After Cassander's death, the eldest of his sons, Philip, reigned for a short time over the Macedonians and then died, and the two remaining brothers quarrelled with one another over the succession. One of them, Antipater, murdered his mother, Thessalonicé, and the other, Alexander, summoned to his help Pyrrhus from Epeirus, and Demetrius from Peloponnesus.
Pyrrhus was first to answer the summons, and after cutting off a large part of Macedonia as a reward for his assistance, was already a neighbour whom Alexander feared. But Demetrius, who, when he received Alexander's letters, had set out with his forces to join him, inspired the young man with still more fear because of his high position and reputation, and he therefore met Demetrius at Dium, and gave him a friendly welcome, but declared that the situation no longer demanded his presence.
Owing to these circumstances, then, the men were suspicious of one another, and besides, as Demetrius was on his way to supper at the young man's invitation, some one told him of a plot to kill him in the very midst of the drinking. Demetrius was not at all disturbed, but delayed his coming a little, and ordered his officers to have their troops under arms, and all the attendants and servants in his train (and they were far more numerous than the retinue of Alexander) to go with him into the banqueting-hall and to remain there until he rose from the table.
This frightened Alexander, and he did not venture to attempt anything. Demetrius also made the excuse that he was not in condition to take wine, and went away very soon. On the following day he busied himself with preparations for departure, telling Alexander that unexpected troubles had arisen, which demanded his attention, asking his pardon for leaving so quickly, and assuring him that he would pay him a longer visit at another time when his affairs permitted it. Alexander was therefore well pleased, convinced that Demetrius was leaving his territories, not in hostility, but of his own free will, and escorted him on his way as far as Thessaly.
But when they came to Larissa, once more invitations to entertainments passed between them, and each plotted against the life of the other. This, more than anything else, put Alexander into the power of Demetrius. For he hesitated to take measures of precaution, that he might not thereby teach Demetrius also to take counter-measures, and he was forestalled by meeting the doom he was himself devising (since he delayed measures to prevent the other from escaping out of his hands).1
And so, when Demetrius rose up from table before supper was over, Alexander, filled with fear, rose up also and followed close upon his heels towards the door.
Demetrius, then, on reaching the door where his own body-guards stood, said merely,
‘Smite any one who follows me,’ and quietly went out himself; but Alexander was cut down by the guards, together with those of his friends who came to his aid. One of these, we are told, as he was smitten, said that Demetrius had got one day's start of them.