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Demetrius I of Macedon

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Demetrius I (337-283 BC), surnamed Poliorcetes ("Besieger"), son of Antigonus I Monophthalmus and Stratonice, was a king of Macedon (294 - 288 BC). He belonged to the Antigonid dynasty.

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Bust of Demetrius I of Macedon

At the age of twenty-two he was left by his father to defend Syria against Ptolemy the son of Lagus; he was totally defeated in Battle of Gaza, but soon partially repaired his loss by a victory in the neighbourhood of Myus.

After an unsuccessful expedition against Babylon, and several campaigns against Ptolemy on the coasts of Cilicia and Cyprus, Demetrius sailed with a fleet of 250 ships to Athens. He freed the city from the power of Cassander and Ptolemy, expelled the garrison which had been stationed there under Demetrius of Phalerum, and besieged and took Munychia (307 BC). After these victories he was worshipped by the Athenians as a tutelary deity under the title of Soter ("Preserver").

In the campaign of 306 BC against Ptolemy he defeated Menelaus, Ptolemy's brother, in the naval Battle of Salamis, completely destroying the naval power of Egypt. In 305 BC, now bearing the title of king bestowed upon him by his father, he endeavoured to punish the Rhodians for having deserted his cause; his ingenuity in devising new instruments of siege in his unsuccessful attempt to reduce the capital gained him the appellation of Poliorcetes.

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Head of Demetrius I Poliorcetes (337-283 BC)

He returned a second time to Greece as liberator. But his licentiousness and extravagance made the Athenians long for the government of Cassander. He also roused the jealousy of Alexander's Diadochi; Seleucus, Cassander and Lysimachus united to destroy him and his father. The hostile armies met at the Ipsus in Phrygia (301 BC). Antigonus was killed, and Demetrius, after sustaining a severe losses, retired to Ephesus. This reversal of fortune stirred up many enemies against him—the Athenians refused even to admit him into their city. But he soon afterwards ravaged the territory of Lysimachus and effected a reconciliation with Seleucus, to whom he gave his daughter Stratonice in marriage. Athens was at this time oppressed by the tyranny of Lachares, but Demetrius, after a protracted blockade, gained possession of the city (294 BC) and pardoned the inhabitants for their former misconduct.

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In the same year he established himself on the throne of Macedonia by murdering Antipater II, the son of Cassander. But his new position was continually threatened by Pyrrhus, who took advantage of his occasional absence to ravage the defenceless part of his kingdom (Plutarch, Pyrrhus, 7 if.); at length, the combined forces of Pyrrhus, Ptolemy and Lysimachus, assisted by the disaffected among his own subjects, obliged him to leave Macedonia in 288 BC.

He passed into Asia and attacked some of the provinces of Lysimachus with varying success. Famine and pestilence destroyed the greater part of his army, and he solicited Seleucus' support and assistance. But before he reached Syria hostilities broke out, and after he had gained some advantages over his son-in-law, Demetrius was totally forsaken by his troops on the field of battle and surrendered to Seleucus. His son Antigonus offered all his possessions, and even his person, in order to procure his father's liberty. But all proved unavailing, and Demetrius died after a confinement of three years (283 BC). His remains were given to Antigonus and honoured with a splendid funeral at Corinth. His descendants remained in possession of the Macedonian throne till the time of Perseus, when Macedon was conquered by the Romans.



Preceded by:
Antigonus I Monophthalmus
Antigonid dynasty
Succeeded by:
Antigonus II Gonatas
Preceded by:
Antipater II of Macedon
King of Macedon
294 BC288 BC
Succeeded by:
Lysimachus and Pyrrhus of Epirus

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