Lysimachus of Thrace

King of Macedon with Pyrrhus of Epirus
Preceded by: Demetrius I of Macedon
Succeeded by: Ptolemy Keraunos

Lysimachus (Λυσίμαχος) (c. 360 BC–281 BC) was a Thessalian Greek officer and "successor" (diadochus) of Alexander the Great, later a king (306 BC) in Thrace and Asia Minor.

Son of Agathocles, he was a citizen of Pella in Macedonia. During Alexander's Persian campaigns he was one of his immediate bodyguard and distinguished himself in India. After Alexander’s death (323 BC) he was appointed to the government of Thrace and the Chersonese. For a long time he was chiefly occupied with fighting against the Odrysian king Seuthes III.

In 315 BC he joined Cassander, Ptolemy and Seleucus against Antigonus, who, however, diverted his attention by stirring up Thracian and Scythian tribes against him. In 309 BC, he founded Lysimachia in a commanding situation on the neck connecting the Chersonese with the mainland. He followed the example of Antigonus in taking the title of king. In 302 when the second affiance between Cassander, Ptolemy and Seleucus was made, Lysimachus, reinforced by troops from Cassander, entered Asia Minor, where he met with little resistance. On the approach of Antigonus he retired into winter quarters near Heraclea, marrying its widowed queen Amastris, a Persian princess. Seleucus joined him in 301 BC, and at the battle of Ipsus Antigonus was defeated and slain. His dominions were divided among the victors, Lysimachus receiving the greater part of Asia Minor.

This Lysimachus was a Macedonian by birth and one of Alexander's body-guards, whom Alexander once in anger shut up in a chamber with a lion, and afterwards found that he had overpowered the brute. Henceforth he always treated him with respect, and honored him as much as the noblest Macedonians. After the death of Alexander, Lysimachus ruled such of the Thracians, who are neighbors of the Macedonians, as had been under the sway of Alexander and before him of Philip. These would comprise but a small part of Thrace. If race be compared with race no nation of men except the Celts are more numerous than the Thracians taken all together, and for this reason no one before the Romans reduced the whole Thracian population. Pausanias

Feeling that Seleucus was becoming dangerously great, Lysimachus now allied himself with Ptolemy, marrying his daughter Arsinoe II of Egypt. Amastris, who had divorced herself from him, returned to Heraclea. When Antigonus’s son Demetrius I of Macedon renewed hostilities (297 BC), during his absence in Greece, Lysimachus seized his towns in Asia Minor, but in 294 BC concluded a peace whereby Demetrius was recognized as ruler of Macedonia. He tried to carry his power beyond the Danube, but was defeated and taken prisoner by the Getae king Dromichaetes (Dromihete), who, however, set him free on amicable terms. Demetrius subsequently threatened Thrace, but had to retire in consequence of a rising in Boeotia, and an attack from Pyrrhus of Epirus.

In 288 BC Lysimachus and Pyrrhus in turn invaded Macedonia, and drove Demetrius out of the country. Pyrrhus was at first allowed to remain in possession of Macedonia with the title of king, but in 285 BC he was expelled by Lysimachus.

Domestic troubles embittered the last years of Lysimachus’s life. Amastris had been murdered by her two sons; Lysimachus treacherously put them to death. On his return Arsinoe asked the gift of Heraclea, and he granted her request, though he had promised to free the city. In 284 BC Arsinoe, desirous of gaining the succession for her sons in preference to Agathocles (the eldest son of Lysimachus), intrigued against him with the help of her brother Ptolemy Ceraunus; they accused him of conspiring with Seleucus to seize the throne, and he was put to death.

This atrocious deed of Lysimachus aroused great indignation. Many of the cities of Asia revolted, and his most trusted friends deserted him. The widow of Agathocles fled to Seleucus, who at once invaded the territory of Lysimachus in Asia. In 281 BC, Lysimachus crossed the Hellespont into Lydia, and at the decisive Battle of Corupedium was killed. After some days his body, watched by a faithful dog, was found on the field, and given up to his son Alexander, by whom it was interred at Lysimachia.

The next part of the story is incredible to me, but Hieronymus the Cardian relates that he destroyed the tombs and cast out the bones of the dead. But this Hieronymus has a reputation generally of being biased against all the kings except Antigonus, and of being unfairly partial towards him. As to the treatment of the Epeirot graves, it is perfectly plain that it was malice that made him record that a Macedonian desecrated the tombs of the dead. Besides, Lysimachus was surely aware that they were the ancestors not of Pyrrhus only but also of Alexander. In fact Alexander was an Epeirot and an Aeacid on his mother's side, and the subsequent alliance between Pyrrhus and Lysimachus proves that even as enemies they were not irreconcilable. Possibly Hieronymus had grievances against Lysimachus, especially his destroying the city of the Cardians and founding Lysimachea in its stead on the isthmus of the Thracian Chersonesus. Pausanias

Coinage of Lysimachus. Initially, Lysimachus was slow to mint to coinage in his own name. But early in the third century, after his conquests in Asia Minor, he began to produce stunning silver and gold coins with identical types. On the front of the coins was placed a portrait of Alexander adorned with the ram's horn of the Egyptian god Amun. On the reverse was a seated figure of the goddess Athena, and a Greek legend which translates 'Of King Lysimachus'.
Diameter: 30 mm Weight: 17.25 g
CM 1919-8-20-1
Room 22, Alexander the Great & the Hellenistic world, case 2, no. 15
I.A. Carradice, Greek coins (London, The British Museum Press, 1996)
Image and information from


Lysimachos Archaelogical Museum Selçuk, Photo: Jona Lendering


Arrian, Anabasis v. 13, vi. 28
Justin xv. 3, 4, xvii. I
Quintus Curtius V. 3, x. 30
Diodorus Siculus xviii. 3
Polybius v. 67
Plutarch, Demetrius, 31. 52, Pyrrhus, 12
Appian, Syriaca, 62
Thirlwall, History of Greece, vol. viii. (1847)
J. P. Mahaffy, Story of Alexander’s Empire
Droysen, Hellenismus (2nd ed., 1877)
A. Holm, Griechische Geschichte, vol. iv. (1894)
B. Niese, Gesch. d. griech. u. snaked. Staaten, vols. i. and ii. (1893, 1899)
J. Beloch, Griech. Gesch. vol. iii. (1904)
Hunerwadel, Forschungen zur Gesch. des Könige Lysimachus (1900)

Possenti, Ii Re Lisimaco di Tracia (1901)

Ghione, "Note sul regno di Lisimaco" (Atti d. real. Accad. di Torino, xxxix.)

This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.

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