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Neoptolemus (general)

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Subject: Classical Anatolia, Diadochi, Mithrenes, Gorgias of Macedon, Aretes
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Neoptolemus (general)

Neoptolemus (in Greek Νεoπτόλεμος; died 321 BC) was a Macedonian officer of Alexander the Great.

According to Arrian he belonged to the race of the Aeacidae, so he was probably related to the family of the kings of Epirus.

Neoptolemus is mentioned as serving in the Macedonian royal guards (εταιρoι) and distinguished himself particularly at the siege of Gaza, 332 BC, of which he was the first to scale the walls.[1]

Little has been written about him during the subsequent campaigns of Alexander, however he appears to have earned a reputation as an able soldier. In the division of the provinces after Alexander the Great's death, Neoptolemus obtained the government of Armenia, 323 BC.[2] However, as he had a reputation of being restless and unsettled, Perdiccas regarded him with suspicion. So in 321 BC, when the Perdiccas set out for Ptolemaic Egypt, he placed Neoptolemus under the command of Eumenes, who was told to exercise particular vigilance regarding Neoptolemus .

Perdiccas' suspicions turned out to be well founded: Neoptolemus immediately entered into correspondence with the hostile Macedonian leaders, Antipater and Craterus, and, on being ordered by Eumenes to join him with his contingent, refused to comply. In response, Eumenes immediately marched against him, defeated his army, and compelled all the Macedonian troops in his service to take the oath of fidelity to Perdiccas.

Neoptolemus managed to escape with a small body of cavalry and joined Craterus, whom he persuaded to march immediately against Eumenes, while the latter was still celebrating his victory and unprepared for a fresh attack. But their cautious adversary was not taken by surprise and met his enemies in a pitched battle. During this battle, Neoptolemus commanded the left wing, on which he was opposed to Eumenes himself; and the two leaders, who were bitter personal enemies, sought each other out during the battle and engaged in single combat, in which, after a desperate struggle, Neoptolemus was slain by Eumenes.[3]



  1. ^ Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri, ii. 27
  2. ^ Photius, Bibliotheca, cod. 82
  3. ^ Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca, xviii. 29-31; Plutarch, Parallel Lives, "Eumenes", 4-7; Cornelius Nepos, Lives of Eminent Commanders, "Eumenes", 4; Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus, xiii. 6, 8; Photius, cod. 82, cod. 92


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