2. Son of Alexander, a native of the town of Mieza, in Macedonia, was a distinguished officer in the service of Alexander the Great. His name is first mentioned as one of those appointed to command a trireme on the Hydaspes (Arrian Ind. 18
). Previous to this we do not find him holding any command of importance; but it is evident that he must have distinguished himself for his personal valour and prowess, as he was the person Selected by Alexander
to carry before him in battle the sacred shield, which he had taken down from the temple of Athena at Ilium.
In this capacity he was in close attendance upon the king's person in the assault on the capital city of the Malli; and all authors agreed in attributing the chief share in saving the life of Alexander
upon that occasion to Peucestas, while they differed as to almost all the other circumstances and persons concerned (Arr. Anab. 6.9
; Plut. Alex. 63
; Diod. 17.99
; Curt. 9.5.14
). For his services on this occasion he was rewarded by the king with almost every distinction which it was in his power to confer. On the arrival of Alexander
at Persepolis, he bestowed upon Peucestas the important satrapy of Persia, but, previous to this, he had already raised him to the rank of somatophylax, an honour rendered the more conspicuous in this instance by the number of those select officers being augmented on purpose to make room for his admission. At Susa, also, Peucestas was the first of those rewarded with crowns of gold for their past exploits (Arr. ib.
6.28, 30, 7.5).
After this he proceeded to take possession of his government, where he conciliated the favour of the Persians subject to his rule, as well as that of Alexander
himself, by adopting the Persian dress and customs, in exchange for those of Macedonia. (Id. 6.30, 7.6; Diod. 19.14
In the spring of B. C. 323, Peucestas joined the king at Babylon, with an army of 20,000 Persia troops; and is mentioned as one of those in attendance upon him during his last illness.
It does not appear that he took any leading part in the discussions that ensued upon the death of Alexander
but in the division of the provinces that followed, he obtained the renewal of his government of Persia, which he also retained in the second partition at Triparadeisus, B. C. 321 (Arr. Anab. 7.23
, apud Phot.
p. 69b. 71, b.; Diod. 17.110
; Dexipp. apud Phot.
p. 64b.; Just. 13.4
). All his attention seems to have been directed to the strengthening himself in this position, and extending his power and influence as far as possible; in which he so far succeeded, that when he was at length compelled to take an active part in the war between Antigonus and Eumenes (B. C. 317), he obtained by common consent the chief command of all the forces furnished by the satrapies east of the Tigris; and was with difficulty induced to waive his pretensions to the supreme direction of the war. Eumenes, however, by his dexterous management, soothed the irritation of Peucestas, and retained him firmly in his alliance throughout the two campaigns that followed.
The satrap was contented to gratify his pride by feasting the whole of the armies assembled in Persia on a scale of royal magnificence, while Eumenes virtually directed all the operations of the war.
But the disaster in the final action near Gadamarta (B. C. 316) which led to the capture of the baggage, and the surrender of Eumenes by the Argyraspids [EUMENES, appears to have been clearly owing to the misconduct and insubordination of Peucestas, who, according to one account, was himself one of the chief advisers of the disgraceful treaty. His conduct throughout these campaigns shows that he wanted both the ability to command for himself, and the moderation to follow the superior judgment of others. His vain and ambitious character seems to have been appreciated at its just value by Antigonus, who, while he deprived him of his satrapy, and led him away a virtual prisoner, elated him with false hopes and specious promises, which, of course, were never fulfilled. (Iiod. 19.14, 15, 17, 21-24, 37, 38, 43, 48; Plut. Eum. 14
; Polyaen. 4.6.13