Skip to main content Accessibility help

The wounding of Philip II of Macedon: fact and fabrication*

  • Alice Swift Riginos (a1)


This paper, concerning one element in the ancient biographical tradition of Philip II of Macedon, demonstrates the manner in which facts—that the Macedonian monarch was gravely wounded in the right eye, in the collar bone, and in the leg—become the basis of fictitious fabrications entered into the biographical tradition and accepted as elements of Philip's ‘life’. A diachronic analysis of the complete literary testimonia which convey information concerning these traumata attempts to determine when and how the biographical facts were altered and embellished over the centuries following Philip's death. Since the stunning discovery by Andronicos at Vergina in 1977 of the tomb designated Royal Tomb II, identified by the excavator as the tomb of Philip II, considerable interest has been focused on the wounds of Philip II in linking items recovered from the tomb and the physical remains of the male decedent with the great king of Macedon. A diachronic review of the literary traditions regarding Philip's injuries, useful to those arguing the identification of the occupant of Royal Tomb II, reveals a great deal about ancient biographical practices. Particularly in the case of the blinding wound to Philip's right eye, it is evident that the facts are very soon obscured by an overlay of fictitious embellishments, frequently amusing, which were created to heighten interest in an occurrence of lasting impact on Philip and became stock items in his βίος.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      The wounding of Philip II of Macedon: fact and fabrication*
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      The wounding of Philip II of Macedon: fact and fabrication*
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      The wounding of Philip II of Macedon: fact and fabrication*
      Available formats



Hide All

1 Identification of the deceased as Philip II provides a specific date for the sealing of the tomb following the assassination of Philip in 336 BC. Andronicos identified the tomb as Philip's in the year of its discovery and defended this identification in the years following, see Andronicos, M., ‘Vergina, the royal graves in the great tumulus’, AAA x (1977) 139; ‘The royal tomb of Philip II: an unlooted Macedonian grave at Vergina’, Archaeology xxxi.5 (1978) 33–41; and Vergina: the royal tombs and the ancient city (Athens 1984). A number of the finds from Royal Tomb II are illustrated in the catalogue The search for Alexander: an exhibition (Boston 1980) which also includes a chapter by Andronicos, , ‘The royal tombs at Vergina: a brief account of the excavations’, 2638. While the contents of this unlooted tomb are rich, and surely royal, it is their special and unique nature that makes a definite date elusive. Andronicos initially based his identification and dating on the items linked to Philip II by his known disabilities (see n. 2) and then subsequently on the skull injuries observed by Prag, Musgrave, and Neave (see n. 3). The identification of the Royal Tomb II as belonging to Philip II has found both supporters and critics who have argued alternative solutions. Most recently, Borza, E.N., In the shadow of Olympus: the emergence of Macedon (Princeton 1990) 256–66 provides a lively description of the Vergina tombs and a detailed and balanced statement of the arguments advanced in support of the two Macedonian monarchs most likely to be interred in Tomb II. Bosworth, A.B., Conquest and empire: the reign of Alexander the Great (Cambridge 1988) 27 n. 9 adds some pointed observations. Scholars who support Andronicos' identification of the tomb as belonging to Philip II (reserving, however, differing opinions concerning the woman in the antechamber) include: Hammond, N.G.L. (‘Philip's tomb in historical context’, GRBS xix [1978] 331–50; ‘The evidence for the identity of the royal tombs at Vergina’, in Adams, W.L. and Borza, E.N., edd., Philip II, Alexander the Great and the Macedonian heritage [Washington 1982] 111–27; ‘Arms and the king: the insignia of Alexander the Great’, Phoenix xliii [1989] 217–24, and Green, P. (‘The royal tombs at Vergina: a historical analysis’ in Adams-Borza 129–51). Those who argue for a date later than the reign of Philip II and for Philip III Arrhidaeus and his wife Eurydice as the probable occupants begin with Lehmann, P.W. (‘The so-called tomb of Philip II: a different interpretation’, AJA lxxxiv [1980] 527–31; ‘Once again the royal tomb at Vergina’, AAA xiv [1981] 134–44) and include Giallombardo, A.M. Prestianni (‘Riflessioni storiografiche sulla cronologia del grande tumulo e delle tombe reali di Vergina [Campagne di scavo 1976–77]’, Πρακτικὰ τοῦ XII διεθνοῦς συνεδρίου κλασσικῆς άρχαιολογίας [Athens 1985] 237–42) and Borza, E.N. (‘The royal Macedonian tombs and the paraphernalia of Alexander’, Phoenix xli [1987] 105–21). Arguments for the tomb's date have also considered the circumstances leading to the appearance of vaulted chamber tombs in Macedonia within the second half of the fourth century BC. Lehmann and others agreeing that the Royal Tomb II is to be dated later than 336 BC argue that the vaulted roof construction employed in the tomb was not introduced to the Greek mainland until after the expedition of Alexander when architects and engineers in his company observed vaulted structures in the East and introduced them into the Macedonian architectural repertoire. This argument supports the identification of the tomb as the burial spot of Arrihidaeus, murdered in 317 BC and given a state burial by Cassander in 316. However, the notion of a deliberate and dateable introduction of the barrel vault is refuted by Andronicos, , ‘Some reflections on the Macedonian tombs’, BSA lxxxii (1987) 116 and Tomlinson, R.A., ‘The architectural content of the Macedonian vaulted tombs’, BSA lxxxii (1987) 305–12. Their examination of Macedonian burial practices shows that the barrel vaulted tomb (of which Royal Tomb II is but one example) found in Macedonia beginning in the second half of the fourth century BC is not necessarily an imported architectural form. The design of these vaulted tombs can be explained as an elaboration of the characteristically Macedonian cist-tombs in use throughout the early fourth century. Moreover, Tomlinson 311 rightly cautions that Alexander's invasion did not afford Greeks and Macedonians their first opportunity to observe eastern architecture and to introduce new forms into mainland structures.

