Demetrius the Besieger

ISBN : 9780198836049

Pat Wheatley; Charlotte Dunn
528 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Apr 2020
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Demetrius the Besieger offers the first historical and historiographical biography of Demetrius Poliorcetes (336-282 BC) to be published in English. Also known as 'The Besieger of Cities', Demetrius is an outstanding, yet enigmatic figure who presided over the disintegration of Alexander the Great's Empire after 323 BC, and the most fascinating and high profile of the Diadochoi, or Successors to Alexander the Great. His campaigns, initiatives, and personal life bestride the opening forty years of the so-called 'Hellenistic' age and are pivotal in its formation as he became the first of the Hellenistic Kings.

As his name suggests, Demetrius was prodigious in his military adventures, and profligate in his private life, rendering him an icon for artists, writers, politicians, and soldiers for many centuries. He was especially famous for his spectacular siege operations against enemy cities, and gained his unique nickname from his innovation in building gigantic siege engines, which became legendary in the ancient world. However, much of Demetrius' life was enigmatic, oscillating wildly between successful and catastrophic ventures, and his intrinsic qualities remain debatable to this day. What is indisputable is that he presided over a formative period in history marked by great flux and enormous change. His endeavours resulted in the fusion of Asiatic and Greek cultures, producing the hybrid Hellenistic kingdoms which dominated the ancient world for some 200 years until the rise of the Roman Empire. The period is of crucial importance in ancient Greek history, and marks the point from which Hellenistic influence became fundamental in the development of modern Western culture.


List of Maps and Figures

List of Abbreviations


1 The Young Demetrius Poliorcetes

2 Demetrius and Phila

3 A Diadoch's Apprenticeship

4 Demetrius in Syria, 315-312 BC

5 The Battle of Gaza

6 The Aftermath of Gaza

7 Demetrius in Babylonia

8 The Silent Years: 310-308 BC

9 The Antigonid 'Liberation' of Athens in 307 BC

10 Demetrius in Athens

11 The Antigonid Campaign in Cyprus, 306 BC

12 The Fruits of Victory: Kingship, Lamia, Africa

13 The Great Siege of Rhodes

14 Demetrius' Return to Greece, 304-303 BC

15 The Mysteries and the League

16 The Campaign of Ipsus

17 Demetrius' Flight

18 The Besieger Alone

19 Demetrius and Athens. Again

20 The Acquisition of Macedonia

21 King of the Macedonians

22 Demetrius the Living God

23 A New Anabasis?

24 Wolves at the Door: 288-285 BC

25 Demetrius' Fortunes Unravel

26 The Final Campaign

27 The End of the Reign of Demetrius Poliorcetes

28 Conclusion


Appendix 1: The Colossus of Rhodes

Appendix 2: Chronology of the Life of Demetrius Poliorcetes (336-282 BC)

About the author: 

Pat Wheatley is Associate Professor of Classics and Ancient History at the University of Otago, New Zealand. His research specialty is the history and historiography of the Successors to Alexander the Great, and he has published extensively on the chronology, coinage, and social aspects of this period.; Charlotte Dunn is a researcher in Hellenistic Studies at the University of Otago, New Zealand, where she received her PhD in 2017. Her research interests include the life of Alexander the Great and his Successors, especially the propaganda and political manipulations that these men used to secure power.

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