Attalus (c. 390 BC - 336 BC), important courtier of Macedonian king Philip II of Macedonia.

In 337 BC, Attalus' niece Cleopatra married king Philip II of Macedonia. In spring of 336 BC, Philip II appointed Attalus and Parmenion as commanders of the advance force that would invade the Persian Empire in Asia Minor. After Philip II had been assassinated and Alexander the Great had become king (October 336 BC), Attalus was murdered.

Attalus had earned the hatred of Alexander earlier at the wedding of Cleopatra and King Phillip II of Macedon. It was customary at Macedonian weddings for the celebrants to become extremely drunk. After a night of intoxication, Attalus declared that a toast should be proposed for the new marriage. He claimed that now the Macedonians would have a purely Macedonian heir, as Cleopatra was of pure lineage.

This was an obvious insult to Alexander, whose mother, Olympias, came from Epirus, thus making Alexander only half Macedonian. In reply to the insult Alexander stood up and threw his goblet at Attalus, exclaiming, "Are you calling me a bastard?"

Attalus then threw his own cup at the prince. Then Phillip lurched forward, drawing his sword. He tottered a few drunken steps on his lame leg, then fell. Alexander looked down with utter contempt at his father, sprawled on the floor.

"That, gentlemen, is the man who has been preparing to cross from Europe into Asia," the prince sneered, in reference to Phillip's planned Asian invasion, "and he cannot even make it from one couch to the next!" With that, he stormed out into the night, collected his mother, and left the kingdom.

At the time of the accession of Alexander the Great to the Macedonian throne, Attalus was stationed with Parmenion and the Macedonian advance army in Asia Minor. In the wake of Phillip II's death, it is alleged by hostile sources that Demosthenes of Athens wrote a letter to Attalus promising Athens' support if the two made war on Alexander.

Attalus submitted Demosthenes' letters to Alexander and pledged his support to the king. However, Alexander had Attalus killed, remembering the past insult of Attalus. Even without the resentment between the two men, Alexander probably felt Attalus was too ambitious to remain alive, and had too good reasons for revenge after the assassination of Cleopatra's son.


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