The day after Alexander’s death there was a sad assembly in the palace. All the Macedonian generals sat there in silence and dismay, gazing at the empty golden throne, upon which Perdiccas had solemnly laid the royal signet ring. Who was to take the place of the king whose military genius and great conquests had won for him the title of “Great”? It is true that Alexander had a half-brother, named Arridaeus, but he was weakminded. The only other heir was an infant son, born shortly after his father’s death.
The generals gravely talked the matter over, and finally said that Arridaeus and the child should be publicly named successors of the dead king, while four of their own number should be appointed guardians of the princes, and regents of the vast realm. This decision was considered wise, and the kingdom of Alexander was divided into thirty-three provinces, each governed by a Macedonian officer, who was to hold it in the name of Arridaeus and of the child.
In dying, Alexander had foretold that his funeral would be followed by bloodshed, and this prediction came true. The generals who had met so solemnly around the empty throne soon became dissatisfied at being only governors, and each wanted to be king in his own right, of the land intrusted to his care.
Perdiccas, having received Alexander’s signet ring from his dying hand, was, of course, their leader, and took under his own protection the infant king and the Persian mother Roxana. He fancied that it would thus be an easy matter to keep the power in his own hands, and to govern the vast realm as he pleased. But Antipater, governor of Macedon, no sooner heard that Alexander was dead, than he placed the idiot Arridaeus on the throne, proclaimed him king, and began to rule as if he were the only regent.
The other Macedonian generals daily claimed new rights, which Perdiccas was forced to grant in order to pacify them; but when it was too late, he found out how mistaken he had been, and regretted that he had yielded to their demands. The various governors, never satisfied with the honors given them, were not only suspicious of each other, but particularly jealous of Perdiccas, the head of the realm. In their envy, they rose up against him; and for many years Perdiccas was forced to hold his own against them all, while trying to make his way back to Macedon, where he wanted to place Alexander’s son upon the throne.