2 Two items from Royal Tomb II, the miniature bearded ivory head and the mismatched pair of gilt bronze greaves, were taken by Andronicos, (Vergina [n. 1] 226–31) as indications that the tomb was the resting place of Philip II because he believed they could be connected to Philip's well-attested injuries in his right eye and in one leg. The ivory head portrays a mature male face with a prominent vertical scar midway through the right eyebrow and a right eyeball which has a vacant and unfocused appearance. The identification of the head with Philip II has found wide acceptance. Andronicos further argued that the set of unequal greaves (the left is shorter than the right by 3.5 cms) was customized for Philip who was lame owing to a wound sustained in the leg. Green (n. 1) 135–36 contests this association of the unequal greaves with Philip II on the grounds that Didymus, the only source to specify left or right side, reports a wound to Philip's right leg and that, inasmuch as the wound was to the upper leg or thigh, it could not have caused the atrophy of the lower leg indicated by the shortened greave. However, discussion of the leg wound (below, pp. 116–18 and n. 61) shows that in later antiquity the tradition was uncertain as to which leg was injured.

3 The cremated skeletal remains have been examined for signs of injury by two sets of experts whose conclusions disagree sharply. Physical anthropologists N.I. Xirotiris and Langenscheidt, F., ‘The cremations from the royal Macedonian tombs of Vergina’, Archaiologike Ephemeris (1981) 142–60, found that the bones, including those of the skull, from the cremated male bore no evidence of injury; in their estimation the skeletal remains were consistent with Philip's known age at death but did not provide positive proof of identity based on observable injuries to the bones. Subsequently, the skull bones were examined by the anatomist J.H. Musgrave who observed indications of severe trauma on the right supraorbital margin and cheek bone. On the basis of literary accounts recording a blinding wound sustained by Philip in the right eye, Musgrave and his collaborators, A.J.N.W. Prag and R.A.H. Neave, identified the skull positively as Philip II and have attempted to reconstruct the skull and face of the cremated male, see Prag, A.J.N.W., Musgrave, J.H. and Neave, R.A.H., ‘The skull from tomb II at Vergina: King Philip of Macedon’, JHS civ (1984) 6078, and, more recently, Prag, A.J.N.W., ‘Reconstructing the Skull of Philip of Macedon’, in Danien, E.C., ed., The world of Philip and Alexander: a symposium on Greek life and times (Philadelphia 1990) 3536 and ‘Reconstructing King Philip II: the “nice” version’, AJA xciv (1990) 237–47.

4 [Demetrius] De eloc. 293 reports that Philip was so sensitive about his loss that mere mention of the word ὁφθαλμός would enrage him.

