Eurydice I
Queen of Macedon
Tenure393–369 BC
Bornca. 410–407 BC
SpouseAmyntas III of Macedon
MotherIrra, daughter of Arrhabaeus
ReligionAncient Greek religion

Eurydice (Greek: Εὐρυδίκη – from ευρύς eurys, "wide" and δίκη dike, "right, custom, usage, law; justice", literally "wide justice") was an Ancient Macedonian queen and wife of king Amyntas III of Macedon.[1][2]

She was the daughter of Sirras, either an Illyrian chieftain[3] or a Lynkestian prince-regent under king Arrhabaeus of Lynkestis,[4] Eurydices' maternal grandfather who was a member of the Doric Greek Bacchiadae family. Eurydice had four children: Alexander II, Perdiccas III, Philip II, all of whom would be crowned kings, a daughter Eurynoe, and through her son Philip, she was the paternal grandmother of Alexander the Great.[2][5] Literary, inscriptional and archaeological evidence indicates that she played an important public role in Macedonian life and acted aggressively in the political arena.

Eurydice's political activities mark a turning point in Macedonian history. She is the first known royal woman who actively took political action and successfully exerted political influence.[1]

Early life

Eurydice was born at approximately 410–407 BC.[6][7] Her father was the noble Sirras, who was either an Illyrian chieftain or a prince-regent of Lynkestis under king Arrhabaeus.[8][6][9][10][11][12] Sirras' origin is disputed, mainly between an Illyrian and a Lynkestian descent, not mutually exclusive.[8][6][7][13][14][15][16] Her mother was the daughter of the Lynkestian king Arrhabaeus, who claimed membership to the Doric Greek Bacchiadae family.[6][17][18]

Queen of Macedon

King Amyntas III of Macedon married the young princess Eurydice in about 390 BC, probably in a Macedonian effort to strengthen the alliance with both the Illyrians and Lynkestians,[19] or to detach the Lynkestians from their historical alliance with the Illyrians,[20][21][22] after he was defeated by Illyrians or an Illyrian-Lynkestian coalition in 393 BC.[23][24] Ten years later king Amyntas III was forced to entrust a portion of his kingdom to the Greek Chalcidians, who refused to relinquish it, and by 382 BC had extended their control westward, including Macedon’s capital Pella. Sparta, the most powerful of the Greek states at that time, intervened and restored Amyntas to his capital in 379 BC, but Macedonia had to accept subservience to Sparta.[24]

Amyntas had another wife, a fellow kinswoman named Gygaea, who had three children. At some point during her husband's reign, Eurydice became the dominant wife.[1] Still it cannot be determined whether this development was immediate or gradual, linked with her family and relations, her higher status, the ages of her sons or a combination of these factors. Nevertheless, for the first time events in the life of a royal woman were also central to the political arena of Macedonia in that period and Eurydice was, however, the most important factor in the change.

Eurydice was literate, although she learned to read rather late in life,[25] probably due to being part of a culture that still was heavily oral in nature and where literacy was not fundamental to knowledge, even more in the case of those who had the wealth and leisure to be read to.[1]


Her life career is full of controversy. According to the Roman historian Justin, Eurydice conspired with her son-in-law Ptolemy of Aloros to kill Amyntas, then marry Ptolemy, and then give the throne to her lover. But the queen's daughter, Eurynoe, foiled the plot by revealing it to her father, Amyntas, who, nevertheless, spared Eurydice from punishment because of their common children.[5][1] Eventually in 370/369 BC, Amyntas III died, and his eldest son, Alexander II succeeded him. In 368 BC, Ptolemy of Aloros killed Alexander II, despite an earlier settlement between them, worked out by Pelopidas, a Theban statesman and general. Then Ptolemy was forced by Pelopidas to agree merely to be regent for Alexander's two younger brothers, Perdiccas III and Philip II.[26]

Later on Eurydice married Ptolemy.[27] It is unlikely that Eurydice voluntarily married her eldest son's murderer, most probably she acted to ensure the succession of her remaining sons. A new pretender of the throne, Pausanias was very popular and was attracting support in Macedonia. Queen Eurydice asked the Athenian general Iphicrates (their father's adoptive son) to protect the throne for her two sons. Iphicrates drove out Pausanias. There is no evidence that Ptolemy had any role in this matter, or suggests that anyone other than Eurydice would have influenced Iphicrates. Even if she was prompted by Ptolemy, her successful intervention in political and military affairs remains remarkably bold and without any known precedent, an extraordinary act for a royal woman.[1] Eurydice took the unprecedented step of seeking international help when she believed the succession of her remaining sons was in jeopardy and her attempt was successful.

