Statira III (fl. 324 BCE)

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Statira III (fl. 324 bce)

Macedonian queen. Name variations: Stateira. Flourished around 324 bce; daughter of Darius III Codomannus, king of Persia, and Statira II (c. 360–331 bce); sister of Drypetis; married Alexander III the Great (356–323 bce), in 324 bce.

Daughter of Darius III, king of Persia, and Statira II , Statira III accompanied her father (and family) when he advanced against Alexander III the Great during the campaign which ended in the Persian defeat at the Battle of Issus (333 bce). Thus, along with the rest of her family, except her father, Statira fell captive to the Macedonian conqueror. Although Darius attempted to ransom his family, Alexander refused to set any of his captives free, preferring to play the royal host to very valuable pawns. In 330, Darius was murdered by some of his own generals, although it still took Alexander several years before he was able to douse the last of Persia's resistance to his rule. During this time Statira III and her family (except her mother, who had died in captivity) remained in Alexander's hands.

By 324, Alexander had pacified most of his conquered empire. In an attempt to accommodate the Persian nobility, Alexander married Statira at a ceremony at Susa (amid sumptuous surroundings) which also saw some 90 Macedonian officers married to the daughters of Persian aristocrats. At this event, Alexander's bosom friend, Hephaestion, married Statira's sister Drypetis , in order that their anticipated offspring might be cousins. This was not Alexander's first marriage, for he had previously married a Bactrian (modern Afghani) princess named Roxane , so Statira was introduced into a polygamous household. Nor was she the last wife taken by Alexander, for shortly after her wedding, Alexander also wed Parysatis II , the daughter of Artaxerxes III, a royal predecessor of Darius. Alexander's marriages to Statira and Parysatis were political, for by taking these women as wives, he laid claim to the pedigrees of Persia's last two Achaemenid kings.

A little more than a year after the Susa marriages, the future lay in tatters: Hephaestion had drunk himself to death, and so had Alexander (although in the latter case there were other contributing factors). Immediately after Alexander died, the ruthless and pregnant Roxane had Statira III and Parysatis II put to death, lest the Persians rally around either princess and threaten the legitimacy of the child (Alexander IV) gestating in her womb.

William Greenwalt , Associate Professor of Classical History, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California