5 See the critical comments of T. Castricius recorded in Gel. ii 27. Castricius contends that Dem. xviii 67 was the model for Sallust's description of Sertorius in i 88 and that in this case the dependent passage lacks the power of the original. For a modern assessment of xviii 66–67 see G.O. Rowe, ‘Demosthenes’ use of language' in Murphy, J.J., ed., Demosthenes' ‘On the crown’ : a critical case study of a masterpiece of ancient oratory (New York 1967) 190.

6 Seneca Con. x 5.6 is clearly influenced by Demosthenes' description. Seneca expresses outrage at the Athenian painter Parrhasius who is said to have purchased a hapless Olynthian sold into slavery after Philip's destruction of his city and then to have tortured him to death to use his body for a model in a painting of Prometheus (to complete the travesty, the painting was dedicated in the temple of Minerva). Finally, continues Seneca, if Parrhasius wanted a real model there was one available to him—Philip himself, mutilated not by human insolence but by the very gods: crure debili, oculo effosso, iugulo fracto, per tot damna a dis immortalibus tortum.

7 This detailed discussion is not preserved.

8 This assessment is based on the fact that Didymus cites certain of his sources by name (Theopompus, Marsyas, Duris) and provides some detaills of the campaigns where the injuries occurred. It is, however, not possible to confirm the accuracy of these details in every instance.

9 The scholiast to xviii 67.124 notes that both arm and leg wounds were sustained ἐν Σκύθαις. As the third anonymous reader of this paper rightly observes, the rhythm of Demosthenes xviii 67 is broken by τὴν χεῖρα which stands without a separate participle. The suggestion, however, that τὴν χεῖρα is an intrusion in the original text is not found in the standard commentaries on this passage in Demosthenes.

10 The difficulties in dating of the siege of Methone are discussed by Buckler, J., Philip II and the Sacred War, Mnem. Suppl. cix (Leiden 1989), ‘Appendix 1: Chronology’, 181–85. Buckler argues that Methone was invested in winter 355 BC and fell during the summer of 354.

11 Speusippus' letter to Philip (FGrH 115 T7 = Ep. Socrat. xxx 12) places Theopompus at the court of Philip. The authenticity of this letter has been questioned, see Bertelli, L., ‘L'epistola di Speusippo a Filippo: Un problema di cronologia’, AAT cx (1976) 275300 and ‘La lettera di Speusippo a Filippo: II problema dell' autenticità’, AAT cxi (1977) 75–111. Theopompus, however, made himself well-informed regarding information current in court circles, see FGrH 115 T20 where Dionysius of Halicarnassus commends the historian for the range of individuals interviewed when garnering data for his history. Even if he did not actually visit the court of Philip, Theopompus clearly had access to reports from Pella.

12 Hammond, N.G.L., A History of Macedonia, Volume II: 550–336 BC (Oxford 1979) 257 n. 2: ‘The details of Theopompus and Marsyas are likely to be right’. It is uncertain whether Didymus here refers to Marsyas Pellaeus or Marsyas Philippeus (FGrH 135–136). Both wrote on Macedonian matters; Jacoby, FGrH, Teil 2B Kommentar 480–81 assigns them a post fourth century date.

13 The only source to describe the medical treatment received by Philip is Pliny NH vii 124, see Prag (1990) (n. 3).

14 Recently Syme, R., ‘The date of Justin and the discovery of TrogusHistoria', Historia xxxvii (1988) 358–71, reviewing the dates commonly assigned to Justin, suggests a late fourth century date for the epitomator.

15 Justin vii 6.14 records that during the siege of Mothone (sic) Philip was struck ‘as he passed by’ (in praetereuntem) by an arrow shot from the city wall (de muris sagitta iacta), and that his right eye was destroyed.

16 See Hammond, N.G.L., ‘The sources of Diodorus Siculus xvi’, CQ xxxi (1937) 86–9. Even those readers of Diodorus who attribute to him a measure of originality admit that book xvi depends on Ephorus, see for example Sacks, K.S., Diodorus Siculus and the first century (Princeton 1990) 1215 and n. 18).

