People - Ancient Greece: Agathocles
Ancient Greek historian who wrote a history of
Agathocles in Wikipedia
Agathocles was the name of several ancient Greeks:
* Agathocles, a sophist, teacher of Damon
Agathocles (Gr. Ἀγαθοκλῆς, fl. 3rd century BC) was a Greek historian who wrote a history of Cyzicus (περὶ Κυζίκου) in the Ionic dialect. He is called by Athenaeus both a Babylonian and a Cyzican. He may originally have come from Babylon, and have settled at Cyzicus. The first and third books are referred to by Athenaeus. The time at which Agathocles lived is unknown, and his work is now lost; but it seems to have been extensively read in antiquity, as it is referred to by Cicero, Pliny, and other ancient writers. Agathocles also spoke of the origin of Rome. The scholiast on Apollonius cites Memoirs (ὑπομνήματα) by an Agathocles, who is usually supposed to be the same as the above-mentioned one.
There are several other writers of the same name, whose works are lost to us but are mentioned by later writers:
* Agathocles of Atrax, who wrote a work on fishing.
* Agathocles of Chios, who wrote a work on agriculture.
* Agathocles of Miletus, who wrote a work on rivers.
* Agathocles of Samos, who wrote a work on the constitution of Pessinus.
Agathocles (361-289 BC), (Greek name Ἀγαθοκλῆς (Agathokles): derived from αγαθός (agathos) good and κλέος (kleos) glory), was tyrant of Syracuse (317-289 BC) and king of Sicily (304-289 BC).
Agathocles was born at Thermae Himeraeae (modern name Termini Imerese) in Sicily. The son of a potter who had moved to Syracuse in about 343 BC, he learned his father's trade, but afterwards entered the army. In 333 BC he married the widow of his patron Damas, a distinguished and wealthy citizen. He was twice banished for attempting to overthrow the oligarchical party in Syracuse.
In 317 BC he returned with an army of mercenaries under a solemn oath to observe the democratic constitution which was then set up. Having banished or murdered some 10,000 citizens, and thus made himself master of Syracuse, he created a strong army and fleet and subdued the greater part of Sicily.
War with Carthage followed. In 311 BC Agathocles was besieged and defeated in Syracuse in the battle of Himera. After defeat in 310 BC he took the desperate resolve of breaking through the blockade and attacking the enemy in Africa. In Africa he concluded the treaty with Ophellas, ruler of Cyrenaica. After several victories he was at last completely defeated (307 BC) and fled secretly to Sicily.
After concluding peace with Carthage in 306 BC, Agathocles styled himself king of Sicily in 304 BC, and established his rule over the Greek cities of the island more firmly than ever. A peace treaty with Carthage left him in control of Sicily east of the Halycus River. Even in his old age he displayed the same restless energy, and is said to have been contemplating a fresh attack on Carthage at the time of his death.
His last years were plagued by ill-health and the turbulence of his grandson Archagathus, at whose instigation he is said to have been poisoned (by his eromenos, Menon of Ægista, who poisoned the tooth-cleaning quill); according to others, he died a natural death. He was a born leader of mercenaries, and, although he did not shrink from cruelty to gain his ends, he afterwards showed himself a mild and popular "tyrant." Agathocles restored the Syracusan democracy on his death bed and did not want his sons to succeed him as king.
The historian Alvin says that Agathocles was born in poverty but very early in life parlayed his remarkable genius into a career as an inventor, first for weapons of war, and later, after further education, for civilization, his grandest goal was to establish democracy an the dominant form of government for the world and this spurred his unquenchable thirst for power. Upon his death bed he realized that his son's did not share his wisdom or vision and died sadly giving up his dream of bringing a voice to the people of the world.
Agathocles married Theoxena, stepdaughter of Ptolemy I of Egypt. His daughter Lanassa married King Pyrrhus of Epirus.
