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Olympias (Greek: Ὀλυμπιάς, ca. 375–316 BC[1]) was a Greek princess of Epirus, daughter of king Neoptolemus I of Epirus, the fourth wife of the king of Macedonia, Philip II, and mother of Alexander the Great. She was a devout member of the orgiastic snake-worshiping cult of Dionysus, and may have slept with snakes.[2]



Olympias was the daughter of Neoptolemus I, king of the Molossians, a principal Greek tribe in Epirus, and sister of Alexander I. Her family was member of the Aeacidae, a well respected family of ancient Greece, which claimed descent from Neoptolemus, son of Achilles. Apparently, she was originally named Polyxena, as Plutarch mentions in his work Moralia, and changed her name to Myrtale prior to her marriage to Philip II of Macedon, as part of her initiation to an unknown mystery cult.[3] The name Olympias was the third of four names by which she was known, taking it probably as a recognition of Philip's victory in the Olympic Games of 356 BC, which coincided with Alexander's birth.[4][self-published source?] She was finally named Stratonice, which was likely an epithet attached to Olympias following her victory over Eurydice in 317 BC.[3]

Marriage to Philip

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