17 Frag. 22a (5:162 [Baladié]): καταπελτικῷ βέλει. See Hammond (1979) (n. 12) 257 n. 2 for the remark that it is highly unlikely that even Philip could have survived such a blow. However, the trend to heroize Philip over time could be reflected in the upgrading of the weapon, compare Duris' claim below that a spear struck Philip's eye. See below, pp. 108, 109 and 118 for other manifestations of this trend.

18 The contributions of [Callisthenes], Solinus, Themistius, and the sources of the anonymous scholiast to Demosthenes and of Suidas are discussed below. Lucian, Hist. conscr. 38, a citation dating to the second century AD when the Aster story enjoys apparent popularity, uses the wounding of Philip at Methone to illustrate his point that the historian should not conceal offensive descriptive details in portraying the character of his subject (Φίλιπποσ…τοιοῦτος οἷος ἧν δειχθήσεται). Lucian alone records Aster here as a citizen of Amphipolis but places the wounding in Olynthus, as does [Callisthenes], see below pp. 112–13.

19 See Kaerst, , RE ii (1896) s.v. ‘Aster (4)’ 1780 and, most recently, Prag (1984) (n. 3) 75 and n. 38 and (1990) (n. 3) 243. As demonstrated below, the sources for Aster, and the embellishments regarding his role, are abundant. The 1758 biography of Philip II by Leland, Thomas, D.D., , The history of the life and reign of Philip king of Macedon; the father of Alexander, printed by Harrison, Thomas for Johnston, W. in St. Paul's Church Yard i 135–6 includes yet another anecdotal account. According to this account, Aster, a man of either Amphipolis or Olynthus (here a ‘latter day Ephialtes’ of sorts), offered his services to Philip, was rejected, and then deliberately shot Philip in the eye to validate his claim to be an excellent marksman. For this anecdote Leland cites only a note to Demosthenes' first Philippic in the Translation of the Philippic orations of Demosthenes of one Monsieur Tourreil (noted briefly as a modern source in Leland's preface 1 xxvii). Leland himself, clearly savouring a good story, apologizes for his inability to cite a reliable ancient author, 136: ‘but if the particulars, which Monsieur Tourreil relates, be really authentic (his authority, indeed, I confess, I have not been able to discover) …’ To be sure, this anecdote with its ‘punishment suits the crime’ motif could well have been fabricated in antiquity, but to my knowledge it lacks ancient attribution.

20 Arrowheads bearing the inscription ΦΙΛΙΠΠΟ cast in relief on the stem were recovered at Olynthus; one is illustrated in the catalogue Search for Alexander (n. 1) item 104, colour pl. 16. Robinson, D.M., Excavations at Olynthus x (1941) illustrates Type C arrowheads nos. 1907–11 in pl. 120; the excavator claims that the inscription is the mark of Macedonian issue weapons, see 382–83. Borza (1990) (n. 1) 299 wonders if the arrowheads and sling bullets similarly inscribed with the name of Philip and his commanders (Robinson 418–43 nos. 2176–2380) were not of Olynthian make. The practice of inscribing the name of the enemy on a weapon is indeed an aspect of the ‘long tradition of warfare’, see, for a recent example, ‘Cheney, Powell inscribe a bomb to Saddam’, The Washington Post (February 11, 1991) A17.

21 In Or. xxiii 283c Themistius likens anonymous accusations flung at him by his assailants to a shower of arrows. In 284c he suggests that if he pause to pick up and examine one single arrow, it might prove to bear a name, as was the case with the bowman who shot Philip while supervising the siege of Methone: his name proved to be Aster for it was branded (ἐγκέκαυτο) on the arrow. Themistius omits reference to Philip's wound and loss of sight: surely his audience knew the result of Aster's shot at Methone.

22 The weapon is here called βέλος. The short notice places the events in Methone, Aster inscribes the same words on the βέλος as in the scholiast's account.

23 In col. xii 55, following a genitive absolute which serves as a parenthetical interjection of sources opposing Duris' information, Didymus returns to his citation of Duris with the words τὰ μ(ὲν) γ(ἀρ) περὶ τῶν αὐλητ(ῶν). For Marsyas see n. 12.

24 Compare the ‘literary omen’ recorded by Diodorus Siculus xvi 92.3 which befell Philip the day before his assassination and was similarly ignored.

