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The Sons of Andromenes

Andromenes, a nobleman from Tymphaia and an otherwise unknown officer in Philip’s army, had four sons (that we know of): Amyntas, Simmias, Attalus and Polemon. We don’t know for sure the relative ages of the four brothers, except that Polemon was the youngest (this being made clear during the events following the Philotas affair, see below). However, we can reasonably assume that Amyntas was the eldest, as he was the taxiarch of his regional battalion of pezhetairoi – such a position as one might reasonably expect to be held by the eldest son.

Simmias, probably the second son (see Heckel, “Marshals”) only appears in Alexander’s history at Gaugamela, where he acted as taxiarch of the pezhetairoi battalion in place of Amyntas, who had been sent to Macedonia to collect reinforcements. If Attalus were fulfilling an important role in the hypaspists, it is reasonable that Simmias, as the second son, should take command – but I would suggest that he must have been a senior logarchos in the battalion prior to Gaugamela, in order to be known and respected enough to fill his brother’s shoes.

As it was, it was Simmias’ battalion that failed to keep pace with that of Polyperchon, thus creating the gap which the Persians exploited, sending through a charge of Indian cavalry to harass Alexander’s ‘camp’. I don’t believe Simmias can be blamed for this, as the other battalions pressed forward too fast. There is also no indication that his battalion lost its own cohesion, and it stuck fast to Craterus’ on the far left of the phalanx; and so Simmias cannot be accused of poor leadership. Whichever course he chose the gap would have opened – Polyperchon might have lagged and created a gap between his and Meleager’s battalions; or Craterus might have kept up, creating a gap between the left of the phalanx and the left wing cavalry. Certainly Alexander appears to have taken no immediate disciplinary action against him. However, after Amyntas’ death it was Attalus who took over the battalion, so if Simmias didn’t die around 330/329, then it might be that he was passed over as a punishment for Gaugamela, in favour of his younger brother. Simmias is certainly not mentioned again after the Philotas affair. It is possible, though unlikely, that he was still alive in 323, serving with Antipater in the Lamian War.

Attalus was probably the third son, and most likely born around the same time as Alexander, as he was one of Alexander’s syntrophoi. He was already a hypaspist in 336, most probably in the royal battalion, as he was one of the armed and ready men who ran Pausanias to earth after the death of Philip.

The sons of Andromenes take centre stage for a short while in Alexander’s history, after the death of Philotas. During Philotas’ trial, according to Curtius, Amyntas made an untactful remark which almost lost Alexander the case almost as soon as it had begun. Following the trial, whether or not helped by Amyntas’ gaff, suspicion fell on the four brothers after Polemon, the youngest, fled from the camp. Amyntas was known to have been friendly with Philotas, and had been educated with Amyntas son of Perdiccus (Alexander’s cousin, executed 336); and there were enough people suddenly prepared to come forward with tales that might have caused problems for the brothers.

Amyntas argued their case well enough, and proved his loyalty by asking permission to bring back Polemon. However, Polemon returned at that point (either of his own volition, or having been captured by a patrol, depending on which source you read), and offered himself up for justice. Convinced then of their loyalty, Alexander forced Amyntas, Attalus and Simmias to forgive Polemon, and restored the four of them to (at least relative) favour.

Unfortunately for Amyntas, he died shortly afterwards, in battle. It isn’t clear exactly when this happened – it was possibly a few months later, during the early fighting in Sogdia.

Attalus led the Tymphaian battalion after Amyntas’ death, in Bactria in 328; and he was with Craterus in Sogdia in Spring 327, mopping up the final resistance before the army descended on India. He accompanied Craterus through Arachosia and Drangiana in 325, and therefore missed the fun in the Makran desert. He was linked with Meleager after Alexander’s death, but was induced to betray Meleager and join Perdiccus’ forces (by an offer to marry Perdiccus’ sister). He was sent to rescue Alexander’s funeral cortege from Ptolemy, but failed; and he was able to escape from Egypt after Perdiccus’ death, thereafter operating in the Levant before being captured by Antigonus. He tried to escape imprisonment but ended up being besieged in a Syrian fortress. When the fortress fell he was executed; or, if he survived the aftermath of the siege, he probably died soon afterwards.

As for Polemon, again we hear nothing more of him before Alexander’s death. He accompanied Attalus in following Perdiccus after Alexander’s death; and he died, or was executed, around the same time as his brother.

Written by marcus