The times after Alexander the great were an exceptional context which had not been seen before. Alexander the Great, whom was King of Macedon and of all the Hellenistic world, died unexpectedly and being 32 years old. He died while he was at Babylon and left no heir that could take on the diadem from him.

The succession on those times often was happening between father and son, just as Phillip, Alexander’s father, had appointed his son for future king. However, Alexander died without leaving instructions of his succession path. He was expecting to be father but the child had no born yet. Rhoxane, of Iranian origin, was the mother, but the heir was still at her womb when Alexander died. The fact that Roxane was Iranian and therefore non-Greek blood did not help.

Never before the Macedonian kingdom had been in a context where there wasn’t any appointed person to be king and there wasn’t either any person that was expected to be the next king. Alexander’s dynasty did not have anyone able to take the diadem. Alexander had a brother also but he was mentally disable so this did not help either to resolve the succession issue. After some conflict the troops decided to support Phillip, Alexander’s brother, to become the king, while the novels were in favour of Alexander’s heir.

Some of Alexander’s closest friends and military ranks were appointed as regents and guardians and decision was taken to appoint both as kings, Alexander’s son and brother.

However, as I said time had to pass as Phillip wasn’t able to govern because of his disability and Alexander’s son wasn’t old enough to govern either. Perdikkas, whom happened to be at Babylon when the king died was the regent of the kingdom.

Some of the members of the army and Meleagros, who was a military rank opposing Perdikkas were killed. This were unstable times. Perdikkas, using his influence, managed to send two of the most important ranks to Europe and have some regions appointed to people which  might have been close friends with him.

With the time Phillip died and Alexander’s son was also killed. A civil war affected the whole Hellenistic world. The satraps, who were appointed military ranks placed in the regions of the Hellenistic world, confronted between them and against the regents and guardians of the kings and a series of wars named the Diadoch wars affected the whole Hellenistic world.

Some of the satraps, such as Ptolemy or Seleucus, became kings of their regions after a series of wars. The case of Seleucus explains when someone would have the diadem. To become king on those times you needed to have the support of the troops and certain favour from the novels or the people that had influence in the area. A king was a king when he went through a ceremony of initiation. This ceremony of initiation could not be performed until the last king had died. Babylon is a good example of ceremonies of initiation that had to take place. Ceremonies that were related to the god Marduk and were connected to the divine process to turn a human into a king.

The kingdoms of Egypt or Babylon are examples of how dynasties such as the Ptolemies and the Seleucids became kingdoms. Those kingdoms started as divisions of Alexander’s conquered land, which were divided among military ranks but under the umbrella of the king. With the time, the satraps gained power and acceptance and were able to become kingships. During these kingdoms, reigns passed from son to father most of the time, and the power stayed within the same dynasty.

Within the process of passing from satrap to kingship a series of circumstances needed to happen. It wasn’t so easy to gain acceptance and to be recognised as king on those times. Kings were placed with the consent of the Gods, but needed acceptance also from the novels and the army. Seleucus created a new calendar year starting from the time that he governed. The new king initiated his kingdom the year after the previous king died. The king could not reign until the previous king had not perished.

Seleucus made some propaganda. He compared himself to Alexander. He used coinage to advertise his divined appointment and right for kingship. In some of the coins you can see elephants, symbol of his campaigns with Alexander in the East. He also seems to claim that his father was Apollo, just as Alexander was claiming to be. Some coins show Nike, goddess of victory.

Some signs such as the anchor connected to Alexander or the horns were used on some coinage. This royal propaganda was aiming at getting recognition and support from citizens, the phalanx / army and the novels.

With the support of the army, the royal propaganda, the creation of dynastic calendars and of processes of succession within the dynasty, some of the satraps converted their original regional posts into kingships.

Image taken from


Book 18-20 of Diodorus.

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