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

William Greenwalt

Abstract

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.

Keywords

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

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