25 The date of [Demetrius] is disputed: third century BC on the authority of Grube, G.M.A., The Greek and Roman cities (Toronto 1965) 110–21; first century BC on the authority of Russell, D.A., Criticism in antiquity (London 1981) 40.

26 Poet. 1448 a11 (= PMG 782). For fragments of Philoxenus' Κύκλωψ see Page, PMG nos. 815–824. Ancient gossip regarding this dithyramb is found in Phaenias (fr. 13 [Wehrli]), Duris (FGrH 76 F 58 = PMG 817), Ath. i 6e–7a (= PMG 816), Aelian VH xii 44, Suidas s.v. Φιλόξενος (iv 729 [Adler]).

27 A notice in Suidas, s.v. Ἀντιγενείδης (i 235 [Adler]) links the flute player Antigeneides with Philoxenus (born 455/4 BC, died 380/79) in dithyrambic performances in Athens. Elsewhere Antigeneides of Thebes is attested as a brilliant player and teacher of the flute (Thphr. HP iv 11.4, Gel. xv 17, Apul. Flor, i 4, Plu. Mor. 1138b). While Gellius, drawing on Pamphile fr. 9 (FHG iii 521 [Müller]) has Antigeneides as the teacher of Alcibiades, a later date for the flautist is suggested by Anaxandrides fr. 42.16 K–A and anecdotes known to Plutarch in Mor. 193f and 335a.

28 FGrH 239 F73: Στησίχορος ὁ Ἱμεραῖος ὁ δεύτερος ἐνίκησεν Ἀθήνησιν. Page (PMG 841) identifies this younger compatriot and homonym of the great Stesichorus of Himera with the Stesichorus named by Duris as one of the contestants.

29 Chrysogonus ὀ αὑλητής is mentioned by Aristoxenus (fr. 45 [Wehrli]) recorded in Athenaeus xiv 648d, without indication of his date. Duris himself (FGrH 76 F70) is the only source to supply a date for Chrysogonus in reporting that he played at Alcibiades' triumphant return to Athens in 408 BC. This citation of Duris is found in Plutarch Alc. 32; Plutarch, however, seems to question Duris' authenticity when he notes that such details of Alcibiades' return are not found in Theopompus, Ephorus, or Xenophon and that he himself finds such a lavish display unlikely given the circumstances of Alcibiades' exile. Athenaeus xii 535d follows the details of Duris F70 without citing a source.

30 Page, PMG 840 accepts the reference from Duris as legitimate.

31 IG ii2 3064: Οἰ]νιάδης Προνόμου ηὔλει.

32 Mentioned together with Philoxenus (n. 26). Two fragments of Timotheus' Cyclops survive: PMG 780 and 781.

33 See the conjecture of Foucart.

34 Chares is here cited in Ath. xii 538b–539a; see also Ath. xiii 565a. An anecdote in Plutarch Mor. 335A (n. 27) about Alexander and Antigeneides is retold with the name of Timotheus as flute player by: Chr, D.. Or. i 16, Him. Or. xvi 3–4, Suidas s.v. Ἀλέξανδρος (i 103.14–19 [Adler]). Clearly Antigeneides and Tirnotheus are interchangeable names of famous flautists.

35 Part of the humour in Duris' account of the contest targets Philip's critical sensibilities. To be sure, Diodorus Siculus xvi 91.5 does refer to contests Philip arranged for the wedding festivities of his daughter, Cleopatra, but Theopompus, while reporting (FGrH 115 F 236) that Philip surrounded himself with musicians and buffoons, refers (F225 A and B) to contests that are scarcely musical. On Philip as a critic of music and art see Plutarch's comments Mor. 334c which preface an anecdote about Philip's inexpert critique of a harp player (334c–d), an anecdote repeated in Mor. 67f, 179b, 634c–d.

36 Cleisophos is not known beyond this passage in the Deipnosophistae, yet Athenaeus introduces him in vi 248d as follows: Κλείσοφον γοῦν τὸν ὑπὸ πάντων κόλακα Φιλίππου τοῦ τῶν Μακεδόνων βασιλέως άναγραφόμενον. His notoriety is attested by the fact that Athenaeus takes his information from three cited sources.

37 Satyrus is also cited a second time in the same passage from Athenaeus (fr. 23 [Kumaniecki]) for the information that Cleisophos was an Athenian—the point is made that he was a foreign guest at Philip's court and, therefore, was not, technically speaking, a παράσιτος.

