d. 316 BC

Olympias was the daughter of the king of Epirus, wife of Philip II. of Macedon, and mother of Alexander the Great. It is said that Philip fell in love with her in Samothrace, where they were both being initiated into the mysteries. The marriage took place in 359 B.C., shortly after Philip's accession, and Alexander was born in 356. The fickleness of Philip and the jealous temper of Olympias led to a growing estrangement, which became complete when Philip married a new wife, Cleopatra, in 337 B.C.. Alexander, who sided with his mother, withdrew, along with her, into Epirus, whence they both returned in the following year, after the assassination of Philip, which Olympias is said to have countenanced. During the absence of Alexander, with whom she regularly corresponded on public as well as domestic affairs, she had great influence, and by her arrogance and ambition caused such trouble to the regent Antipater that on Alexander's death (323) she found it prudent to withdraw into Epirus. Here she remained until 317 B.C., when, allying herself with Polyperchon, Antipater's successor as regent of Macedonia, she took the field with an Epirote army; the opposing troops at once declared in her favour, and for a short period Olympias was mistress of Macedonia. Cassander, Antipater's son, hastened from Peloponnesus, and, after an obstinate siege, compelled the surrender of Pydna, where she had taken refuge. One of the terms of the capitulation had been that her life should be spared; but in spite of this she was brought to trial for the numerous and cruel executions of which she had been guilty during her short lease of power. Condemned without a hearing, she was put to death (316) by the friends of those whom she had slain, and Cassander is said to have denied her remains the rites of burial.

— Excerpted from 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Key events during the life of olympias:

359 BC
Marriage to Philip II of Macedonia.
356 BC
Birth of Alexander the Great.
337 BC
Remarriage of Phillip II to Cleopatra.
336 BC
Death of Philip II, by murder.
334 BC
Antipater, instead of Olympias, left as regent in Macedonia during Alexander's campaign.
323 BC
Withdrew to Pydna on death of Alexander.
317 BC
Allied with Polyperchon against Cassander. Put last living son of Philip II to death.
316 BC
Captured by Cassander and put to death.

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
Alexander's Childhood and Youth  in  Alexander the Great  by  Jacob Abbott
Great Victory  in  Alexander the Great  by  Jacob Abbott
Olympias and Antipater  in  Pyrrhus  by  Jacob Abbott

Image Links

Eurydice in Prison
 in Pyrrhus

Short Biography
Philip of Macedonia Used statesmanship as well as military force to bring Greece under sway of Macedonia.
Alexander the Great Greatest general of ancient times. Conquered Persian Empire with 40,000 soldiers.
Antipater One of Philip's most trusted generals. Left in charge of Macedonia during Alexander's conquests.
Polyperchon One of Alexander's Generals. Allied with Craterus and Antipater. Fought Cassander for control of Macedonia.
Cassander Son of Antipater. Wrestled control of Macedonia from Polyperchon. Enemy of Olympias.