Hellenistic Dynasties > Argead Dynasty of Macedon

Argead Dynasty of Macedon


The Argead dynasty (Greek: Ἀργεάδαι, Argeádai) was an ancient Macedonian royal house of Dorian Greek provenance. They were the founders and the ruling dynasty of the kingdom of Macedon from about 700 to 310 BC. Their tradition, as described in ancient Greek historiography, traced their origins to Argos, in Peloponnese, hence the name Argeads or Argives. Initially the rulers of the homonymous tribe, by the time of Philip II they had expanded their reign further, to include under the rule of Macedonia all Upper Macedonian states. The family's most celebrated members were Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great, under whose leadership the kingdom of Macedonia gradually gained predominance throughout Greece, defeated the Achaemenid Empire and expanded as far as Egypt and India. The mythical founder of the Argead dynasty is King Caranus.

The words "Argead" and "Argive" derive (via Latin Argīvus) from the Greek Ἀργεῖος (Argeios), "of or from Argos", which is first attested in Homer, where it was also used as a collective designation for the Greeks ("Ἀργείων Δαναῶν", Argive Danaans). The Argead dynasty claimed descent from the Temenids of Argos, in the Peloponnese, whose legendary ancestor was Temenus, the great-great-grandson of Heracles.

In the excavations of the royal Palace at Aegae Manolis Andronikos discovered in the "tholos" room (according to some scholars "tholos" was the throne room) an inscription relating to that belief. This is testified by Herodotus, in The Histories, where he mentions that three brothers of the lineage of Temenus, Gauanes, Aeropus and Perdiccas, fled from Argos to the Illyrians and then to Upper Macedonia, to a town called Lebaea, where they served the king. The latter asked them to leave his territory, believing in an omen that something great would happen to Perdiccas. The boys went to another part of Macedonia, near the garden of Midas, above which mount Bermio stands. There they made their abode and slowly formed their own kingdom.

Herodotus also relates the incident of the participation of Alexander I of Macedon in the Olympic Games in 504 or 500 BC where the participation of the Macedonian king was contested by participants on the grounds that he was not Greek. The Hellanodikai, however, after examining his Argead claim confirmed that the Macedonians were Greeks and allowed him to participate.

Another theory supported by modern scholars, following the ancient author Appian, is that the Argead dynasty actually descended from Argos Orestikon in Macedonia, and that the Macedonian Kings claimed a descent from Argos in Peloponnese to enforce their Greekness. According to Thucydides, in the History of the Peloponnesian War, the Argeads were originally Temenids from Argos, who descended from the highlands to Lower Macedonia, expelled the Pierians from Pieria and acquired in Paionia a narrow strip along the river Axios extending to Pella and the sea. They also added Mygdonia in their territory through the expulsion of the Edoni, Eordians, and Almopians.

Argead Dynasty Overview

This table provides an overview of the major rulers of the Argead Dynasty, highlighting their lifespans, years of reign, and contributions to the history and expansion of the Macedonian kingdom.

NameBirth YearDeath YearYears of ReignContributions
Perdiccas IUnknownUnknownc. 700–678 BCFounder of the Argead Dynasty, established the Macedonian kingdom
Argaeus IUnknownUnknownc. 678–640 BCContinued to consolidate the early kingdom
Philip IUnknownUnknownc. 640–602 BCStrengthened the kingdom, continued expansion efforts
Aeropus IUnknownUnknownc. 602–576 BCRuled during a period of relative stability
Alcetas IUnknownUnknownc. 576–547 BCExpanded the kingdom's territory, maintained internal stability
Amyntas IUnknownc. 498 BCc. 547–498 BCEstablished diplomatic relations with Persia, initiated cultural development
Alexander Ic. 498 BC454 BCc. 498–454 BCKnown as "Alexander the Philhellene," promoted Hellenization, allied with Persia
Perdiccas IIc. 454 BC413 BC454–413 BCEngaged in conflicts with Athens, strengthened Macedonian power
Archelaus Ic. 413 BC399 BC413–399 BCDeveloped infrastructure, patron of arts, moved capital to Pella
CraterusUnknownUnknown399 BCShort reign, transitional figure
Orestes and Aeropus IIUnknownUnknown399–396 BCCo-rulers, minor influence
Archelaus IIUnknown393 BC396–393 BCContinued his predecessor's policies
Amyntas IIUnknownUnknown393 BCBrief rule, significant impact not recorded
PausaniasUnknownUnknown393 BCBrief rule, significant impact not recorded
Amyntas IIIc. 420 BC370 BC393–370 BCConsolidated and expanded the kingdom, faced internal conflicts
Alexander IIc. 370 BC368 BC370–368 BCContinued his father's policies, faced opposition from local nobles
Perdiccas IIIc. 368 BC359 BC368–359 BCDefended the kingdom against external threats, killed in battle
Philip II382 BC336 BC359–336 BCReformed the Macedonian army, expanded the kingdom, laid the foundation for Alexander's conquests
Alexander III (the Great)356 BC323 BC336–323 BCCreated one of the largest empires in history, spread Greek culture across three continents
Philip III Arrhidaeus359 BC317 BC323–317 BCCo-ruled with Alexander IV, nominal ruler with limited power
Alexander IV323 BC309 BC323–309 BCCo-ruled with Philip III, nominal ruler, assassinated as a child


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