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Successful Mediocrity: The Career of Polyperchon

Successful Mediocrity: The Career of Polyperchon SYLLECTA CLASSICA 25 (2014): 1­31 SUCCESSFUL MEDIOCRITY: THE CAREER OF POLYPERCHON Elizabeth D. Carney Justin (13.1.12­13) famously admired the qualities of Alexander's generals, observing "For never before that time did Macedonia, or indeed any other nation, produce so rich a crop of brilliant men, men who had been picked out with such care, first by Philip and then by Alexander, that they seemed chosen less as comrades in arms than as successors to the throne" (Yardley 1994, 123­24). Like Alexander, many of the officers who marched east with him demonstrated mental toughness, political ruthlessness, and military competence. Polyperchon, son of Simmias, proved a partial exception. Though Polyperchon also acted with ruthless violence on occasion, compared to many of the other Successors, he demonstrated modest (or worse) command skills. Perhaps more striking, at moments of military and political crisis, he appeared to second guess himself or perhaps suffer a failure of nerve; neither reaction was a common or forgivable failing, on the face of it, in the Macedonian elite. Waldemar Heckel memorably judged him "a jackal among lions" (1992, 188). Other scholars have described Polyperchon in similarly slighting terms.1 Yet first Alexander--the very man Justin claims chose his leaders http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Syllecta Classica Department of Classics @ the University of Iowa

Successful Mediocrity: The Career of Polyperchon

Syllecta Classica , Volume 25 (25) – May 14, 2014

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Department of Classics @ the University of Iowa
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Copyright © The University of Iowa
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2160-5157
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Abstract

SYLLECTA CLASSICA 25 (2014): 1­31 SUCCESSFUL MEDIOCRITY: THE CAREER OF POLYPERCHON Elizabeth D. Carney Justin (13.1.12­13) famously admired the qualities of Alexander's generals, observing "For never before that time did Macedonia, or indeed any other nation, produce so rich a crop of brilliant men, men who had been picked out with such care, first by Philip and then by Alexander, that they seemed chosen less as comrades in arms than as successors to the throne" (Yardley 1994, 123­24). Like Alexander, many of the officers who marched east with him demonstrated mental toughness, political ruthlessness, and military competence. Polyperchon, son of Simmias, proved a partial exception. Though Polyperchon also acted with ruthless violence on occasion, compared to many of the other Successors, he demonstrated modest (or worse) command skills. Perhaps more striking, at moments of military and political crisis, he appeared to second guess himself or perhaps suffer a failure of nerve; neither reaction was a common or forgivable failing, on the face of it, in the Macedonian elite. Waldemar Heckel memorably judged him "a jackal among lions" (1992, 188). Other scholars have described Polyperchon in similarly slighting terms.1 Yet first Alexander--the very man Justin claims chose his leaders

Journal

Syllecta ClassicaDepartment of Classics @ the University of Iowa

Published: May 14, 2014

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