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Alexander IV


Alexander IV (323 BCE - 309 BCE), known in Greek as Ἀλέξανδρος Δ΄ was the son of Alexander III the Great.

Alexander IV of Macedon, born in 323 BCE and died in 309 BCE, was the son of Alexander the Great and Roxana. His life and brief reign were marked by political intrigue and power struggles following his father's death. Alexander IV's story is one of potential unrealized due to the turbulent period of the Wars of the Diadochi (the successors of Alexander the Great).

Early Life and Background

  1. Birth and Lineage:

    • Alexander IV was born in 323 BCE, shortly after the death of his father, Alexander the Great. His mother, Roxana, was a Bactrian princess and one of Alexander the Great's wives.
    • As the posthumous son of Alexander the Great, Alexander IV was seen as a potential heir to his father's vast empire.
  2. Regency and Power Struggles:

    • Following Alexander the Great's death, his generals convened at the Partition of Babylon, where they agreed that the unborn child of Roxana would be recognized as the legitimate heir if it were a boy.
    • Upon his birth, Alexander IV was declared king alongside his uncle, Philip III Arrhidaeus, who was mentally disabled. The actual power, however, lay with the regents and generals who controlled different parts of the empire.

Regency and Political Turmoil

  1. Initial Regency:

    • The first regent, Perdiccas, attempted to maintain control over the empire, but his policies and actions led to widespread dissent among the other generals. Perdiccas was eventually assassinated in 321 BCE.
    • Antipater, a senior general, became the regent and managed to stabilize the situation temporarily. However, his death in 319 BCE led to renewed conflicts.
  2. Regency of Polyperchon and Cassander:

    • Antipater appointed Polyperchon as his successor, bypassing his own son Cassander. This decision sparked a power struggle between Polyperchon and Cassander.
    • Cassander ultimately gained the upper hand, capturing and controlling both Alexander IV and Roxana.

Captivity and Assassination

  1. Imprisonment:

    • Under Cassander's control, Alexander IV and Roxana were kept under close watch in Amphipolis. Despite being the nominal king, Alexander IV had no real power or influence.
    • Cassander used the young king's status to legitimize his own rule while systematically consolidating his control over Macedon and Greece.
  2. Assassination:

    • In 309 BCE, when Alexander IV was about 14 years old, Cassander ordered his assassination along with his mother, Roxana. This was a strategic move to eliminate any legitimate claimants to the throne and secure his own position.
    • Their deaths marked the end of the Argead dynasty, the ruling family that traced its lineage back to the founders of Macedon.


  1. End of the Argead Dynasty:

    • The assassination of Alexander IV signified the end of the Argead dynasty, which had ruled Macedon for several centuries. With no direct heirs left, the power struggles among the Diadochi intensified.
    • The empire that Alexander the Great had built fragmented into several Hellenistic kingdoms ruled by his former generals and their descendants.
  2. Historical Significance:

    • Alexander IV's life is a poignant reminder of the brutal and ruthless nature of Hellenistic politics. His potential as a ruler was never realized due to the ambitions and machinations of the powerful generals who sought to carve out their own territories from Alexander the Great's empire.
    • His short and tragic life highlights the instability and chaos that followed Alexander the Great's death, shaping the course of Hellenistic history.


Alexander IV of Macedon, the posthumous son of Alexander the Great, was a symbol of legitimacy in a period of intense power struggles and political intrigue. Despite his royal lineage, his life was marked by captivity and eventual assassination, orchestrated by those who sought to control the remnants of his father's empire. His death brought an end to the Argead dynasty and underscored the challenges of maintaining unity in the vast empire Alexander the Great had conquered. Alexander IV's brief and tragic existence remains a significant chapter in the history of the Hellenistic period.


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