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


1. One of the generals of Philip of Macedon, and the uncle of Cleopatra, whom Philip married in B. C. 337. He is called by Justin (9.5), and in one passage of Diodorus (17.2), the brother of Cleopatra; but this is undoubtedly a mistake. (Wess. ad Diod. 16.93, 17.2.) At the festivities in celebration of the marriage of his niece, Attalus, when the guests were heated with wine, called upon the company to beg of the gods a legitimate (ψνήσιος) successor to the throne. This roused the wrath of Alexander who was present, and a brawl ensued, in which Philip drew his sword and rushed upon his son. Alexander and his mother Olympias withdrew from the kingdom (Plut. Alex. 7; Justin, 9.7; Athen. 13.557d. e.); but though they soon afterwards returned, the influence of Attalus does not appear to have been weakened. Philip's connexion with Attalus not only thus involved him in family dissensions, but eventually cost him his life. Attalus had inflicted a grievous outrage upon Pausanias, a youth of noble family, and one of Philip's bodyguard. Pausanias complained to Philip; but, as he was unable to obtain the punishment of the offender, he resolved to be revenged upon the king himself, and accordingly assassinated him at the festival at Aegae in B. C. 336. [PHILIPPUS.] (Arist. Pol. 5.8.10; Diod. 16.93; Plut. Alex. 10; Justin, 9.6.) Attalus was in Asia at the time of Philip's death, as he had been previously sent thither, along with Parmenion and Amyntas in the command of some troops, in order to secure the Greek cities in Western Asia to the cause of Philip. (Diod. 16.91; Justin, 9.5.) Attalus could have little hope of obtaining Alexander's pardon, and therefore entered very readily into the proposition of Demosthenes to rebel against the new monarch. But, mistrusting his power, he soon afterwards endeavoured to make terms with Alexander, and sent him the letter which he had received from Demosthenes. This, however, produced no change in the purpose of Alexander, who had previously sent Hecataeus into Asia with orders to arrest Attalus, and convey him to Macedon, or, if this could not be accomplished, to kill him secretly. Hecateus thought it safer to adopt the latter course, and had him assassinated privately. (Diod. 17.2, 3, 5.)