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Ancient literary sources (1)
This Alexander (son of Amyntas) was seventh in descent from Perdiccas, who got
for himself the tyranny of Macedonia in the way that I will show. Three brothers
of the lineage of Temenus came as banished men from Argos to Illyria, Gauanes
and Aeropus and Perdiccas; and from Illyria they crossed over into the highlands
of Macedonia till they came to the town Lebaea. There they served for wages as
thetes in the king's household, one tending horses and another oxen. Perdiccas,
who was the youngest, tended the lesser flocks. Now the king's wife cooked their
food for them, for in old times the ruling houses among men, and not the common
people alone, were lacking in wealth. Whenever she baked bread, the loaf of the
thete Perdiccas grew double in size. Seeing that this kept happening, she told
her husband, and it seemed to him when be heard it that this was a portent signifying
some great matter. So he sent for his thetes and bade them depart from his territory.
They said it was only just that they should have their wages before they departed.
When they spoke of wages, the king was moved to foolishness and said, "That
is the wage you merit, and it is that I give you", pointing to the sunlight
that shone down the smoke vent into the house. Gauanes and Aeropus, who were the
elder, stood astonished when they heard that, but the boy said, "We accept
what you give, O king", and with that he took a knife which he had with him
and drew a line with it on the floor of the house round the sunlight. When he
had done this, he three times gathered up the sunlight into the fold of his garment
and went his way with his companions.
So they departed, but one of those who sat nearby declared to the
king what this was that the boy had done and how it was of set purpose that the
youngest of them had accepted the gift offered. When the king heard this, he was
angered, and sent riders after them to slay them. There is, however, in that land
a river, to which the descendants from Argos of these men offer sacrifice as their
deliverer. This river, when the sons of Temenus had crossed it, rose in such flood
that the riders could not cross. So the brothers came to another part of Macedonia
and settled near the place called the garden of Midas son of Gordias, where roses
grow of themselves, each bearing sixty blossoms and of surpassing fragrance. In
this garden, according to the Macedonian story, Silenus was taken captive. Above
it rises the mountain called Bermius, which none can ascend for the wintry cold.
From there they issued forth when they had won that country and presently subdued
also the rest of Macedonia.
Alexander himself is included. It is usual in ordinals to count in
both the beginning and the end, but the method seems strange when it causes a
man to be counted among his own ancestors or descendants. Thucydides agrees as
to the number of the Macedonian kings and in tracing their descent from Temenus
of Argos (ii. 99 f.; v. 80); but in the fourth century another account was current,
probably derived from Theopompus (fr. 30, F. H. G. i. 283). By this Caranus (?head
leader?), son or brother of the Argive king Pheidon, is made the founder of the
Macedonian dynasty, and is succeeded by Koinos and Turimmas, who precede the first
Argos in the Peloponnese appears as the ancestral home of the family
in all versions of the legend. But the Argos with which the Argeadae were really
connected is <b>Argos Oresticum</b> (Strabo 326; Steph. Byz.), near
the source of the Haliacmon. They first held the fruitful valleys there (valley
of Kastoria), and the hill country as far as the source of the Erigon; this is
the Upper Macedonia where the three brothers served (inf.), and to which Caranus
went by order of an oracle (Euphorion, fr. 24 ekprolipon Argos te kai Hellada
kalligunaika i chorei pros pegas Haliakmonos). The Argeadae (cf. Paus. vii. 8.
9) later made Aegae their capital, and established an hegemony over the kindred
tribes (cf. Thuc. ii. 99) in Upper Macedon, the Lyncestae, Orestae, Elimiotae,
as well as over the coastlands as far as the Axius.
The likeness of name (Argos and Argeadae) led the Macedonian kings,
at least from the time of Alexander I to claim descent from the Heracleid kings
of Peloponnesian Argos, just as the princes of the Lyncestae did from the Corinthian
Bacchiads, those of the Molossi from Achilles (Strabo 327), and the Illyrian Enchelees
from Cadmus. Yet their names are not even Greek, and their origin is at least
doubtful. In the legend the name Argos is misinterpreted, and Temenus is falsely
inserted. Probably es Illurious is put in because these Argives are believed to
have come to Macedon by land from the West. Otherwise the story is a folk-tale,
current among the Argeadae, about their earlier homes and the claim of their princes
to their possession.
Gauanes: probably = boukolos, since in Sanskrit go = bous. If so,
Aeropos may refer to horses (cf. Philippos) and Perdiccas to goats. The three
brothers represent three tribes.
The Scardus range, stretching south from the source of the Axius (Vardar),
is crossed by two passes, one at Kalkandele, the other leading by Lake Lychnitis
(Okhrida) eastwards to Aegae (Vodena), later the Via Egnatia. This route would
take the brothers to the Lyncestis; Lebaea is otherwise unknown.
- Perseus: Herodotus, The Histories (ed. A. D. Godley)
- Perseus: W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus