The Assessination of Archelaus and the Significance of the Macedonian Royal Hunt

William Greenwalt


Aristotle is the best extant source for the death of Archelaus during a Royal Hunt. He clearly indicates that Archelaus was murdered by Crataeas who, along with two co-conspirators, Hellanocrates of Larissa and Decamnichus, were incited to their plot by perceived injustices at the hand of the king. This article argues that in lieu of a widely agreed upon constitution in Argead Macedonia, a king’s legitimacy was based
largely (if not solely) on the perception that he was the font of justice, and by his appearance in sacred rituals—one of which was the royal hunt—which religiously validated his right to rule. Thus, this murder was carefully timed by the conspirators to reject the legitimacy of Archelaus for not dispensing “correct” justice in their respective cases. As always personal animosities get roiled into politics in Argead Macedonia.


Archelaus, Crataeas, Hellanocrates, Decamnichus, Royal Hunt, Justice, Euripides

Full Text:



BORZA, E. (1992): The Emergence of Macedon, Princeton.

CARNEY, E. (2000): Women and Monarchy in Macedonia, Norman.

— (2015): King and Court in Ancient Macedonia, Swansea.

FRANKS, H. M. (2012): Hunters, Heroes, Kings: The Frieze of Tomb II at Vergina, Princeton.

GRAEKOS, I. (2011): “War and Hunting: the world of the Macedonian king and his companions”, in A. KOTTARIDI (ed.): Heracles to Alexander the Great, Oxford: 75-92.

GREENWALT, W. S. (1986): “Herodotus and the Foundation of Argead Macedonia”, AncW 13: 117-22.

— (1989): “Polygamy and Succession in Argead Macedonia”, Arethusa 22: 19-45.

— (1992): “The Iconographical Significance of Amyntas III’s Mounted Horse Stater”, Archaia Makedonia, 5: 95-104.

— (1994): “A Solar Dionysus and Argead Legitimacy,” AncW 25: 3-8.

— (1997): “Thracian Influence on the Ideology of Argead Kingship”, in Actes 2e Symposium International des Études Thracienne 1, Komotini: 121-133.

— (2010): “Argead Dunasteia During the Reigns of Philip II and Alexander III”, in E. CARNEY – D. OGDEN (eds.): Philip II and Alexander the Great: Father and Son, Lives and Afterlives, Oxford: 151-163.

— (2011): “Royal Charisma and the Evolution of Macedonia During the Reigns of Philip and Alexander”, AncW 42: 148-155.

— (2011): “Macedonia, Epirus and Illyria”, in I. WORTHINGTON – J. ROISMAN (eds.): A Companion to Ancient Macedonia, Oxford: 279-305.

— (2015): “Thracian and Macedonian Kingship”, in J. VALEVA – E. NONKOW – D.

GRAINGER (eds.): A Companion to Ancient Thrace, Oxford: 337-351.

HAMMOND, N. G. L. – Griffith, G. T. (1979): A History of Macedonia, vol. II, Oxford.

HATZOPOULOS, M. B. (1994): Cultes et Rites de Passage en Macedoine, Athens.

— (2011): “Macedonians and Other Greek,” in R. LANE FOX – M. B. HATZOPOULOS (eds.), Brill’s Companion to Ancient Macedon, Leiden: 51-78.

KING, C. J. (2018): Ancient Macedonia, London: 41-43.

OGDEN, D. (1999): Polygamy, Prostitutes and Death, London.

OLDFATHER, C. H. (transl.) (1977-1978): Diodorus Siculus. Library of History, vol. V, London.

RACKHAM, H. (transl.) (1944): Aristotle. Politics, London.

SCULLION, S. (2003): “Euripides and Macedon, or the Silence of the Frogs”, CQ 53: 389-398.

Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM
Copyright (c) 2019 William Greenwalt