Philip II of Macedon

Posted on October 16, 2010


Though Alexander the Great pops up in any list of gay historical figures, his father Philip II doesn’t carry the same weight. Which maybe isn’t so surprising, since Philip doesn’t capture the imagination in quite the same way: his considerable military victories pale in comparison to his son’s, and his bisexuality is more a sign of the times and culture and can’t compare to Alexander’s devotion to his beloved Haephestion.

But, the most common story of Philip’s assassination in 336 when he was 46 that has been passed down over the years, is that it was a complicated revenge from a spurned lover. Despite the fact that the story is almost certainly just that, a story, the details at least confirm not just that Philip had relationships with men, but that they were publicly acknowledged. Apparently, one of Philip’s guard, a certain Pausaunias, who had become involved with Philip, started talking trash about a the new favorite, also named Pausaunias. When this second Pausaunias, to show his devotion to Philip, died heroically in battle to prove his loyalty to Philip, his friends were angry and got together and set-up the first Pausaunias, gang-raping him. When Philip failed to punish the men for their actions, Pausaunias the bodyguard took his revenge by murdering Philip.

Complicated, huh?

At any rate, it seems likely that there was a tradition of men having relationships with men – and not with an older/younger lover arrangement that lasts only until the younger man comes of age, but more on an equal basis – among the upper classes of Macedon at the time, which makes sense that Philip would have such openly acknowledged relationships with his guards. And also explains his son Alexander’s relationship with Haephestion.

An account of Philip’s assassination can be found here in an account by Diodorus. And there is a Wikipedia page on Philip, here.