Egypt, Western Asia, and Macedonia
SUMMER 321–SPRING 319 B.C.
The empire no longer had a center. Alexander had moved the royal seat from Pella to Babylon, but now Babylon had been emptied of the elements that defined royalty: the royal army, the crowned heads themselves, and Alexander’s mummified body. The latter two were now in Egypt but separated by the enormous gulf of the Nile. As for Alexander’s army, it had become fragmented as never before. One part was following Eumenes in Anatolia, another was in Egypt, while a third had become mixed with fresh troops from Europe and was now with Antipater in Cilicia. No part was large enough to constitute the assembly that traditionally acclaimed new leaders; and who could propose a new leader for acclamation, a replacement for the fallen Perdiccas, even if a quorum could be gathered somewhere?
Like Babylon, the royal city of Pella in Macedonia had been stripped of its centering figures. No Argeads dwelled there. Olympias had long ago fled to Epirus, and Cleopatra, Cynnane, and Adea had departed into Asia. Old man Antipater too, for years the only general who stayed in a fixed location, had joined the others and gone on the move. His surrogate, Polyperchon, held nominal command in Pella, but he was a second-rank officer with little of Antipater’s gravitas, as the years to come would demonstrate all too clearly.
The only real capital the empire now had was the place the joint kings were stationed, wherever that might be. For the moment, that meant the encampment of an exhausted, bloodstained, and leaderless band of men, a desolate spot opposite Memphis on the east bank of the Nile.
1. PTOLEMY, PEITHON, AND ARRHIDAEUS (EGYPT, SUMMER 321 B.C.)
On the morning after the murder of Perdiccas, Ptolemy crossed the Nile to the army that had twice failed to vanquish him. He had almost certainly been in contact with Peithon, his former fellow Bodyguard, to make sure of a friendly reception. Whether such contacts preceded, or even arranged, Perdiccas’ murder is not known, but the two men had much to gain by colluding in this deed: Ptolemy wanted to be rid of the army of invasion, while Peithon, the same man who had tried to bring the rebellious Greeks over to his side, wanted more power. The murder of Perdiccas was a good first step toward both goals.
Ptolemy brought with him food for the depleted troops and the cremated bones of the men recovered from the river. These remains were distributed to friends and kinsmen of each soldier, a humane gesture designed to win over the rank and file. Ptolemy knew he had support in Perdiccas’ army, for these troops had already refused to condemn him at the trial Perdiccas had held some days before. But they had also agreed to attack him, and many no doubt still resented his theft of their monarch’s corpse. Ptolemy delivered a carefully balanced speech before the assembled army, defending his separatist actions of the past two years and assuring Perdiccas’ loyalists that they would not be subject to a purge. Perhaps he demonstrated good faith by arranging honorable rites for Perdiccas’ body, though there is no record of what became of it or of the ill-omened signet ring it presumably still bore on its lifeless hand.
Ptolemy’s speech was a resounding success. The army seemed about to offer him Perdiccas’ old post, guardianship of the joint kings. But Ptolemy had already resolved not to accept. He instead put forward Peithon, leader of the mutiny against Perdiccas, for that job, along with Arrhidaeus, former custodian of Alexander’s corpse. The soldiers gave their acclaim to this pair, though only on a temporary basis. They were aware that their decisions were contingent on events in Asia: two far loftier authorities, Antipater and the beloved Craterus, were on the march there, and report had it that Craterus was preparing to fight Eumenes, Perdiccas’ Greek consigliere—a battle Craterus was sure to win.
But while Ptolemy was still conferring with the army of invasion, news came that Craterus had been killed in that battle, along with Neoptolemus. A wave of shock and outrage went through the troops. The idea that Eumenes, a humble Greek, had brought down the most revered of Alexander’s generals, while serving the now-discredited Perdiccas, was intolerable. The army demanded vengeance. A death sentence was passed in absentia on Eumenes and fifty other leaders of Perdiccas’ government, including Alcetas, Perdiccas’ brother. His sister Atalante was immediately seized and executed. There would be no mending of fences now, no effort to knit the empire back together. The war would go on until Eumenes, and anyone else who had aided Perdiccas, was destroyed.
Leaving the army to its new crusade, Ptolemy recrossed the river to his palace in Memphis, no doubt glad to return to a less volatile environment. The swings of emotion he had witnessed over the past three days had been bewildering and disturbing. First, Perdiccas’ troops had made two determined efforts to penetrate his Nile defenses. Then, with Perdiccas dead, they had embraced him as their hoped-for leader, nearly handing him regency over the kings, the keystone of imperial control. Finally, news of Craterus’ death had sent them into a murderous rage and turned them back toward Asia to attack their former commanders. It was all too reminiscent of the tumultuous week in Babylon following Alexander’s death, the last time Ptolemy had been united with these unruly veterans. Clearly, Perdiccas had failed to tame them during the intervening years.
There was no telling what would happen when this ungovernable beast returned to Asia, but that uncertainty was not Ptolemy’s problem. Undoubtedly, the fabric of the empire would be rent by the collisions and clashes there, but Egypt could remain detached. Ptolemy’s Nile defenses had held despite all Perdiccas had thrown at them, ensuring that no Macedonian army would soon attack again. And it had escaped no one’s notice that the army was leaving without the prize it had come for, Alexander’s body. Neither of the new commanders, Peithon and Arrhidaeus, had dared ask for its return (indeed Arrhidaeus had, not coincidentally, helped Ptolemy obtain it to begin with). Ptolemy’s declaration of independence had stuck. He had his own empire, his Egypt, and needed little from the rest of Alexander’s realm—except perhaps some trained Indian elephants, a precious resource he took the liberty of commandeering from the departing army.
Ptolemy rejoined his burgeoning household with its two trophy women, Thais, the beautiful Athenian courtesan who had already borne him three children, and now a new bride, Antipater’s youngest daughter, Eurydice. One brought him pleasure and the other power, but Ptolemy was still vulnerable to a third impulse, love. By this time he had taken notice of his bride’s young cousin and lady-in-waiting, a widow by the name of Berenice. Soon he made this woman his mistress, and ultimately his wife. She bore him his two heirs, Ptolemy II and Arsinoe, a brother and sister who, following an old Persian royal custom, married each other. Through his children by Berenice Ptolemy founded a dynasty that ruled Egypt for almost three centuries, until their great-great-great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter, Cleopatra VII, the lover of both Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, killed herself by the bite of an asp.
