People > Spitamenes

Spitamenes

Background

Spitamenes (370-328 BCE), also known in Persian as Spitamaneh and in Greek as Σπιταμένης was a local warlord from Sogdia (Sogdiana) who was responsible for leading a local rebellion against the Macedonians who had conquered the territory under Alexander III the Great in 329 BCE. Commanding a local force of Sogdians, Bactrians, Scythians and others he would wage guerrilla warfare against the Macedonian garrisons to the point where Alexander himself was almost forced to respond.

After defeating Darius III and completeing the collapse of the Achaemenid Empire, Alexander and his cohorts proceeded to continue around the previous Persian territories and force their subjugation to the new king of Asia. Not all of the locals accepted Alexander's terms and there were many violent clashes. While Alexander was busy founding the city of Alexandria Eschate located on the Jaxartes River, a message reached him that his forces were under attack at the city of Maracanda by Spitamenes and his cohorts. Since Alexander was busy founding the new Hellenistic city he dispactched his general Pharnuches to personally deal with the problem along with around 2,300 soldiers.

In an ambush attack the rebels were able to massacre over two thousand Macedonian troops and only the remaining three hundred managed to escape. It is known at least 2,000 soldiers and 300 cavalry perished in the attack by Spitamenes and his men. After hearing about this assault to his forces he vowed to personally lead the charge to seize Maracanda and conquer Sogdiana. However, at this point Alexander found out that Spitamenes and his band of rebels had moved on to assault the satrapy of Bactria where they attempted to siege the satrap named Artabazus.

Battle of Gabai

See Battle of Gabai.

Following the defeat of his soldiers Alexander organized a new Macedonian regiment under general Coenus who marched directly to confront the rebels in open combat. The two forces engaged in what became known as the Battle of Gabai where the Sogdians suffered great losses. Spitamenes was able to escape the battle alive with some of his Scythian and Massagetae allies and managed to plunder the baggage train before they fled.

Spitamenes managed to flee into Scythian territories with his allies however, upon hearing of the news Alexander once again vowed to personally lead the hunt for him. When the news reached the family and allies of Spitamenes they turned against him to avoid the wraith of the Macedonians. It is believed his wife beheaded him and sent the severed head to Alexander to try and sue for peace.

Legacy

Spitamenes had a daughter named Apama who would marry one of the generals and major officers within Alexander's army named Seleucus I Nicator in February of 324 BCE. The two would have a son named Antiochus I Soter who would become a future ruler of the Seleucid Empire. There was known to be many towns named in her honor.

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

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