In 365 BC Perdiccas III avenged his brother's murder by murdering Ptolemy and taking the throne. This caused a stir amongst the families of Macedon, which called in Pelopidas to re-establish peace. As part of the peace settlement, Philip II was taken as a hostage to Thebes. Perdiccas reigned until 359 BC, and already weakened by struggles against Athens, he confronted the Illyrian ruler Bardylis and died along with 4000 of his men in a disastrous battle. Eventually his youngest brother Philip II took control of the kingdom.[24]

Personal life

Eurydice was also very active in the cult activities. She may have funded the construction of the temple of Eucleia cult at Vergina. She had made a dedication polietisi (πολιετισι) to or for women citizens, and perhaps to the Muses, grateful for her acquired education.[1]

Archaeological findings

The Philippeion at Olympia, Greece, where once the statues of Eurydice I and her family were placed

Eurydice's portrait-statue, together with those of her most celebrated son Philip II, Philip II's wife, Olympias, her grandson, Alexander the Great, and her husband, Amyntas III, were realized by the Athenian statuary and sculptor Leochares in ivory and gold. They were placed in the Philippeion, a circular building in the Altis at Olympia, erected by Philip II of Macedon in celebration of his victory at the Battle of Chaeronea (338 BC).[28][better source needed][29]

Eurydice's tomb was found and identified by the Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos in 1987 in Vergina (ancient Aigai), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with other royal Macedonian tombs.[30] In the summer of 2001, between August 13 and September 9 the tomb of Eurydice was robbed and seven marble figurines had been taken.[30] Eurydice's tomb had faced robbery and was partially plundered since antiquity, probably soon after queen's burial, but the looters had probably failed in their mission, as evidenced by two skeletons found there.[30] An inscribed pot fragment, dating 344/3 BC was found inside the tomb,[30] whereas two inscriptions, one of which dated in 340 BC, have been found in Vergina of Eurydika daughter of Sirras to goddess Eukleia.[31][32]

Ancestry and plot disputes

In order to defend Eurydices' son Philip II from ancient allegation that Macedonians were non-Greeks, Aeschines had publicly described Phillip as being "entirely Greek".[33] Strabo claims that, through her mother, Eurydice descended from a branch of the Doric Greek Bacchiadae clan, originally of Corinth,[17] which historically established itself as the ruling dynasty of Lynkestis in the 5th century BC.[34] The Bacchiad claim of her Lynkestian maternal grandfather Arrhabaeus, king of Lynkestis, is generally accepted by modern historians.[6][7][35][36] However, Plutarch explicitly states that Eurydice was an Illyrian,[37] so does Libanius and thus is stated in the massive 10th century Byzantine encyclopaedia, Suda.[6][38] Some modern historians see this characterization as "slander",[39][40] originating from Athens, which sought to discredit her son, Philip, by defaming him as having non-Greek ancestry.[7] Other scholars believe that Sirras, Eurydice's father, was probably a son of the Illyrian chieftain Grabos,[8] who possibly married a native Macedonian (Sirras' alleged mother).[41]

As for Sirras, Eugene N. Borza, A. B. Bosworth and Kate Mortensen, among modern scholars and historians, support an Illyrian ancestry, while Robert Malcolm Errington, N. G. L. Hammond, and Charles F. Edson support a Lynkestian ancestry.[6] In an inductive analysis of the historical information over Sirras, through an a posteriori argument, Elias Kapetanopoulos says that Sirras must have been a Lynkestian – and thus Eurydice as well – though he also hypothesizes a native Macedonian or Orestian origin.[6] Ian Worthington also makes a case for her Lynkestian ancestry by stating the following argument concerning the Illyrian hypothesis: "However, this is unlikely in light of a comment that Attalus made at the wedding of Philip in 337, intended as a slur on Alexander's legitimacy, for his mother (Olympias) was from Epirus. Attalus presumably would not have wanted to draw attention to Philip's illegitimacy if his mother were non-Macedonian",[42] and also writes that, "Attalus' taunt, incidentally, goes some way to determining whether Philip's mother, Eurydice, was Lyncestian or Illyrian. If she had been the latter, then Attalus' remark would, by implication, make Philip also illegitimate. ... Hence Philip's mother was probably Lyncestian."[43]

