Introducing General Perdikkas

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There isn’t a lot written about Alexander’s Companion and general Perdikkas who was one of the Successors.  From what I did read (in histories) he seemed like a self-serving individual who grasped onto the power in order to better his own status. In his career he was known to have made several tactical errors that cost Macedonian lives. And in fact, his final act, a forced crossing of the crocodile-infested Nile River, cost him his own life.

Perdikkas was the son of Orontes, one of the tribal lords of the Macedonian province of Orestis. He distinguished himself during the conquest of Thebes (335 BC) where he was severely wounded.  He was 4 years older than Alexander and had been a Companion since Alexander’s youth serving as one of the generals in the campaigns of Asia. After Hephaestion’s unexpected death, he was appointed as commander of the Companion cavalry and chiliarch. At the marriage nuptials encouraged by Alexander at Susa, Perdikkas married the  daughter of Atropates, a Persian satrap. During the campaigns in India he held an important command.

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When Alexander died in Babylon in 323 BC Perdikkas seized the opportunity to interpret Alexander’s dying words to mean that he should serve as the supreme commander of the army.  When we first meet Perdikkas in SHADOW OF THE LION: BLOOD ON THE MOON he is 37 years old.  His actions, claiming the power, were rejected by a number of the generals who felt that Alexander meant his beloved commander Krateros should be declared supreme commander, however Krateros had been sent back to Macedonia shortly before. Perdikkas then took over as official guardian of the royal family and had Alexander’s idiot half-brother Arridaios named joint-king along with Alexander’s newborn son and legitimate heir, Iskander (Alexander IV). He was intolerant of anyone who opposed his position and further alienated himself by brutally killing any of these opponents.

Once they royal family had left Babylon en route back to Macedonia, Perdikkas furthered his quest to seize control of the throne by agreeing to marry the Regent’s daughter Nikaea.  However, true to form, when he was also offered the hand of Alexander’s sister Kleopatra, he broke off his marriage to Nikaea and sent her home.  Perdikkas knew that because of Arridaios mental deficiency and Iskander’s part-Persian heritage, he would stand a good chance of seizing the throne himself. When the other generals and the Regent learned of this they set out to stop him.

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As Perdikkas marched south in pursuit of Ptolemy who had hijacked Alexander’s funeral carriage and taken the body to Egypt, Perdikkas actions created friction in the army who complained against his severe orders.  When he ordered troops to cross the crocodile infested river that was the final disaster of his career.  After seeing hundreds of their companions drowned and killed by these vicious river beasts, a group of his officers plotted to kill him. Led by Peithon and Seleukos, a group of  generals raided Perdikka’s tent and stabbed him to death.  He was 39 years old.

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There is no monument for Perdikkas.  No bust of him has been found (at least there is no record that I have found) so there is no physical image of him.  He left behind his legacy of corruption and the tragic consequences of his quest for power.

 

 

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