Alexander of Pherae

Alexander, tagus or despot of Pherae in Thessaly, ruled from 369 BC to 358 BC. He was the son and successor of the tyrant Jason of Pherae, who was assassinated in 370 BC.

Alexander's tyranny caused the Aleuadae of Larissa to invoke the aid of Alexander II of Macedon, whose intervention was successful, but after the Macedonian withdrawal Alexander treated his subjects as cruelly as before. The Thessalians next applied to Thebes; Pelopidas, who was sent to their assistance, was treacherously seized and thrown into prison (368), and it was necessary to send Epaminondas with a large army to secure his release. Alexander's conduct caused renewed intervention; in 364 he was defeated at Cynoscephalae by the Thebans, although the victory was dearly bought by the loss of Pelopidas, who fell in the battle.

Alexander was at last crushed by the Thebans, compelled to acknowledge the freedom of the Thessalian cities and to limit his rule to Pherae, and forced to join the Boeotian league. He was murdered by his wife's brother at her instigation. Ancient accounts, such as Plutarch's Life of Pelopidas, agree in describing Alexander as a cruel and suspicious tyrant:

Alexander, the tyrant of Pherae (this last should be his only appellation; he should not be permitted to disgrace the name of Alexander), as he watched a tragic actor, felt himself much moved to pity through enjoyment of the acting. He jumped up, therefore, and left the theatre at a rapid pace, exclaiming that it would be a dreadful thing, if, when he was slaughtering so many citizens, he should be seen to weep over the sufferings of Hecuba and Polyxena. And he came near visiting punishment upon the actor because the man had softened his heart, as iron in the fire.

—Plutarch, Moralia: "On the Fortune of Alexander."

Jason of Pherae


This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.
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