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Olympias

Ὀλυμπιάς). Daughter of Neoptolemus, king of Epirus, and wife of Philip, king of Macedon, by whom she had Alexander the Great. The conduct of Olympias had given rise to the suspicion that Alexander was not the son of Philip; and the brilliant career of the Macedonian conqueror made his flatterers assign to him for a parent the Father of the Gods. Olympias herself, in the intoxication of female vanity, sanctioned the story, and Zeus was said to have approached her under the form of a serpent. The haughtiness of Olympias, or, more probably, her infidelity, led Philip to repudiate her, and contract a second marriage with Cleopatra , the niece of King Attalus. The murder of Philip, which happened not long after, has been attributed by some to her intrigues, though with no great degree of probability. Alexander, after his accession to the throne, treated her with great respect, but did not allow her to take part in the government. At a subsequent period, after the death of Antipater (B.C. 319), Polysperchon, in order to confirm his power, recalled Olympias from Epirus, whither she had fled, and confided to her the guardianship of the young son of Alexander. She now cruelly put to death Arridaeus, son of Philip, with his wife Eurydicé, as also Nicanor, the brother of Cassander, together with many leading men of Macedonia who were inimical to her interests. Her cruelties, however, did not remain long unpunished. Cassander besieged her in Pydna, and she was obliged to surrender after an obstinate siege, and was put to death (B.C. 316). See Diod. xix. 11-51; Just.xiv. 5, 6; Pausan. ix. 7, 2; and the article Cassander.

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