1. A Macedonian officer of Alexander the Great.
As we are told by Arrian that he belonged to the race of the Aeacidae, he was probably related to the family of the kings of Epeirus.
He is mentioned as serving in the royal guards (ἑταῖροι
) and distinguished himself particularly at the siege of Gaza, B. C. 332, of which he was the first to scale the walls. (Arr. Anab
2.27.) We hear but little of him during the subsequent campaigns of Alexander
, but he appears to have earned the reputation of an able soldier; and in the division of the provinces, after the death of the king, Neoptolemus obtained the government of Armenia. (Carmania,
in Dexippus, apud Phzot.
p. 64b. is clearly a false reading; see Droysen, vol. i. p. 50.)
It seems, however, that he had already given evidence of a restless and unsettled disposition, which caused Perdiccas to regard him with suspicion, and in B. C. 321, when the latter set out for Egypt, he placed Neoptolemus under the command of Eumenes, who was enjoined to exercise particular vigilance in regard to him.
The suspicions of the regent proved not unfounded: Neoptolemus immediately entered into correspondence with the hostile leaders, Antipater and Craterus, and, on being ordered by Eumenes to join him with his contingent, refused to comply. Hereupon Eumenes immediately marched against him, defeated his army, and compelled all the Macedonian troops in his service to take the oath of fidelity to Perdiccas. Neoptolemus himself escaped with a small body of cavalry and joined Craterus, whom he persuaded to march immediately against Eumenes, while the latter was still elated with his victory, and unprepared for a fresh attack.
But their cautious adversary was not to be taken by surprise, and met his enemies in a pitched battle.
In this Neoptolemus commanded the left wing, on which he was opposed to Eumenes himself; and the two leaders, who were bitter personal enemies, sought each other in the fight, and engaged in single combat, in which, after a desperate struggle, Neoptolemus was slain by his antagonist. (Diod. 18.29
; Plut. Eum. 4
; Corn. Nep. Eum.
4; Just. 13.6
; Dexippus, apud Phot.
p. 64b.; Arrian, apud Phot.
p. 70b., 71, a.)