General carnage in the family of Alexander the Great

The discovery of a mysterious epitaph in northern Greece traces back to a terrifying power struggle that began when Alexander the Great gave up. This started a power struggle in…

The discovery of a mysterious epitaph in northern Greece traces back to a terrifying power struggle that began when Alexander the Great gave up. This started a power struggle in the Macedonian state and it did not end until Alexander’s entire family was killed.

On uninhabited land not far from Amphipolis in Northern Greece stands a massive burial mound that preserves the history of power struggles, murders and bankruptcy.

Measuring 158 meters in diameter, this man-made mound is not only the largest ever found in Greece, but is linked to one of the bloodiest family tragedies of antiquity – following the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC.

Inside the mound, archaeologists have uncovered a 25-meter-long marble tomb divided into four rooms, all decorated with stone statues, carved ornaments and colorful mosaic floors.

That the mausoleum was also intended as a monument is clearly seen in the artistic carvings on the doors to the inner spaces. The doors weigh a total of 1.5 tons.

In the Kasta tomb, so-called caryatids, female statues that are also supporting columns, were found.

“The architectural features are so diverse that as an archaeologist you stand stunned,” says Dimitria Malamidou by phone from her office in Serres, northern Greece.

She leads the excavation of this magnificent tomb, which has attracted worldwide attention since it began in 2012. However, there is one question in particular that burns on the lips of enthusiasts: Who was buried in the Kasta tomb, as it is now called?

“There is no doubt that this is a family burial ground and that the family that lies there belonged to the upper class of society”.
Dimitria Malamidou, archaeologist

In total, archaeologists have found the bones of 5 individuals: a corn child, two full-grown men, an elderly woman and finally the cremated remains of a man of unknown age.


“There is no doubt that this is a family tomb and this family has been at the pinnacle of society,” says Dimitria Malamidou.


According to experts, the tomb dates from 325-300 BC, when Amphipolis belonged to Macedonia. At this time, the Macedonian aristocracy was mainly composed of Alexander the Great’s family and people closely related to him. The mausoleum thus breathes new life into the darkest chapters in the history of this Macedonian king.


His death resulted in one of the bloodiest power struggles of antiquity, wiping out most of his family and causing a wave of destruction throughout his kingdom. At the forefront of this bloodshed was Alexander’s own mother, Olympias.


Alexander’s death brought disaster

In the summer of 323 BC messengers brought the fateful message Queen Olympias had feared for years: her son, Alexander, had died in Babylon at the age of 32.


In 11 years he had conquered the vast Persian Empire, Egypt and part of present-day India. In doing so, he had established the largest empire in world history up to that time.


All these 11 years, Olympias had not seen her son once, and now it was clear that she would never see him again.


Although the messengers said that Alexander had died of an illness, the queen suspected that he had actually been poisoned.


For years she had been forced to take action in her native Epiros, west of Macedonia, because of a disagreement with Alexander’s general, Antipater, whom Alexander had entrusted with power in Macedonia during his campaign in the Middle East.


However, shortly before his death, Alexander had deposed Antipater and ordered him to lead new armies into Asia.


He may have made this decision because of complaints from his mother. Iollas, one of Antipater’s youngest sons, was Alexander’s butler, and Olympias suspected him of having poisoned Alexander on his father’s orders.

At the wedding, it was Philip II’s bodyguard who killed him, possibly at Olympia’s request.

The king himself feared the queen

As a princess of Epiros, Olympias grew up firmly believing that she was descended from the legendary hero Achilles and that she was destined for a great role.

When she married Philip II of Macedonia in 357 BC. and bearing him a son Alexander, she concentrated on making this son the most powerful ruler the world had ever seen.

Olympias removed all possible obstacles to Alexander’s path to the throne. Thus she herself murdered the youngest wife of Philip II and her newborn son.

King Philip himself feared his conniving queen and her ruthlessness in the table of power. The fear was probably well-founded because unconfirmed rumors say that she got the bodyguard Pausanias to kill Philip at the wedding of her daughter Cleopatra.

After the death of Philip, the way was clear for Alexander, the son of Olympias.

She was filled with rage and despair because Alexander had no heir and his sudden death therefore caused a predictable disintegration of the kingdom.


Alexander’s generals, who had stood together in peace and war under him, now fought over who should take over. In this battle, no one could feel safe, not even Olympias.


She knew that Alexander’s wife, Roxane of Bactria, in what is now Afghanistan, was pregnant, but even if the child was a boy, he would not be able to take over the throne for 18 years.