38 Lynceus of Samos, brother of the historian Duris, dates to the late fourth-early third century BC; Hegesander of Delos dates to the late second century BC.

39 See Ath. vi 250c–d where Timaeus of Tauromenion is the source (FGrH 566 F 32).

40 Eustathius, ad II. xiv 404–5 repeats the exact words ascribed to Satyrus in a learned gloss to the rare verb τελαμωνίζειν. While he declines to cite his source (ὁ ἱστορήσας) the verbatim wording points to Satyrus. Here and ad II. ii 716 Eustathius knows the name of Aster as the successful archer. It is tempting to conjecture that Satyrus, too, reported the name of the Methonian bowman. The story of Cleisophos' eye bandage is the first in Satyrus' set of three anecdotes. See below for the matching anecdote portraying Cleisophos' reaction to Philip's leg wound. The third anecdote is not so pointed: Cleisophos is said to have grimaced whenever he saw the king of Macedon eat something sour.

41 Stobaeus names the river Sardon (ποταμοῦ Σάρδωνος) while [Plutarch] calls it the Sandanus (ἐπὶ τῷ Σανδάνῳ ποταμῷ]. Hammond, N.G.L., A history of Macedonia, Volume 1: historical geography and prehistory (Oxford 1972) 129 and n.3 identifies the Sardon/Sandanus as the modern Toponitsa, a tributary of the Haliacmon, to the south of the region of Methone. Since the Sardon/Sandanus river is not attested elsewhere and since the narrative details of the two texts drawn from [Callisthenes] point to Olynthus as the beseiged city, Hammond's identification seems open to question.

42 Only Lucian joins [Callisthenes] in making Aster an Olynthian.

43 See Münzer, , RE viii (1913) s.v. ‘Horatius (9)2331–36. Horatius is usually said to have earned his cognomen before his stand at the bridge. However, in Mor. 307d–f Plutarch records the stories of first Philip, then Horatius, in conflated versions that place each man alone on a bridge, outnumbered by the enemy, wounded in the eye and then swimming the river. The parallelism is completed by the miraculous survival of each with only the loss of an eye.

44 See the discussion in Rowe (n. 5) 180–81 of the imagery drawn from meteorological phenomena which is employed by Demosthenes to project the struggle between the Athenians and Philip ‘to cosmic proportions’. According to Demosthenes, Philip was destined to prevail, but it was yet in Athens' power to assert a moral choice and keep her dignity intact.

45 Seneca Con. x 5.6 is quite emphatic in placing responsibility with the gods, see his description, clearly based on Demosthenes xviii 67, of Philip's tortured body: pinge Philippum crure debili, occulo effosso, iugulo fracto, per tot damna a dis immortalibus tortum.

46 ‘ἀποβαλεῖν δὲ τῶν ὄψεων αὐτὺν τὴν ὲτέραν’: no echo of Demosthenes' wording.

47 Among the many mythic examples which illustrate this topos, Philip's punishment most closely resembles the blinding of Tiresias, particularly the version told at length by Callimachus in Hymn 5, see the discussion of Bulloch, A.W., Callimachus: the Fifth Hymn (Cambridge 1985) 1723. Both Tiresias and Philip acquire illicit sexual knowledge while encountering the divine; the resultant metamorphosis leaves Tiresias clairvoyant but blinded in both eyes, Philip blind in a single eye but illuminated as to why he must suffer this disability.

48 Compare the popularity of variants treating Tiresias' blinding among Hellenistic authors, see Dicaearchus fr. 37 (Wehrli), Cleitarchus (FGrH 137 F 37), Callimachus Hymn 5 and fr. 576 (Pfeiffer).

49 The text of the Didymus scholion shows that Duris intended some portentous association in giving the name ‘Aster’. Ptolemaeus Chennus, however, is the only preserved source to imply that Philip was punished for insolently trying to shoot at the stars, see p. 108 above. The role of τύχη is most explicit in the telling of the Aster story in the anonymous scholiast to Demosthenes iii 5, see p. 109 above.