Stories of Eurydice's plots against her husband and her sons are at odds with other historical evidence and may be fabricated. Recent scholars have noted the many implausibilities in Justin’s narrative and have acknowledged Eurydice's near-contemporary evidences of Aeschines towards her.[1] Aeschines described Eurydice I as the loyal defender of her sons,[44] whereas a Plutarch's passage describes Eurydice as a good model in the education of children.[25]

See also



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Carney, Elizabeth Donnelly (2000). Women and Monarchy in Macedonia. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-3212-4.
  2. ^ a b Chrystal 2017, p. 144.
  3. ^
    • King 2024, p. 156: "During the reign of Perdiccas' successor Archelaus, another conflict arose between the Argead king and Arrhabaeus and a certain Sirras (Aristotle Politics 5.1311b). Though Sirras is nowhere identified as such, it is certainly possible that he was an Illyrian ally of Arrhabaeus."
    • Carney 2019, Chapter 2 – Abstract: "This chapter argues that Amyntas was polygamous and Gygaea was likely the second of the two wives. Amyntas’ marriage to Eurydice was a political alliance, related to the Illyrian invasion of Macedonia, but whether Eurydice herself was partly Illyrian remains disputed because of the uncertain ethnic identity of her mysterious father Sirras. This chapter considers it likely that her father was Illyrian."
    • Howe 2017, p. 108: "The Argead monarchs had a long and symbiotic relationship with the Illyrians, though perhaps they might not have characterised it in those terms. Certainly, the Argead family was closely tied to individual Illyrians (Philip’s grandfather Sirrhas and his wife Audata spring instantly to mind), and the Argead princes Philip II and Alexander III spent at least some of their youth at Illyrian courts, in the 380s and 70s when Philip saw Bardylis invade Epeiros and in 337/6 when Alexander sought refuge there from an angry father. Such so-journs would have allowed these young men to become well acquainted with Illyrian customs, habits and above all military strategies and techniques."
    • Müller 2017, p. 193: "Perdikkas' Sohn Archelaos hatte — zu einem ungewissen Zeitpunkt — wieder Probleme mit einem lynkestischen Dynasten namens Arrhabaios, im Bund mit einem illyrischen Herrscher. In diesem Arrabaios wird entwe- der Perdikkas' alter Gegner, „Perdiccas' nemesis , vermutet Oder dessen Sohn [...] Jedenfalls wird in dem bei Aristot. Pol. 1311 B genannten Sirras der illyrische Herrscher und Vater von Eurydike, der spâteren Frau Amyntas' III. vermutet: ..."
    • King 2017, p. 48: "If not the same Arrhabaeus then probably his successor of the same name, and Sirras was probably Arrhabaeus’ Illyrian ally." p. 64: "Eurydice was a granddaughter of Arrhabaeus, from the ruling house of Lyncus, and a daughter of Sirras, a patronym confirmed in three inscriptions from Vergina (Andronikos 1984: 49–51; further bibliography in Mortensen 1992: 165; Carney 2000: 269 n10). At least two other sources [ Suda s.v. “Karanos,” Libanius Vita Dem . 9; cf. Plut. Mor . 14c] call Eurydice Illyrian, which ought to indicate that Eurydice’s father Sirras was an Illyrian and not another Lyncestian, as some believe. This follows Carney 2000: 41, who cites the sources and earlier bibliography on the debate; add Kapetanopoulos 1994 and Worthington 2008: 178 to those favouring Sirras’ Lyncestian origin, and see the summary of Greenwalt 2010: 286. Given the parallel of the Sirras–Arrhabaeus alliance against Archelaus soon after the Illyrian– Lyncestian alliance against Perdiccas II, an Illyrian origin for Sirras is here preferred."
