), tyrant of PHERAE. The accounts of his usurpation vary somewhat in minor points; Diodorus (15.61
) tells us that, on the assassination of Jason, B. C. 370, Polydorus his brother ruled for a year, and was then poisoned by Alexander, another brother.
According to Xenophon (Xenoph. Hell. 6.4.34
), Polydorus was murdered by his brother Polyphron, and Polyphron, in his turn, B. C. 369, 1
by Alexander--his nephew,
according to Plutarch, who relates also that Alexander worshipped as a god the spear with which he slew his uncle. (Plut. Pelop.
p. 293, &c.; Wess. ad Diod. l.c.
) Alexander governed tyrannically, and according to Diodorus (l.c.
), differently from the former rulers, but Polyphron, at least, seems to have set him the example. (Xen. l.c.
) The Thessalian states, however, which had acknowledged the authority of Jason the Tagus (Xen. Hell. 6.1.4
, &c.; Diod. 15.60
), were not so willing to subinit to the oppression of Alexander the tyrant, and they applied therefore (and especially the old family of the Aleuadae of Larissa, who had most reason to fear him) to Alexander, king of Macedon, son of Amyntas II.
The tyrant, with his characteristic energy, prepared to meet his enemy in Macedonia, but the king anticipated him, and, reaching Larissa, was admitted into the city, obliged the Thessalian Alexander to flee to Pherae, and left a garrison in Larissa, as well as in Cranon, which had also come over to him. (Diod. 15.61
But the Macedonian having retired, his friends in Thessaly, dreading the vengeance of Alexander, sent for aid to Thebes, the policy of which state, of course, was to check a neighbour who might otherwise become so formidable, and Pelopidas was accordingly despatched to succour them. On the arrival of the latter at Larissa, whence according to Diodorus (15.67
) he dislodged the Macedonian garrison, Alexander presented himself and offered submission; but soon after escaped by flight, alarmed by the indignation which Pelopidas expressed at the tales he heard of his cruelty and tyrannical profligacy. (Diod. l.c. ;
These events appear to be referable to the early part of the year 368.
In the summer of that year Pelopidas was again sent into Thessaly, in consequence of fresh complaints against Alexander. Accompanied by Ismenias, he went merely as a negotiator, and without any military force, and venturing incautiously within the power of the tyrant, was seized by him and thrown into prison. (Diod. 15.71
; Plut. pel.
p. 292d; Plb. 8.1
The language of Demosthenes (c. Aristocr.
p. 660) will hardly support Mitford's inference, that Pelopidas was taken prisoner in battle. (See Mitford, Gr. Hist.
ch. 27. sec. 5.) The Thebans sent a large army into Thessaly to rescue Pelopidas, but they could not keep the field against the superior cavalry of Alexander, who, aided by auxiliaries from Athens, pursued them with great slaughter; and the destruction of the whole Theban army is said to have been averted only by the ability of Epaminondas, who was serving in the campaign, but not as general.
The next year, 367, was signalized by a specimen of Alexander's treacherous cruelty in the massacre of the citizens of Scotussa (Plut. Pel.
p. 293; Diod. 15.75
; Paus. 6.5
); and also by another expedition of the Thebans under Epaminondas into Thessaly, to effect the release of Pelopidas.
According to Plutarch, the tyrant did not dare to offer resistance, and was glad to purchase even a thirty days' truce by the delivery of the prisoners. (Plut. Pel.
pp. 293, 294; Diod. 15.75
.) During the next three years Alexander would seem to have renewed his attempts against the states of Thessaly, especially those of Magnesia and Phthiotis (Plut. Pel.
p. 295a), for at the end of that time, B. C. 364, we find them again applying to Thebes for protection against him.
The army appointed to march under Pelopidas is said to have been dismayed by an eclipse (June 13, 364), and Pelopidas, leaving it behind, entered Thessaly at the head of three hundred volunteer horsemen and some mercenaries.
A battle ensued at Cynoscephalae, wherein Pelopidas was himself slain, but defeated Alexander (Plut. Pel.
pp. 295, 296 ; Diod. 15.80
); and this victory was closely followed by another of the Thebans under Malcites and Diogiton, who obliged Alexander to restore to the Thessalians the conquered towns, to confine himself to Pherae, and to be a dependent ally of Thebes. (Plut. Pel.
p. 297, &c.; Diod. 15.80
; comp. Xen. Hell. 7.5.4
The death of Epaminondas in 362, if it freed Athens from fear of Thebes, appears at the same time to have exposed her to annoyance from Alexander, who, as though he felt that he had no further occasion for keeping up his Athenian alliance, made a piratical descent on Tenos and others of the Cyclades, plundering them, and making slaves of the inhabitants. Peparethus too he besieged, and " even landed troops in Attica itself, and seized the port of Panormus, a little eastward of Sunium." Leosthenes, the Athenian admiral, defeated him, and relieved Peparethus, but Alexander delivered his men from blockade in Panormus, took several Attic triremes, and plundered the Peiraeeus. (Diod. 15.95
; Polyaen. 6.2
; Demosth. c. Polycl.
pp. 1207, 1208; περὶ Στεφ
. τῆς τριηρ
. p. 1330; Thirlwall, Gr. Hist.
vol. v. p. 209 : but for another account of the position of Panormus, see Wess. ad Diod. l.c.
The murder of Alexander is assigned by Diodorus to B. C. 367. Plutarch gives a detailed account of it, containing a lively picture of a semibarbarian palace. Guards watched throughout it all the night, except at the tyrant's bedchamber, which was situated at the top of a ladder, and at the door of which a ferocious dog was chained. Thebe, the wife and cousin of Alexander, and daughter of Jason (Plut. Pel.
p. 293a), concealed her three brothers in the house during the day. caused the dog to be removed when Alexander had retired to rest, and having covered the steps of the ladder with wool, brought up the young men to her husband's chamber. Though she had taken away Alexander's sword, they feared to set about the deed till she threatened to awake him and discover all : they then entered and despatched him. His body was cast forth into the streets, and exposed to every indignity. Of Thebe's motive for the murder different accounts are given. Plutarch states it to have been fear of her husband, together with hatred of his cruel and brutal character, and ascribes these feelings principally to the representations of Pelopidas, when she visited him in his prison. In Cicero the deed is ascribed to jealousy. (Plut. Pel.
pp. 293, b, 297, d; Diod. 16.14
; Xen. Hell. 6.4.37
; Cic. de Off.
See also Cic. de Inv.
2.49, where Alexander's murder illustrates a knotty point for special pleading; also Aristot. apud Cic. de Div.
1.25 ; the dream of Eudemus.)