Perseus (Greek: Περσεύς, Perseus; c. 212 – 166 BC) was the last king (Basileus) of the Antigonid dynasty, who ruled the successor state in Macedon created upon the death of Alexander the Great. He also has the distinction of being the last of the line, after losing the Battle of Pydna on 22 June 168 BC; subsequently Macedon came under Roman rule.
Perseus was the son of king Philip V of Macedon and a concubine, probably Polycratia of Argos. He therefore feared that the throne might pass on his legitimate younger brother Demetrius, not least due to interference from the Romans, who considered their former hostage Demetrius a true friend. Perseus thus staged a plot to make their father believe that his brother was a traitor, and as a result Philip had Demetrius executed.
In 179 BC Philip V of Macedon died and Perseus took the throne. Although his role in killing Demetrius had not endeared him to the Romans, one of his first acts on becoming king was to renew the treaty with the Republic. Yet, Perseus' other actions troubled the Senate. His interference in the affairs of his neighbors, his ousting of the Roman ally Abrupolis from his territories in Thrace, his armed visit to Delphi, his avoidance of the Roman ambassadors to Macedonia, and his dynastic marriages all gave the Romans cause for concern.
Soon Rome and Perseus went to war in the Third Macedonian War (171-168 BC). Although Perseus had some initial success, the war ended with the King's surrender to the Roman general Lucius Aemilius Paullus after his decisive defeat at the Battle of Pydna, and his eventual imprisonment in Rome with his half-brother Philippus and son Alexander. Blaise Pascal mentions in his Pensées (Lafuma 15) that Perseus was blamed for not committing suicide, supposedly after his defeat at Pydna. The Antigonid kingdom was dissolved, and replaced with four republics. Andriscus of Macedon broke off the Roman rule for about a year, but was defeated in 148 BC by the Romans. In 146 BC, following the quashing of a rebellion led by the last Macedonian king Andriscus, the four republics were dissolved, and Macedon officially became the Roman province of Macedonia. Perseus was led as a captive in the triumph of Paullus, then thrown in prison, where - according to Plutarch - after two years, the Romans decided to kill him, and had him kept from sleeping to the point that he died from exhaustion in 166 B.C.
In 178 BC, he had married Laodice V, the daughter of Seleucus IV from Syria. One son of Perseus and Laodice, Alexander was still a child when Perseus was conquered by the Romans, and after the triumph of Aemilius Paullus in 167 BC, was kept in custody at Alba Fucens, together with his father. He became a skillful metalworker, learned the Latin language, and became a public notary.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Perseus of Macedonia.|
Perseus of MacedonBorn: c. 212 BC Died: 166 BC
| King of Macedon
Macedonia annexed by Rome