2. THE ROYAL FAMILY (EGYPT AND POINTS NORTH, AUTUMN 321 B.C.)
What were the first words spoken by the son of Alexander the Great, just now acquiring the power of speech? Were they in Macedonian or in the Bactrian tongue he presumably learned from his mother, Rhoxane? Or was he tutored in high classical Greek, the language his father had made the lingua franca of the new ruling class? Did he know, at age two, that his words had the power to shape a realm stretching from the Adriatic to the banks of the Indus? Such questions are beyond speculation, since of all the records preserved from this era, not one gives the boy a voice or a consciousness. Though he stood closer to the maelstrom than anyone, we do not have a single utterance or action by which his personality might be judged. The young Alexander, known today as Alexander IV, remains a cipher, even after the opening of his still-unplundered tomb in 1979.
How was the young Alexander told that Perdiccas no longer had charge of him but others he barely knew? What was told to his uncle and co-ruler, Philip, who must have realized, however dimly, that a coup had taken place? Was any attempt made to enlist Philip’s support for the new regime? Or was he a mere possession conferring power, like the signet ring given to Perdiccas? One anecdote from later in Philip’s life shows that this monarch had a partial understanding of events around him. But his behavior could become erratic and violent, and his keeper on at least one occasion had to restrain him. Peithon and Arrhidaeus could only have given him the illusion of agency, securing his token approval for acts of state as Perdiccas had done.
Philip’s new wife, however, was a different matter. Adea, now also called Eurydice, had all her wits about her and all the energies of youth. She was determined to be more than a figurehead. As the army moved north out of Egypt, Adea began to assert herself. She sensed an opportunity to grasp supreme power, an opportunity her mother, Cynnane, had sacrificed her life to give her.
By now Adea had spent several weeks with the royal army and had learned much about the new breed of soldier Alexander had created. Money, she knew, was much on the men’s minds. Many of their comrades, those discharged by Alexander but now fighting again under Antipater, had received a handsome bonus at their send-off, a talent of silver per man. The others had gotten no such boon, though they claimed Alexander had promised one. Now the expedition to Egypt had disappointed their hopes of plunder, and even their standard salary was in arrears (Perdiccas’ brother-in-law Attalus, on the run from the death sentence imposed on him, had made haste to secure a stash of money from which they would have been paid). For these hardened veterans, fighting not for a cause or country but because fighting was their way of life, money meant everything. It was a measure of prowess, a reward for hard labors, a bond linking them to their commanders. If money was running short, as Adea knew it was, that bond could easily be broken.
As the army made its way back into Asia, Adea began making her voice heard in camp. With her status as granddaughter of the great Philip ensuring an audience, she harped on the theme of owed money, a theme she knew would provoke her listeners to outrage. She was in contact with the outlawed Perdiccan faction, men like Attalus who had access to ready cash. Discontent began to swirl around this teenage firebrand, prompting Peithon and Arrhidaeus, the new heads of the central government, to impose a gag order on her. But Adea refused to comply. She knew that after the near mutiny caused by the murder of her mother, the generals would not dare lay hands on her, and they had no other way to stop her voice.
3. TRIPARADEISUS (WINTER, LATE 321 B.C.)
The army arrived at Triparadeisus, a “triple game park” somewhere in what is now Lebanon, with Adea still insisting on her political rights. Peithon and Arrhidaeus played for time, awaiting the arrivals of old man Antipater and Antigonus One-eye, who were hastening to meet them as they advanced northward. Finally, when Antipater and his army were close at hand, the pressure became intolerable. Not content with freedom of speech, Adea was contesting guardianship of the joint kings, the only source of legitimate power. What more right than she, Adea demanded, did Peithon and Arrhidaeus have to speak for her husband? There was no good reply. Events were slipping out of control. Perdiccas’ brother-in-law Attalus had arrived on the scene, with money to attract desertions; the army was seething with sedition. Conceding inability to manage the crisis, Peithon and Arrhidaeus resigned their posts, urging Antipater to come at once to take charge.
Antipater arrived to find the royal army, including the famous Silver Shields, in an ugly mood. This was his first glimpse of how it had been transformed in the years it had spent in Asia (the decommissioned veterans Craterus had brought him were more tractable men). It was not a pretty sight. These soldiers had tasted the ultimate liberty, the right to kill their own commander, and seemed to no longer revere any authority, except an iron-willed teenage girl. Antipater was their nation’s highest-ranking officer, but his arrival made little impression on them. They kept howling for the pay they claimed was due them, spurred on by the irrepressible Adea.
Antipater stood before the assembled army and tried to address their demands. He promised to tally up the royal treasuries and make good what was owed, though he admitted that for the moment his resources were thin. The huge caches of gold and silver won in Alexander’s conquests were far away, in the great cities of Persis; it would take time to transfer them to depleted western depots. The troops listened but were not mollified. Adea again stirred up their mistrust and goaded them into rage, speaking openly against Antipater and pointing to Attalus, Perdiccas’ brother-in-law, as an alternative. Finally their anger spilled over into full-scale revolt. They seized Antipater and threatened him with immediate stoning if he did not pay up.
As before at Lamia, Antipater needed help from one of his confederates, and the rescue effort this time was led by his new junior partner, Antigonus One-eye. Antigonus had just returned from his campaign in Cyprus and had made camp with Antipater’s forces, on the opposite side of a river from the mutinous troops. Watching from this camp across the stream, Antigonus could see that Antipater had been taken prisoner by the rebels and was in grave peril. Given the prowess of the royal army and the invincible Silver Shields, Antigonus had few options except bluff and deceit, but those were his strengths. He donned a full suit of armor, mounted his horse, and rode grandly across the bridge that connected the two camps, accompanied by a few select cavalrymen.
The royal army had not seen Antigonus for more than a decade. The unexpected arrival of the huge one-eyed man, impressively clad in full battle gear, awed the rebels and they parted ranks, making a space for him to address them. As he passed the captive Antipater, he somehow signaled the old man to be ready to make an escape. He then stood before the soldiers and delivered a long speech on Antipater’s behalf (seconded by Seleucus, one of their own leaders), drawing out his words filibuster-style until an opening arose. Finally he saw Antipater’s guards becoming distracted. At a signal his cavalrymen grabbed Antipater away from them and rushed him across the bridge to safety.
Antigonus and Seleucus nearly lost their lives in the ensuing melee, for the troops saw they had been tricked. Somehow both men managed to escape unharmed. Antipater, now back among his own loyal army, set about to restore order. Summoning the leaders of the rebellion to his side of the river, he browbeat them back into obedience. Probably he had some choice words about the folly of following a teenage girl, even one who happened to be queen of the Macedonians.