So she decided to draft a marriage plan that could secure the family’s power. She herself was too old, but she still had a trump card, her daughter, Cleopatra.


Sisters offered marriages to power

As Alexander’s sister, Cleopatra could bear her husband a rightful heir to the crown. She was therefore a desirable bride for anyone who sought power in the Kingdom of Macedonia.


Cleopatra immediately agreed to her mother’s idea: She planned to go to the city of Sardis in Asia Minor, where she intended to propose marriage to Perdiccas, one of Alexander’s generals.


Perdiccas was now in a bloody struggle for power in the state with other generals of Alexander, but in one respect he had a stronger position than the others: shortly before his death, Alexander had appointed him commander-in-chief.


In addition, he had been given the position of being the agent of Alexander’s son, who Roxane had given birth to at the time of the story, causing many to sigh in relief.


He was named Alexander IV and the army named him king along with Alexander’s half-brother, Philip Arrhidaeus.


For this reason, an alliance with Perdiccas would be invaluable to Cleopatra and Olympias, but right now they were facing a new threat.


The mother killed

That threat was called Eurydike and was the daughter of Alexander the Great’s half-sister. When Eurydike and her mother heard that Philip Arrhidaeus had been named king, they immediately left for Asia with a plan strikingly similar to that of Olympias and Cleopatra.


However, Eurydike and her mother planned to catch an even bigger fish and aimed for a marriage between Eurydike and Philippus Arrhidaeus, even though he had the intellectual development of a four-year-old child and was on top of Eurydike’s cousin.


If they had a son, Alexander IV’s claim to the kingship would no longer be so self-evident.


Realizing the danger, Perdikkas organized a military party to capture Eurydike and her mother, but the plan went wrong and the mother was killed.


When the daughter was taken to the camp, the soldiers were very angry at the news that Alexander’s sister had been killed.


Surrounded by such tyranny, Perdiccas saw his worst and allowed the marriage of Eurydike and Philippus Arrhidaeus, who was too confused to raise any objections.


Alexander the Great died in Babylon, surrounded by his generals who soon after had gathered together.

The death of Alexander the Great split the empire

In 11 years, Alexander the Great conquered territories that formed the largest empire of antiquity, but no one proved able to hold it together.

In the year 334 BC ISK Alexander invaded the mighty kingdom of Persia in the east with more than 50,000 infantry and cavalry.

The Persians had been the main opponents of the Greeks for centuries, but both the Greeks and the Persians considered Macedonia in the north to be an underdeveloped barbarian society.

But Philip II, Alexander’s father, built a large army that Alexander used to attack the Persians after his father’s death.

After several major battles, he succeeded in defeating the Persian army and taking control of the vast Persian Empire, which, in addition to modern Iran, covered Egypt, Turkey and Afghanistan.

In his last campaign, Alexander reached all the way to Pakistan and India.

But after this trip he fell ill and died in the city of Babylon in 323 BC. Soon after, a power struggle broke out between Alexander’s generals, some of whom founded their own states.

A general stole the king’s body

This marriage put an end to Perdiccas’ account, but he saw new hope when he heard that Cleopatra was on her way to propose marriage to him.

The thought of marrying Alexander’s full sister presented him with an irresistible opportunity.

“Since he intended the kingship, he was determined to marry Cleopatra, believing that he could use her to persuade the Macedonians to grant him absolute power”, wrote the ancient Greek historian Diodorus.

Perdikkas was also responsible for bringing Alexander’s body home to Macedonia for burial.

It had been anointed and was now awaiting transportation to Babylon. He had already completed his plan in that regard. The king’s body was to be transported in a huge, gold-clad carriage pulled by 64 donkeys.

Now Perdiccas envisioned himself leading the funeral procession to the Macedonian capital with Alexander’s sister as his wife by his side.

That would eliminate all doubts about his right to the crown – he thought.

The mausoleum was built for dignitaries

The construction and decoration of the Kasta mausoleum must have cost an exorbitant amount of money and only the nobility could afford such luxury.

When Greek archaeologists found traces of a tomb in the Kasta Mound in northern Greece, they first thought it was an ordinary tomb. Since the 1960s, more than 70 graves have been found in the area.

But soon after excavation began, the archaeologists changed their minds.

It turned out that the mound was part of a monument, and when they got inside the tomb itself, it turned out to be one of the most impressive monuments in Greece.

“It is conclusive that we are faced with an enormously significant discovery,” Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said when media members were invited to view the tomb in 2014.

