Meleager (general)

Meleager (general)

Meleager (Greek: Mελεαγρος Meleagros; died 323 BC) was a Macedonian officer of distinction in the service of Alexander the Great.

Meleager, son of Neoptolemus, is first mentioned in the war against the Getae (335 BC). At the Granicus in the following year (334 BC), he commanded one of the divisions (ταξεις) of the phalanx, a post which he afterward held apparently throughout the campaigns in Asia. He was appointed, together with Coenus and Ptolemy the son of Seleucus, to command the newly-married troops which were sent home from Caria to spend the winter in Macedon, and rejoined Alexander at Gordium in the following summer (333 BC).

He was present at the battles of Issus and Gaugamela, associated with Craterus in the task of dislodging the enemy who guarded the passes into Persia. He bore a part in the passage of the Hydaspes and in various other operations in India.

Despite a long series of services, Alexander did not promote him to any higher or more confidential situation, nor does Meleager take part in any separate command of importance.[1]

After the death of Alexander (323 BC), he was the first to propose in the council of officers, that either Arrhidaeus or Heracles the son of Barsine should at once be chosen king, instead of waiting for the chance of Roxana bearing a son.[2] Curtius, on the contrary, represents him as breaking out into violent invectives against the ambition of Perdiccas, and abruptly quitting the assembly, in order to excite the soldiery to a tumult. Diodorus states that he was sent by the assembled generals to appease the clamors and discontent of the troops, but instead of doing so he himself joined the mutineers.

Meleager assumed the lead of the opposition to Perdiccas and his party; and placed himself at the head of the infantry, who had declared themselves (possibly at his instigation) in favor of the claims of Arrhidaeus to the vacant throne. Meleager ordered the execution of Perdiccas, but this project was disconcerted by the boldness of the regent. The greater part of the cavalry, together with almost all the generals, sided with Perdiccas, and quitting Babylon, established themselves in a separate camp without the walls of the city. A reconciliation was effected, principally by the intervention of Eumenes, and it was agreed that the royal authority should be divided between Arrhidaeus and the expected son of Roxana, and that in the mean time Meleager should be associated with Perdiccas in the regency. It was impossible that these two should long continue on really friendly terms, and Meleager proved no match for Perdiccas. Perdiccas contrived to lull his rival into fancied security, while he made himself master both of Philip Arrhidaeus. He struck the first blow. The whole army was assembled under pretense of a general review and lustration, when the king, at the instigation of Perdiccas, suddenly demanded the surrender and punishment of all the leaders in the late disorders. The infantry were taken by surprise; 300 of the alleged mutineers were singled out and executed. Though Meleager himself was not personally attacked, he fled and took refuge in a temple, where he was pursued and put to death by order of Perdiccas.[3]



  1. ^ Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri, i. 4, 14, 20, 24, ii. 8, iii. 11, 18, v. 12; Curtius, Historiae Alexandri Magni, iii. 24, v. 14, vii. 27; Diodorus, Bibliotheca, xvii. 57
  2. ^ according to Justin
  3. ^ Curtius, x. 6-9; Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus, xiii. 2-4; Photius, Bibliotheca, cod. 92; Diodorus, xviii. 2

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology by William Smith (1870).

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