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This page is part of the "tools" section of a site, Plato and his dialogues, dedicated to developing a new interpretation of Plato's dialogues. The "tools" section provides historical and geographical context (chronology, maps, entries on characters and locations) for Socrates, Plato and their time. For more information on the structure of entries and links available from them, read the notice at the beginning of the index of persons and locations.
Archelaus, taken by Plato/Socrates as an example of
a tyrant who cannot be happy because of his injustice in the discussion with
Polus in the Gorgias (Gorgias,
470d, sq), was king of Macedon from
the death of his father Perdiccas II
in 413 to around 400.
Being in fact the son of the king by a slave woman, he was not supposed to inherit
the kingship and had to dispose of his uncle and his half-brother, the legitimate
successor, by having them assassinated, in order to reach the throne (as Polus
tells us in the above quoted section).
Despite this fact, he seems to have been a good king, initiating the rise of Macedon that would eventually culminate less than a century later with his successors Philip and Alexander the Great (see Thucydides, II, 100, 2). His court in Pella was brilliant and he attracted there such famous figures as Euripides (who spent there the last years of his life and died there in 406) and Agathon (the tragic poet at whose house Plato's Symposium takes place).
During Archelaus' reign, Macedon was in good terms with Athens. He was assassinated in 399 and it is not until Philip reached the throne in 359 (he too by getting rid of the legitimate son of his defunct brother, king Perdiccas III, while assuming the regency), that Macedon again became a noteworthy kingdom.