Although there were grave robbers on the move, the statues and decorations show that the people who were laid to rest here must have belonged to the country’s most noble elite.

An expert has estimated the cost of the grave at around 25 tons of silver.

Another of Alexander’s generals destroyed this dream.

General Ptolemy had taken advantage of the chaos after Alexander’s death to establish his own kingdom in Egypt with Alexandria as its capital. And he also intended to make use of the body of Alexander the Great. If the king were to be buried in Egypt, it could create unchallenged legitimacy for the new Ptolemaic kingdom.

That is why it happened that when the gilded chariot with Alexander’s embalmed body began its journey from Babylon to Macedonia, Ptolemy’s men made a raid and removed the body from the chariot and set off with it to Egypt.

Now suddenly it was Ptolemy and not Perdiccas who marched into his capital at the head of Alexander the Great’s bodyguard.

Perdikkas now had to act quickly to avoid complete humiliation.

Is Alexander the great in the tomb?

Even after his death, Alexander the Great was able to completely change the balance of power. In the more than 2,300 years that have passed since his death, human interest in his final resting place has only grown.

Every time people find a grave from the fourth century BC. the same question arises: have the mortal remains of Alexander the great finally been found? And this also happened when the Kasta tomb was discovered, says Dimitria Malamidou.

The lion that once stood on top of the tomb was rebuilt in 1937 from the fragments found. The size of the statue alone shows how important the deceased in the tomb must have been.

“Rumours that Alexander the Great’s body might have been secretly transported to Macedonia spread immediately,” she explains, then continues:


“Searching for the body of Alexander the Great is beginning to resemble the search for the Holy Grail.” People hope and think that now we are finally on track.”


But she rejects all theories that Alexander’s body is found in the Kasta tomb.


“It’s not him. We have no evidence that his body was ever taken out of Egypt,” she underlines.


The Nile stole Perdiccas’ victory

General Perdiccas was convinced that he could still return to Macedonia as the new ruler with Cleopatra at his side.


But first he had to deal with Ptolemy. Perdiccas went to Egypt with all of Alexander’s best trained soldiers and a herd of Indian elephants in addition.


When it came to the Nile, Perdiccas did not hesitate, even though the water was deep and the river had a strong current. Alexander the Great had moved his army across great rivers such as the Indus and the Hydaspes with the help of elephants, and now Perdiccas wanted to emulate that.


He sent the elephants into the river to reduce the current and make it easier for the soldiers to cross. But these giant creatures stirred up so much sand that the river deepened and the soldiers could not reach the bottom.


The current moved back up and only the fittest managed to get ashore. The force of the river swept many thousands of people and washed them away. On the bank of the river Perdikkas stood helplessly and watched his men disappear into the river.


“In the evening, the camp echoed with complaints about the many lives that had been lost there in complete senselessness,” writes Diodorus.


The surviving soldiers could not forgive Perdikkas. Compared to Alexander the great, he had failed in every way.


He himself knew that now all hope was lost.


The man who had dreamed of becoming the new Alexander offered no resistance, nor uttered a cry, according to Diodorus, when his former brothers-in-arms “broke into his tent late at night and stabbed him to death!”

All the bones of the 35-40 year old man bear traces of unhealed puncture wounds.

At least five people rest in the grave

Ever since the Kasta tomb was discovered in 2012, archaeologists have puzzled over who the tomb was built for. In the innermost space, the skeletal remains of at least 5 individuals, four adults and one infant, were found.

A – Infant, 0-1 years old.

B – Male, 35-40 years old.

C – Male, about 45 years old.

D – Burnt bone of an adult.

EWoman about 60 years old

General in the Caste Tomb?

Archaeologist Dimitria Malamidou does not rule out the possibility that the Kasta tomb was built over one of Alexander the Great’s generals.


“Many of the soldiers who returned home, especially those who had shown the greatest loyalty to Alexander, were assigned land in the area around Amphipolis.”


The participation of the generals in the conquests of Alexander the Great was not forgotten. Everyone knew of their conquests around the world and they have undoubtedly been honored with dignified tombs.


However, it was not to be for Perdikkas. He was killed hundreds of kilometers away from Amphipolis, so it is definitely not him who was buried in this tomb.


However, the mausoleum may have been built in honor of some other general of Alexander the Great.


Many researchers, however, point out that the Kasta tomb is far too dignified for that to pass. Even Alexander’s father, Philip II, was not given such a grand tomb. Therefore, this grave must house an even more remarkable person.


