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Meleager (Greek: Mελεαγρος Meleagros; died 323 BC), son of Neoptolemus, was a Macedonian officer of distinction in the service of Alexander the Great. He is first mentioned in the war against the Getae (335 BC); and at the passage of the Granicus in the following year (334 BC), we find him commanding one of the divisions (ταξεις) of the phalanx, a post which he afterwards 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). We afterwards find him present at the battles of Issus and Gaugamela; associated with Craterus in the important task of dislodging the enemy who guarded the passes into Persia; and again bearing a part in the passage of the Hydaspes, and in various other operations in India. But notwithstanding this long series of services we do not learn that Alexander promoted him to any higher or more confidential situation, nor do we find him employed in any separate command of importance.[1]

Meleager had to wait for the discussions which ensued after the death of Alexander to have at last his chance, which he proved ready to grab (323 BC). His conduct on that occasion is differently related. According to Justin, 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. 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, again, states that he was sent by the assembled generals to appease the clamours and discontent of the troops, but instead of doing so he himself joined the mutineers. In any case it is certain that Meleager early 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 favour of the claims of Arrhidaeus to the vacant throne. Meleager even went so far as to order the execution of Perdiccas, but this project was disconcerted by the boldness of the regent: and 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. Matters thus seemed tending to an open rupture, but 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, however, evidently 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 the person and the disposition of Philip Arrhidaeus, of which he immediately took advantage, and hastened to strike the first blow. The whole army was assembled under pretence 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, and unable to offer any resistance; 300 of the alleged mutineers were singled out, and instantly executed; and though Meleager himself was not personally attacked, he deemed it necessary to provide for his safety by flight, and took refuge in a temple, where he was quickly pursued and put to death by order of Perdiccas.[2]

References

Notes

  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. ^ 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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