garrison placed by Antipater in Munychia. (Plut. Phoc. 755, f. 756, e.; Diod. 18.65.) Before his arrival, Nicanor, besides strengthening himself with fresh troops in Munychia, had also treacherously seized the Peiraeeus. To occupy these two ports himself soon appeared to be no less the intention of Alexander,--an intention which he had probably formed before any communication with Phocion, though Diodorus (l.c.) seems to imply the contrary. The Athenians, however, looked on Phocion as the author of the design, and their suspicions and anger being excited by the private conferences of Alexander with Nicanor, Phocion was accused of treason, and, fleeing with several of his friends to Alexander, was by him despatched to Polysperchon. (Diod. 18.66; Plut. Phoc. 756, f. 757, a.) Cassander, arriving at Athens soon after and occupying the Peiraeeus, was there besieged by Polysperchon with a large force; but the supplies of the latter being inadequate, he was obliged to withdraw a portion of his army, with which he went to attempt the reduction of Megalopolis, while Alexander was left in command of the remainder at Athens. (Diod. 18.68.) Here he appears to have continued without effecting anything, till the treaty and capitulation of Athens with Cassander (Paus. 1.25; Diod. 18.74) gave the city to the power of the latter.


When Polysperchon, baffled at Megalopolis (Diod. 18.72), withdrew into Macedonia, his son seems to have been left with an army in Peloponnesus, where, as we read in Diodorus (19.35), the field was left open to him, and the friends of oligarchy were greatly alarmed by the departure of Cassander into Macedon on the intelligence of the murder of Arrhidaeus and Eurydice by Olympias, B. C. 317. (Paus. 1.11; Diod. 19.11.) During his absence, Alexander succeeded in bringing over to himself several cities and important places in the Peloponnesus (Diod. 19.53); but, on Cassander's return to the south, after crushing Olympias in Macedon, he in vain attempted to check him by his fortification of the Isthmus, for Cassander, passing to Epidaurus by sea, regained Argos and Hermione, and afterwards also the Messenian towns, with the exception of Ithome. (Diod. 19.54.)

In the next year, 315, Antigonus (whose ambition and successes in the east had united against him Cassander, Lysimachus, Asander, and Ptolemy Soter), among other measures, sent Aristodemus into the Peloponnesus to form a league of amity with Polysperchon and Alexander; and the latter was persuaded by Aristodemus to pass over to Asia for a personal conference with Antigonus. Finding him at Tyre, a treaty was made between them, and Alexander returned to Greece with a present of 500 talents from Antigonus, and a multitude of magnificent promises. (Diod. 19.60, 61.) Yet, in the very same year, we find him renouncing his alliance with Antigonus, and bribed by the title of governor of the Peloponnesus to reconcile himself to Cassander. (Diod. 19.64.)

In the ensuing year, 314, we read of him as engaged for Cassander in the siege of Cyllene, which however was raised by Aristodemus and his Aetolian auxiliaries. After the return of Aristodemus to Aetolia, the citizens of Dyme, in Achaia, having besieged the citadel, which was occupied by one of Cassander's garrisons, Alexander forced his way into the city, and made himself master of it, punishing the adverse party with death, imprisonment, or exile. (Diod. 19.66.) Very son after this he was murdered at Sicyon by Alexion, a Sicyonian, leaving the command of his forces to one who proved herself fully adequate to the task, --his wife Cratesipolis. (B. C. 314, Diod. 19.67.)