Olympias bet on the grandson

After Perdiccas’ death, Olympias gave up the idea of marriage. Instead, she now turned her attention to her grandson, Alexander IV who, together with Philip Arrhidaeus, had been crowned king.


She had never seen the child, but if she managed to become the boy’s guardian, she could keep a protective shield over him until he was old enough to rule on his own.


But her sworn archenemy, the general Antipater, was more quick-witted.


He went to Asia Minor and brought the two kings home to Macedonia where he could keep them both in his custody. This made Olympias fear for the safety of little Alexander.


Just as Antipater had arranged for Alexander to have his mother, Roxane, with him, he also brought Philip’s wife Arrhidaeus, the resourceful Eurydike, home with him.


And Olympias did not trust her at all.

Roxane was married to Alexander during his campaign in Bactria, when she was only 13 years old.

A pregnant wife killed a rival

When Alexander the Great died, his youngest wife, Roxane, was pregnant.

Roxane knew that if she had a son, he could inherit Alexander’s entire empire.

Soon after, news reached her that Alexander’s second wife, the Persian princess Stateira, was also pregnant.

Roxane was from Bactria in present-day Afghanistan, and it was clear to her that the Macedonians were opposed to her marriage, as they did not consider her to be married to Alexander.

She feared that Stateira’s child would be chosen as the successor. Stateira was still unaware of Alexander’s death and Roxane wrote her a letter in his name and managed to lure Stateira to Babylon.

“When she arrived, Roxane killed her and her sister and threw the bodies into a well,” writes the Greek historian Plutarch.

Stateira’s grandmother, Queen Sisygambis, realized the betrayal when she received news of Alexander’s death.

Four days later she died of grief.

In 319 BC Antipater died of old age.


His eldest son, Kassander, was ready to take over, but just before his death, Antipater made it his last act to appoint his general, Polyperchon, as supreme leader and put him in charge of the two kings.


Kassander was furious at this decision. He refused to obey a man unrelated to Antipater and plotted a rebellion to seize power in Macedonia.


Before his death, Antipater had warned Polyperchon: “Don’t let a woman rule Macedonia!”


But Polyperchon disregarded this advice, as it was clear to this old general that Kassander and his companions were preparing a coup d’état and he therefore needed powerful allies.


He therefore ordered Olympias to take care of little Alexander in Epiros, where he would be safer.


For Olympias, this was like a gift from heaven and she accepted the offer without delay.


And she took no chances. She had spent most of her life getting her son’s enemies down, and now it was her grandson’s enemies’ turn. First in line was Eurydike.


The women fought

Realizing that her life was in danger from Olympias, Eurydike, learning of her alliance with Polyperchon, joined Cassander’s rebels with her husband Philip Arrhidaeus.


Together they managed to put Polyperchon to flight, and Eurydike was then appointed guardian of Philip Arrhidaeus and thus the new monarch of Macedonia.


Polyperchon fled to Epiros where he begged Olympias.


The old queen did not hesitate. Eurydike’s rise to power meant that the little boy, Alexander IV was now in danger.


Olympias therefore assembled an army and marched with Polyperchon to the frontier.


Cassander had gone south to the Peloponnese to gather support, so Eurydike had to defend Macedonia on her own. Thus it happened that in 317 BC Eurydike and Olympias faced each other on the battlefield.


Olympias stood proud and proud at the head of the army, clad in a heart fur like the god Dionysus, and gazed icy coldly at the unborn Eurydike as Olympias sent her son off to conquer the world.

After the death of Alexander the Great, everyone fought against everyone. Grimmúdugust was his own mother Olympias

Eurydike never stood a chance against Olympias because in her gaze Alexander the Great seemed to appear and his memory was more powerful than any sword.

“Out of respect for the position of Olympias and the memory of all Alexander’s achievements, the Macedonians joined her,” writes the historian Diodorus.

Olympias could hardly contain her joy of victory.

“Olympias sent Eurydike a sword, a noose, and a goblet of poison.”
The historian Diodorus

She had defeated Eurydike and thereby eliminated the greatest threat to Alexander’s legacy.

Eurydike and her husband, Flippus Arrhidaeus, were both captured and walled up in small cells. Only small slits were left so that food could be brought to them.

After a few weeks, however, Olympias decided to put an end to their suffering.

Diodorus reports that the queen had Philppus Arrhidaeus executed, but Eurydike was allowed to choose her own death date:

“Olympias sent Eurydike a sword, a noose, and a goblet of poison.”

The queen’s men watched closely as Eurydike made it her last task to wipe off the sword of the man’s blood she had so childishly exploited in the struggle for power.

