Aegead dynasty, Alexander the Great, Hercules, Macedonian Empire, Zeus

From Hercules to Alexander: Argead dynasty & the Legend of Macedonia

 An exhibit about my favorite ancestor Alexander II of Macedon or, Alexander the Great (356-321 BC) as he is generally known,  ended recently in Oxford England. This exhibition was about the ancient Macedonian royal lineage of Alexander the Great (pictured left) and presented evidence that his family and kingdom were firmly rooted in the culture and civilization of Ancient Greece. The tittle of this exhibition was: “From Hercules to Alexander: the legend of Macedonia” and it featured exhibits from the Aigai Museum in Northern Greece. According to Greek archaeologists who worked on the recent digs at the Palace in Aigai, a series of finds prove that “Alexander the Great did not just spring out of nowhere to take over the entire world. He was a scion of the Argead dynasty  that ruled the Macedonian Kingdom for three and a half centuries and who were descendants of Hercules and Zeus.” According to the narrative of the exhibition in Oxford, the genealogical tree of the ancient Macedonian kings claimed to be stemming from Zeus and Hercules and reaching to Alexander’s son, Alexander IV.

The Argead dynasty is an Ancient Greek royal house. They were the ruling dynasty of Macedon Greece from about 810 to 310 BC. Their tradition, as described in ancient Greek historiography, traced their origins to Argos (hence the name Argeads and the Argead dynasty), in southern Greece.

Map of Argean migration route from Argos, Peloponnese, to Macedonia northern Greece.

Initially the Argeads (and because I am Macedonian, at this point, I will start referring them my great ancestors), they were just the rulers of their homonymous tribe, but, by the time of King Philip II (382-336 BC), which I wrote at a previous post, the Argeads had expanded their reign further to include under the rule of Macedon all Upper Macedonian states. 

The family’s most celebrated members were Philip the II (pictured left) of Macedon and Alexander the Great, under whose leadership, the kingdom of Macedon gradually gained predominance throughout Greece, defeated the Achaemenid (Persian) Empire, and expanded as far as Egypt and India. The Argeads claimed descent from Temenids of Argos, in Peloponnese, whose legendary ancestor was Temenus, the great-great-grandson of Heracles. In the excavations of the royal Palace at Aegae the “tholos” room (believed to be the throne room) was discovered with an inscription relating to this belief. This is testified by historian Herodotus,  in The Histories, where he mentions that three brothers of the

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lineage of Temenus (named Gauanes, Aeropus and Perdiccas) fled from  Argos to Macedonia, where after several moves, they ended in a part near mount Bermio (close to my birthplace which I find this fascinating) and gradually they formed the Macedonian kingdom. According to historian Thucydides, in the History of the Peloponnesian War, he is also stating that the Argeads were originally Temenids from Argos, who descended from the highlands to Lower Macedonia, expelled the Pieriens from Pieria, and acquired in Paionia a narrow strip along the river Axios extending to Pella and the sea.

So who were the Argeads before they occupied Argos and the Peloponnese? They were the Dorians — around 1,200 BC they migrated from the North, North-Eastern mountainous region of Greece, Ancient Macedonia and Epirus and returned to the earlier Mycenaea in the Peloponnese “as the return of the sons of Hercules.” This group of  Dorians, with Temenus as their leader (who was the descendant of Hercules, a demi-god whose father was zeus), invaded and destroyed the Myceneans. According to various myths and legends, the founder of the Dorians was  Dorus, son of Hellen — patriarch of the Hellenes. The Dorian invaders were known for the use of  iron weapons where the tribes (Mycenaeans) that lived in the Peloponnese fought with stones — they had no chance winning against the superior weapons of the Dorians. And why did the “sons of Hercules” returned or invaded the Mycenaeans in the Peloponnese? According to legend, Hercules performed a heroic act by restoring King Tyndareus, King of Sparta, to his throne and king Tyndareus gave him a part of his kingdom as a gratitude gift. Hercules asked for the gift to be safeguarded until it was claimed by his descendants, which of course were Temenus and the Dorians, and this explains the “Dorian Invasion” of the Peloponnese and the Mycenaeans.  Eventually, the Argeads  that settled in Argos, moved up North again to Macedonia and created the Macedonian kingdom.