Adea had nearly pulled off a coup that would have given her control of the kings and the army. With just a few more soldiers on her side, she might have outdone Eumenes, victor over Neoptolemus and Craterus, and brought down three top generals—Antipater, Antigonus, and Seleucus—in a single day. Her contest with old man Antipater, whom she had looked up to since childhood as her grandfather Philip’s senior statesman, had been fought with intensity and vigor, the qualities her warlike mother had instilled in her. The bitterness with which she resumed her former role as ward—of Antigonus this time, for it was he who was now made custodian of the joint kings—can only be imagined.
As at Babylon three years earlier, a new order had to be created out of the havoc that mutiny had wrought. Antipater firmed up his control of the state by distributing satrapies to reward friends and dispossess enemies. The officers who had deserted to him from Perdiccas—Cleitus, the admiral of the Hellespont fleet; Antigenes, the captain of the Silver Shields; and Seleucus, who had helped murder Perdiccas and save Antipater from the mob—received satrapies for the first time, while other allies were confirmed in old posts. Back in Egypt, Ptolemy, now Antipater’s son-in-law, was given a free hand; North Africa was granted to him as “land won by the spear,” in recognition of his defense against Perdiccas’ invasion. Rule over Cappadocia went to a certain Nicanor, perhaps Antipater’s own son (but it is hard to sort out the ten or more Nicanors who played important roles in this period). Its former satrap, Eumenes, now branded an outlaw and a traitor, could not be allowed to retain power there, or anywhere, for that matter.
Antigonus One-eye, who had in the past year emerged as Antipater’s principal ally and most talented general, received two prize appointments under the new order: not only guardian of the kings, but strat¯egos, or “commander in chief,” of all Asia. He was given orders to hunt for Eumenes, Alcetas, and the other condemned Perdiccans and was allotted eighty-five hundred veteran infantry, plus cavalry and elephants. He also received a new junior officer, Antipater’s son Cassander, as his second in command. This was in part an honor but also an implicit check. Antigonus would have tremendous power in his new role, and Antipater wanted a reliable pair of eyes to watch over his one-eyed partner.
The bond between Antigonus and Antipater was cemented in time-honored Macedonian fashion, through marriage. Thanks to the death of Craterus, Antipater again had a marriageable daughter. His eldest, Phila, twice widowed and now raising the son she had borne to Craterus, was still of childbearing age. She might have made a good partner for Antigonus himself, but instead she was given to One-eye’s debauched teenage son, Demetrius—a horrible mismatch of both ages and temperaments. When Demetrius complained to Antigonus about marrying a woman more than ten years older, a high-minded noblewoman to boot, his father twitted him by spoofing a line from Euripides. In the tragedy The Phoenician Women, an exiled king, Polynices, explains how he submitted to a life of poverty, biding his time before trying to win back his throne: “One must become a slave, despite oneself, for the sake of gain.” Antigonus quoted the line to Demetrius, whom he by now must have hoped to someday put on a throne, with a change of one word: “One must become a spouse, despite oneself, for the sake of gain.”
There remained the question of the mutinous royal army and its demands for pay. The Silver Shields, under the command of Antigenes, were dispatched to Susa, the wealthiest of the old Persian capitals, with orders to transfer funds to a fortress at Cyinda in Cilicia. This move had a double benefit for the new leadership: money would be more available, and the Silver Shields, the most headstrong of Alexander’s veterans, would be out of their hair. The remaining members of the rebellious army were assigned to follow Antigonus One-eye and the kings and to help prosecute the war against Eumenes. They too needed to be kept busy, and now there was a new enemy for them to fight.
A second blueprint had been drawn up for the post-Alexander world, as though Perdiccas’ reign had been only a bad false start. But the great problem that had scuttled the old settlement, the relationship between Europe and Asia, was replicated in the new. The two great blocs of the empire were once again in fatal counterpoise, Antipater holding sovereignty in one bloc, Antigonus controlling the kings and the royal army in the other. The ultimate questions posed by Alexander’s conquests had again been dodged: Was the new empire a European state, controlling Asian territory many times its own size? Or was it essentially Asian, a new incarnation of the Persian empire, with a small European appendage? Lacking a clear answer, the architects of Triparadeisus, Antipater and Antigonus, designed a structure that would straddle the straits of the Hellespont. Their sons would still be contesting the issue at the battle of Ipsus in 301 B.C., after two more decades of war.
There was one further development before the leaders decamped from Triparadeisus. Perdiccas had not had the chance to destroy his papers before being murdered in Egypt, and Antipater now got control of these, presumably receiving them from Peithon and Arrhidaeus. Among them he found a letter from Athens, from Demades, one of his two most trusted political agents (the other was Phocion). Antipater discovered in this document that Demades had plotted against him, instigating Perdiccas, by way of a caustic joke, to invade Europe: “Our cities are held together only by an old and rotting rope.” Antipater was not amused by this mocking reference to his advanced age, and neither was his hotheaded son Cassander. There would be a score to settle with Demades when Antipater returned home—if the old man lived long enough to do so.
4. EUMENES (CAPPADOCIA, SPRING 320 B.C.)
Eumenes had become the loneliest man in the empire. Word reached him from Egypt that Perdiccas was murdered and that the royal army had condemned him to death; then more reports from Triparadeisus, that Antigonus One-eye had been given a powerful army and a commission to hunt him down. His supposed allies, Perdiccas’ former lieutenants, had already proved unwilling to work with him; chief among them was Alcetas, Perdiccas’ brother, who had refused to offer him aid even when ordered by Perdiccas himself. Branded a traitor by the royal army, yet despised by those who shared his outlaw status, Eumenes could not expect help from any quarter. He and his troops, the fine Cappadocian cavalry he had trained and the Macedonian infantry he had won in battle, were on their own.
A twisting path had brought Eumenes, a Greek from Cardia in the Chersonese (modern Gallipoli), to this isolated stand in western Asia. Plucked from obscurity by Alexander’s father and placed in charge of the royal paperwork, Eumenes did not seem destined for leadership. Alexander had promoted him to a cavalry command only late in the Asian campaign, in India, and even then had used him sparingly. Changing times had forced Eumenes to adapt, to learn the ways of the battlefield rather than archive and chancery. And he had learned them well. Eumenes had won his battles on behalf of Perdiccas, even while Perdiccas was losing his war against Ptolemy. The opposite outcomes of their campaigns had made Eumenes a consigliere without a capo, the right arm of a regime that had got its head cut off.