“Then she hanged herself by her girdle without shedding a single tear for her fate or her debt,” writes Diodorus.

Avenging Alexander’s death

The murders of Eurydike and Philip Arrhidaeus were not enough for Olympias, however.

She was still convinced that Antipater and his sons had overthrown Alexander, and now she wanted revenge.

Kassander was far south in the country and in his place Olympias had his youngest brother, Nikanor, killed.

“She also picked a hundred of Kassander’s most influential friends and had them all slaughtered.”
The historian Diodorus.

The middle brother, Iollas, who had been Alexander’s butler, was already dead, but Olympias had his body exhumed and desecrated.

“She also chose a hundred of Cassander’s most influential friends and had them all slaughtered,” writes Diodorus.

When the rumors of the massacre reached Cassander, he immediately headed for Macedonia with his army.

Although Olympias and Polyperchon were prepared for the attack, its strength took them completely by surprise.

Olympias, Roxane, and Alexander the Younger had taken refuge in the fortress of Pydna, south of Amphipolis, while Polyperchon led the army to the border.

However, Kassander bribed Polyperchon’s soldiers and made them flee instead. Cassander’s army then surrounded Pydna and besieged it for months. All the while, Olympias and others in the fort lived on rations at the brink of starvation and waited for help.

“The knights who did not take part in the defense of the fortress and therefore received no food, almost all died, and the same was the fate of numerous foot soldiers,” writes Diodorus.

In their desperation, some of the inhabitants resorted to eating the corpses of the dead.

“Driven by a thirst for revenge, they murdered the queen, but she did not utter so much as a feminine moan or sigh.”
The historian Diodorus.

When it became clear that no help was forthcoming, Olympias finally sent word to Cassander that she was willing to surrender on condition that her life be spared.

Cassander acceded to the demand, but instituted a trial that ended in Olympias’ death sentence.

However, Kassander did not want to be remembered as the man who had executed Alexander the Great’s mother.

Instead, he ordered 200 soldiers to do so by assault.

Cassander planned to have his soldiers kill Olympias, but they refused.

Olympias stood her ground against her executioners. Her courage struck fear into the soldiers and they thought they recognized Alexander himself in the old woman’s posture. None of them dared to touch her.


In his anger, Kassander decided to bring in the relatives of those whom Olympias had killed. They dragged her out of the castle, surrounded her and stoned her with a great thirst for revenge.


“Driven by a thirst for revenge, they murdered the queen, but she did not utter so much as a feminine moan or sigh,” says Diodorus.


The tomb may belong to a queen

Olympias was stoned to death in 316 BC, just a year after she had Eurydike and Philip Arrhidaeus murdered.


Alexander the Great’s mother, half-sister, half-sister’s daughter and half-brother had now all lost their lives in the battle for his inheritance. And there were to be more murders.


Scientists believe it is possible that the Kasta Tomb is the final resting place of both Eurydike and Olympias.


Many experts believe the tomb bears all the signs of being a queen’s tomb. Archaeologists have found images of sphinxes in ancient Macedonian tombs.


These mythical creatures may have been some sort of symbol of Macedonian queens, and in the Kasta tomb there are two sphinx statues.


Eurydike became queen when she married Philip Arrhidaeus, but although the second male skeleton corresponds to the age of the 42-year-old Philip Arrhidaeus, no skeleton corresponds to the age of Eurydike, who was only twenty.


Queen Olympias is a completely different story. The best-preserved skeleton is of a woman in her sixties, and that age matches her.


Experts also point out that two statues in the tomb, so-called caryatids, could represent the goddesses of Dionysus, Olympias was precisely known for its worship of Dionysus.


The two men in the tomb could possibly be the generals of Olympias, Aristonous and Monimus who defended the cities of Amphipolis and Pella from Cassander’s army.


Olympias sent them both orders to surrender as she did so herself. According to sources, Kassander had Aristonous murdered.


The skeleton with puncture marks could therefore be from him.

All the bones of the 35-40 year old man bear traces of unhealed puncture wounds.

The corn child and the burnt skeleton could then possibly be Olympias’ unknown relatives.

The remains of at least 5 people were lying in and around a stone coffin in the innermost space of the Kasta tomb.

Who are in the tomb?

Although the names of the people are still a mystery, scientists have put forward hypotheses about the names of people who have in common to have been in Alexander the Great’s inner circle.


Is this Alexander the Great?
  • With: The tomb’s size and furnishings indicate great majesty. The timing also coincides with the time of Alexander’s death.


