Antigonus Monophthalmus


Antigonus Monophthalmus
(ca. 382 b.c.-301 b.c.)
   One of the so-called Successors of Alexander the Great and for a while a powerful Macedonian Greek warlord who illegally controlled and looted Mesopotamia. Not much is known about Antigonus's life before he was in his sixties, except that he lost an eye in battle as a young man. This was the origin of his nickname Monophthalmos, meaning "the One-Eyed." Antigonus accompanied Alexander in the latter's invasion of the Persian Empire in the late 330s b.c. During these campaigns, Alexander appointed him governor of Phrygia, the region encompassing much of central Anatolia, but Antigonus soon proved that he was not satisfied with a mere governorship. Following Alexander's death in 323 b.c., Antigonus joined with several of Alexander's other former generals and governorsinastruggletogaincontrolof all or parts of the vast empire Alexander had carved out.
   During these seemingly relentless wars, Antigonus claimed he had a right to the title "supreme commander in Asia," which would in effect give him control of much of Alexander's realm. However, another of the Successors, Eumenes, made the same claim, and the two were staunch rivals until Eumenes was killed in 316 B.c.After this, Antigonus arrogantly began acting as if he was master of most of the Near East, including Mesopotamia. Another Successor, Seleucus, had been made governor of Babylonia soon after Alexander's death in an agreement approved by most of the Successors. But he now felt himself overshadowed by Antigonus, who suddenly arrived on the scene and began plundering the region at will. Antigonus looted the former Persian capitals of Persepolis and Susa, taking an estimated twenty-five thousand talents' worth of booty. (At the time, a person with assets worth just a single talent was seen as very well-to-do.) Eventually Seleucus had no choice but to flee to Egypt, where he was sheltered by another Successor, Ptolemy (TAW-luh-mee). Antigonus then marched across upper Mesopotamia toward Syria, stealing another ten thousand talents' worth of loot along the way. He also occupied Sidon, Byblos, and other Phoenician cities. There he put shipbuilders to work to create a fleet with which to make war on the other Successors.
   But many of these rivals of Antigonus were as ambitious and ruthless as he was. And on more than one occasion they formed coalitions against him and his equally power-hungry son, Demetrius Poliorcetes, who later became famous for his massive siege of the island of Rhodes. Antigonus's day of reckoning came when one of these coalitions defeated and killed him at Ipsus in Phrygia in 301 b.c. Incredibly, he went down fighting, though he was now eighty. Among the victors that day was the resilient Seleucus, who had already reestablished himself in Mesopotamia. There, the Seleucid Empire, which was destined to hold sway in that region for more than a century, was in its birth pangs.
   See also: Alexander III ("the Great"); Seleucid Empire; Seleucus I

Ancient Mesopotamia dictioary. . 2015.

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