Alexander IV of Macedon

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Alexander IV Aegus (in Greek Aλέξανδρος Aιγός; 323309 BC) was the posthumous son of Alexander the Great by his wife Roxana, a princess of Bactria. Even when still in his mother's womb, he was a cause of dissension in the Macedonian army on his father's death 11 July 323 BC. While the phalanx asked to proclaim his uncle Philip Arrhidaeus as new king, Perdiccas and the Companion cavalry wanted to wait, in the hope that Roxana's unborn child would be a male. The compromise the factions reached was that Perdiccas would rule the Empire as regent, and Philip would reign but not rule. If Roxana gave to the world a male, then he would be king with Philip.

Alexander IV was born in the last months of the year 323 BC, or the beginning of 322 BC. With the assassination of Perdiccas in June 320 BC a new regent was named at the Triparadisus, in the person of Antipater. He brought with him Roxana and the two kings to Macedon and gave up the pretence of ruling over all of Alexander the Great's Empire, leaving full control in Egypt and Asia to the satraps who occupied these former provinces (see diadochi).

With the death of the regent in 319 BC a new crisis shook the Empire: the regent had chosen as his successor Polyperchon, ignoring his son Cassander. The latter rebelled against his father's choice, and found powerful allies in Eumenes and in Eurydice, the wife of king Philip Arrhidaeus. But Polyperchon could count on no less formidable allies, that is Antigonus, supreme commander of the Macedonian forces in Asia, and Olympias, Alexander the Great's mother.

When Cassander assumed in 317 BC full control of Macedon, Polyperchon was forced to flee to Epirus, followed by Roxana and her infant son. A few months later, after Eurydice had made her husband proclaim Cassander the new regent, Olympias was able to persuade her relative Aeacides of Epirus to invade Macedon with Polyperchon: the attack was a triumphal success since the army refused to fight against the son of Alexander, who Olympias had smartly brought in the campaign. Philip and Eurydice were captured and executed the 25 December 317 BC, leaving Alexander IV sole king and his grandmother supreme.

It wasn't fated to last long; the following year (316 BC) Cassander returned, conquering Macedon once and for all. Olympias was immediately executed, while the king and his mother were taken prisoner and kept in strict custody in the citadel of Amphipolis under the supervision of Glaucias. When the general peace between Cassander, Antigonus, Ptolemy and Lysimachus put an end to the Third Diadoch War in 311 BC, the peace treaty recognized Alexander IV's rights and explicitly stated that when he came of age he would succeed Cassander in Macedon and probably in the whole Empire. Defenders of the Argead dynasty started to come into the open, now declaring that Alexander IV should now exercise full power and that a regent was no more needed. Cassander's response was as ruthless as it was definitive: about 310 BC he secretly commanded Glaucias to assassinate Alexander and his mother, so that nobody could menace his rule; and the orders were immediately executed.


  • Smith, William (editor); Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, "Alexander IV", Boston, (1867)

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Preceded by:
Philip III
'King of Macedon'
323-309 BC
Succeeded by:

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