Demetrius II Aetolicus ( c. 275 - 229 BC)

Demetrius II the Aetolian (c. 276 - 229 BC) was king of Macedonia during the period 239 - 229 BC, a member of the Hellenistic Antigonid Dynasty. His father was Antigonus II Gonatas (son of Antigonus I the Monocular) and his mother was Phila (daughter of Seleucus I of Nicator), therefore he combined the blood of two of the most prominent generals of Alexander the Great: that of Antigonus I of Monothalmos and that of Seleucus I of Nicator.

His reign was relatively short and the information we have today about his life is fragmentary. Its most notable elements are the conduct of a long war against the Aetolian and Achaean Commonwealth, the so-called Demetrius War, as well as the turbulent situation it was called upon to deal with in Epirus after the overthrow of the monarchy in the country.

Biographical data
Youthful feats
Demetrius was born around 275 BC. a few months after the restoration of the Antigonides to the Macedonian throne and his father's marriage to Phila, a Seleucid princess.

Around 265-260 BC, while King Antigonus Gonatas was busy fighting against the Ptolemies, the Spartans, the Gauls and finally the Athenians, the king of Epirus, Alexander II, took the opportunity to spend the Macedonian border. Antigonus rushed back to his country to face the danger, however, many of his men deserted him and as a result he lost both his lands in Epirus and the throne of Macedonia. However, his son, Demetrius, although still in his teens, raised an army in his father's absence and not only recovered Macedonia, but temporarily ousted Alexander from his throne. Some historians, including the German Droysen, question the validity of this information, as they consider that the young prince was too young at the time.
The northwestern borders of the Macedonian State in 240 BC, a year before Demetrius ascended the throne

Diplomatic weddings
Demetrius, according to the information that has survived to this day from the ancient sources, entered into several marriages, each of which hid a separate political interest.

When Alexander, tyrant of Corinth, died, the administration of the place passed into the hands of his wife, Nicaea. Antigonus was eager to annex the city to his sphere of influence, yet he knew that an open attack would be futile. Therefore he thought of the following strategy: he sent Demetrius to Corinth to approach Nicaea asking her in marriage. He was sure the old lady would find the prospect of a young prince's company flattering, and she did, though Corinth's defenses were not relaxed in the least. However, in the midst of the wedding festivities, and while Nicaea rode with honors to a theatrical performance in Antigonus' own chariot, the aged king dismounted at some point and sped toward Acrocorinth, the city's central fortress. Although the gate was locked, the soldiers, confused as to what to do since it was now a relative of their lady, opened it. In this way the city passed into Macedonian hands, with the celebrations continuing in the streets of the city.

Demetrius later married a princess of the Seleucids, rulers of Syria. The girl's name was Stratoniki and she was actually his cousin, as both were grandchildren of Demetrius the Besieger. The couple had one daughter, Apama, who later married the king of Bithynia, Prussia I, giving birth to his successor, Prussia II.

When Alexander II of Epirus died, the widowed queen Olympias took over the guardianship of his minor children, as well as the government of the state. Realizing that the Aetolians were plotting part of Acarnania, which had been granted to her husband as a reward for his services in time of war, he appealed to Macedonia for help. Unable to simply rely on the pity of Demetrius, who had now ascended the throne, she offered him the hand of her daughter Phthia in exchange. Dimitrios accepted the proposal, which of course angered his wife, Stratoniki. The latter finally left Macedonia, finding refuge in her homeland in Syria, where her nephew Seleucus II Kallinikos now reigned. There he tried in vain to provoke a war of honor between the two states, but finally met an ignominious death in Seleucia.

Some scholars consider Phthia to be the unknown mother of Demetrius' son and later king of Macedonia, Philip V, although Eusebius specifically names as the king's mother a woman named Chryseida, a former captive whom he married the king.

Ascension to the throne
In 239 BC Antigonus died of natural causes at the age of 80. He was succeeded by his son, Demetrius, who was in his thirties and had probably already co-ruled with Antigonus for a period (roughly from 257-256 BC).

The period of his reign is not known to us in particular detail. In the ancient sources we find fragmentary references to his name, which mainly concern his action in the military field. Eusebius names among the exploits of Demetrius the conquest of Libya and Cyrene - which is not confirmed elsewhere - while he managed to keep intact the sphere of influence he inherited from Antigonus.

