The Graham Phillips Website
King Philip II
Prince Alexander
Queen Olympias
In the early fourth century BC Macedonia rose to prominence as Europe’s most powerful nation.  Although ethnically distinct from the Greek realms to the south, Macedonia had absorbed much of Greek culture and even spoke its language.  The Greek world had reached a zenith of civilization over a hundred years before.  However, by the time Alexander’s father Philip II came to the Macedonian throne in 359 BC, Greece was a collection of declining city-states.  Philip had ambitions to unite them into a single kingdom under Macedonian control and one man above all others helped him realize this goal: his senior general Antipater.
No one played a greater role in shaping Alexander’s early life than Antipater. He was intimate with the royal family and had a close personal friendship with Philips’ wife, Queen Olympias.  When Alexander was born in 356 BC, some even suspected that Antipater was the true father. He certainly showed a keen interest in Alexander’s education, helped shape his military genius and eventually secured him the throne.
By 336 Philip had gained control over much of Greece.  However, in October that year he was murdered by his chief bodyguard.  It was never proved whether or not the assassin acted alone but the murder left the country on the brink of civil war.  It was Antipater who made sure Alexander became king by mustering the army behind the 21-year-old prince and saw to the elimination of rival claimants.  He was rewarded by being appointed supreme commander of all the Macedonian forces in Europe.
In 334 BC, when Alexander began his twelve-year campaign to conquer the Persian Empire, Antipater remained behind as governor to secure the home front.  During this time Olympias’ relations with Antipater progressively deteriorated and she eventually began to write to her son accusing him of conspiracy.  For a long time Alexander ignored her, but on his return to Babylon he decided to summon Antipater to court to answer the charges.  Antipater refused to go, claiming that he needed to remain in Europe as he feared a rebellion in Greece.  Instead, he sent son Cassander as an emissary to explain his absence and to refute Olympias’ allegations.  Ancient writers, such as the Greek historian Plutarch, referred to rumors some years later that Cassander was also sent with a contingency plan to assassinate Alexander if he failed to convince him of his father’s innocence, and that his brother Iolas, the royal butler, was ultimately instructed to poison the king.  Were these rumors true?  Was Antipater behind Alexander’s death?