Antigonos the One-Eyed:
And the Creation of the Hellenistic State

Richard A. Billows

University of California Press 1997
A book review by Danny Yee © 1997
Despite being sixty when Alexander the Great died, Antigonos the One-Eyed was among the foremost of his successors. For twenty years he fought over and ruled an area that included Greece, Asia Minor, Syria, and Mesopotamia, and his descendants were to rule Macedon. Billows begins his study of Antigonos with a brief sketch of what is known about him personally and a quick survey of the reign of Phillip II and the early years of Alexander's rule, leading up to Antigonos' appointment as satrap of Phrygia. He then narrates the wars of the diadochoi, Alexander's successors, down to 301 and Antigonos' death at the battle of Ipsos.

More technical is part two, which looks at particular aspects of Antigonos' policy: his relationships with the Greek cities, in Asia Minor and in Greece; his administration of the Asian part of his realm; and his economic and cultural policies and his foundation of new settlements. Billows argues that Antigonos' policies form an important link between those of the Achaemenids and Argeads and those of the Seleukids. Still more technical are the appendices: a study of the sources, a brief analysis of the numbers and origins of Antigonos' armed forces, and a long and detailed prosopography of his friends and subordinates.

Billows clearly admires Antigonos, but he admits this up front and it doesn't seem to have prevented him being objective. He is convincing when he argues that earlier studies have not paid due weight to Antigonos' achievements as an administrator and a ruler, and that he should not be appraised as an emulator of Alexander (especially since Phillip is a far more likely role model). But if Antigonos The One-Eyed is an valuable contribution to the scholarly literature on the period, it is also accessible to non-specialists. Its first section, in particular, is a readable political and military narrative that would be enjoyed by anyone attracted by Alexander and looking for an account of the fascinating period following his death.

September 1997

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%T Antigonos the One-Eyed
%S And the Creation of the Hellenistic State
%A Billows, Richard A.
%I University of California Press
%D 1997
%O paperback, bibliography, index
%G ISBN 0520208803
%P xix,515pp