(Demetrius Poliorcetes)

337–284 BC

Demetrius was the son of Antigonus I Cyclops, and the second member of the Antigonid dynasty. His father won a great region in Syria and Asia after the second Diodochi War. Several years later, however, all of the other diodochi (Lysimachus in Thrace, Ptolemy in Egypt, Seleucus, and Cassander in Macedonia) turned against him, and attacked his domains from every direction. As a young man, Demetrius fought for his father in Asia, during the Third and Forth Diodochi wars, which raged from 314 to 302 B.C. During this period Demetrius also led some campaigns into Greece, and 'liberated' Greece from the Macedonian Yoke. These established territory and allies for the Antigonid dynasty in Greece, but did not affect the outcome of the war in Asia.

In 312 B.C. Demetrius lost a large part of Asia to Seleucus at the Battle of Gaza. Five years later however, he won a great naval battle against Ptolemy, which increased his influence in Greece, but still failed to secure domination in Asia. Enemies continued to attack the Antigonid territory of the east, and finally at the battle of Ipsus, Antigonus was killed and Demetrius was forced to flee. Almost all of their territory in Syria and Asia was divided between Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy, and the Antigonid kingdom in the East had almost ceased to be.

During the next several years, Demetrius made peace with Lysimachus and Seleucus. In 294 B.C. he again attempted to 'liberate' Greece. He established himself on the throne of Macedonia by murdering the son of Cassander, but his hold on the region was never secure. Pyrrhus of Epirus made many incursions into Greece, and eventually he was deposed by the united forces of Pyrrhus and Lysimachus. Still possessed of an army, he marched into Asia Minor to stir up trouble, but he wad defeated, captured and died in prison, three years later.

At the death of Demetrius, the Antigonid dynasty apparently ceased to exist. Within about fifteen years however, a complicated turn of events put Macedonia back into the hands of Antigonus II, the son of Demetrius. Macedonia was ruled by Antigonids for the next century and a half, until it was conquered by Rome.

Key events during the life of Demetrius:

316 BC
Antigonus, the father of Demetrius, wins a great territory in Asia from his enemy Eumenes.
312 BC
Led his fathers' forces in a crushing defeat at Gaza. Seleucus gained much territory.
307 BC
Sailed to Athens with a large fleet in order to 'free' Greece from Macedonian domination.
306 BC
Defeated the navy of the Ptolemies at the battle of Salamis-Cyrus.
305 BC
Declared 'king' of his father's domains in Asia.
  Returned to Greece. Continued to make allies and enemies in Macedonian territory.
302 BC
Defeated at the Battle of Ipsus. Antigonus I. killed. Almost all eastern territory lost.
294 BC
After murdering Cassander's heir, seized the throne of Macedonia.
288 BC
Driven from Macedonia by Pyrrhus and Lysimachus.
283 BC
Died in Prison.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Wars in Macedon  in  Pyrrhus  by  Jacob Abbott
Golden Shoes and Two Crowns  in  Tales of the Greeks: The Children's Plutarch  by  F. J. Gould
Colossus of Rhodes  in  The Story of the Greeks  by  H. A. Guerber
Demetrius and the Athenians  in  The Story of the Greeks  by  H. A. Guerber
Demetrius  in  Our Young Folks' Plutarch  by  Rosalie Kaufman

Image Links

Demetrius Poliorcetes
 in The Story of the Greeks

Short Biography
Antigonus I Allied with Antipater and Ptolemy I in early Diadochi Wars. Won control of Asia Minor and Syria.
Lysimachus Bodyguard of Alexander. Took control of Thrace on his death. Engaged in Wars of Diadochi.
Seleucus Son of a general of Alexander. Founded Seleucid Dynasty, in Syria and Central Asia.
Ptolemy I General of Alexander, founded Egyptian Dynasty that lasted for 300 years.
Pyrrhus Renowned general, won victories in Macedon, Italy, and Greece, but failed to follow up wins.
Cassander Son of Antipater. Wrestled control of Macedonia from Polyperchon. Enemy of Olympias.