Wars of the Diadochi


  • After Alexander the Great died, his generals fought over the control of the empire for 20 years
    • Alexander had an infant son and a brother, but neither was capable of ruling
  • The wars were fought between armies led by Greeks or Macedonians
    • The main competing statesmen were Perdiccas (supreme commander of the army), Antipater (goveror of Greece and Macedon) and Ptolemy (satrap of Egypt)
    • Perdicass had been with Alexander at his deathbed and he received Alexander’s signet ring thereby asserting control over the empire
      • He became a regent for Alexander’s family (the wars were fought for ten years over this regency)

First War (Overthrow of Perdiccas)

  • 321 BC
  • Rebellion broke out against Perdiccas' rule in Asia Minor and Egypt
  • Perdicass was eventually murdered by his general Seleucus


  • Antipater was made regent of the empire
  • Ptolemy retained Egypt
  • Lysichamus retained Thrace
  • Seleucus was granted Babylon
  • Antigonus was granted Asia Minor

Second War (Death of Antipater)

  • 319 BC
  • Instead of passing regency to his son, Cassander, he gave it to Polyperchon
  • War broke out between Polyperchon allied with Eumenes against Cassander, Antigonus and Ptolemy who refused to recognize Polyperchon as regent

Battle of Byzantium

  • 318 BC
  • Battle against asiatic rebels led by Antigonus who won

Battle of Paraitakene

  • 317 BC
  • Eumenes' army of Asiatics and Antigonus' army of Macedonians met in eastern Persia
  • There was no clear winner, but Antigonus had 4 times bigger casualties

Battle of Gabiene

  • 315 BC
  • Antigonus was hunting Eumenes and his army in the desert
    • He gave up, but the two armies still met eventually
  • Both sides had elephants
  • Antigonus was victorious, but the result of the battle was still inconclusive
    • Eumenes was eventually captured and killed


  • Antigonus was in control of Asia
  • Cassander controlled Greece and Macedon
  • Lysichamus controlled Thrace and Asia Minor
  • Ptolemy controlled Egypt

Third War

  • 312 BC
  • Antigonus invaded Ptolemy’s Syria
  • Cassander and Lysimachus allied themselves with Seleucus
  • Polyperchon allied himself with Antigonus
  • During this war, most of Alexander’s relatives were murdered and there was no longer any pretense of regency or unified empire

Battle of Gaza

  • Macedonians under Demetrius (Antigonus’s son) against Syrians and Egyptians under Seleucus and Ptolemy
  • Antigonus lost, but they made peace

Fourth War (Overthrow of Antigonus)

  • 307 – 302 BC
  • Continuation of the third war
  • Many battles

Battle of Salamis

  • 307 BC
  • Between Macedonian fleet under Demetrius and Egyptian fleet under Ptolemy
  • Antigonids won

After many battles, Antigonus finally lost in the…

Battle of Ipsus

  • 302 BC
  • Seleucus defeated Antigonus
  • Antigonus was slain in this battle


  • Antigonus' territory was split between Lysimachus and Seleucus
  • The four remaining generals oficially declared themselves king

Fifth War (Death of Cassander)

  • After Cassander died, neither of his sons was fit to rule, but they managed to instigate a civil war
  • The younger son brought in Demetrius to assert his claim
  • But eventually Demetrius was driven out and the teritorry was split between Lysichamus and Pyrrhus


The situation got really complicated after some time. Some important events:

  • The empire of Lysichamus broke up
    • His general, Philetaerus, seized the region of Pergamon and established the Attalid dynasty
  • There was a Gallic invasion that caused some chaos

After about 50 years from the death of Alexander, 3 relatively stable dynasties ruled the empire:

  • The Ptolemeis ruled Egypt and Judea
  • The Attalids ruled Asia Minor
  • The Seleucids ruled the old Persian empire