    • Heckel 2016, p. 20: "Sirrhas may have been the leader of the Illyrian force that had come to aid Perdikkas in 423 but defected to Arrhabaios (Thuc. 4.125.1; for Sirrhas’ ethnicity see Appendix I); though perhaps the Illyrian chieftain at the time was Sirrhas’ father.5 The alliance with the Illyrians was strengthened by political marriage, with Sirrhas marrying a daughter of Arrhabaios; the offspring of this union was Eurydike, who later married Amyntas III and became the mother of Philip II and his brothers (Strabo 7.7.8 C326)."
    • Greenwalt 2011, p. 283: "Under Archelaus, hostilities are again attested with Lyncus, probably involving Illyrians. Aristotle (Politics 5.8.11) notes that at some time Archelaus was hard pressed by an alliance between Arrhabaeus and one Sirrhas, who may have been an Illyrian (although he is not so identified, but see below). Of some standing, Sirrhas may even have been the leader of the Illyrian force that turned against Perdiccas." p. 286: "Her father was named Sirrhas (perhaps the same Sirrhas mentioned in Aristotle.), who some scholars have argued was an Illyrian by birth (thus making Eurydice an out-and-out Illyrian herself) but others that he was from one or another of the Upper Macedonian cantons but with Illyrian ancestors."
    • Roisman 2011, p. 156: "We hear that he was hard-pressed in a war against the Lyncestian Arrhibaeus (II?) and the Illyrian Sirras, and sought the help of the king of Elimiotis, to whom he wed his elder daughter" p. 161: "We do not really know why Eurydice, the daughter of the Illyrian (?) Sirrhas and the granddaughter of Arrhabaeus of Lyncus, was preferred as the mother of his successors."
    • Šašel Kos 2002, p. 112: "Undoubtedly the word Illyrian had a distinct political (hence to some extent also ethnic) meaning , when applied to the Illyrian kingdom of Sirrhas, or Bardylis I, at the end of the 5th or the beginning of the 4th century BC to the fall of Genthius in 168 BC, regardless of the unsolvable problem of how many dynasties alternately occupied the throne and what was the origin and the actual expanse of the kingdom of each of them."
    • Whitehorne 2002, : "Eurydice, the mother of Philip II of Macedon, was the offspring of another daughter of Arrhabaeus whom he had married to a chieftain called Sirras (Strabo 7.326C). Sirras himself was most probably an Illyrian, and the marriage, made c. 430 BC, probably represents an earlier accommodation that Arrhabaeus had been obliged to make at that time with his Illyrian neighbours to offset the power of Perdiccas.
  4. ^
    • Ogden 2023, p. 12: "But Eurydice must be Macedonian. Some have felt that her father Sirrhas was a prince of Upper Macedonia in view of his association with the Lyncestid prince Arrhabaeus in the Aristotle passage. But there is no agreement as to the principality from which Sirrhas and his daughter hailed. Arguments have been made for both Elimeia56 and Orestis, but Lyncestis tends to be the most favoured one. Strabo does after all mention Sirrhas and Eurydice in the context of an excursus on Lyncestid genealogy. And if Sirrhas was Lyncestid, then he would have constituted an appropriately close associate for Arrhabaeus. The Lyncestids in turn had close associations with the Illyrians, and so the misrepresentation of a princess of this household as an Illyrian might have been particularly appropriate."
    • Rowson 2022, p. 351: Eurydike is often called Illyrian in the ancient sources but this is a likely slander as her father’s name, Sirras, is a Lynkestian name and not attested in Illyria."
    • Hatzopoulos 2020, p. 134: "Sirrhas, guardian of Arrhabaios II, father of Eurydika, member of the Lynkestian royal family"
    • Chrystal 2017, p. 144: "Eurydice I (born 407 BCE) was a Greek queen from Macedon, wife of king Amyntas III of Macedon. She was the daughter of Sirras of Lyncestis and had four children: including Alexander II, Perdiccas III and Philip II; she was the paternal grandmother of Alexander the Great."