Agathocles was cited as from the lowest, most abject condition of life and as an example of “those who by their crimes come to be princes” in Chapter VIII of Niccolò Machiavelli’s treatise on politics, The Prince (1513). He was described as behaving as a criminal at every stage of his career. However, he came to "glory" as much as he did brutality by repelling invading Carthaginians and winning the loyalty of the denizens of his land. However, many later disapproved of his actions, including to an extent Machiavelli, who claimed "It cannot be called prowess to kill fellow-citizens, to betray friends, to be treacherous, pitiless, irreligious.". Machiavelli, though, merely means that Agathocle's actions do not exemplify prowess, as he does with many other examples in Chapter XV. He actually admired Agothocles for his brutality, but criticized him for being so cruel in public and thus losing the people's trust.
Agathocles (son of Lysimachus)
Agathocles (Greek: Aγαθoκλής; died 284 BC) was the son of Lysimachus by an Odrysian woman who Polyaenus calls Macris. Agathocles was sent by his father against the Getae, about 292 BC, but was defeated and taken prisoner. He was kindly treated by Dromichaetes, the king of the Getae, and sent back to his father with presents; but Lysimachus, notwithstanding, marched against the Getae, and was taken prisoner himself. He too was also released by Dromichaetes, who received in consequence the daughter of Lysimachus in marriage. According to some authors it was only Agathocles and according to others only Lysimachus, who was taken prisoner. In 287 BC Agathocles was sent by his father against Demetrius Poliorcetes, who had marched into Anatolia to deprive Lysimachus of Lydia and Caria. In this expedition he was successful; he defeated Demetrius and drove him out of his father's provinces. Agathocles was destined to be the successor of Lysimachus, and was popular among his subjects; but his stepmother, Arsinoe, prejudiced the mind of his father against him; and after an unsuccessful attempt to poison him, Lysimachus cast him into prison, where he was murdered (284 BC) by Ptolemy Keraunos, who was a fugitive at the court of Lysimachus. His widow Lysandra fled with his children, and Alexander, his brother, to Seleucus in Asia, who made war upon Lysimachus in consequence. Louis Robert has suggested that coins ΑΓΑΘ of 300 BC belong to an Agathokleia city in Mysia founded by Agathocles.
Agathocles of Bactria
Agathocles Dikaios (Greek: Αγαθοκλής "GoodGlory", ο Δίκαιος "the Just"), was a Buddhist Indo-Greek king, who reigned between around 190 and 180 BCE. He might have been a son of Demetrius and one of his sub-kings in charge of the Paropamisade between Bactria and India. In that case, he was a grandson of Euthydemus whom he qualified on his coins as "Basileas Theos" ("Βασιλέας Θεός" Greek for "God-King").
Agathocles was contemporary with or a successor of king Pantaleon. He seems to have been attacked and killed by the usurper Eucratides, who took control of the Greco-Bactrian territory. Little is known about him, apart from his extensive coinage.
Agathocles issued a series of "pedigree" dynastic coins, probably with the intent to advertise his lineage and legitimize his rule, linking him to Alexander the Great, a king Antiochus Nikator (Greek: "Νικάτωρ" "Victorious", probably intended is Antiochus III), the founder of the Greco-Bactrian kingdom Diodotus and his son Diodotus II, Euthydemus, Pantaleon, and Demetrius.
Dynast or usurper?
The pedigree coinage has been seen as a token of his ancestry, but a critical view might be considered. All the associations provide a contradictory image. The Euthydemid kings (Demetrius and Euthydemus) are not known to be related to Diodotus – in fact, Euthydemus I overthrew Diodotus II! The Seleucids were enemies of the Euthydemids as well – in fact king Antiochus III had besieged Bactra for almost three years before claiming victory over Euthydemus I. Nevertheless, Antiochus III is known to have used the epithet "Nikator" ("Νικάτωρ" Greek for "Victorious")
Finally, the association with Alexander was a standard move for usurpers in the Hellenistic world, such as the pseudo-Seleucids Alexander Balas and the Syrian general Diodotus Tryphon.
