Amastris’ life was never dull, and never easy. Born a Princess of Persia, her uncle was King Darius III, who was defeated in battle by Alexander the Great. Suddenly the royal women of Persia became the spoils of war.
Macedonian conqueror Alexander offered Amastris in marriage to his general Craterus. A ceremony took place known as the Susa Weddings – Amastris and her cousins, the noblewomen of Persia, were married off to Alexander’s Macedonian officers in a mass wedding between 80 couples.
After Alexander died, almost every Macedonian divorced his Persian wife, and Craterus was no different, choosing to marry Phila, one of his own countrywomen. Amastris was sent to live with Dionysius, tyrant of Herculea Pontica.
Dionysius and Amastris were married in 322 BCE. It was a union which lasted sixteen years and produced three children. While Dionysius was described as a ‘good’ and ‘mild’ ruler, he ‘gave himself up to a life of continual luxury’ and apparently became overweight and lazy.
It was Amastris who took charge, supervising the education of her children and the administration of Herculea. When Dionysius died aged 55, he left his wife as head of the government.
The widowed Queen attempted a third marriage, this time to Greek soldier Lysimachus, who supposedly had great affection for her as well as her kingdom. However, greater things beckoned and Lysimachus left Amastris to marry Arsinoë II, princess of Egypt.
Likely very sick of marrying Macedonians by now, Amastris decided to return to Herculea and rule alone. Though she hadn’t been able to keep a husband, Amastris was very effective at keeping hold of her territories.
Sadly, Amastris life ended in tragedy. When her sons reached maturity, they somehow had cause to drown their mother, by sinking a ship she was on. The brothers were apparently cruel rulers, and when Amastris’ third husband, Lysimachus heard of her murder, he returned to Herculea and had her sons killed for matricide.
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