    • Lane Fox 2011, p. 221: "... Eurydice daughter of Sirrhas, a bride whom later sources dismiss as 'thrice-barbarian, an Illyrian' ... but her 'Illyrian' origin is inaccurate and probably originated as a slander. Her father's name, Sirrhas, is not even attested among Illyrians in any surviving evidence. She herself therefore was no Illyrian, and to judge from her father's name she was probably a Lyncestian."
    • Psoma 2011, p. 121: "...Eurydice, daughter of Sirras of Lyncus..."
    • Worthington 2008, p. 245: "Her ethnicity is disputed, for her father Sirras may have been Illyrian (see the bibliography cited by Carney). However, this is unlikely in light of a comment that Attalus made at the wedding of Philip in 337, intended as a slur on Alexander's legitimacy, for his mother (Olympias) was from Epirus. Attalus presumably would not have wanted to draw attention to Philip's illegitimacy if his mother were non-Macedonian."
    • Kapetanopoulos 1994, pp. 9–14: " one in antiquity has thrown mud at Philip II's lineage; not even Demosthenes accused him of not being a full blooded Makedon. This silence on Philip II's suggests that he was a Makedon from both his parents. Moreover, a second argument may be used to cast out the view that Sirras was an Illyrian. At the marriage of Philip II to Kleopatra, Attalus remarked that now legitimate Kings ("γνησιοι, ου νοθοι) will be born, as Alexander was half Epirote from his mother's (Olympias) side. The derogatory shot at Alexander would have been also a great insult to Philip II, if his mother's father was an Illyrian. At the same time, a shadow would have been cast upon Philip II's legitimacy to occupy the Argead throne. However, there was no such intention in Attalos' remark, and it was only aimed at Alexander. Moreover, if Alexander's paternal grandmother was an Illyrian (or at least half-Illyrian on her father's side), Alexander could have easily answered back that even his father was not pure Makedon (if Philip II's maternal grandfather, Sirras, was an Illyrian, as maintained by some), but in the scuffle Alexander only ridiculed only his father's unsteadiness. Thus, a moral to be drawn form the Attalos incident, is that Philip II's mother, Eurydike, was not Illyrian...In any case, Leonnatos' relation to Eurydike, which must be traced through her father, does strengthen the argument that Sirras was of royal blood, and perhaps his marriage to Arrhabaios' daughter is to be recognized as an endogamy. This would make Sirras a member of Arrhabaios' family (a cousin?) and a Lynkestian. At the same time, this line of thought provides a sound explanation to the proposed joint rule of Sirras and Arrhabaios I. Furthermore, since Eurydike identified herself, quite proudly, it appears, as Ευριδίκα Σίρρα, it can be said that Sirras must have been a Lynkestian (Makedon), rather than an Illyrian cheiftain who once invaded Makedon, as lately argued by K. Mortensen. The Argead (Makedones) would have been offended if their queen or πολιητiς sported their enemy's name in such a fashion. Thus, this and other arguments herein lead to the conclusion that Sirras must have been a Lynkestian."
  5. ^ a b Justin (Marcus Junianus Justinus) (2004). "Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus - Book 7, Chapter IV: Family of Amyntas". Retrieved January 17, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Kapetanopoulos, Elias (1994). "Sirras" (PDF). The Ancient World. Ares Publishers. XXV (1, Alexander the Great, VIII): 9–14. ISSN 0160-9645.
  7. ^ a b c d Plant, Ian Michael (2004). Women Writers of Ancient Greece and Rome: An Anthology. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 43. ISBN 9780806136219.
  8. ^ a b c Heckel 2016, p. 20.
  9. ^ Roisman, Joseph; Worthington, Ian (2010). A Companion to Ancient Macedonia. John Wiley and Sons. p. 161. ISBN 978-1-4051-7936-2. Retrieved 2011-03-29.
  10. ^ Roisman 2011, p. 156.
  11. ^ Greenwalt 2011, p. 283.
