Argead dynasty

Last updated
House of Argos
Vergina Sun - Golden Larnax.png
Parent house Temenids (Heracleidae)
Country Macedonia, (Ancient Greece)
Founded808 BC
Final ruler Alexander IV of Macedon
Titles Basileus of Macedonia

King of Persia

King of Asia

Pharaoh of Egypt

Hegemon of the Hellenic League, Strategus Autokrator of Greece
Religion Ancient Greek Religion
Estate(s) Macedonia
Dissolution310 BC

The Argead dynasty (Greek: Ἀργεάδαι, Argeádai) was an ancient Macedonian royal house of Dorian Greek provenance. [1] [2] [3] They were the founders and the ruling dynasty of the kingdom of Macedon from about 700 to 310 BC. [4]


Their tradition, as described in ancient Greek historiography, traced their origins to Argos, in Peloponnese, hence the name Argeads or Argives. [5] [6] [1] Initially the rulers of the homonymous tribe, [7] by the time of Philip II they had expanded their reign further, to include under the rule of Macedonia all Upper Macedonian states. The family's most celebrated members were Philip II of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great, under whose leadership the kingdom of Macedonia gradually gained predominance throughout Greece, defeated the Achaemenid Empire and expanded as far as Egypt and India. The mythical founder of the Argead dynasty is King Caranus. [8] [9]


Argos, Triobol, c.270-250 BC, HGC 5-670.jpg
Amyntas II, Bronze, c.395-393 BC, HGC 3-I-820.jpg
Triobol of Argos (top), and a bronze coin of King Amyntas II of Macedon (bottom). The early Argead kings often copied the wolf of Argos' coins on their own coinage to highlight their supposed ancestry from this city. [10]

The words Argead and Argive derive (via Latin Argīvus [11] ) from the Greek Ἀργεῖος (Argeios meaning "of or from Argos" [12] ), which is first attested in Homer where it was also used as a collective designation for the Greeks ("Ἀργείων Δαναῶν", Argive Danaans ). [13] [14] The Argead dynasty claimed descent from the Temenids of Argos, in the Peloponnese, whose legendary ancestor was Temenus, the great-great-grandson of Heracles. [1]

In the excavations of the royal palace at Aegae, Manolis Andronikos discovered in the "tholos" room (according to some scholars "tholos" was the throne room) a Greek inscription relating to that belief. [15] This is testified by Herodotus, in The Histories , where he mentions that three brothers of the lineage of Temenus, Gauanes, Aeropus and Perdiccas, fled from Argos to the Illyrians and then to Upper Macedonia, to a town called Lebaea, where they served the king. The latter asked them to leave his territory, believing in an omen that something great would happen to Perdiccas. The boys went to another part of Macedonia, near the garden of Midas, above which mount Bermio stands. There they made their abode and slowly formed their own kingdom. [16]

Herodotus also relates the incident of the participation of Alexander I of Macedon in the Olympic Games in 504 or 500 BC where the participation of the Macedonian king was contested by participants on the grounds that he was not Greek. The Hellanodikai, however, after examining his Argead claim confirmed that the Macedonian kings were Greeks and allowed him to participate. [17]

The route of the Argeads from Argos, Peloponnese, to Macedonia according to Herodotus. Route of Karanos to establish his own kingdom.png
The route of the Argeads from Argos, Peloponnese, to Macedonia according to Herodotus.

Another theory supported by modern scholars, following the ancient author Appian, is that the Argead dynasty actually descended from Argos Orestikon in Macedonia, and that the Macedonian kings claimed a descent from Argos in Peloponnese to enforce their Greekness. [18]

House of Argos House of Argos.svg
House of Argos

According to Thucydides, in the History of the Peloponnesian War , the Argeads were originally Temenids from Argos, who descended from the highlands to Lower Macedonia, expelled the Pierians from Pieria and acquired in Paionia a narrow strip along the river Axios extending to Pella and the sea. They also added Mygdonia in their territory through the expulsion of the Edoni, Eordians, and Almopians. [19]


