Demetrius I of Macedon

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Demetrius I (Greek: Δημήτριος, 337-283 BC), called Poliorcetes (Greek: Πολιορκητής - "The Besieger"), son of Antigonus I Monophthalmus and Stratonice, was a king of Macedon (294–288 BC). He belonged to the Antigonid dynasty.

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Biography

At the age of twenty-two he was left by his father to defend Syria against Ptolemy the son of Lagus; he was totally defeated in Battle of Gaza, but soon partially repaired his loss by a victory in the neighbourhood of Myus. In the spring of 310, he was soundly defeated when he tried to expel Seleucus I Nicator from Babylon; his father was defeated in the autumn. As a result of this Babylonian War, Antigonus lost almost two thirds of his empire: all eastern satrapies became Seleucus'.

After several campaigns against Ptolemy on the coasts of Cilicia and Cyprus, Demetrius sailed with a fleet of 250 ships to Athens. He freed the city from the power of Cassander and Ptolemy, expelled the garrison which had been stationed there under Demetrius of Phalerum, and besieged and took Munychia (307 BC). After these victories he was worshipped by the Athenians as a tutelary deity under the title of Soter (σωτήρ) ("Preserver").

In the campaign of 306 BC against Ptolemy he defeated Menelaus, Ptolemy's brother, in the naval Battle of Salamis, completely destroying the naval power of Egypt. Demetrius conquered Cyprus in 306 BC. Following the victory Antigonus assumed the title king and bestowed the same upon his son Demetrius. In 305 BC, now bearing the title of king bestowed upon him by his father, he endeavoured to punish the Rhodians for having deserted his cause; his ingenuity in devising new siege engines in his unsuccessful attempt to reduce the capital gained him the title of Poliorcetes. Among his creations were a battering ram 180 feet (55 m) long, requiring 1000 men to operate it; and a wheeled siege tower named "Helepolis" (or "Taker of Cities") which stood 125 feet (38 m) tall and 60 feet (18 m) wide, weighing 360,000 pounds.

In 302 BC he returned a second time to Greece as liberator, and reinstated the Corinthian League. But his licentiousness and extravagance made the Athenians long for the government of Cassander. Among his outrages was his courtship of a young boy named Democles the Handsome. The youth kept on refusing his attention but one day found himself cornered at the baths. Having no way out and being unable to physically resist his suitor, he took the lid off the hot water cauldron and jumped in. His death is seen as a mark of honor for himself and his country. In another instance, he waived a fine of 50 talents imposed on a citizen in exchange for the favors of Cleaenetus, that man's son.[1] He also sought the attention of Lamia, a Greek courtesan. He demanded 250 talents from the Athenians, which he then gave to Lamia and other courtesans to buy soap and cosmetics.[2]

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