It was comical to think that only two years earlier, Eumenes had tried to mediate the strife in Babylon, claiming he could be trusted by all because he had no interest in politics. Politics had drawn him in and forced him to choose sides. He had aligned himself with the Argeads, his mentors and benefactors since childhood. Their cause had become his, and he had backed Perdiccas as champion of that cause. He had come within a hair of transforming Perdiccas into an Argead, but the regent’s decision to marry Cleopatra had come only just too late.
Eumenes still considered Cleopatra and her mother, Olympias, his patrons, and himself their champion. But the question of who had the right to fly the Argead banner had become tortured and complex. Now the joint kings were in the hands of Eumenes’ foes, who likewise portrayed themselves as defenders of the royal house. To them, he was a pretender who had used the kings to advance a bid for power; to him, they were kidnappers who had abducted the kings from their rightful keepers.
Even had he wanted to, Eumenes could not now withdraw from the struggle. The chances of war had fallen out such that he had killed Craterus, a crime that would follow him everywhere. He had no choice but to fight and to hope that the showdown with Antigonus, whenever it came, would be on flat ground favorable to his cavalry corps. But what could Eumenes expect from a victory? Barred from the throne by his Greek birth, without any capo in view to whom he could be consigliere, Eumenes knew his long-term outlook was dim. If young Alexander could survive long enough to rule in his own right, Eumenes might serve as his closest adviser, the post for which he was best suited. But that prospect was still more than ten years off. Could anyone hold out for so long, even with a superior army, if he had no constitutional office and was a declared enemy of the state?
Such was the strange position Eumenes found himself in amid the turmoil of the civil war. He alone of all the leaders in that war had gained a major battlefield victory. Yet he had ended up without a country, cause, or commander to fight for. His cavalry was good enough to win against any challenger—but just what he could win was beyond anyone’s surmise.
Fearing his soldiers would be panicked by the perils ahead, Eumenes called them together to report Perdiccas’ death and their own outlaw status. He did not know how his men would respond and freely offered them the chance to leave his service. Perhaps he also mentioned some pointed details of the mutiny at Triparadeisus and the impoverished state of Antipater’s finances. In any case, no one took up his offer. His troops urged him to lead them with all speed against the royal army, vowing to shred its decrees with the points of their spears.
That was all Eumenes needed to hear. He struck camp and moved westward to await the arrival of his foes. If he could fight for nothing else, he would fight for his own survival, for the moment he surrendered, or ran, he was sure to die.
5. THE PROPAGANDA WAR (EMPIRE-WIDE)
Now that old man Antipater and his son Cassander had thrown themselves into the power struggle, questions about Alexander’s death began to resurface. Had Alexander been poisoned? If so, had Antipater and his sons been involved, perhaps with help from Antipater’s Greek crony Aristotle? The rumors that had circulated in the Greek world cast a dark pall over the new de facto leader of the empire. Antipater’s enemies moved to exploit these rumors, and Antipater himself tried to fend them off, in an exchange of forged and leaked documents designed to win the hearts and minds of the Greek-reading public.
Already by this time the Hellenic world had read the memoir of Onesicritus, a Greek sea captain who had served in Alexander’s fleet. This memoir claimed that Alexander was poisoned by the guests at a dinner he attended the night he fell ill, but it refused to name the guilty parties for fear of reprisals. Onesicritus’ implication was that the assassins were still at large and able to wreak revenge, an indirect way of accusing the generals then in power—which in the Greek world meant, above all, Antipater.
Shortly thereafter—the exact date is a matter of dispute—an anonymous Greek treatise appeared that named the names Onesicritus had kept hushed. The original version of the treatise, sometimes called The Last Days and Testament of Alexander, is lost, but a later Latin translation survives, the Liber de Morte. It claims that Antipater, summoned by Alexander to Babylon and certain that his execution was near, sent his son Cassander with poison contained in a hollowed-out mule’s hoof; that Cassander met with his brother Iolaus in Babylon; that together they administered the poison at a dinner party given by Iolaus’ male lover, Medius. With sober fanfare, the treatise then lists the guests present at the fateful dinner and exonerates seven, including Perdiccas, Eumenes, andPtolemy. It leaves more than a dozen named guests accused as conspirators. The treatise describes how Alexander drank the poisoned wine he received from Iolaus, felt a stabbing pain, cried out, and retired to his room while the fearful plotters dispersed. In a final act of treachery, Iolaus, asked by Alexander for a feather to help him vomit, gave him one dipped in poison.
This document was almost certainly a propaganda weapon deployed by one of the generals vying for power, but which one? Since Antipater stands accused of Alexander’s murder while Perdiccas and Eumenes are cleared, it seems at first glance to be the work of Perdiccas or his allies. But Ptolemy was as much Perdiccas’ enemy as Antipater, and Ptolemy is exonerated by the treatise. Perhaps there are different strata of material here, as successive forgers added new elements. Whatever its purposes, The Last Days and Testament of Alexander shows that charges of regicide came increasingly into play in the Macedonian power struggle, principally to undermine old man Antipater.
Probably in response to these poisoning charges, someone published the final segment of the Royal Journals, a sober, day-by-day eyewitness account of Alexander’s illness and death. The original is lost but existed in the second century A.D., when it was read (in differing versions) and paraphrased by both Arrian and Plutarch. The Royal Journals depicted Alexander’s illness as a gradual descent into fever and coma and made clear that it had not begun with a sudden, stabbing pain as the Last Days claimed. Perhaps Antipater himself had the Journals published, or fabricated, as a way to dispel the rumors that shadowed his family. No certainty is possible in this hall-of-mirrors world of forged, composite, and anonymous documents.
Meanwhile, in Egypt, Ptolemy was undertaking a different kind of propaganda, a history of Alexander’s Asian campaign highlighting his own role and obscuring that of Perdiccas. In all likelihood, Perdiccas was dead when Ptolemy began this history, but probably Perdiccas’ supporters, and his memory, were not. There was much to be gained from concealing a wound Perdiccas suffered at the battle of Gaugamela, or blaming Perdiccas’ lack of discipline for the onset of fighting at Thebes, or, most important, omitting mention of Alexander’s greatest mark of favor, the handing over of the signet ring. Perhaps Ptolemy hoped that, as one of few witnesses present, he could consign that moment to oblivion. It did not reflect well on him if the man whose downfall he had largely caused was the king’s legitimate, handpicked successor.
Many others likewise had an interest in blackening Perdiccas’ name—those who colluded in his murder, inherited his power, or joined in the hunt for his partisans. Any or all of these may have helped color the portrait of Perdiccas preserved in the ancient sources. We find in those sources condemnations of Perdiccas’ arrogance, high-handedness, and brutality, a portrait that at times verges on slander. Diodorus uses the word phonikos, or “man of slaughter,” to describe him, an odd barb to throw at a soldier whose stock-in-trade was killing enemies. But when a leader has failed, the very qualities that made him a leader suddenly appear as flaws. Perdiccas’ arrogance and bloody-mindedness were no more pronounced than Alexander’s, indeed much less so. But Alexander, unlike the hapless Perdiccas, knew little of failure.
