Marble bust of Claudia Olympias.

Olympias was the wife of Philip II, king of Macedonia, and mother of Alexander the Great. Claudia Olympias was the daughter of Neoptolemus I, king of Epirus. She was a woman of great vigor and capacity, but was passionate, jealous, and ambitious.


When Philip married Cleopatra, niece of Attalus, Olympias left Macedonia, and was believed to have instigated his assassination by Pausanius (337 BC). On the accession of Alexander she returned to Macedonia, and brought about the murder of Cleopatra and her daughter. Alexander treated her with respect, but he never allowed her to meddle with his political schemes. After his death she obtained the support of Polysperchon, and in 317 the pair defeated and put to death Philip Arrhidaeus, the weak-minded step-brother and successor of Alexander, together with his wife Eurydice. Her cruelties soon alienated the minds of the people, whereupon Cassander besieged her in Pyda, and on its surrender put her to death, 316 BC.