Parmenion (in Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

, Παρμενίων, ca. 400–Ecbatana
Ecbatana is supposed to be the capital of Astyages , which was taken by the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great in the sixth year of Nabonidus...

, 330 BC) was a Macedon
Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....

ian general in the service of Philip II of Macedon
Philip II of Macedon
Philip II of Macedon "friend" + ἵππος "horse" — transliterated ; 382 – 336 BC), was a king of Macedon from 359 BC until his assassination in 336 BC. He was the father of Alexander the Great and Philip III.-Biography:...

 and Alexander the Great, murdered on a suspected false charge of treason.

Parmenion was the son of a Macedonian nobleman Philotas
Philotas of Macedonia
For persons with the same name, see Philotas Philotas was a Macedonian soldier, father of Parmenion, the general of Alexander the Great...

. His early career is unknown. During the reign of Philip II Parmenion obtained a great victory over the Illyria
In classical antiquity, Illyria was a region in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula inhabited by the Illyrians....

ns in 356 BC; ten years later, Parmenion vanquished the town of Halos . He was one of the Macedonian delegates appointed to conclude peace with Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 in 346 BC, and was sent with an army to uphold Macedonian influence in Euboea
Euboea is the second largest Greek island in area and population, after Crete. The narrow Euripus Strait separates it from Boeotia in mainland Greece. In general outline it is a long and narrow, seahorse-shaped island; it is about long, and varies in breadth from to...

 in 342 BC.

Parmenion rose to become Philip's chief military lieutenant.

General of Alexander

In 336 BC Phillip II sent Parmenion, with Amyntas, Andromenes and Attalus
Attalus (general)
Attalus , important courtier of Macedonian king Philip II of Macedonia.In 339 BC, Attalus' niece Cleopatra Eurydice married king Philip II of Macedonia. In spring of 336 BC, Philip II appointed Attalus and Parmenion as commanders of the advance force that would invade the Persian Empire in Asia Minor...

 and an army of 10,000 men, to make preparations for the reduction of Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

. After Alexander was recognized as king in Macedonia Parmenion himself became Alexander's second in command of the army. He is said to have acted as a foil to his commander's innovative strategies, by expertly formulating the orthodox strategy. For instance, according to Arrian
Lucius Flavius Arrianus 'Xenophon , known in English as Arrian , and Arrian of Nicomedia, was a Roman historian, public servant, a military commander and a philosopher of the 2nd-century Roman period...

's Anabasis, at the Granicus
Battle of the Granicus
The Battle of the Granicus River in May 334 BC was the first of three major battles fought between Alexander the Great and the Persian Empire...

 Parmenion suggested delay before the attack, as the army had already marched all day as well as for other political and geographical issues. Alexander attacked across the river regardless of this counsel, and gained a victory nevertheless; however, Diodorus Sicules contradicts Arrian by stating clearly that Alexander accepted the advice. One historian, reconciling the accounts, has suggested that the Greeks were initially repulsed, and then stole a march on the Persians and crossed the river at night. This brought the Persian cavalry onto the field first against the Greeks the next morning, setting up a defeat in detail, as is reported in the accounts from that time. In sum, given the positions reported, either something like this occurred along with a royal cover-up, or the Persians were tactically incompetent. In any event, the outcome may have tempered any youthful brashness on the part of Alexander, for he proceeded very cautiously the next six months or so, almost dawdling as he liberated Greek cities in Asia Minor, and that muting of his aggressiveness is more in line with a near defeat.

The same source states Parmenion to have counseled a night attack in 331 BC on Darius's assembled superior forces at the Battle of Gaugamela
Battle of Gaugamela
The Battle of Gaugamela took place in 331 BC between Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia. The battle, which is also called the Battle of Arbela, resulted in a massive victory for the ancient Macedonians and led to the fall of the Achaemenid Empire.-Location:Darius chose a flat, open plain...

, which Alexander took as evidence that Darius would keep his troops at the ready through the night and offer the Macedonians some advantage if they rested for a battle in daylight.
Parmenion would continue to be a significant influence and commander up until the conquest of Babylon, commanding the left wing in both the battles of Issus
Battle of Issus
The Battle of Issus occurred in southern Anatolia, in November 333 BC. The invading troops, led by the young Alexander of Macedonia, defeated the army personally led by Darius III of Achaemenid Persia in the second great battle for primacy in Asia...

 and Gaugamela. A steady hand commanding the left was a critical part in the overall Macedonian scheme and philosophy of battle, allowing the king to strike the decisive blow.

