PEUCESTAS

PEUCESTAS, officer under Alexander the Great on his campaign in Asia. First heard of in 326 BCE as a trierarch of the fleet on the Hydaspes River (Arrian, Indica 18.6), he attained prominence when he entered the city of the Malli with Alexander and saved his life when Alexander had fainted after being seriously wounded (Arr. Anabasis 6.9.3, 10.1-2; Curtius, 9.5.14-15) and was himself wounded (Curt., 9.5.17-18). The deed is frequently referred to later. He was rewarded by being appointed a supernumerary (eighth) Bodyguard (Arr., Anab. 6.28.3-4) and then entrusted with the key satrapy of Persis, where he gained favor by learning Persian and adopting local dress and customs (ibid., 6.30.2-3, 7.6.3). He was specially honored at Susa at the distribution of prizes to celebrate the official end of the campaign (ibid., 7.5.4). In Babylon, he joined Alexander with a large force, mainly of Persians (ibid., 7.23.1), and when Alexander fell ill he is said to have spent the night, along with other commanders, in a temple, to seek the god’s advice (ibid., 7.26.2).

After Alexander’s death he retained the satrapy of Persis in the various redistributions (Diod., 18.3.3, 39.6). With most of the other eastern satraps he joined Eumenes in 317, but was disappointed at not being given supreme command (ibid., 19.14.4-5, 15.1-4) and gradually distanced himself from Eumenes (ibid., 19.17.4-6, 28.3, 38.1-32), finally abandoning him in the crucial battle of Gabiene (ibid. 19.42.4, 43.2-5), no doubt hoping to win Antigonus’s favor. But Antigonus, after his victory and the death of Eumenes, removed Peucestas from his satrapy, where he was too popular, and seems to have kept him at his court without further employment (ibid., 48.5, 56.1). When Demetrius succeeded Antigonus, he was still there (Atheneus, 614 f. from Phylarchus), but he then disappears from history.

Bibliography:

W. Heckel, The Marshals of Alexander’s Empire, London and New York, 1992, pp. 263-67.

(Ernst Badian)

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