In the north, testimonies want the Peion tribe to become independent from the Macedonians during the reign of Demetrius. In the east, Chalkidiki and the coasts at least as far as Philippi still belonged to the sphere of influence of the Antigenids. Evia in turn was under the supervision of the Macedonians. Athens, although formally not under occupation, was a strong stronghold of the Macedonians, having forts in Piraeus and Munich. Finally, in the Peloponnese, friendly neighbors to the Macedonians were the cities of Megalopolis, Argos, Orchomenos and Fleios, all under the tyrannical regime. Antigonus generally followed his father's policy, cultivating friendly relations with the tyrants who ruled the various cities of the Peloponnese and supporting them against the interests of the Achaean Commonwealth.

At the same time, he also inherited a series of problems of a diplomatic nature. The growing influence of the Aetolian Commonwealth posed a threat to Demetrius' lands in Thessaly, while the fact that the Aetolians controlled the Thermopylae Pass made communication with the south problematic. Additionally in the Peloponnese, the Achaean League under general Aratos harassed the Macedonian-backed tyrants, who apparently served as a line of defense against attacks from the south (and especially by the Ptolemies). In addition to their personal territory and the city of Sicyon, the Achaeans had annexed an extensive area on the Saronic Gulf that included Megara, Corinth, Epidaurus and Troizena, while they also enjoyed the support of Sparta.

Demetrius War
According to the testimony of the historian Polybius, Demetrius was involved in a war with the Aetolian Commonwealth. From this fact, which is also the most characteristic of his reign, he received the name "Aitolikos", while the conflict in question is often called by scholars the "Demetrius War". The details of the war are practically unknown to us, but it is assumed that it was related to the sovereignty in the region of Acarnania.

During the war, the Achaean Commonwealth was formed on the side of the Aetolians, with the two confederations entering into a temporary truce, despite the fact that their interests often conflicted. The main opponent of Demetrius was general Aratos, originally from the city of Sikyona. The latter harbored deep anti-Macedonian feelings, while at the same time strongly desiring the capture of Athens. The most prominent of the Aetolians in this period was the general Pantaleon.

As predicted, Demetrius established strong ties with Epirus when he accepted as his wife the Aiakid princess, Phthia. It is not obvious why the king accepted this intermarriage, which would have brought him with mathematical precision into a rupture with the Aetolian Commonwealth. There are many theories, although the prevailing one wants the Macedonians to try to prevent the annexation of Epirus to the territory of the Aetolians with this method. The Macedonian army's mission to Epirus with the aim of protecting Western Acarnania is not explicitly recorded in any source. However, the geographer Strabo mentions that the king's troops forced the inhabitants of the city of Pleuro (Pleurona) to later build their city in a new location, as the old one was destroyed.

It is known that during the war Demetrius invaded Boeotia which had sided with the camp of the Confederates. According to Polybius, upon the arrival of the Macedonians, the Council of Boeotians immediately declared its departure from the side of the Aetolians and completely submitted to the will of the Macedonians.

However, the annexation in 235 BC was a significant blow for Dimitrios. of Megalopolis in the Achaean Commonwealth, after negotiations between Aratos and the tyrant of the city, Lydiades.
Evolution over time of the borders of the Illyrian State with the Macedonians and the barbarian tribes of the north.

Tension in Epirus
While the Demetrionic War was raging the Aiakid Dynasty in Epirus was driven to its west after the death of its last queen, Deidameia, around 233 BC. The only surviving member of the royal family was Neiris, daughter of the famous Pyrrhus and wife of the tyrant of Syracuse Gelonas II. The monarchy was overthrown and the continental cities, now under the democratic government, united in a federal state, the "Commonwealth of the Epirotes".

The political situation was still characterized by tension when the Aetolians entered Acarnania with expansionist intentions. The city of Medeon, which was closely besieged, enticed Demetrius with the promise of a reward in order to obtain help. The king in turn appealed to the ruler of the Ardian Illyrians, whose name was Agron, in order to send military assistance. The city was saved in 231 BC, however Agron, full of confidence, wanted to continue his campaign. Death overtook him as he fell ill with pleurisy, however his wife, Teuta, decided to continue the skirmishes: one division of the Illyrian army struck Ilia and Messinia, while a second one struck Epirus.

The Epirotes in despair turned to the Aetolians and Achaeans for help. However, when the danger passed, they negotiated with the Illyrians, agreeing to the cooperation of the two peoples, and withdrew from the Confederacy in 230 BC. In 229 BC, a new Illyrian army plundered the coast of Epirus, defeated an Achaean and Aetolian Commonwealth fleet at Paxos, and captured Corfu where an Illyrian garrison was established under Demetrius of Pharos. In turn, Epidamnos was besieged.

At the same time, in 230 BC the buildings of Demetrius, starting from Epirus, were attacked by the Dardanians, who forced the Macedonian king to defeat.

Death and inheritance
Demetrius II ruled for a total of ten years, his death occurring suddenly at the time when the Romans first intervened in Illyria.