Fall of Parmenion

After the conquest of Drangiana
Drangiana or Zarangiana was a historical region of the Achaemenid Empire. This region comprises territory around lake Hâmûn, wetlands in endorheic Sīstān basin on the Irano-Afghan-Pakistan border, and its primary watershed Helmand river in nowadays southwestern Afghanistan and the "Nok Kondi" of...

, Alexander was informed that Philotas
Philotas was the eldest son of Parmenion, Alexander's most experienced and talented general. When Alexander became king of Macedonia with Parmenion's support Philotas (in Greek, Φιλώτας, died October 330 BC) was the eldest son of Parmenion, Alexander's most experienced and talented general. When...

, son of Parmenion, was involved in a conspiracy against his life. Philotas was condemned by the army and put to death. Alexander, thinking it dangerous to allow the father to live, sent orders to Media
The MedesThe Medes...

 for the assassination of Parmenion. There was no proof that Parmenion was in any way implicated in the conspiracy, but he was not even afforded the opportunity of defending himself. In Alexander's defence, a disaffected Parmenion was a serious threat, especially since he was commanding an army and was stationed near Alexander's treasury and on his supply lines. Also, as head of Philotas' family Parmenion would have been held responsible for his actions, despite a lack of evidence connecting them to him. Alexander therefore acted swiftly, and sent three officers on racing camels, across the desert by the most direct route possible, to kill Parmenion. These agents got to Parmenion before he had heard any news, and stabbed him to death on the spot.


David Gemmell
David Gemmell
David Andrew Gemmell was a bestselling British author of heroic fantasy. A former journalist and newspaper editor, Gemmell had his first work of fiction published in 1984. He went on to write over thirty novels. Best known for his debut, Legend, Gemmell's works display violence, yet also explore...

's novels Lion of Macedon
Lion of Macedon
Lion of Macedon is a historic fantasy novel written by English author David Gemmell. It is the first of two books following the character Parmenion. The book was first published in 1990. The sequel, Dark Prince, was published in 1991. Parmenion is a Spartan in training but faces prejudice and...

and Dark Prince concern the life of Parmenion, although the fiction illustrates Parmenion as the son of a Spartan warrior and a Macedonian commoner and raised as a Spartan, though despised by his peers for his mixed blood. The story also suggests that Parmenion may have been Alexander's true father as opposed to Philip.

Steven Pressfield
Steven Pressfield
Steven Pressfield is an American novelist and author of screenplays, principally of military historical fiction set in classical antiquity...

's novel The Virtues Of War depicts Parmenion as a loyal and brilliant servant of Macedon and a personal friend of Alexander, who only once openly protests Alexander's orientalisation.

In the 2004 film Alexander
Alexander (film)
Alexander is a 2004 epic film based on the life of Alexander the Great. It is not a remake of the 1956 film which starred Richard Burton. It was directed by Oliver Stone, with Colin Farrell in the title role...

, directed by Oliver Stone
Oliver Stone
William Oliver Stone is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. Stone became well known in the late 1980s and the early 1990s for directing a series of films about the Vietnam War, for which he had previously participated as an infantry soldier. His work frequently focuses on...

, Parmenion (played by John Kavanagh) is depicted as a trusted but conservative commander and is slightly marginalised. His execution is performed (inaccurately) by Cleitus the Black.

The Hasbro board game Heroscape
Heroscape is an expandable turn-based miniature wargaming system originally manufactured by Milton Bradley Company, then shifted to Wizards of the Coast, both subsidiaries of Hasbro, Inc., and discontinued by Hasbro in November 2010...

includes a Parmenion figure.

Saying in English Language

You are thinking of Parmenio, and I of Alexander—i.e., you are thinking what you ought to receive, and I what I ought to give; you are thinking of those castigated, rewarded, or gifted; but I of my own position, and what punishment, reward, or gift is consistent with my rank. The allusion is to the tale about Parmenio and Alexander, when the king said, “I consider not what Parmenio should receive, but what Alexander should give.”

External links

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