All in all, the coins might well support the view of an usurper, or more probable a member of a minor branch of a dynasty, anxious to gather support from all quarters with his various memorial coins. However, the similarities between his coinage and that of Pantaleon make it probable that Agathocles was indeed a relative of the latter, who in that case might have been a usurper as well.
I) Pedigree coin of Agathocles with Alexander the Great.
Obverse – Greek inscription reads: ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΥ ΤΟΥ ΦΙΛΙΠΠΟΥ i.e. "of Alexander son of Philip".
Reverse – Greek inscription reads: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΟΝΤΟΣ ΑΓΑΘΟΚΛΕΟΥΣ ΔΙΚΑΙΟΥ i.e. "of Reign Agathocles the Just".
II) Pedigree coin of Agathocles with Diodotus the Saviour.
Obverse – Greek inscription reads: ΔΙΟΔΟΤΟΥ ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ i.e. "of Diodotus the Saviour"
Reverse – Greek inscription reads: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΥΟΝΤΟΣ ΑΓΑΘΟΚΛΕΟΥΣ ΔΙΚΑΙΟΥ i.e. "of Reign Agathocles the Just".
III) Pedigree coin of Agathocles with Demetrius the invincible.
Obverse – Greek inscription reads: ΔΗΜΗΤΡΙΟΥ ΑΝΙΚΗΤΟΥ i.e. "of Demetrius the invincible"
Also, Agathocles and Pantaleon, along with their contemporary Euthydemus II, are unique in the ancient world, in that they were the first in the world to issue copper-nickel (75/25 ratio) coins 1, an alloy technology only known by the Chinese at the time (some weapons from the Warring States Period were in copper-nickel alloy 2 ). These coins are indicative of the existence of trade links with China around that time (see Greco-Bactrian kingdom). Copper-nickel would not be used again in coinage until the 19th century in the United States.
At the same time, Agathocles issued an intriguing range of bilingual coinage, displaying what seems to be Buddhist as well as Hinduist symbolism. The coins, manufactured according to the Indian standard, using either Brahmi, Greek or Kharoshthi (a first in the Greek world), and displaying symbols of the various faiths in India, tend to indicate a considerable willingness to accommodate local languages and beliefs, to an extent unseen in subsequent Indo-Greek kings. They may be indicative of the considerable efforts of the first Indo-Greek kings to secure support from Indian populations and avoid being perceived as invaders, efforts which may have subsided once the Indo-Greek kingdoms were more securely in place.
The Buddhist coinage of Agathocles is in the Indian standard (square or round copper coins) and depicts Buddhist symbols such as the stupa, the "tree in railing", or the lion. These coins sometimes use Brahmi, and sometimes Kharoshthi, whereas later Indo-Greek kings only used Kharoshthi.
The Hinduist coinage of Agathocles is few but spectacular. Six Indian-standard silver drachmas were discovered at Ai-Khanoum in 1970, which depict Hindu deities.
These are the first known representations of Vedic deities on coins, and they display early avatars of Vishnu: Balarama-Sankarshana and Vasudeva-Krishna.
The dancing girls on some of the coins of Agathocles and Pantaleon are also sometimes considered as representations of Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu.
Agathocles of Egypt
Agathocles (Greek: Ἀγαθοκλής) together with his sister Agathoclea were very close to Ptolemy IV Philopator. As a result he together with Sosibius acted as regents of Ptolemy V Epiphanes after they murdered Arsinoë, fearing she would secure the regency for herself, before she heard of her husband's death.
Agathocles seems to have soon killed Sosibius. All particulars of these events are, however, lost to us.
In 202 BCE Tlepolemus, the general in charge of Pelusium, put himself at the head of a revolt which resulted in Agathocles and several of his supporters being killed by the Alexandrian mob.
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