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The Story of the Greeks by  H. A. Guerber


 

 

THE LAST OF THE ATHENIANS

[260] ANTIPATER, although master of all Greece, did not treat the people cruelly, for he was very anxious to secure friends who would help him to keep his share of Alexander's realm.

He soon heard that Perdiccas was marching homeward with the infant king, who was named, like his father, Alexander; and he knew that the general wanted to place the child on the Macedonian throne. This plan was very distasteful to Antipater. He was not at all afraid of the infant Alexander, but he knew that Perdiccas would want to be regent, and he wished that position himself.

Rather than give up his authority, Antipater decided to fight; and, as many of Alexander's generals were dissatisfied, they all rose up in arms at the same time, as we have seen.

Perdiccas was surrounded by enemies, but he faced them all bravely, and even led an army into Egypt to subdue Ptolemy, his greatest foe. To reach the enemy, the soldiers under Perdiccas were obliged to swim across the Nile. Here so many of them were eaten up by huge crocodiles, that the rest, angry with their general for leading them into such danger, fell upon him and killed him.

Almost at the same time, Antipater died, leaving his son, Cassander, and his general, Polysperchon, to quarrel over the government of Macedon. Each gathered together an army, and tried to get as many friends as possible, especially among the Greeks.

[261] The Athenians vainly tried to remain neutral during this quarrel; but in the course of the war, Polysperchon came into their city, said that Phocion and many other great citizens were siding with Cassander, and condemned them to die by drinking poison brewed from the hemlock plant.

It seems, however, that there was not enough poison ready to kill them all, so the jailer made Phocion give him some money to buy more. The noble old man, forced to do as he was bidden, gave the necessary amount, saying, "It seems that one cannot even die for nothing in Athens."

As he was the last really noted politician in the city, he has been called the "Last of the Athenians." No one ever dared to uphold the city's power after his death, or tried to help it win back its old freedom.

As soon as Perdiccas was dead, Roxana and her son were brought to Maceon, where they were finally placed under the protection of Polysperchon. When Olympias, the mother of Alexander the Great, saw his infant son, she was so anxious to secure the throne for him alone, that she slew the idiot king Arridæus and all his family.

Under pretext of avenging this crime, Cassander captured and slew Olympias; and then, having won Macedon and Greece from Polysperchon, and seeing that there was no one left to protect Roxana and the child king, he put both mother and son in prison, where they were killed by his order shortly after.

Thus, twelve years after Alexander's death, all his family were dead, and his vast kingdom was a prey to quarreling, which broke it up into several states.


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