Philinna (c. 380–after c. 356 BCE)

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Philinna (c. 380–after c. 356 bce)

Thessalian noblewoman. Born around 380 bce in Larissa in Thessaly; died after 356 bce; one of seven wives of Philip II, king of Macedon; children: (with an unnamed man) Amphimachus; (with Philip) Arrhidaeus. Philip's six other wives wereAudata , Olympias,Meda , Nicesipolis , Roxane andCleopatra of Macedon .

Philinna, from Larissa in Thessaly, was one of the seven wives of Philip II, king of Macedon, and the mother of Arrhidaeus and Amphimachus. Several ancient sources refer to her in derogatory terms ("common," "dancing girl," "whore"), but it is more likely that she was a legitimate wife of Philip rather than a brief acquaintance or a concubine. Philip probably married Philinna in order to secure an alliance with the Aleuadae, the family which dominated Larissan politics. (Larissa was strategically located in northern Thessaly, just to the south of Philip's realm). Philinna's reputation probably came to suffer only after the death of Philip (336 bce) as a result of slander propagated by the enemies of her son, Arrhidaeus, when he was being put forward as the king of Macedon over the son of Alexander III the Great (317 bce), who was Philip's son with Olympias .

When she married Philip, Philinna was probably a widow, for Arrian (our best source for the life and times of Alexander the Great) reports that Arrhidaeus had the forenamed brother Amphimachus who was manifestly not Philip's son. In 321 bce, this Amphimachus was given a satrapy (province) by the successors of Alexander the Great, a fact which suggests: 1) that he was old enough and respected enough in 321 to be given an important command, and thus, that Philinna could not have remarried after Philip's death and then given birth to Amphimachus; and 2) that Amphimachus was high enough born to warrant such a command, which he would not have been if Philinna was of low birth or a professional woman (concubine).

Exactly when Philinna and Philip married is unknown, but since Arrhidaeus was old enough for Philip to broker his marriage to the daughter of the Carian satrap (governor) Pixodarus in early 336 bce, when Philip was seeking a political toehold in Asia Minor as a prelude to his planned invasion of the Persian Empire, Arrhidaeus was probably at least 20 at the time. (Arrhidaeus never married Pixodarus' daughter because his paranoid half-brother, Alexander the Great, diplomatically intervened, much to Philip's anger.) Thus, Philip's marriage to Philinna probably took place no later than 357, or early in his reign.

Although Arrhidaeus was mentally incompetent (a trait not shared by Amphimachus), after Alexander the Great died (323) Arrhidaeus was hailed as Macedon's king, a position he shared for a time with Alexander IV, the posthumously born son of Alexander the Great and Roxane . One tradition has it that Alexander the Great's mother Olympias (c. 371–316 bce) was somehow to blame for Arrhidaeus' condition. This is doubtful, but Olympias was responsible for his death in 317 bce after open civil war pitted the faction supporting Arrhidaeus (led by his then wife Eurydice [c. 337–317 bce]) against that which championed Alexander IV.

What happened to Philinna after the birth of Arrhidaeus is unknown. It is also not known for sure whether Arrhidaeus or Alexander (born in 356 bce) was Philip's first-born son; the evidence, however, leans in favor of Alexander having been the older.

William S. S. , Associate Professor of Classical History, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California

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Philinna (c. 380–after c. 356 BCE)

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