6. CLEOPATRA, EUMENES, AND ANTIPATER (SARDIS, SPRING 320 B.C.)
For two years Alexander the Great’s sister, Cleopatra, had stayed in Asia, watching the war unfold from the satrapal palace of Sardis. Perhaps she longed to return to her Macedonian homeland or to Epirus, where her mother, Olympias, was looking after her two young children. But that would be to admit defeat and accept a life of irrelevance that might also be short. The one chance she had of restoring her branch of the royal family, and of safeguarding her mother and her children, was to wed a powerful general and beget a new heir to the throne. But back in Europe there were no such bridegrooms to be found. She had come into Asia to marry, and in Asia she remained, like some fairy-tale princess in a tower awaiting her knight-errant.
Her time was running short. As she reached her mid-thirties, her capacity to bear children, the principal asset she brought to the succession struggle, was fast waning. Worse, she knew that her rival in fertility, Adea, now married to King Philip for more than a year, might announce a pregnancy at any moment. Should that happen, Cleopatra’s value in the marriage market would drop precipitously. A child produced by two royals, if it were male, would without question become the new heir. Not even Cleopatra, the full sister of Alexander, could trump such a potent union of Argead bloodlines, unless she too married an Argead, and there were none left to marry. Even eligible generals, after the deaths of her first two prospects, Leonnatus and Perdiccas, were starting to run short.
The rise to power of old man Antipater spelled danger to Cleopatra. This ancient foe of her mother bore no love for her branch of the Argead house and now could do it much harm. Antipater had played the marriage game far more successfully than she; his daughters were wed to Ptolemy and Antigonus’ son, Demetrius, locking up two of her own potential bridegrooms. The whole empire seemed suddenly to be in Antipater’s pocket; with the scope of his power, he could choke off access to Sardis and prevent suitors from reaching her. Perhaps he could even force her to marry his son Cassander—but the thought of union with the man believed to have poisoned her brother was no doubt a disturbing one.
While Cleopatra contemplated her darkening prospects, a troop of cavalry rode up to the walls of Sardis with a commanding figure at its head. It was not, however, her knight in shining armor but Eumenes, her brother’s former secretary.
This was an awkward development for Cleopatra. Eumenes was an old friend and loyal servant of her family’s and, thanks to the changing tides of fortune, leader of a powerful army. He had always supported Cleopatra and her marital ambitions. But Eumenes was now an outlaw, condemned to death for his role in Perdiccas’ regime. Not only could Cleopatra not marry him—he was a Greek after all, far below her station—but even to receive him might be a criminal act. With Antipater making his way toward Sardis, Cleopatra could not put herself on the wrong side of the civil war.
Eumenes, for his part, was eager to talk with Cleopatra. He had spent the last several months living off the lands of his enemies, plundering provinces in western Anatolia, but had come to Sardis seeking something more precious than booty—legitimacy. Cleopatra could counteract the ascendancy of his two great nemeses, Antipater and Antigonus One-eye. They had taken charge of the kings and claimed to be stewards of the royal house, but Cleopatra could give the lie to that claim with a wave of her hand. If she would become Eumenes’ ally, join her moral authority to his military might, they could yet prevail over their enemies. They had much reason to make common cause: both were excluded from power by second-class status, she as a woman and he as a Greek. Both could thrive only by attaching themselves to a regent or king. Perhaps, until one of them succeeded, they could become attached to each other.
Eumenes chivalrously paraded his cavalry before Sardis, trying to impress the princess within. Mindful of his last visit there, when Cleopatra had spurned Perdiccas because of his uncertain chances in war, Eumenes hoped to show that this time victory was assured. Indeed he wanted to fight the royal army right there, on the plains outside Sardis, as though his men would take inspiration from the watching eyes of Cleopatra. She was closest in blood to Alexander of anyone on earth; in her the virtues, perhaps even the features, of the dead king seemed to have found life once again. “Such was the reverence for the greatness of Alexander that even the traces left behind in women could be used to summon the blessing of his hallowed name,” writes Justin in his summary of Trogus’ history.
But Cleopatra, though she granted Eumenes an audience, was not willing to become his partisan. She was conscious of her duty to the state and did not wish to exacerbate its troubles by taking sides. She asked Eumenes to leave Sardis and seek battle elsewhere, far from her regal presence. Eumenes bade farewell to the princess and, as she had asked, led his army from Sardis.
Old man Antipater arrived in Sardis soon after and paid his own visit to Cleopatra. He had been informed of her colloquy with Eumenes, and he was not pleased. He could surmise what game the princess had been playing, first with Perdiccas and now with Perdiccas’ consigliere, and perhaps he knew about the dalliance with Leonnatus before that. With his authority already under challenge—another princess, the teenage Adea, had very nearly gotten him stoned to death—Antipater could not allow Cleopatra to flirt with his enemies. He scolded her for heedlessness of the royal house’s interests. He had loyally served that house for six decades, but it was being torn apart, as he saw it, by meddlesome, ungovernable women.
Cleopatra would have none of this. She was too proud to be talked down to by a man who had taken orders from her father and her brother. In a now-lost speech that a medieval reader, Photius, described as “beyond what one would expect of a woman,” Cleopatra hit back at Antipater with all the ammunition she had. Perhaps she too, like her mother, held this man responsible for her brother’s death and now accused him to his face. Antipater somehow mollified her, for the two parted as friends. The empire’s senior commander and its most high-ranking royal still needed each other. Cleopatra was unwilling to be blamed for civil strife, and Antipater had learned, through the wretched example of Perdiccas, the high price a soldier would pay for killing an Argead princess.
Antipater went on his way to prepare for the battle with Eumenes. Cleopatra, the damsel in the tower keep, stayed where she was, once again friendless, husbandless, and alone.
7. PTOLEMY (SYRIA AND JERUSALEM, SUMMER 320 B.C.)
Seeing his former comrades busy fighting one another, Ptolemy, safely ensconced in Egypt, chose once again to pursue his own interests. His new realm was ample, nicely enlarged by the additions of Cyprus and Cyrene, but a choice tract to the east, now nearly vacant of Macedonian forces, seemed the perfect way to complete his empire-in-miniature. His predecessors the pharaohs had long coveted Syria and Palestine and had often occupied them; wealthy provinces with well-equipped ports, they provided a valuable buffer against attacks from the east. Ptolemy had narrowly survived such an attack, and though his father-in-law, Antipater, was for the moment an ally, he might not always be one—especially since Ptolemy planned to insult the old man’s daughter by making a queen of her bridesmaid, Berenice.
