The princess of Epirus, daughter of King Neoptolemos I, Olympias was married to Philip II, the King of Macedon. At first their marriage was satisfactory but after the birth of her son, Alexander (the Great), Olympias became increasingly willful. When her husband was murdered by an officer in his guard, a discarded lover, she had his new wife and her child put to death.
Her relationship with her son was profoundly possessive. She encouraged the rumor that Alexander had been conceived as the result of her impregnation by the Egyptian god Amun, in the form of a snake. There was also a story, derived from 'The Romance of Alexander', that his true father was Nectanebo II, the last native Egyptian king.
During her son's lifetime she harassed him unmercifully, intriguing against his officers whom he had left in charge of affairs in Macedon. After his death she attempted to consolidate her position by causing the murder of anyone whom she sensed was a rival. She was executed by Cassander, son of Antipater, in 316 B.C., seven years after the death of her son, having been tried by the army.
Back to Who's Who of Ancient Egypt
Last Updated: June 19th, 2011