  • Counter: Despite frequent reburials, there is no evidence that Alexander’s body ever left Egypt.


  • With: An inscription in the Kasta tomb was initially thought to indicate that the tomb belonged to Hephaiston, Alexander’s best friend. He died in what is now Iran in 324 BC. and the body was burned at the stake. Alexander demanded that monuments be erected in Hephaiston’s honor throughout the kingdom.


  • Counter: Alexander died only 7 months after Hephaiston, and it is impossible that the Kasta tomb was then fully built. No one else could have been willing to build such an expensive tomb in honor of Hephaiston. Inscribed stones in his proposed grave could have been used for this one though.


Alexander’s general?
  • With: Some of Alexander’s generals settled in Amphipolis and are believed to have been buried there.


  • Opposite: The mausoleum is too grand for a general and there is no indication that a soldier rests there.


Eurydike and Arrhidaeus?
  • With: Philippus Arrhidaeus was retarded and allowed to marry Eurydike, who thus became queen. They therefore had the right to a royal tomb. Philip lived to be 42 years old and a male skeleton with puncture marks may belong to him.


  • Counter: Cassander gave the couple a royal funeral in Aigai, the capital of Macedonia, shortly after Olympias’ death.


Alexander IV and Roxane?
  • By virtue of her marriage, Roxane was Alexander the Great’s queen, but Cassander had her and her son, Alexander IV, assassinated at Amphipolis in 310 BC . As king and son of Alexander the Great, Alexander IV was entitled to a royal tomb.


  • Counter: Roxane was in her 40s when she was killed, and that doesn’t match any skeletons. Alexander IV was 13 years old, but none of the skeletons are of a teenager.


Or maybe Olympias?
  • Featuring: Olympias was about sixty when Kassander had her put to death. Age comes home and joins the woman’s skeleton. Her two closest generals were both close to forty and died at the same time as her. The age therefore matches well with the two male skeletons. Another was killed by Kassander who comes home with a stab wound on one of the skeletons. Kassander now became the king of Macedonia and is therefore almost the only one who could have afforded to have such a magnificent tomb built.
  • He may have had the mausoleum built to appease the relatives of Alexander the Great.


  • Counter: Olympias’ merciless slaughter of Kassander’s relatives makes it hard to believe that Kassander allowed such a magnificent tomb in her honor.

Cassander killed Alexander’s son

After executing Olympias, Kassander still faced one problem, Roxane and Alexander IV who was now seven years old.

The boy was the heir to the crown, and Kassander therefore posed a threat to him. But he was also the son of Alexander the Great. Kassander therefore did not dare to execute him – immediately.

Instead, he sent mother and son to Amphipolis. But they did not last long. When Alexander turned 13, Kassander had them both executed.

Two years later, another Macedonian general assassinated Cleopatra, Alexander the Great’s sister.

15 years after the death of Alexander the Great, his family was practically extinct, and it was impossible for any of his heirs to restore the Macedonian Empire.

After the assassination of Alexander the Great’s son, Cassander proclaimed himself king of Macedonia.

Worms ate Kassander

Fate eventually caught up with the man who killed Alexander the Great’s mother, wife and son and met a cruel end.

After the death of Olympias, Kassander married Thessalonica, Alexander the Great’s half-sister, and then founded the city of Thessalonica in her honor.

He proclaimed himself king but remained at odds with Alexander the Great’s former generals.

There was no end to those scissors until 297 BC. but then he took an illness which was said to be characterized by hydroedema and worm disease. Kassander died of this illness and suffered great pain.

His son, Philip, died soon after of the same disease.

The eldest son, Antipater, murdered his mother, Thessalonica, when she demanded that he share power with the youngest brother, Alexandros – who then killed his own brother. Alexandros, Kassander’s last heir was himself murdered a few years later.

Those who came after resumed a bloody struggle for supremacy – but the difference was that Alexander the Great had created the idea of a territory far greater than anyone had previously dreamed of.

Of all this now remains this remarkable tomb near Amphipolis, where the wife and son of Alexander the Great perished. Whether this is the tomb of Olympias we must content ourselves with conjecture.

Archaeologists do not dare to draw such strong conclusions, but research will continue, and it is still not inconceivable that the mystery of the relationship of this tomb to Alexander the Great will eventually be solved.

Read more about the time after Alexander the Great

  • Elizabeth Carney: Olympias: Mother of Alexander the Great , Routledge, 2006
  • James Romm: Ghost on the Throne , Vintage Book, 2011

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