  12. ^ King 2017, pp. 55, 64.
  13. ^ Hillard, Tom W. (1998). Ancient History in a Modern University: The ancient Near East, Greece, and Rome. Macquarie University. p. 154. ISBN 9780802838407. Philip's mother is traditionally regarded as Illyrian ... She may have been from the royal house of Lyncus in Upper Macedonia
  14. ^ Roisman, Joseph; Worthington, Ian (2011-07-07). A Companion to Ancient Macedonia. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 161. ISBN 9781444351637. We do not really know why Eurydice, the daughter of the Illyrian (?) Sirrhas and the grand-daughter of Arrhabaeus of Lyncus, was preferred as the mother of his successors.
  15. ^ Borza, Eugene N. (1982). Philip II, Alexander the Great, and the Macedonian heritage. University Press of America. p. 103. ISBN 9780819124470.
  16. ^ Carney, Elizabeth Donnelly (2000). Women and Monarchy in Macedonia. University of Oklahoma Press. p. 41. ISBN 9780806132129. Sirrhas has been identified as either a Lyncestian or an Illyrian. Two ancient sources call Eurydice an Illyrian (...) and a third, a passage preserved in Plutarch's essays (...), probably does so as well. Such an ethnic designation could refer to her general line of descent and not specifically to Sirras. ... Given the current state of evidence, it seems reasonable to conclude that Eurydice had both Illyrian and Lyncestian (through her grandfather) blood and that, though her father may well have been an Illyrian allied with the Lyncestians, his ethnicity remains uncertain.
  17. ^ a b Strabo, Στράβων. "7". Geographica  (in Greek). Vol. 7 – via Wikisource. οἱ δὲ Λυγκῆσται ὑπ᾽ Ἀρραβαίωι ἐγένοντο, τοῦ Βακχιαδῶν γένους ὄντι· τούτου δ᾽ ἦν θυγατριδῆ ἡ Φιλίππου μήτηρ τοῦ Ἀμύντου Εὐρυδίκη, Ἴρρα δὲ θυγάτηρ
  18. ^ Strabo, Geography, 7.7: "The Lyncestae were under Arrhabaeus, who was of the race of the Bacchiadae."
  19. ^ Müller 2021, p. 36.
  20. ^ Roisman 2011, p. 152.
  21. ^ Worthington 2008, p. 15.
  22. ^ Psoma 2011, p. 117
  23. ^ Carney 2019, pp. 27–28; Heckel, Heinrichs & Müller 2020, pp. 87, 273; King 2017, pp. 57, 64; Carney & Müller 2020, p. 391; Müller 2021, p. 36; Palairet 2016, p. 29.
  24. ^ a b c "Philip II of Macedonia". The Ancient World, Volume I. Retrieved January 21, 2011.
  25. ^ a b Plutarch Moralia 14 b-c
  26. ^ Diodorus Siculus (2004). "Diodorus Siculus, Library". Retrieved January 17, 2011.
  27. ^ Aeschines - On the Embassy 2.29
  28. ^ Smith, William. "A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology (LEOCHARES, page 750)". Digital Collections. Retrieved 2011-01-17.
  29. ^ "The Philippeion at Olympia, Greece". Heritage images. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  30. ^ a b c d Mark, Rose (November–December 2001). "Royal Tomb Robbery". Archaeological Institute of America. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
  31. ^ Sourvinou-Inwood, Christiane (2003). Tragedy and Athenian religion. Lexington Books. p. 44. ISBN 978-0-7391-0400-2.
  32. ^ SEG 33:556[permanent dead link]
  33. ^ Malcolm, Errington (1994). A History of Macedonia. Barnes Noble. p. 4. ISBN 1-56619-519-5.
  34. ^ King 2017, p. 5.
  35. ^ Lightman, Marjorie; Lightman, Benjamin (2007). A to Z of Ancient Greek and Roman Women. Facts on File. p. 126. ISBN 978-0816067107.
  36. ^ Dixon, Michael D. (2014). Late Classical and Early Hellenistic Corinth: 338-196 BC. Routledge Monographs in Classical Studies. p. 119. ISBN 978-0415735513.
  37. ^ Mor. 14 B-C =Plutarque, Oeuv. Mor. (text and translation by J. Sirinelli, I (1), Paris 1987) 63 and 155, n. 3 (under page 63). Cf. also Hammond (n. 8) 16, n. 1
  38. ^ "Suda On Line: Byzantine Lexicography – "Karanos"". Retrieved 2011-01-17.
  39. ^ Rowson 2022, p. 351.
  40. ^ Lane Fox 2011, p. 221.
  41. ^ Heckel 2016, p. 284.
  42. ^ Worthington 2008, p. 245.
  43. ^ Worthington 2008, p. 178.
  44. ^ Aeschines - On the Embassy 2.32