The Partition of Babylon designates the attribution of the territories of Alexander the Great between his generals after his death in 323 BC.
The partition was a result of a compromise, essentially brokered by Eumenes, following a conflict of opinion between the party of Meleager, who wished to give full power to Philip III of Macedon, and the party of Perdiccas, who wished to wait for the birth of the heir of Alexander (the future Alexander IV of Macedon) to give him the throne under the control of a regent. Under the agreement, Philip III became king, but Perdiccas, as a regent, ruled. Perdiccas, as regent, managed the repartition of the territories between the former generals and satraps of Alexander. Meleager and about 300 of his partisans were eliminated by Perdiccas soon after.
All sources agree that Antipater became governor of Macedon and Greece; Arrian adds Epirus to this. Arrian also suggests that this region was shared with Craterus, whereas Dexippus has "the general charge of affairs and the defence of the kingdom was entrusted to Craterus"
Arrian explicitly includes Illyria within Antipater's remit; Diodorus says that "Macedonia and the adjacent peoples were assigned to Antipater". However, Justin has 'Philo' as governor of Illyria; there is no apparent other mention of Philo in the sources, so it is possible this is a mistake by Justin.
All sources agree that Lysimachus became governor of "Thrace and the Chersonese, together with the countries bordering on Thrace as far as Salmydessus on the Euxine".
Diodorus has Asander as satrap, but Arrian and Justin have Cassander. Since Asander was definitely satrap of Caria after the Partition of Triparadisus, it is possible that both Arrian and Justin have mistaken Asander for the better-known Cassander (or that the name has changed during later copying/translation etc.).
Both Diodorus and Arrian have Antigonus receiving these satrapies in addition to Greater Phrygia, whereas Justin has Nearchus receiving both of them. This is possibly another mistake by Justin; Nearchus was satrap of Lycia and Pamphylia from 334 to 328 BC.
All sources agree that these regions ("Egypt and Libya, and of that part of Arabia that borders upon Egypt") were given to Ptolemy, son of Lagus.
All sources agree that these regions were given to Laomedon of Mytilene and Arcesilaus respectively.
The next satrapies moving eastward are much more problematic, with Justins's account widely diverging from both Diodorus and Arrian/Dexippus. The following passage is the source of most of these differences:
"The Arachosians and Gedrosians were assigned to Sibyrtius; the Drancae and Arci to Stasanor. Amyntas was allotted the Bactrians, Scythaeus the Sogdians, Nicanor the Parthians, Philippus the Hyrcanians, Phrataphernes the Armenians, Tlepolemus the Persians, Peucestes the Babylonians, Archon the Pelasgians, Arcesilaus, Mesopotamia."
This passage seems to be directly derived from Diodorus, listing the satrapies in more-or-less the same order, cf.
"He gave Arachosia and Cedrosia to Sibyrtius, Aria and Dranginê to Stasanor of Soli, Bactrianê and Sogdianê to Philip, Parthia and Hyrcania to Phrataphernes, Persia to Peucestes, Carmania to Tlepolemus, Media to Atropates, Babylonia to Archon, and Mesopotamia to Arcesilaüs."
Pelasgia does not appear in any other accounts, and does not seem to have been a real satrapy; it is possible that the insertion of this word has caused some of the satraps to shift by one place in the interpretation of Justin's passage.Note 1 In addition, Armenia, also not mentioned in any other accounts as a satrapy may be a mistake for Carmania (which appears in the same position in Diodorus's list). The equivalent passage is missing from Arrian, although it does appear in Dexippus - albeit with its own mistakes:
"Siburtius ruled the Arachosians and Gedrosians; Stasanor of Soli the Arei and Drangi; Philip the Sogdiani; Radaphernes the Hyrcanians; Neoptolemus the Carmanians; Peucestes the Persians...Babylon was given to Seleucus, Mesopotamia to Archelaus."
Radaphernes is presumably Phrataphernes, and Dexippus has possibly confused Tlepolemus (clearly named by Arrian, Justin and Diodorus) with Neoptolemus (another of Alexander's generals). It is well established that Seleucus only became satrap of Babylonia at the second partition (the Partition of Triparadisus), so Dexippus may have mixed up the two partitions at this point.
Since Diodorus is the more reliable text, and there seem to be mistakes here in both Justin and Dexippus, the probability is that Archon of Pella was satrap of Babylonia.
Since Diodorus & Dexippus both agree on Peucestas being satrap of Persia, this is probably the case.
Tlepolemus was definitely satrap of Carmania after the second partition, and Diodorus places him as satrap at the first partition, so this was probably the case.
Diodorus allots these regions to Phrataphernes, and Dexippus also has (Ph)rataphernes as satrap of Hyrcania, so it was probably the case that these two adjacent regions were governed by this native Persian. Phrataphernes had been satrap of these regions during Alexander's lifetime, and therefore his retention of these satrapies corresponds with Arrian's statement that: "At the same time several provinces remained under their native rulers, according to the arrangement made by Alexander, and were not affected by the distribution."
