Maat - To know the history to create the future






The tragic event of the death of the father of Alexander, the king Phillip II of Macedonia. A crime been unrisolved.


Place: Macedonia

Epoch: 336 b.C.



Phillip of Macedonia had married Olympiad, princess of the Epirus, state allied of Phillip.

From the marriage Alexander was born.

After twenty years Phillip had married Eurydice, of a noble Macedonian family.

Eurydice had given birth to a daughter, Europe, and in 336 b.C. also a male.

As a result Olympiad didn't have anymore a husband and her child Alexander was not anymore the heir to the throne. Furious Olympiad withdrew in exile in her land, the Epirus.

A solemn marriage

In the summer of 336 it was celebrated to Aigai (today's Verghina), ancient capital of Macedonia, the marriage of a daughter of Phillip with the king of Epirus Alexander.

Olympiad, mother of the bride and elder sister of the bridegroom, saw to fade away the possibility that her family immediately avenged the insult suffered.

People were invited from the whole Greece.

The marriage was celebrated and for the day after it was announced that a solemn procession would have preceded the beginning of the games.

The procession and the death of Phillip

At dawn Olympic divinities were brought in procession, among them a statue of Phillip. Before entering the arena Phillip ordered to the bodyguards to leave, only a tyrant needed an escort to present himself among the people. Close to Phillip there were two young princes: Alexander, his child and Alexander, king of the Epirus, the bridegroom.

At the entrance, one of his bodyguards, Pausanias, got closer and stabbed him. He ran away to the doors of the city where some accomplices were waiting for him with some horses, but he stumbled and was reached by the pursuers, all coming from the mountainous zone of Macedonia and one even of his country.

The death of Pausanias

According to some people Pausanias was immediately killed by the pursuers, practice that would also have been followed in many other cases of excellent crimes. According to others he was arrested, brought back in the arena, questioned and immediately condemned to death, perhaps with excessive precipitation.

The version of Aristotle: a history among homosexuals

According to Aristotle, who had lived at court as preceptor of Alexander, Pausanias had killed Phillip because outraged by the followers of Attalus, uncle of the new wife Eurydice.

It is a matter of a sordid history of homosexuality. Pausanias would have been the lover of Phillip. Attalus, jealous, would have attracted Pausanias at a supper where, after having reduced him in state of drunkenness, he would have made him object of sexual violence by his men. Pausanias would have asked for revenge to Phillip, who however would not have listened to his complaints.

This version had the tendency to show the homicide as a private fact and to put in bad light the family of Eurydice.

Attalus was subsequently killed by order of Alexander and Eurydice by order of Olympiad.

Pausanias and Olympiad: a plot born in Epirus

Pausanias was a noble that originated from the western provinces, reunited to Macedonia only recently. Previously those lands had belonged to the Epirus. Olympiad, Epirote of birth, was related with the family of Pausanias. The contacts between the two at court could have been frequent and Olympiad would have been able to influence also the family of Pausanias.

The fact that accomplices were waiting for Pausanias escaping, deposes for the existence of an organized plot and not simply of a private fact.

The death of Phillip would immediately have brought on the throne Alexander, Epirote for part of mother.

The alternative was that on the throne of Phillip arrived the child of the Macedonian Eurydice, the nephew of Attalus.

With the murder of Phillip Olympiad took revenge of the affront and brought on the throne her child.

According to Justin (IX, 7.10), Olympiad, returned in Macedonia, put a gold crown on the head of Pausanias, raised a grave for the regicide, she offered sacrifices in his honor, she devoted to Apollo the sword with which Phillip had been stricken.

Nevertheless the joy for a homicide doesn't mean that one participates in the same action.

Alexander's version: Phillip killed by the Persians

According to Arrhianos (Alexander's Anabasis II, 15.5), Alexander asserted that the death of his father had to be imputed to the Persians, already in war with Phillip. In reality it seems that they made boast of it, but it could have been propaganda during war time.

Cui prodest

Olympiad: she avenged the affront and brought her child on the throne.

Alexander: he got a throne on which the family of Eurydice laid claims.

The Persians: they hoped that with the death of Phillip the political situation of Greece changed and the war in Asia Minor was suspended.

Who was the instigator?

So many the hypotheses, but as in other cases of excellent crimes, no proof. Unfortunately the assassin, the noble Pausanias, was killed during the escape or immediately after having been arrested, another classical scheme. He didn't have to speak.


Bibliographical references:

Briant P.

Alessandro Magno dalla Grecia all'Oriente


Lane Fox R.

Alessandro Magno


Levi M. A.

Alessandro Magno


Radet G.

Alessandro il Grande