Argead Rulers
KingReign (BC)Comments
Caranus 808–778 BCFounder of the Argead dynasty and the first king of Macedon.
Koinos 778–750 BC
Tyrimmas 750–700 BC
Perdiccas I 700–678 BC
Argaeus I 678–640 BC
Philip I 640–602 BC
Aeropus I 602–576 BC
Alcetas I 576–547 BC
Amyntas I 547–498 BC
Alexander I 498–454 BC
Perdiccas II 454–413 BC
Archelaus 413–399 BC
Orestes and Aeropus II 399–396 BC
Archelaus II 396–393 BC
Amyntas II 393 BC
Pausanias 393 BC
Amyntas III 393 BC
Argaeus II 393–392 BC
Amyntas III 392–370 BCRestored to the throne after one year.
Alexander II 370–368 BC
Ptolemy I 368–365 BC
Perdiccas III 365–359 BC
Amyntas IV 359 BC
Philip II 359–336 BC Expanded Macedonian territory and influence to achieve a dominant position in the Balkans, unified most of the Greek city-states in the League of Corinth under his hegemony.
Alexander III 336–323 BCAlexander the Great, the most notable Macedonian king and one of the most celebrated strategists and rulers of all time. Alexander at the top of his reign was simultaneously King of Macedonia, Pharaoh of Egypt, King of Persia and King of Asia.
Antipater 334–323 BCRegent of Macedonia during the reign of Alexander III.
Philip III Arrhidaeus 323–317 BCOnly titular king after the death of Alexander III.
Alexander IV 323–310 BCSon of Alexander the Great and Roxana. Served only as a titular king and was murdered at a young age before having the chance to rise to the throne of Macedon.

Family tree

king of Macedon
king of Macedon
Perdiccas I
king of Macedon
Argaeus I
king of Macedon
Philip I
king of Macedon
Aeropus I
king of Macedon
Alcetas I
king of Macedon
576-547 BC
Amyntas I
king of Macedon
547-498 BC
∞ Eurydice
Alexander I
king of Macedon
498-454 BC
Alcetas II
king of Macedon
454-448 BC
Perdiccas II
king of Macedon
448-413 BC
∞ Symache
Seuthes II of Thrace
satrap of Alabanda
Archelaus I
king of Macedon
413-399 BC
Aeropus II
king of Macedon
399-395 BC
Amyntas II
king of Macedon
393 BC
king of Macedon
399-396 BC
Archelaus II
king of Macedon
395-394 BC
king of Macedon
394 BC
Amyntas III
king of Macedon
393, 392-370 BC
1.Eurydice I
daughter of Sirras
Argaeus II
king of Macedon
393-392 BC
(1) Alexander II
king of Macedon
371-369 BC
(1) Perdiccas III
king of Macedon
365-360 BC
(1) Eurynoe
Ptolemy of Aloros
1.Audata of Illyria
2.Phila of Elimeia
daughter of Derdas III
3.Nicesipolis of Thessalia
niece of Jason of Pherae
4.Philinna of Larissa
(1) Philip II
king of Macedon
359-336 BC
daughter of Neoptolemus I of Epirus
6.Meda of Odessos
daughter of Cothelas of Getae
7.Cleopatra Eurydice
niece of Attalus
(2) Menelaus
Amyntas IV
king of Macedonia
350 BC
(1) Cynane
(3) Thessalonike
Cassander of Macedonia
(4) Philip III Arrhidaeus
king of Macedon
323-317 BC
(4) Alexander III the Great
king of Macedon
336-323 BC
emperor of Macedonian Empire
330-323 BC
1.Roxana of Bactria
daughter of Oxyartes
2.Stateira II/Barsine
daughter of Darius III of Persia
3.Parysatis II
daughter of Artaxerxes III of Persia
(7) Caranus
(7) Europa
Eurydice II
(1) Alexander IV
emperor of Macedonian Empire
323-309 BC

