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Journal of Ancient History

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Alexander’s Satraps of Media

John Hyland
Published Online: 2013-11-01 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jah-2013-0008


After the conquest of the Achaemenid empire, Alexander of Macedon entrusted numerous provinces to Iranian satraps, many of whom had administrative experience under the earlier Persian kings. Modern scholarship has highlighted Alexander’s subsequent elimination of Iranian governors and replacement of most with Macedonians or Greeks, explaining the retention of a handful as the result of their superior loyalty. This study differs by exploring the Iranian satraps’ agency in obtaining and preserving authority under the new regime. It focuses on Oxydates and Atropates, the governors of the strategic province of Media, and the reasons for the former’s removal and the latter’s long-term success. While logistical and military support of Alexander was a prerequisite for survival, even more significant was the denunciation of rivals for military failures or disloyalty. Oxydates probably succumbed to charges by fellow Iranian nobles, but Atropates orchestrated complaints against the Macedonian generals in Media and profited greatly from their execution, winning royal favor and an advantageous marriage alliance in Alexander’s court. The deaths of Hephaestion and Alexander contributed to the reduction of Atropates’ satrapal position, but his skillful opportunism culminated in the foundation of a new kingdom in the era of the Successors.

Keywords: Alexander,; Achaemenid Persia,; satraps,; Media,; Oxydates,; Atropates


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About the article

John Hyland

Published Online: 2013-11-01

Published in Print: 2013-11-01

Citation Information: Journal of Ancient History, Volume 1, Issue 2, Pages 119–144, ISSN (Online) 2324-8114, ISSN (Print) 2324-8106, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jah-2013-0008.

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