More about Philip II, Alexander the Great, and much more about  Macedonia coming up–as these are my GREAT ancestors and my GREAT birthplace,  and I am fascinated by the discoveries, as I condider myself to be extreemely priviledged and lucky to be associated with such history..

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Alexander the Great, Ancient Greek history, Macedonian Kingdom, Phillip of Macedon

Phillip II of Macedon – Alexander the Great (continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Oh, how a small portion of earth will hold us when we are dead, who ambitiously seek after the whole world while we are living!”

PHILLIP  II OF MACEDON  – Macedonian king, father of Alexander the Great (382 BC – 336 BC)

Phillip II  (359 BC), father of Alexander the Great, was a charismatic ruler, whose strategic genius and diplomatic ability transformed Macedonia from an insignificant and marginal country into the most important power in the Aegean and paved the way for the pan-Hellenic expedition of his son Alexander III to the Orient. He was an expansive leader who had the breath of vision to usher the ancient world into the epoch of the Hellenism of three continents.

During the course of his tempestuous life, he firmly established the power of the central authority in the  Macedonian kingdom, reorganized the army into a flexible and amazing efficient unit and  made Macedonia incontestably superior to the institution of the city-state which, at this precise period, was declining.

He was a major inspiration to Alexander who eventually surpassed him in his accomplishments and his achievement of eternal glory.

Phillip’s unexpected death at the hands of an assassin in 336 BC in the theater at Aigai (on the very day of the marriage of his daughter Cleopatra to her uncle Alexander King of the Molossians and Olympia’s brother) , brought  to an end a brilliant career, the final aim of which was to unify the Greeks in order to extract vengeance on Persia for the invasion of 481-480 BC; Macedonia, in complete control of the Balkan peninsula, was ready with Alexander III as its new king, to assume its new role.

 …more about Alexander the Great’s legend …                                              

                                                                                 

                                                                                                            

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Alexander the Great, Ancient Greek history, Classical Education, culture, Macedonia, Uncategorized

Ancient Macedonia – Alexander the Great (continued )

 

 

 

 

” Macedonia my divine motherland” SG

Occupying the bigger part of Northern Greece, Macedonia  first appears on the historical scene as a geographical-political superpower in the 7th century BC,  (around 810 BC) when it

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extended from the upper waters of the Haliakmon river and mount Olympus to the river Strymon. At this time the Greek tribe of the Macedones called the Argeads (of Dorian decent) who have migrated from the south  (Argos) and whose home was in Orestis, began to expand, driving out the Thracians and contending with the Illyrians, and gradually settling in the region called “Lower Macedonia or, Macedonia by the Sea”.

This time is the official begining of the Argead or Macedonian Empire — more about the origins of the Argeads to be posted very soom..

Image. Map of Ancient Macedonia.

The country was self-sufficient in products to meet basic needs (timber, cereals, game, fish, livestock, minerals) and soon became the exclusive supplier of other Greek states less blessed by nature, though at the same time it came to be the target of expansionist schemes dictated largely by economic interests.  A particularly “introspective” land, with conservative customs (still existing today, if I can say based on my personal experience of my upbringing by my Macedonian parents) and way of life and social structure and political organization of markedly archaic character, speaking a distinctive form of the Doric dialect, Macedonia took over the reigns of the Greek spirit in the 4th century BC when the city-state was entering on its decline, revealing admirable adaptability in the face of the demands of the present and the achievements of the past, and ingenuity and boldness when confronted with the problems of the future. The country was quickly transformed into a performer of new roles, opening up new roads towards the epoch of the Hellenism of the three continents.

This is about when  Alexanders’ father, King Philip II of Macedon   (359 BC) succeeded as the ruler of the Macedonian Empire.

…more about Phillip and Alexander coming up…

Note: Please see future post dated 10-09-11: From Hercules to Alexander  – for more information about the Argead Dynasty and the legent of Ancient Macedonia.

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