The death of the Macedonian king, according to Polybius, left exposed the tyrants of the various cities of the Peloponnese, of which he was a protector and provider of donations. So one after the other, they returned executive power to their fellow citizens, who in turn joined forces with the Achaean Commonwealth.

Dying Demetrius II left his son Philip as heir to his throne. The latter, however, was still a young lad, so the prominent Macedonians, fearing the anarchy that might break out, invited the deceased king's first cousin and also grandson of the Besieger, Antigonus, to take over the government. They married him to Philip's mother and gave him the offices of viceroy and commander-in-chief. When they did not diagnose that he was a competent ruler, beneficial to the general good, they gave him the full title of king. After the latter's death in 221 BC, the now seventeen-year-old Philip not only took over a Macedonia that was strong again, but also displayed remarkable abilities, leading his subjects to believe that he might have the power to once again give Macedonia great part of its lost glory.

He first married Stratonike of the Seleucids, daughter of Antiochus I of Sotiros, king of Syria and had children:

Apama 3rd gen. 250 BC, married Prussia I of Bithynia.
Then Demetrius II made a second marriage with Nicaea, widow of his cousin Alexander the tyrant of Corinth.

Then he made a third marriage with Phthia of the Aiakids, daughter of Alexander II of Epirus.

Teulos Demetrius II made a fourth marriage with Chrysiida, perhaps a former prisoner of war, who made her a concubine and then married her in 237 BC, when she bore him a son:

Philip V 238-179 BC, king of Macedonia.

276 BC Birth of Demetrius II, son of the Macedonian king Antigonus Gonatas and Phila.
273 BC Invasion of Pyrrhus of Epirus into Macedonia.
272 BC Campaign of Pyrrhus in southern Greece. After a series of battles with Antigonus, he is killed in Argos.
Conquest of Macedonia by Pyrrhus' son, Alexander II. Dimitrios successfully repels him.
251 BC Aratus from Sicyon kills the tyrant of the city, Nikocles.
Marriage of Demetrius with Nicaea in Corinth and capture of the city.
243 BC Capture of Corinth by Aratus.
242 BC Agius IV's attempt at social reform in Sparta fails.
241 BC Attalus I succeeds Eumenes I of Pergamum.
240 BC Anti-Macedonian alliance between the Achaean and Aetolian Commonwealth.
239 BC Death of Antigonus Gonatas and accession to the throne for Demetrius the Aetolian. Probable year of start of Demetrius war.
238 BC Birth of Philip V, son of Demetrius Aitolikos and Fthia or Chrysiida.
237 BC Cleomenes III becomes king in Sparta.
236 BC Invasion of Demetrius in Boeotia.
235 BC Demetrius prevents a surprise attack on Argos and Athens by Aratus. Inclusion of Megalopolis in the Achaean Commonwealth.
Overthrow of the monarchy in Epirus. The inhabitants of Akarnania ask for the help of Demetrius during the attack on their country by the Aetolians. Demetrius sends the Illyrians to help them.
233 BC Ambrakia and Amphilochia are allied with the Aetolians.
231 BC The Illyrians defeat the Aetolians, but attack Epirus. The latter requests the help of the Commonwealths.
230 BC Epirus renounces the Confederacy and comes to terms with the Illyrians. At the same time, the Dardanians come into conflict with the Macedonians.
229 BC The Illyrians emerge victorious in a naval battle at Paxos, while a little later they occupy Corfu. Epidamnos is besieged.
Unexpected death of Dimitrios. His successor is his six-brother Antigonus III Doson as commissioner of the minor Philip V.

Diodoros Sikeliotis, "Historical Library", English
Eusebius of Caesarea, "Chronicle", English
Justin, "Compendium of the History of Pompey Trogus", Latin, English, French
Justin, "Compendium of the History of Pompey Trogus: Prologues", English
Plutarch, "Parallel Lives: Aemilius Paulus", Ancient Greek, English
Plutarch, "Parallel Lives: Aratus", Ancient Greek, English
Polyaenos, "Strategies", English
Polybius, "Historiai", English
Strabo, "Geographical", Ancient Greek
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Lendering, Jona (2006). ««Demetrius II»». Articles on Ancient History. Αρχειοθετήθηκε από το πρωτότυπο στις 27 Οκτωβρίου 2015. Ανακτήθηκε στις 24 Αυγούστου 2010.
Lemprière Hammond, Nicholas Geoffrey (1988). A History of Macedonia: 336-167 B.C. Οξφόρδη: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198148151. Unknown parameter |coauthors= ignored (|author= suggested) (βοήθεια)
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