Cynane (Greek: Kυνάνη, Kynane or Κύνα, Kyna; killed 323 BC) was half-sister to Alexander the Great, and daughter of Philip II by Audata, an Illyrian princess. She is estimated to have been born in 357 BC.[1]

Princess of Macedon
c. 357 BC
Died323 BC (aged c. 34)
SpouseAmyntas IV of Macedon
FatherPhilip II of Macedon


According to Polyaenus, Audata trained her daughter in "the arts of war" in the Illyrian tradition. Cynane's father gave her in marriage to her cousin Amyntas, by whom she had a daughter and by whose death she was left a widow in 336 BC. In the following year Alexander promised her hand, as a reward for his services, to Langarus, king of the Agrianians, but the intended bridegroom became ill and died.

Cynane continued unmarried and employed herself in the education of her daughter, Adea or Eurydice, whom she is said to have trained, after the manner of her own education, in martial exercises. It was Eurydice who took command of Cynane's troops after her death.[2] When her half-brother Philip Arrhidaeus was chosen king in 323 BC, Cynane determined to marry Eurydice to him, and crossed over to Asia accordingly.

Out of all royal Macedonian women in the Hellenistic Period, Cynane was one of only three to fight on the front lines.[3] Macurdy claims that Cynane killed an Illyrian queen in battle and is, in fact, one of the only women recorded to have killed an enemy in battle.[4] She also defeated an army of the now dead Alexander the Great when facing Alcetas, brother of Perdiccas (the regent).[5]

Her influence was probably great, and her project to marry off Eurydice alarmed Perdiccas and Antipater, the former of whom sent his brother Alcetas to meet her on her way and put her to death. Alcetas did so in defiance of the feelings of his troops, and Cynane met her doom with an undaunted spirit. Upon her death, Alcetas' troops rioted and virtually ensured Eurydice's wedding took place, which was Cynane's ultimate goal.[6] Unfortunately, both daughter and son-in-law were eventually killed by Olympias. In 317 BC, Cassander, after defeating Olympias, buried Cynane with Eurydice and Arrhidaeus at Aegae, the royal burying-place.[7]

Polyaenus, half a millennium later, in the second century C.E., wrote:

Cynane, the daughter of Philip was famous for her military knowledge: she conducted armies, and in the field charged at the head of them. In an engagement with the Illyrians, she with her own hand slew Caeria their queen; and with great slaughter defeated the Illyrian army. She married Amyntas, son of Perdiccas; and, soon after losing him, never would take a second husband. By Amyntas she had an only daughter named Eurydice: to whom she gave a military education, and instructed her in the science of war. Upon Alexander’s death, in exclusion of the royal family, his generals parceling out his dominions among themselves, she crossed the Strymon; forcing her way in the face of Antipater, who disputed her passage over it. She then passed the Hellespont, to meet the Macedonian army: when Alcetas with a powerful force advanced to give her battle. The Macedonians at first paused at the sight of Philip’s daughter, and the sister of Alexander: while after reproaching Alcetas with ingratitude, undaunted at the number of his forces, and his formidable preparations for battle, she bravely engaged him; resolved upon a glorious death, rather than, stripped of her dominions, accept a private life, unworthy of the daughter of Philip.[8]


  1. ^ Greenwalt, William S. (1988). "The Marriageability Age at the Argead Court: 360-317 B.C.". The Classical World. 82 (2): 93–97. doi:10.2307/4350303. ISSN 0009-8418. JSTOR 4350303.
  2. ^ Loman, Pasi (April 2004). "No Woman No War: Women's Participation in Ancient Greek Warfare". Greece and Rome. 51 (1): 34–54. doi:10.1093/gr/51.1.34. ISSN 0017-3835.
  3. ^ Loman, Pasi (2004). "No Woman No War: Women's Participation in Ancient Greek Warfare". Greece & Rome. 51 (1): 34–54. doi:10.1093/gr/51.1.34. ISSN 0017-3835. JSTOR 3567878.
  4. ^ Macurdy, Grace H. (1927). "Queen Eurydice and the Evidence for Woman Power in Early Macedonia". The American Journal of Philology. 48 (3): 201–214. doi:10.2307/290125. ISSN 0002-9475. JSTOR 290125.
  5. ^ Loman, Pasi (2004). "No Woman No War: Women's Participation in Ancient Greek Warfare". Greece & Rome. 51 (1): 34–54. doi:10.1093/gr/51.1.34. ISSN 0017-3835. JSTOR 3567878.
  6. ^ Carney, Elizabeth (2000). Women and Monarchy in Macedonia. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 69–70. ISBN 9780806132129.
  7. ^ Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri, i. 5; Photius, Bibliotheca, cod. 92; Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae, xiii. 5; Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca, xix. 52; Polyaenus, Stratagemata, viii. 60; Aelian, Varia Historia, xiii. 36
  8. ^ Polyaenus (1793) [second century C.E.]. Strategematon [Stratagems of War]. Translated by E. Shepherd. Archived from the original on 4 March 2007. Retrieved 22 August 2020. (excerpts: those stratagems concerning Alexander and some of the Diadochi)

  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainSmith, William, ed. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. {{cite encyclopedia}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)