50 This is the idea conveyed in an anecdote told twice by Plutarch (Mor. 105a–b, 177c no. 3) which records Philip's prayer upon learning of a triple coincidence of good luck to befall him in a single day. His prayer portrays the certainty that he will have to suffer; his wish is that the sacrifice required to compensate his great fortune be modest. See also Alex. iii 8–9 where the anecdote is reworked as an omen concerning Alexander's birth.

51 This restoration and Seneca Con. x 5.6 provide the sole testimonia for a wound in the lower leg, an injury of significance to those believing that the mismatched greaves from Royal Tomb II could be linked to Philip II. As Green (n. 1) 135–36 and n. 16 has pointed out, even those who read κν[ήμη]ν cannot argue that a wound on the right tibia (Didymus is specific) caused a made-to-measure left greave to be shorter and abnormally formed. In the tradition later than Didymus, however, there is uncertainty as to which was Philip's lame leg, see n. 61 for the discussion of Plutarch Mor. 739b.

52 345 BC: Hammond (n. 12) 471; 344 BC: Mathieu, G. and Brémond, E., eds., Isocrate (Paris 1962) iv 175.

53 The long sentence from col. xii 63 to col. xiii 2 includes two clauses governed by φασίν. The first clause sums up all the information set forth about Philip's eye: ‘as for the eye, they say he was injured in this way (i.e. as previously stated)’. The second clause moves on to the injured collar bone. In the case of the first clause, the ‘they’ indicated by φασίν are known: Theopompus, Duris, Marsyas. Can one assume that Didymus drew on these same sources for the information in the second clause? This is, perhaps, expecting too much of an author who admits that he is abridging or summarizing material elsewhere discussed in full (col. xii 40–43).

54 Didymus clearly states that Philip's opponent in the fray was Pleuratos the Illyrian. The text, however, admits some ambiguity as to who was charging whom. The indirect discourse following φασίν in line 63 of col. xii has the infinitive ἐκκοπῆναι in the first clause with its subject in αὑτόν; the second clause omits the verb and it is not clear whether the participle διώκοντα modifies Philip (‘pursuing the Illyrian Pleuratos’) or Pleuratos (‘Pleuratos the Illyrian pursuing [sc. Philip]’). In the first reading Philip would then have been wounded by other, unnamed, Illyrians; in the second reading Pleuratos would presumably be the cause of Philip's injury. On the basis of these lines from Didymus, it is assumed that the Pleuratos who opposed Philip in this battle was king of the Illyrian Aridaei, see Hammond, N.G.L., ‘The kingdoms of Illyria circa 400–167 BC’, BSA lxi (1966) 239–53 and History of Macedonia II (n. 12) 21. Didymus, for all his learning, is only as reliable as his sources; as shown above, he includes information about Philip from Duris which even he finds dubious. Apart from this passage, Pleuratos appears as a recurring name of the Illyrian royal family in the third century BC, beginning with Pleuratos I, c. 260 BC, see Lenschau, , RE xxi.1 (1951) s.v. ‘Pleuratos 1–5)237–39. This raises the possibility that a source familiar with the Illyrian kings of the third century, intending to heighten the significance of the event by making king compete with king, provided the name of Pleuratos, illustrious in his own day, for the individual who harmed Philip in the previous century. A similar intention—to magnify the person causing the injury—is seen in the lore surrounding Aster, as previously discussed.

55 Plutarch words Philip's riposte as λάμβανε ὅσα βούλει· τὴν γὰρ κλεῖν ἔχεις, the Gnom. Vat. 540 says ἔως τὴν κλεῖν ἔχεις, ταμιεύου σεαυτόν.

56 The pun, it should be noted, precludes substitution of κνήμην for κλεῖν.

57 See pp. 112, 117–18 for further discussion.

58 Demosthenes, the scholiast, Plutarch, and Athenaeus refer to τὸ σκέλος; Didymus and Plutarch, ὀ μηρός; Justin says in femore. Only Seneca's crure debili points to the lower leg.

59 See Justin ix 3.3 and Plutarch Mor. 331b.

60 Didymus and Plutarch Mor. 331b make it clear that the wound from the engagement with the Triballi made Philip lame. Satyrus is not specific. Whether the lameness was a passing condition or permanent is not raised. Didymus' concluding remarks col. xiii 11–12 underscores the gravity of his wounds: Φιλ[ί]ππωι δ(ὲ) τὸ [ὅλ]ον σῶμα δι[ελ]ελώβητο.