In the north of the realm that Ptolemy sought lay the small walled city of Jerusalem, populated by a race of curious monotheists whom the Greeks would soon know as Ioudaioi. The Jews had thus far remained nearly invisible to Alexander and his generals, though the Macedonians had crossed right through their territory and even, perhaps, entered the holy city. Not a single historian of the Alexander period mentions the Jews or Jerusalem, an omission that a later writer, the Romanized Jew Josephus, takes as a sign of ill will. Indeed, no Greek writer before Alexander’s time shows any awareness of the Jews, except Theophrastus, a student of Aristotle’s, and he seems to have encountered only expatriates living in Egypt.
Ptolemy, however, knew a lot about the Jews, enough to use their own religious practices against them. He had learned that their calendar was divided into seven-day weeks, each one containing a Sabbath on which all labor, including the bearing of arms, was forbidden. Ptolemy therefore planned his entry into Jerusalem to coincide with a Sabbath day. The Jews stood by their ancient code and did not raise their hands against him. Ptolemy gained a bloodless victory and a rich new addition to his territory. Alexandria, Ptolemy’s new capital, began to fill up with Jewish captives and emigrants, soon becoming the most vital Jewish center outside Jerusalem itself.
Thus do the Jews make their entry onto the stage of European history, as pious dupes, conquered by one of Alexander’s generals because they would not abandon Moses’ laws.
8. EUMENES, ANTIGONUS, AND ANTIPATER (ANATOLIA, WINTER, LATE 320 B.C.)
There is a legend that circulated in the ancient world, that while Alexander the Great was alive, a captured pirate was brought before him for punishment. Alexander was outraged by the man’s depredations and asked what right he had to trouble the seas. “The same right you have to trouble the world,” the pirate replied. “Only since I do so with a small ship, I’m called a robber; you use a great fleet and are called a ruler.” The anecdote may be spurious but makes an important point. Even while Alexander lived, the political goals of his campaign were not always easy to discern; a cynic might regard it as a global plundering raid. Now that he was dead, the piratical side of the Macedonian army was coming increasingly to the fore.
The three generals now stalking through Asia Minor—Eumenes the outlaw and his pursuers Antipater and Antigonus One-eye—understood the terms on which the coming war would be fought. Strength depended on troop loyalty, and loyalty depended on loot. Soldiers who had served with Alexander already owned piles of loot, their share of the riches stripped from the Persians, and they hauled this around through Asia in great, bulky baggage trains. But somehow their stash never seemed large enough. Lacking any home or national cause, lacking any sense of what the Argead royal house wanted from them, they had only money as their raison d’être. They would fight for the generals who provided it, against others who did not.
Antigonus One-eye had the upper hand in this new kind of warfare, since he had the right, as commander in chief of Asia, to draw from imperial treasuries. His written orders, signed by compliant King Philip, could unlock burgeoning storehouses of silver like the one in Cyinda, guarded by the impassable Silver Shields. With such wealth he could try to buy a victory over Eumenes rather than win one on the battlefield—for there he would have to face Eumenes’ highly trained cavalry. That corps had already brought down Craterus, the best field general of Alexander’s staff, and trampled him under its pounding hooves.
Eumenes, for his part, was poor, but being an outlaw, he could steal from the rich. Asia Minor was filled with wealthy estates and towns populated by potential slaves. In Alexander’s day, the army had been allowed to reap such plunder only on enemy territory. But for Eumenes the whole empire was enemy territory, since the empire had condemned him to death. He began allowing his men to seize estates in Anatolia and sell them back to their owners for extortionary sums, thereby raising a sizable war chest. This strategy had a double benefit in that it embarrassed his enemies Antipater and Antigonus, who were in charge of Asian affairs but unable or unwilling to stop the shakedowns. It was they who were held responsible by the peoples of Anatolia, not Eumenes. Indeed the popularity of the outlaws only increased as they picked their enemies’ pockets.
Antigonus One-eye tried to fight fire with fire by offering a price for Eumenes’ life. One day Eumenes returned to camp to find his soldiers studying leaflets: Antigonus would give a hundred talents for Eumenes’ severed head—a prize that would test any man’s loyalty, unless Eumenes did something to counter it. The wily Greek hastily convened an assembly of the troops and stood to speak before them. He thanked them for standing by their oaths of allegiance—no one, of course, had yet had time to do otherwise—and “revealed” that he had circulated the leaflets as a test, a test his army had passed admirably. Antigonus could never have written them, he reasoned; any general who offered bounties would create a weapon that could be turned back against him. Perhaps some of Eumenes’ listeners bought that logic, and perhaps others admired the cleverness of his ruse; but all were convinced by the recent raids that their best hope of riches lay in protecting Eumenes, not killing him. They voted on the spot to vastly increase their leader’s security, supplying him a bodyguard of a thousand picked troops.
Eumenes struck back against Antigonus by moving to Celaenae in Phrygia, One-eye’s own vacant capital, and plundering his satrapy all through that winter. Antigonus did not challenge him there, but Antipater, with his more seasoned troops, made several sallies. The contest in Phrygia between Eumenes and Antipater, old enemies since the days before Alexander’s march, is known in great detail, thanks to two precious pages of Arrian’s Events After Alexander found in a medieval palimpsest (a parchment rubbed out and overwritten by economy-minded scribes). The erased passage has just now awakened from its millennium-long sleep, thanks to digital-imaging technologies. It gives a painful glimpse of how much was lost with the extinction of this work.
Eumenes continued his hit-and-run raids on a wider scale than before, striking in many directions at once so Antipater could not pin him down. He gave his captains use of his siege machines to make their job easier. In a short time they collected some eight hundred talents from the hapless peoples of Phrygia and distributed this loot among the delighted rank and file. Eumenes grew in stature as his men grew richer, while Antipater began to look like a paper tiger. “In full view of Antipater and his army, the [Phrygians] were being seized, their estates were burned down, and their goods were sold off as booty,” Arrian wrote. “They regarded Antipater as nothing more than a spectator of their misfortunes.”