- Lesser Media
- Greater Media
Diodorus and Dexippus allot this to Peithon. Justin says that: "Atropatus was set over the Greater Media; the father-in-law of Perdiccas over the Less(er)". However, Atropates was the father-in-law of Perdiccas., so Justin is clearly confused on this point. Since Peithon was definitely satrap of Greater Media after the second partition, it is likely he also was at the first.
Neither Diodorus nor Arrian/Dexippus mention Susiana at the first partition, but both mention it at the second partition; it was therefore a real satrapy. Only Justin gives a name, Scynus, for this satrapy at the first partition, but this person is not apparently mentioned elsewhere.
Diodorus has Philip as satrap of both these regions; Dexippus also has Philip as Satrap of Sogdiana, but does not mention Bactria. Justin, however, names Amyntas and Scytheaus as satraps of Bactria and Sogdiana. This is the most problematic part of Justin's account, which is clearly completely at variance with the other accounts. Amyntas and Scythaeus are not apparent in other records of the period, and their presence here is not easy to explain.
Diodorus and Dexippus both have Alexander's father-in-law Oxyartes, a native Bactria, as ruler of this region. Justin has "Extarches" which is presumably a corrupted version of Oxyartes. Oxyartes was another native ruler left in the position to which Alexander appointed him.
Diodorus and Dexippus name Porus and Taxiles as satraps of these regions respectively; these are two more native rulers left in the position given to them by Alexander. Justin concurs with Taxiles in Punjab, and does not mention Indus.
- Indian Colonies
All sources agree that another Peithon, the son of Agenor was ruler of the rest of the Indian territory not given to Taxiles and Porus. Exactly where this was is somewhat uncertain. Diodorus describes it as:
"To Pithon he gave the satrapy next to Taxiles and the other kings"
whereas Dexippus has:
"Porus and Taxilus were rulers of India, to Porus being allotted the country between the Indus and the Hydaspes, the rest to Taxilus. Pithon received the country of the neighbouring peoples, except the Paramisades."
and Justin says:
"To the colonies settled in India, Python, the son of Agenor, was sent."
1. It is possible there is a copying error in Justin's work; the name of a satrap often occurs adjacent to the satrapy that Diodorus allots them (but not directly associated with it). Pelasgia does not appear to have been the name of a real Persian or Greek satrapy and the insertion of this word may have shifted the satraps by one place in the list, dislocating them. In addition, Armenia (not mentioned as a satrapy in any other account) may be a mistake for Carmania (which occurs in the same place in Diodorus's list). One possible interpretation of the passage would be:
"Amyntas was allotted the Bactrians, Scythaeus the Sogdians, Nicanor; the Parthians, Philippus; the Hyrcanians, Phrataphernes;
the Armenians(the Carmanians), Tleptolemus; the Persians, Peucestes; the Babylonians, Archon; the PelasgiansArcesilaus, Mesopotamia."
By removing one (apparently meaningless) word and slightly altering the punctuation, five satraps now match the satrapy allotted to them in Diodorus. However, it is clear that the problems with this passage are more extensive, and cannot be easily resolved.
There are four ancient sources that describe the Partition of Babylon. The only complete account is Diodorus Siculus's Bibliotheca historica, which was also the first to be written, c. 40 BC, and should thus be considered the more reliable source.
The Byzantine bishop Photius (c.820–893) produced an epitome of 279 books in his Bibliotheca, which contains two relevant (but much abbreviated) accounts. The first is Arrian's Continuation or After Alexander (codex 92). The second is Dexippus's History of events after Alexander (codex 82), which itself seems to be based on Arrian's account; compare Arrian:
"Cappadocia, Paphlagonia, and the country on the shore of the Euxine as far as Trapezus (a Greek colony from Sinope), to Eumenes"
"Eumenes Cappadocia, Paphlagonia, and the shores of the Euxine as far as Trapezus (Trebizond)".
However, the epitome of Dexippus contains some information which was presumably excerpted from the epitome of Arrian.
The final source is Justin's epitome of Pompeius Trogus's Phillipic History, which is probably the latest source and diverges from the other sources, seemingly containing several obvious mistakes.
All the latter sources seem to have read (and to an extent copied) Diodorus, or the most likely source of Diodorus's list, Hieronymus of Cardia. One passage in particular (see below) is very similarly worded in all accounts, although ironically this same passage contains most of the ambiguities that are to be found.
- Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri III, 6)
- Livius article of Nearchus
- Green, p35
- Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri IV, 23)
- Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri VII, 4)
- Green, pp xxiv–xxviii
- Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca Historia XVIII, 3
- Photius, Bibliotheca
- Arrian, Continuation (codex 92)
- Dexippus, History (codex 82)
- Justin, Epitome of Phillipic History, Book XIII
Read in another language
This page is available in 11 languages