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1. A Macedonian, son of Machatas. who belonged to the family of the princes of Elymiotis, and nephew of Philip, king, of Macedon, the latter having married Phila, a sister of Machatas. Notwithstanding this connection, the house of the Elymiot princes seems to have been always unfavourably disposed towards Philip, who had in fact deprived them of their hereditary dominions; and though we find Harpalus residing at the court of the Macedonian king, and even on one occasion employed by him on a mission of some importance, it appears that he did not enjoy much of his confidence. (Dem. c. Aristocr. p. (669; Plut. Apophth. p. 681, ed. Reiske.) It is perhaps to this cause that we are to attribute his close attachment to Alexander, and his participation in the intrigues for the marriage of that prince with the daughter of Pixodarus, a scheme which gave so much offence to Philip, that all those who were thought to have taken part in it were banished from Macedonia, Harpalus among the rest. But this temporary disgrace was productive, both to him and his companions in exile, of the greatest subsequent advantages, for immediately on the death of Philip, Alexander not only recalled those who had suffered on his account, but promoted them to important and confidential offices. Harpalus, being unfitted by his constitution of body for services in war, was appointed to the superintendence of the treasury, and in this capacity accompanied Alexander to Asia. But he proved unfaithful to his trust, and shortly before the battle of Issus was induced (probably by the consciousness of peculation and the fear of punishment) to take to flight. He made his escape to Greece, and was lingering at Megara, when he received letters from Alexander intreating his return, and promising entire forgiveness for the past. He, in consequence, rejoined the king at Tyre on his return from Egypt (B. C. 331), and not only obtained the promised pardon, but was reinstated in his former important situation. (Plut. Alex. 10; Arrian, Arr. Anab. 3.6.) When Alexander, after the conquest of Persia and Media, determined to push on into the interior of Asia, in pursuit of Dareius, he left Harpalus at Ecbatana, with 6000 Macedonian troops, in charge of the royal treasures. From thence he appears to have removed to Babylon, and to have held the important satrapy of that province as well as the administration of the treasury. (Arrian, Arr. Anab. 3.19.13; Plut. Alex. 35; Diod. 17.108.) It was here that, during the absence of Alexander in India, he gave himself up to the most extravagant luxury and profusion, squandering the treasures entrusted to him, at the same time that he alienated the people subject to his rule, by his lustful excesses and extortions. Not content with compelling the native women to minister to his pleasures, he sent to Athens for a celebrated courtesan named Pythionice, whom he received with the most extravagant honours, and to whom, after her death, he erected two costly monuments, one at Babylon, the other at Athens, where it is mentioned by Pausanias as one of the most splendid in ail Greece. (Paus. 1.37.5.) Pythionice was succeeded by Glycera, to whom he compelled all those subject to his authority to pay honours that were usually reserved for a queen. The indignation of Greeks, as well as barbarians, was now loud against Harpalus: among others, Theopompus the historian wrote a letter of complaint to Alexander, some extracts from which are still preserved. (Athen. xiii. pp. 586, 594, 596; Diod. 17.108.) Harpalus had probably thought that Alexander would never return from the remote regions of the East into which he had penetrated; but when he at length learnt that the king was on his march back to Susa, and had visited with unsparing rigour those of his officers who had been guilty of any excesses during his absence, he at once saw that his only resource was in flight. Collecting together all the treasures which he could, amounting to a sum of 5000 talents, and assembling a body of 6000 mercenaries, he hastened to the coast of Asia, and from thence crossed over to Attica. He had previously sent to Athens a magnificent present of corn, in return for which he had received the right of citizenship (Athen. xiii. pp. 586, 596); and he probably reckoned on a favourable reception in that city; but the Athenians refused to allow him to land, and he, in consequence, repaired to Taenarus, where he left his mercenaries, and himself returned to Athens. Being now admitted within the city, he employed the treasures that he had brought with him in the most unsparing manner, in order to gain over the orators and public men at Athens, and induce the people to undertake the support of his cause against Alexander and his vicegerent, Antipater. Among those whom he thus corrupted are said to have been Demades, Charicles, the son-in-law of Phocion, and even, as is well known. Demosthenes himself. Into the various questions connected with the conduct of these statesmen, and especially the last (see DEMOSTHENES, and Thirlwall's Greece, vol. vii. pp. 153-161), it is impossible here to enter: but it should be mentioned that, after the death of Harpalus, one of his slaves, who had acted as his steward in the administration of his treasures, having fallen into the power of Philoxenus, the Macedonian governor of Caria, gave a list of all those persons at Athens who had received any sums of money from Harpalus, and in this list the name of Demosthenes did not appear. (Paus. 2.33.4.) But to whatever extent Harpalus may have succeeded in bribing individuals, he failed in his general object, for Antipater, having demanded his surrender from the Athenians, it was resolved to place him in confinement until the Macedonians should send for him. He, however, succeeded in making his escape from prison, and rejoined his troops at Taenarus, from whence he transported his mercenary force and the remainder of his treasures to Crete, with what ulterior designs we know not; but soon after his arrival in that island he was assassinated by Thimbron, one of his own officers; or, according to another account, by a Macedonian named Pausanias. (Diod. 17.108; Paus. 2.33.4; Arr. apud Phot. p. 70 a; Plut. Dem. 25; Phoc. 21, Vit. X. Oratt. p. 363, 364, ed. Reiske; Curt. 10.2.) Plutarch tells us (Alex. 35) that Harpalus, during his residence at Babylon, endeavoured to introduce there the most valuable of the plants and shrubs, natives of Greece--perhaps the first instance on record of an attempt at exotic gardening.

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331 BC (1)
hide References (8 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (8):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 17.108
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 1.37.5
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 2.33.4
    • Plutarch, Alexander, 10
    • Plutarch, Alexander, 35
    • Plutarch, Demosthenes, 25
    • Arrian, Anabasis, 3.6
    • Curtius, Historiarum Alexandri Magni, 10.2
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