But Eumenes’ tactics could not succeed forever. His enemies would eventually corner him, or cut him off from food and plunder, thus robbing him of his army’s loyalty. Already he had seen disaffection among his troops; a corps of three thousand infantry and five hundred cavalry had deserted from Celaenae and gone on the move, their camp some distance away. Eumenes, borrowing one of Alexander’s signature stratagems, sent an elite force of strong, fleet men on an all-night march. These took the deserters entirely by surprise and captured them without bloodshed. Eumenes executed the leaders of the mutiny but reabsorbed the troops, dispersing them among more reliable units and courting their favor with handouts. With both Antipater and Antigonus coming after him, he could not afford to lose experienced soldiers.
Eumenes’ best hope was to join forces with his fellow outlaws, the other former leaders of Perdiccas’ regime. Each of them still controlled an army of his own: Alcetas, Perdiccas’ brother, had considerable forces, while Perdiccas’ brother-in-law Attalus had money to spare from the funds he had seized. Eumenes reached out to these two highborn Macedonians as well as to two other Perdiccans, Polemon and Docimus, all four of whom were gathered in nearby Pisidia. Eumenes’ strategy proposal is preserved in the now-legible palimpsest. If all five combined forces, Eumenes argued, they could control western Asia for a long time, living off the land and embarrassing their enemies. Antipater and Antigonus would be despised for their weakness, and defections from their armies would increase. Eventually, these two would negotiate a peace in which the Perdiccans would be pardoned and restored to the posts they held under the Babylon settlement. Significantly, Eumenes envisioned not a final victory but a return to unity and the status quo ante. His crimes, perhaps, were not beyond forgiveness. The Macedonians had condemned him in a fit of rage and might relent; they might cease fighting him once they saw he had no wish to fight back.
Eumenes ended his appeal with deference, saying that anyone who had a better plan should bring his ideas forward. Humility was Eumenes’ best hope of success, for the men he was addressing did not like, trust, or respect him. Alcetas had once before refused to help Eumenes, even when Perdiccas ordered him to do so. If Alcetas hated Eumenes then, as a Greek who was too clever and had too much influence over his brother, he hated him more now that Eumenes had won great glory on the battlefield. Similar jealousies gnawed at Attalus, Polemon, and Docimus, members of an aristocratic warrior caste who did not like being put in the shade by an upstart foreigner.
The issue of who would command the joint forces was held hostage to these rivalries. Alcetas sought the top post for himself, aiming especially at control of the native Macedonians in Eumenes’ infantry, sturdy Alexander veterans all. But Eumenes was unwilling to concede command. In his own mind he was no longer court Greek, servant to the Macedonian warrior elite, but a high-ranking general with proven talents. He could accept being second to someone of Perdiccas’ stature, but surely not to an Alcetas or an Attalus. These men had been his subordinates not long ago, or at least so Perdiccas, and Alexander himself, had wanted.
In the end there was no reconciling these divergent views of Eumenes’ rank, and the five-way parley broke up without agreement. The coalition that could have saved all the Perdiccans was never formed. All would face their enemies on their own terms, and Eumenes, for his part, would face them alone.
9. ANTIGONUS, CASSANDER, ANTIPATER, AND THE KINGS (ANATOLIA, WINTER, LATE 320 B.C.)
Meanwhile, farther north in Anatolia, dissension and defection were also afflicting Eumenes’ enemies, the new custodians of the joint kings. Despite their control of the exchequer, old man Antipater and Antigonus One-eye could not suppress the message that Eumenes’ banditry had sent: piracy pays. Antigonus found some of his troops heeding that message and taking to the hills, just as Eumenes had foreseen in his proposal to Alcetas and the others. A troop of three thousand infantry broke away from Antipater’s army that winter, with them an officer, Holcias, known to be a Perdiccan sympathizer. They had occupied high ground in Cappadocia, a safe place from which to plunder surrounding lands. Antigonus feared they would join Alcetas’ or Eumenes’ army, but he could not incur ill will among his loyal troops by massacring their comrades.
In two years of civil war Antigonus had grown adept at covert operations, and the current crisis called for one of these. He sent out a high officer named Leonidas to the rebels, telling him to gain their trust by pretending to join their ranks. Warmly welcomed by the rebel band and even elected general, Leonidas led the men down from the heights and into an open plain. There, by prearrangement, Antigonus’ cavalry was waiting. With level ground on which to mount charges, Antigonus easily captured the rebel leaders and forced them to swear an oath: to depart Asia with their followers and never return. It was a shame to lose so many soldiers but better than having them join up with the Perdiccan armies.
A worse problem for Antigonus was the quarrel brewing between himself and old man Antipater. This rift had been brought on by Antipater’s son Cassander. The boy had come to mistrust Antigonus, to whom he had been made second-in-command, and had gone to see his father in Phrygia to complain (what his grounds were is unclear). Antipater trusted his son’s qualms enough to summon Antigonus to Phrygia and to change the balance of power resolved at Triparadeisus. Then, Antigonus had been given charge of the kings and leadership of the scrappy veterans of Alexander’s army. Now Antipater took away both these tokens of authority and brought them under his own control. In exchange he turned over to Antigonus the European recruits he himself commanded, swapping troops so that the royal army stayed with the kings. Antipater also made clear a change in his near-term plans. He would return to Europe and let Antigonus prosecute the war against Eumenes without him. After tangling ineffectually with that sly Greek for several long winter months, the aged soldier-statesman was ready to go home.
Antipater collected the royal family and his son Cassander and made for the Hellespont. Asia had brought him little but travail and humiliation since he first arrived there, and he was destined to suffer one last indignity on its shores. As his column made its way through Anatolia, Adea, King Philip’s grasping young wife, began reminding the soldiers of their long-deferred bonus pay. The royal army mutinied once again. Antipater could appease them only by feigning that money was waiting just ahead at Abydus, on the shores of the Hellespont. Having lured them to that crossing point, Antipater slipped across the straits in the dead of night with the kings and a few top officers. The stranded army had little choice but to follow the next day and return to Europe, where Antipater was better able to control them and their teenage queen.
The joint kings had left Asia for good, together with much of the grande armée that had fought under Alexander. What their countrymen made of these unruly veterans on their return, or of the strange Bactrian woman and half-breed toddler, Alexander’s next of kin, whom they now beheld for the first time, or of the bizarre living war machines called elephants that lumbered in their train, has not been recorded by any ancient writer. Indeed ancient historians seem not to have marked the significance of this crossing, with the exception of Arrian, who chose it as the end point of his Events After Alexander.
It was indeed a terminus, the end of a daring experiment in cross-continental monarchy. Alexander the Great had started that experiment, and Perdiccas had tried, however incompetently, to maintain it. By a unilateral decision, Antipater ended it and repatriated the Argead house, severing it from Bactria and Babylon and restoring it to the foothills of the Balkans. Asia might remain part of the Macedonian empire, but it would never again be the center, as Alexander had dreamed and planned.