61 This passage from Plutarch, which makes clear the uncertainty in later centuries concerning Philip's lame leg, has not been considered by those arguing for or against Philip's ownership of the mismatched greaves in Royal Tomb II at Vergina. In Mor. 739b the main question posed as a brain-teaser for the assembled company is ‘which, according to Homer, of Aphrodite's arms did Diomedes wound’? Zopyrio's indignant retort is that this question is tantamount to asking which was Philip's lame leg—i.e. both questions are beyond solution due to insufficiency of information. Maximus, however, protests that while Demosthenes gives no indication regarding the injury of the Macedonian, Homer provides, in the context of II. v 335–8, clues sufficient for the clever exegete to derive the solution. Maximus then proceeds in 739c to demonstrate that Diomedes pierced the right arm of Aphrodite.

62 While Justin alone states this clearly, it is to be inferred from mention of the Triballi in Didymus and Plutarch. The scholiast merely says ἐν Σκύθαις. Conclusion of the Scythian campaign dates the wounding to 339 BC: Hammond, , History of Macedonia, Volume II (n. 12) 583.

63 Plutarch is the only other source to record the weapon: Φιλίππου λόγχῃ τὸν μηρὸν διαπαρέντος.

64 Occurring only three years before his death, it is difficult to imagine that a wound of this impact would not have left indications of trauma in Philip's femur. Compare this observation with the report of Xirotiris and Langenscheidt (n. 2) 15 concerning the skeletal remains of the male decedent in Royal Tomb II at Vergina: ‘Fresh or healed damage to the bones or changes due to illness could not be established’. Recently Gardiner-Garden, J., ‘Ateas and Theopompus’, JHS cix (1989) 2940 has presented arguments to demonstrate that Theopompus is the source for Trogus' information on Philip's Scythian campaign against Ateas recorded in Justin ix 2. Since the encounter with the Triballi is but an epilogue to the major campaign against Ateas of Scythia, there is a possibility that the details of Justin's record of Philip's leg wound in ix 3.2 have the authority of Theopompus. Attractive as the possibility is, the evidence is too slight to press it further.

65 The sentiment and phraseology of Alexander's words are very close to those expressed by anonymous Spartan women in Plutarch Mor. 241e nos. 13, 14, Stobaeus iii 7.28, Gonom. Vat. 568, and by the mother of Carvilius in Cicero's De orat. ii 61.249.

66 It is of particular interest to find that Theopompus' younger contemporary Duris is cited in Didymus' commentary for conflicting information, for Duris is known to have been critical of Theopompus as a writer of history, see FGrH 76 Fl. This fragment, in which Duris criticizes Ephorus and Theopompus together for lack of μίμησις and ἡδονή ἑν τῶν φράσαι, has been the focus of much controversy in attempting to define what the term μίμησις meant to Duris when he included this critique of Ephorus and Theopompus in book i of his Ἰστορίαι. For the development of the controversy and recent interpretations see Meister, K., Historische Kritik bei Polybios (Wiesbaden 1975) 109–26, Sacks, K., Polybios on the writing of history (Berkeley and Los Angeles 1981) 144–70, Fornara, C.W., The nature of history in ancient Greece and Rome (Berkeley and Los Angeles 1983) 124–34, and Gray, V., ‘Mimesis in Greek historical theory’, AJP cviii (1987) 467–86.

67 See Fairweather, J., ‘Fiction in the biographies of ancient writers’, Ancient Society v (1974) 231–75 and ‘Traditional narrative, inference and truth in the “Lives” of the ancient Greek poets’, PLLS iv (1983) 315–69, A.S. Riginos, ‘Platonica: the anecdotes concerning the life and writings of Plato’, Columbia Studies in the Classical Tradition iii (Leiden 1976), Lefkowitz, M.R., The lives of the Greek poets (London and Baltimore 1981), Chitwood, A., ‘The death of Empedocles’, AJP cvii (1986) 175–91.

* This paper has benefitted significantly from a careful reading by Michael Flower, whose many corrections and suggestions have been incorporated into this final version. The flaws remaining I claim as my own. I am grateful to Howard University for a sabbatical leave making possible the pursuit of this topic and to the Center for Hellenic Studies where most of the research was conducted.


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed