King of Macedonia
The Vergina Sun, as depicted on the larnax of Philip II
Alexander the Great, the most famous Macedonian king
StyleKing of the Macedonians, Basileus[1]
First monarchPerdiccas I
Last monarchPerseus
Formationc. 650 BC
Abolition168 BC
ResidenceAegae, Pella, and Demetrias

Macedonia, also called Macedon, was ruled continuously by kings from its inception around the middle of the seventh century BC until its conquest by the Roman Republic in 168 BC. Kingship in Macedonia, its earliest attested political institution, was hereditary, exclusively male, and characterized by dynastic politics.[2][3][4]

Information regarding the origins of the Argeads, Macedonia's founding dynasty, is very scarce and often contradictory. The Argeads themselves claimed descent from the royal house of Argos, the Temenids, but this story is viewed with skepticism by modern scholars as a fifth century BC fiction invented by the Argead court "to 'prove' Greek lineage".[5][6][7][8] It is more likely that the Argeads first surfaced either as part of a tribe living near Mount Bermion who, possibly under the authority of Perdiccas, subjugated neighboring lands,[9][10] or, accordingly to Herodotus, were of a Doric race that originally resided in Pindus.[11] During their reign, Macedonia would not only come to dominate Greece, but also emerge as one of the most powerful states in the ancient world with the conquest of the Persian Empire under Alexander the Great. However, Alexander's untimely death in 323 BC triggered a series of civil wars and regents for his young son Alexander IV, ultimately leading to the Argead dynasty's demise.

Cassander, the ostensible regent of Macedonia, murdered Alexander IV in 310 and installed the Antipatrids as the ruling house. His dynasty was short-lived, however, as his death in 297 triggered a civil war between his sons that further destabilized the kingdom. The following decades saw a rapid and violent succession of Diadochi from various dynasties, each vying for the Macedonian throne. This chaos continued until the death of Pyrrhus in 272 and the accession of the Antigonids under Antigonus II Gonatas.

Following decades of continuous conflict, the Antigonids saw the temporary renewal of the kingdom's fortunes, but were destroyed by Rome after Perseus' defeat at the battle of Pydna in 168 BC.

Argead dynasty (c. 650 BC – 310 BC)

Main article: Argead dynasty


There are two separate historical traditions relating the foundation of Macedonia and the Argead dynasty. The earlier, documented by Herodotus and Thucydides in the fifth century BC, records Perdiccas as the first king of Macedonia.[12][13] The later tradition first emerged around the beginning of the fourth century BC and claimed that Caranus, rather than Perdiccas, was the founder.[14] Aside from Satyrus, who adds Coenus and Tyrimmas to the list, Marsyas of Pella, Theopompos, and Justin all agree that Caranus was Perdiccas' father.[15] Furthermore, Plutarch claimed in his biography of Alexander the Great that all of his sources agreed that Caranus was the founder.[16] This unhistorical assertion, like the Argive connection, is rejected by modern scholarship as court propaganda, possibly intended to diminish the significance of the name 'Perdiccas' in rival family branches following Amyntas III accession.[14][15][17]

Name Reign Succession Life details
Caranus Unknown According to various ancient authors, either the son, brother, or relative of the Argive king Pheidon[15]
Coenus Unknown Son of Caranus
Tyrimmas Unknown Son of Coenus


Herodotus mentions the names of the five kings preceding Amyntas I, but provides no other information.[18][19] Consequently, the reign dates and activities of the early Argead kings can only be guessed at. By allowing thirty years for the span of an average generation and counting backwards from the beginning of Archelaus' reign in 413 BC, British historian Nicholas Hammond estimated that the dynasty began around 650 BC.[17] Amyntas I and his son Alexander I are the earliest kings for which we have any reliable historical information, and even then, only in the context of their relationships with Achaemenid Persia and Greeks.[18]

Name Reign Succession Life details
Perdiccas I fl.c. 650 BC According to various ancient authors, either the son of Caranus or Tyrimmas Conquered Macedonia after settling near Mount Bermion.[20]
Argaeus I fl.c. 623 Son of Perdiccas I Possibly established the cult of Dionysus in Macedonia[21]
Philip I fl.c. 593 Son of Argaeus I
Aeropus I fl.c. 563 Son of Philip I
Alcetas fl.c. 533 Son of Aeropus I
Amyntas I c. 512 – 498/7 Son of Alcetas Unknown – 498/7
First king for which there is reliable historical information; vassal of Darius I from 512.[22]
Alexander I "Philhellene" 498/7 – 454
(43 years)
Son of Amyntas I Unknown – 454
Intensified Macedon's relationship with Greece following Persian withdrawal in 479.[23]
Perdiccas II 454 – 413
(41 years)
Son of Alexander I Unknown – 413
Fought both for and against Athens during the Peloponnesian War; died probably of natural causes.[24]
Archelaus 413 – 399
(14 years)
Son of Perdiccas II Unknown – 399
Moved center of kingdom from Aegae to Pella; either murdered in a personal revenge plot or killed in a hunting accident by his lover Craterus.[25]
Orestes 399 – 398/7
(3 years)
Son of Archelaus Unknown – 398/7
Minority reign until removal in 398/7; possibly murdered by Aeropus II, his guardian, but facts are uncertain.[26][27]
Aeropus II[a] 398/7 – 395/4
(3 years)
Son of Perdiccas II Unknown – 395/4
Died of illness[26]
Amyntas II "the Little" 394/3
(Several months)[28]
Son of Menelaus, Alexander I's second son Unknown – 394/3
Probably ruled at the same time as Pausanias; sources for reign are few, but likely murdered by the ruler of Elimiotis, Derdas.[26][29]
Pausanias 394/3

(Several months)[28]

Son of Aeropus II Unknown – 394/3
Probably ruled at the same time as Amyntas II; sources for reign are few, but likely murdered by Amyntas III.[26][30]
(1st reign)
Amyntas III
(Less than a year)
Great grandson of Alexander I through his third son, Amyntas Unknown – 369
Held kingdom together despite multiple Illyrian invasions; died of natural causes.[31]
Argaeus II 393?
Pretender to the throne installed by the Illyrians under Bardylis; possibly the son of Archelaus[b] Unknown
Expelled by Amyntas III with Thesallian help.[35]
(2nd reign)
Amyntas III
393 – 369
(18 years)
Great grandson of Alexander I through his third son, Amyntas Unknown – 369
Held kingdom together despite multiple Illyrian invasions; died of natural causes.[31]
Alexander II 369 – 368
(2 years)
Eldest son of Amyntas III c. 390 – 368
(aged 22)[36]
Assassinated by Ptolemy of Aloros following Theban military intervention under Pelopidas.[37]
Ptolemy of Aloros 368 – 365
(3 years; disputed)[c]
Possibly the son of Amyntas II; acted as regent for Perdiccas III c. 418– 365
(aged 53)[42]
Assassinated by Perdiccas III[43]
Perdiccas III 365 – 360/59
(6 years)
Son of Amyntas III c. 383 – 360/59
(aged 24)[44]
Killed in battle against the Illyrians
Amyntas IV 360/59
Son of Perdiccas III c. 365 – 335
(aged 30)[45]
Never ruled in his own right; later murdered by Alexander III.
Philip II 360/59 – 336
(23 years)
Son of Amyntas III 382 – 336
(aged 47)
Would come to dominate Ancient Greece through a massive expansion of Macedonian power; assassinated by Pausanias of Orestis.[46][47]
Alexander III "the Great" 336 – 323
(13 years)
Son of Philip II 356 – 10/11 June 323
(aged 33)
Conquered the entirety of the Persian Empire; died of illness at Babylon[48]
Philip III Arrhidaeus 323 – 317
(6 years)
Son of Philip II; co-ruler with Alexander IV c. 358 – 317
(aged 41)[49]
Owing to his diminished mental capacity, Philip never ruled in his own right and instead went through a series of regents; executed by the mother of Alexander III, Olympias.[50]
Alexander IV 323 – 310
(13 years)
Son of Alexander III; co-ruler with Philip III 323 – 310
(aged 13)
Due to his age, Alexander never ruled in his own right. Alexander III's mother, Olympias, guarded him until her execution in 316; murdered by Cassander.[50]

Antipatrid dynasty (310–294 BC)

Main article: Antipatrid dynasty

Name Reign Succession Life details
Cassander 310 – 297
(13 years)
Son of the regent Antipater and son-in-law of Philip II c. 356 – 297
(aged 59)[51]
Died of illness (possibly tuberculosis)[50]
Philip IV 297

(4 months)

Son of Cassander Unknown – 297
Died of illness (possibly tuberculosis)[50]
Antipater I 297 – 294
(3 years)
Son of Cassander; co-ruler with Alexander until Antipater murdered their mother, Thessalonike, for favoring his brother.[51] Unknown – 294
Killed by his father-in-law, Lysimachus[52]
Alexander V 297 – 294
(3 years)
Son of Cassander; co-ruler with his brother Antipater. Unknown – 294
Assassinated by Demetrius I[53]

Dynastic conflicts (294–272 BC)

See also: Wars of the Diadochi

Name Reign Succession Life details
Demetrius I "Poliocretes" 294 – 288
(6 years)
Proclaimed king by army in Larissa following Alexander V's assassination; son of the diadochos Antigonus and brother-in-law of Cassander through Phila[54] January/February 336 – 282
(aged 54)
Surrendered to Seleucus I Nicator in 285, died of illness in captivity a few years later.[55]
(1st reign)
Pyrrhus of Epirus
288 – 285
(3 years)
Usurped throne following joint invasion of Macedonia with Lysimachus and Ptolemy; non-dynastic. c. 319 – 272
(aged 46)
Killed at the Battle of Argos
Lysimachus 287 – 281
(6 years)
Ruled only the eastern half of the kingdom until 285 when he seized the whole of Macedonia; non-dynastic. c. 360 – 281
(aged 79)
Killed at the Battle of Corupedium
Ptolemy "Ceraunus" 281 – 279
(2 years)
Assassinated Seleucus before he entered Macedon and was proclaimed king at Lysimachia; son of Ptolemy I Soter.[56] c. 319/18 – February 279
(aged approx. 40)[57]
Captured and beheaded by an invading Celtic army[58]
Meleager 279
(2 months)[59]
Elected king following the death of Ceraunus; son of Ptolemy I Soter. Unknown
Deposed by Macedonians after accusations of inadequacy
Antipater II "Etesias" 279
(45 days)[59]
Elected king following Meleager's removal; nephew of Cassander Unknown

Removed by Sosthenes for failing to lead the army

Sosthenes 279 – 277
(2 years)
Strategos and de facto king of Macedon, but refused royal title despite election; non-dynastic Unknown – 277
Died of natural causes
(1st reign)
Antigonus II "Gonatas"[d]
277 – 274
(3 years)
Seized Macedonia by the middle of 276 in the chaos[e] that followed the death of Sosthenes; son of Demetrius I and son-in-law of Seleucus I Nicator 319 – 239
(aged 80)
Died of natural causes[61]
(2nd reign)
Pyrrhus of Epirus
274 – 272
Retook Thessaly and the interior of Macedonia, but remained unable to oust Antigonus from the coastal areas c. 319 – 272
(aged 46)
Killed at the Battle of Argos

Antigonid dynasty (272–168 BC)

Main article: Antigonid dynasty

See also: Macedonian Wars and Battle of Pydna

Name Reign Succession Life details
(2nd reign)
Antigonus II "Gonatas"
272 – 239
(33 years)
Son of Demetrius I and son-in-law of Seleucus I Nicator 319 – 239
(aged 80)
Died of natural causes[61]
Demetrius II 239 – 229
(10 years)
Son of Antigonus II c. 275/4 – 229
(aged approx. 45)
Defeated in battle by the Dardanians, died shortly after in unknown circumstances.[63]
Antigonus III "Doson" 229 – 221
(8 years)
Chosen by "leading Macedonians" to rule first as regent for Philip and, then later, as king; grandson of Demetrius I and cousin of Demetrius II[64] c. 263 – 221
(aged approx. 42)
Suffering from tuberculosis, Antigonus burst a blood vessel following a battle with the Illyrians and died some months later.[65]
Philip V 221 – 179
(42 years)
Son of Demetrius II 239 – 179
(aged 60)
Died suddenly of natural causes[66]
Perseus I 179 – 168
(11 years)
Son of Philip V 212 – 166
(aged 46)

Surrendered to Aemilius Paullus following defeat at Pydna and imprisoned at Alba Fucens for the remainder of his life.[67] [68]

Non-dynastic rebel kings (150–93 BC)

See also: Fourth Macedonian War and Macedonia (Roman province)

Name Reign Succession Life details
Andriscus 150 – 148
(2 years)
Also known as Pseudo-Philip; claimed to be a son of Perseus Unknown – 146

Executed during the triumph of Caecilius Metellus; last king to rule in Macedonia

Pseudo-Alexander 148 Also known as Alexander VI; claimed to be a son of Perseus Unknown

Fled to Dardania following military defeat whereafter his fate is unknown

Pseudo-Philip/Pseudo-Perseus 143 Rose against the Romans with 16,000 men; claimed to be the son of Perseus[69] Unknown – 143

Defeated, and presumably executed, by Lucius Tremellius Scrofa

Euephenes 93 Styled himself as king, but apprehended before uprising began; claimed Antigonid Heritage[69] Unknown

Family tree

See also



  1. ^ There is some confusion among the sources about the name of Orestes' successor: Eusebias and Syncellus mention an 'Archelaos' while Diodorus records an 'Aeropus'. However, it is likely that Aeropus simply adopted the name 'Archelaos' after Orestes' death.[28]
  2. ^ Theopompus of Chios wrote that "they call both Argaios and Pausanias Archelaos [sic]" which historian Nicholas Hammond emends to read, "they call both Argaeus and Pausanias the son of Archelaus."[32] However, not all historians are in agreement and the claim remains largely unverifiable.[33][34]
  3. ^ Modern scholars disagree on whether Ptolemy should be considered a king in his own right or simply regent for Perdiccas III.[38] The confusion stems from contradictory comments by our primary sources: Plutarch refers to Ptolemy as a regent in Pelopidas, yet Diodorus refers to him as king.[39] As noted by Hammond, all coins from this period bear the name Perdiccas rather than Ptolemy, suggesting a non-royal status for the latter.[40] Moreover, the demotic 'Alorus' implies that Ptolemy was not an Argead and therefore would be ineligible for the throne.[41]
  4. ^ Antigonus' regnal number stems from his grandfather, Antigonus I Monophthalmus
  5. ^ It is unclear who ruled Macedonia in the short time between Sosthenes death and Antigonus's accession. Porphyry mentions a Ptolemy and an Arrhidaeus having some kind of authority.[60]
  6. ^ Pyrrhus's reign, brief and unpopular, is omitted from Porphyry's list of Macedonian kings and is mentioned only in Syncellus's Chronography[62]


  1. ^ Fox 2011b, pp. 359–360.
  2. ^ Errington 1990, p. 218.
  3. ^ Roisman 2010, p. 373.
  4. ^ Hammond 1979, p. 152.
  5. ^ Eder 2006, pp. 188–190.
  6. ^ Borza 1990, p. 82.
  7. ^ Errington 1990, pp. 2–3.
  8. ^ Asirvatham 2010, p. 101.
  9. ^ Sprawski 2010, pp. 132–133.
  10. ^ Hammond 1979, pp. 27–28.
  11. ^ Herodotus. Histories, 1.56.2–3.
  12. ^ Herodotus, 8.137.
  13. ^ Thucydides, 2.99.
  14. ^ a b Greenwalt 1985, pp. 43–49.
  15. ^ a b c Sprawski 2010, pp. 128–129.
  16. ^ Plutarch, Alex. 2.1.
  17. ^ a b Hammond 1979, pp. 4–5.
  18. ^ a b Sprawski 2010, pp. 130–131.
  19. ^ Borza 1990, p. 98.
  20. ^ Herodotus, 8.138.3.
  21. ^ Christesen 2010, p. 432.
  22. ^ Sprawski 2010, p. 135.
  23. ^ Sprawski 2010, p. 142.
  24. ^ Roisman 2010, p. 154.
  25. ^ Roisman 2010, pp. 156–157.
  26. ^ a b c d Errington 1990, pp. 28–29.
  27. ^ Diodorus, 14.37.6.
  28. ^ a b c March 1995, p. 280.
  29. ^ Aristotle, Pol. 5.1311b.
  30. ^ Diodorus, 14.89.
  31. ^ a b Hammond 1979, p. 179.
  32. ^ Hammond 1979, p. 175.
  33. ^ Roisman 2010, p. 158.
  34. ^ Carney 2000, p. 250.
  35. ^ Roisman 2010, p. 159.
  36. ^ Errington 1990, p. 35.
  37. ^ Roisman 2010, p. 162.
  38. ^ Borza 1990, p. 191.
  39. ^ Fox 2011a, p. 260.
  40. ^ Hammond 1979, p. 183.
  41. ^ Anson 2009, pp. 276–286.
  42. ^ Hammond 1979, p. 182.
  43. ^ Diodorus, 16.2.
  44. ^ Hammond 1979, p. 185.
  45. ^ Müller 2010, p. 166.
  46. ^ Müller 2010, p. 182.
  47. ^ Diodorus, 16.94.4.
  48. ^ Gilley 2010, p. 198.
  49. ^ Errington 1990, p. 60.
  50. ^ a b c d Adams 2010, pp. 216–218.
  51. ^ a b Errington 1990, pp. 147–148.
  52. ^ Cancik; et al. 2006, "Antipater".
  53. ^ Errington 1990, p. 150.
  54. ^ Hammond 1988, p. 217.
  55. ^ Wheatley 2020, pp. 449.
  56. ^ Hammond 1988, pp. 242–243.
  57. ^ "Ptolemaic Dynasty -- Ptolemy Ceraunus". Retrieved 2023-02-24.
  58. ^ Errington 1990, pp. 159–160.
  59. ^ a b Hammond 1988, p. 253.
  60. ^ Hammond 1988, p. 256.
  61. ^ a b Gabbert 1997, p. 60.
  62. ^ Hammond 1988, p. 262.
  63. ^ Kuzmin 2019, p. 78.
  64. ^ Plutarch, Aem. 8.2.
  65. ^ Errington 1990, pp. 183–184.
  66. ^ Errington 1990, p. 212.
  67. ^ Plutarch, Aem. 37.
  68. ^ Livy, 45.42.4.
  69. ^ a b Pandelis Nigdelis "Roman Macedonia (168 BC - AD 284)"


Primary sources

  • Aristotle (1932). "Politics". Aristotle in 23 Volumes. Loeb Classical Library. Vol. 21. Translated by Rackham, Harris (1944 ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
  • Diodorus Siculus (1963–1971). Diodorus of Sicily in Twelve Volumes. Loeb Classical Library. Translated by Oldfather, Charles H.; et al. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
  • Herodotus (1920–1925). The Histories. Loeb Classical Library. Translated by Godley, A. D. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. Retrieved 26 January 2024.
  • Livy (1919). The History of Rome. Translated by Foster, Benjamin. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
  • Plutarch (1923). Plutarch's Lives. Translated by Perrin, Bernadotte. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
  • Thucydides (1874). The Peloponnesian War. Translated by Crawley, Richard (1910 ed.). New York: J. M. Dent & E. P. Dutton. Retrieved 26 January 2024.

Secondary sources