What was left of that dream was written on the complexion and features of Alexander’s son, who, if he could survive another ten years or so, would become the first Asian-born monarch to rule on European soil. But given the whirlwind of events in his first four years, that was likely to be a long and dangerous decade indeed.
10. ANTIGONUS AND EUMENES (ANATOLIA, SPRING 319 B.C.)
With Antipater off the scene and winter ending, Antigonus One-eye and Eumenes prepared to decide the contest for Asia. It was a duel between two intelligent and honorable men, former friends from their days at Philip’s court, but driven by political accident onto opposing sides. Both claimed to fight under the Argead banner, and both headed largely Macedonian armies; they had never harmed each other, and there was no ideological gulf between them. Yet Eumenes had been declared an enemy of the state, and Antigonus, commander in chief of Asia, had been assigned the task of destroying him.
Eumenes, however, was not going to be easy to destroy. His Cappadocian cavalry outnumbered Antigonus’ horsemen and outclassed them in skill and experience. Antigonus was not about to make the same mistake as Craterus and face a charge by that cavalry, at least not without softening them up first. Fortunately, he had plenty of money to accomplish that softening. His bribes turned the loyalties of one of Eumenes’ cavalry officers, a man named Apollonides. Through covert messages, Apollonides promised Antigonus he would desert Eumenes and draw away an entire unit of horse.
Unaware of this looming betrayal, Eumenes confidently sought battle with Antigonus near a place called Orcynia. He camped on open ground in full view of One-eye’s position, a signal he was willing to join combat. Heralds passed freely between the two armies, bearing messages from one general to the other, as they prepared for the death struggle that awaited them.
Antigonus used this interlude to play a demoralizing trick on his former friend. While Eumenes’ heralds were in his camp, One-eye instructed a soldier to run up to him breathlessly and call out, “Our allies have arrived!” The heralds who witnessed this scene duly reported to Eumenes that Antigonus had been reinforced. The next day Antigonus marched his phalanx forward in double-wide formation, as though he had indeed received fresh recruits. This sight eroded the confidence of Eumenes’ infantry, who, not perceiving from their vantage that the formation was also half-deep, thought they had lost superiority of numbers.
Two devious ploys, neutralizing both his cavalry and his infantry strength, proved too much for Eumenes. The battle of Orcynia—from which no detailed account has survived—turned quickly into a rout. Antigonus butchered some eight thousand of Eumenes’ forces and also captured his baggage train, the booty and belongings of his army. Since booty had made Eumenes a hero to his troops, this was a huge psychological blow.
But Eumenes was not done for yet. He escaped the battle with a portion of his army that had neither deserted nor surrendered, including much of his swift-moving cavalry. After somehow catching and killing the traitor Apollonides, Eumenes doubled back to Orcynia, eluding Antigonus, who was still tracking him in the direction he had fled. He was determined to give his slain soldiers burial, a privilege normally obtained by formal concession of defeat. Since Orcynia was barren of trees, Eumenes ordered wood collected from the doors of nearby houses and had two vast pyres built, one for officers, the other for enlisted men; then he raised a mound of earth over their ashes. When Antigonus finally arrived, the grave was complete and Eumenes was gone. Though he had lost the battle, Eumenes had recovered his dignity, denying Antigonus the right of the victor to set terms for return of the dead.
Eumenes hoped to make a dash for Armenia and there recruit a fresh army. But Antigonus was closing in on him quickly. Eumenes had no choice but to make use of a preplanned, last-ditch escape. On the border of Cappadocia lay a fortress called Nora, a set of buildings atop an impregnable crag only four hundred yards around. Stocked with enough food, salt, and firewood to last a small force for years, it could hold out against any attacker. Eumenes released from his service all but six hundred followers and with these shut himself inside the fort, a tiny island of security in a sea of enemies. Here he could wait for the political winds to shift, or for his would-be allies, Alcetas and the others, to come to his rescue. The prospect of long isolation in a mountaintop prison was dismal, but better than defeat.
Antigonus One-eye arrived at Nora to find Eumenes safely barred within. He prepared to surround the fort with double walls, ditches, and guard posts, positions he might need to maintain for years. Before committing to that expensive alternative, however, he decided to try negotiation. He sent his own nephew into the fort as a hostage guaranteeing Eumenes’ safety and persuaded Eumenes to come out and talk.
The two men had not seen each other in fifteen years, not since the early days of Alexander’s campaign. But they found it easy to put their conflict aside and recover old bonds of friendship. They embraced each other and spoke kind words of greeting, while Antigonus’ troops, recruits of a younger generation, strove to get a glimpse of a famous man—the victor over Craterus, the bookkeeper who had become a general, the general who had become an outlaw. They pressed in so close that Antigonus feared for Eumenes’ safety and threw his arms around his old friend to protect him from the overeager—and perhaps hostile—crowd.
The parley between the two leaders revealed the artificiality of their dispute. Far from acknowledging his crimes against the state, Eumenes asked for full restoration as satrap of Cappadocia, even though this would mean joining the regime officially committed to killing him. He did not even mention the death sentence passed in Egypt, as though this had been an obvious mistake. Antigonus, for his part, did not reject Eumenes’ proposal, showing that he too was dubious about the grounds for the current hostilities. He offered to refer the request to Antipater for adjudication and sent a messenger to Macedonia for this purpose. Eumenes sent his own envoy as well, a close friend and countryman, to plead his side of the case. This was none other than Hieronymus of Cardia—the man who, with his inside view of the post-Alexander power struggle, would one day write the now-lost memoir on which most surviving accounts are based.
As these envoys headed for Europe, Eumenes and Antigonus parted as friends and resumed their appointed roles as enemies. Antigonus finished walling off Nora to prevent outbreaks from within or rescue attempts from without. Then, certain that his hold over Eumenes was secure, he took his army west in pursuit of the remaining Perdiccans. These were still gathered in Pisidia, and Antigonus prepared to lead his young recruits there by a grueling forced march, hoping to reach his foes before they suspected he was coming.
Eumenes, beaten but unbowed, climbed back into his fortress and barred its gates. After marching some twenty thousand miles with Alexander and helping him rule three continents, after being consigliere to Perdiccas with sovereignty over the whole known world, he now had a scant four acres of rocky crag as his dominion. But his enclave was secure from attack and well stocked with food and fuel. Despite abandonment by his former allies, demonization by the royal army, and a crushing defeat at Orcynia, Eumenes had managed to survive. He settled in for a long stay with his six hundred loyalists and awaited the next throw of Fortune’s dice.