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  1. 1 2 3 Howatson & Harvey 1989 , p. 339: "In historical times the royal house traced its descent from the mythical Temenus, king of Argos, who was one of the Heracleidae, and more immediately from Perdiccas I, who left Argos for Illyria, probably in the mid-seventh century BC, and from there captured the Macedonian plain and occupied the fortress of Aegae (Vergina), setting himself up as king of the Macedonians. Thus the kings were of largely Dorian Greek stock (see PHILIP (1)); they presumably spoke a form of Dorian Greek and their cultural tradition had Greek features."
  2. Cosmopoulos 1992 , p. 30.
  3. Grant 1988 , p. 259: "It was the descendants of these Dorians [...] who formed the upper class among the Macedonians of subsequent epochs."
  4. Cosmopoulos 1992 , "TABLE 2: The Argeiad Kings" (p. 30).
  5. Argive, Oxford Dictionaries.
  6. Hammond 1986 , p. 516: "In the early 5th century the royal house of Macedonia, the Temenidae was recognised as Macedonian by the Presidents of the Olympic Games. Their verdict considered themselves to be of Macedonian descent."
  7. Rogers 2004 , p. 316: "According to Strabo, 7.11 ff., the Argeadae were the tribe who were able to make themselves supreme in early Emathia, later Macedonia."
  8. Green 2013 , p. 103.
  9. According to Pausanias (Description of Greece 9.40.8-9), Caranus set up a trophy after the Argive fashion for a victory against Cisseus: "The Macedonians say that Caranus, king of Macedonia, overcame in battle Cisseus, a chieftain in a bordering country. For his victory Caranus set up a trophy after the Argive fashion, but it is said to have been upset by a lion from Olympus, which then vanished. Caranus, they assert, realized that it was a mistaken policy to incur the undying hatred of the non-Greeks dwelling around, and so, they say, the rule was adopted that no king of Macedonia, neither Caranus himself nor any of his successors, should set up trophies, if they were ever to gain the good-will of their neighbors. This story is confirmed by the fact that Alexander set up no trophies, neither for his victory over Dareius nor for those he won in India."
  10. Hoover 2011, p. 161; Hoover 2016, p. 295.
  11. Lewis & Short 1879 , Argīvus.
  12. Liddell & Scott 1940 , Ἀργεῖος.
  13. Cartledge 2011 , Chapter 4: Argos, p. 23: "The Late Bronze Age in Greece is also called conventionally 'Mycenaean', as we saw in the last chapter. But it might in principle have been called 'Argive', 'Achaean', or 'Danaan', since the three names that Homer does in fact apply to Greeks collectively were 'Argives', 'Achaeans', and 'Danaans'."
  14. Homer. Iliad, 2.155-175, 4.8; Odyssey, 8.578, 4.6.
  15. The Greek inscription found in the tholos room of the royal palace at Aegae reads "ΗΡΑΚΛΗΙ ΠΑΤΡΩΙΩΙ" (Andronikos 1994 , p. 38: "Η επιγραφή αυτή είναι: «ΗΡΑΚΛΗΙ ΠΑΤΡΩΙΩΙ», που σημαίνει στον «Πατρώο Ηρακλή», στον Ηρακλή δηλαδή που ήταν γενάρχης της βασιλικής οικογένειας των Μακεδόνων." [Translation: "This inscription is: «ΗΡΑΚΛΗΙ ΠΑΤΡΩΙΩΙ», which means "Father (Ancestor) Hercules", dedicated to Hercules who was the ancestor of the royal family of the Macedonians."])
  16. Herodotus. Histories, 8.137.
  17. Herodotus. Histories, 5.22.
  18. Appian. Syrian Wars, 11.10.63.
  19. Thucydides. History of the Peloponnesian War, 2.99.


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  • Hoover, Oliver D. (2016). Handbook of Coins of Macedon and Its Neighbors. Part I: Macedon, Illyria, and Epeiros, Sixth to First Centuries BC (The Handbook of Greek Coinage Series, Volume 3). Lancaster/London: Classical Numismatic Group.
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Further reading