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Sunday, June 13, 2021

Lysimachus a Diadochus Who Became a King

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Lysimachus was born in 361 BC and died in 281 BC. An associate of Alexander the Great, Diadochus, ruler of Thrace from 323 BC was the king of Macedonia from 285 BC. Lysimachus came from a noble Macedonian family, but was famous for his exploits, less for his nobility. Arrian mentions Lysimachus among the bodyguards of Alexander the Great, that is, the circle of Alexander’s most trusted people.

While hunting in Syria, he single-handedly killed a beast of exceptional size. However, his shoulder was torn to the bone in the process. It was also said that one day Alexander, in anger, ordered Lysimachus set  upon by a ferocious lion, but he killed that beast as well; after which Alexander showed him respect and honor. Lysimachus was proud of this accomplishment.


Lysimachus rose in status in the last years of Alexander’s life. In battles, he kept close to the king. His name was not mentioned among the generals. After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, Lysimachus, as one of the cavalry commanders, received the majority of Thrace under his control, and land near the Black Sea. In 322 BC, Lysimachus fought against the king of the Thracians, Seventh. In the battle, a large number of soldiers perished on both sides. Also, Lysimachus established the border along the Danube River. To secure his support, Lysimachus joined the Diadochus Antipater, who ruled in neighboring Macedonia.

For a long time, Lysimachus did not participate in the wars of Diadochi. In 315 BC, he entered into an alliance against king Antigonus, who by that time had conquered all of Asia. However, another uprising of the Thracians, which began in 313 BC and supported by the Scythians, did not allow Lysimachus to prove himself in that war. He defeated the Thracians and persuaded them to join his forces, and the Scythians were defeated and driven away. After the Macedonians besieged Callanii, Antigonus sent his commander, Pausanias, to the aid of the city. Lysimachus went to meet him. He defeated the Thracian king, an ally of Antigonus, and then attacked Pausanias. Pausanias was killed in battle, and his army fled, some joining Lysimachus. In the year 306 BC, hearing that Antigonus appropriated the royal title, Lysimachus also began to call himself king.

Invasion of Asia

In the year 302 BC, Lysimachus decided to try his luck in Asia. He was able to conquer Ionia and parts of Asia Minor. After appearing in Lydia, Lysimachus took the ancient city of Sardis. Antigonus opposed him but was too distracted by a confrontation with another diadochy, Seleucus. Soon after that was the battle of Ipsa, in which Antigonus perished, and his power and lands were divided up among the winners.

Lysimachus annexed Asia Minor, transferred the capital to Ephesus and from that time began to play a more prominent role in the political events of that time. In 299 BC, Lysimachus married Arsinoe, daughter of his comrade Ptolemy, who founded the royal dynasty of the Ptolemies in Egypt.

War with the Getae

In 291 BC, Lysimachus began a war with the nearest of his neighbors, the Getae. The war went badly, and he was captured. Dromichaetes the king of the Getae, accepted Lysimachus with exceptional cordiality. After pointing out the poverty of the Getae, he advised against fighting such tribes, but to enter into friendly relations with them. Lysimachus, in order to make peace and gain his freedom, abandoned the lands beyond the Danube and gave his daughter to Dromichaetes. Engaged in the war in Thrace, Lysimachus lost his dominion in Macedonia, without conflict, to Demetrius. Demetrius wanted to attack Thrace, but he was distracted by a riot in Greece.

The Fight with Demetrius

Demetrius, now with the powers of the whole of Macedonia, decided to take Asia away from Lysimachus, Ptolemy, Seleucus. Lysimachus again concluded a military alliance, united their military forces and moved the war to Europe. They were joined by the king of Epirus, Pyrrhus. Fearing an insurrection in favor of Demetrius among the Thracians under his control, Lysimachus lured them under the pretext of distributing food and ordered them cut to pieces. In the battle of Amphipolis, Demetrius defeated Lysimachus, and he could have lost his kingdom had Pyrrhus not come to the rescue. Pyrrhus occupied the Macedonian cities, provoked insurrection in the army of Demetrius, forced him to flee, and took possession of the Macedonian kingdom (in 288 BC). Lysimachus demanded to share power for his services and received part of Macedonia from Pyrrhus.

While all this was happening, Lysimachus killed his brother-in-law Antipater, the son of Cassandra, who accused his father-in-law of having lost the Macedonian throne. Lysimachus imprisoned his daughter Eurydice, who supported these charges.

War with Pyrrhus I

In 285 BC, after the defeat of Demetrius in Syria, Lysimachus moved finally against the Epirus of king Pyrrhus, who was camping near Edessa. At first, he attacked Pyrrhus’ supply lines bringing food, seized these supplies, and thereby caused hunger in the army. Then Lysimachus encouraged the most notable Macedonians to commit treason, shaming them. When many leaned in favor of Lysimachus, Pyrrhus, frightened, left the armies, losing Macedonia as easily as he had previously acquired it. Lysimachus became the Macedonian king, retaining for himself Thrace and Asia Minor.

The War with Seleucus I

According to Memnon of Herakleia, Lysimachus himself first tried to poison his son, suspecting him of treason, but when the attempt failed, he ordered him to be thrown into prison and then killed by sword. The son of Lysimachus, Alexander, fled to Seleucus, prompting him to speak out against Lysimachus. Lysimachus went to Asia, where in February or March 281 BC, he was killed in battle with Seleucus in now modern Syria. He was 80 years old. The remains of Lysimachus were buried by his son Alexander. Seleucus moved to Macedonia to take possession of the Lysimachus’ legacy, but immediately after crossing the Hellespont, he was killed by his companion Ptolemy Keraunos, who became the next Macedonian king.


  • Lizimah, commander of Alexander the Great // Encyclopaedic dictionary of Brockhaus and Efron
  • Lysimachus (English) . – in Smith ‘s Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
  • Talakh VN Everything that King Demetrius Would Want / Ed. V. N. Talakh, S. A. Kuprienko
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