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This paper gauges the social position and the role(s) played by noble Iranian women in the age of the Successors, learning whether and to what degree their gender and ethnic background made them less, more, or equally successful than noble Macedonian and Greek women. The cohort selected for the investigation is Rhoxane, the widow of Alexander the Great, and a group of Iranian noblewomen, who in spring of 323 BCE married Alexander's companions in a mass ceremony arranged by the king in Susa, namely Apama and Amastris. The paper focuses on the brides of Susa in a different way than has been the norm in modern scholarship which tends to look at them in the context of Alexander plans, his “medizing” policy and allegedly hostile reaction to it of Macedonian officers. It challenges the prevailing view (e.g. W.W. Tarn, "Queen Ptolemais and Apama", CQ 1929: 138-41; A.B. Bosworth, Conquest and Empire, 1988, 157; M. Brosius, Women in Ancient Persia, 1996,78) of the marginal role played by the brides of Susa in the age of Successors and their fast repudiation by their Greek and Macedonian husbands. Ultimately, because of the polygamous nature of Macedonian elite marriage in the late-4th c. BCE, the Macedonians did not have to divorce their Iranian wives to marry daughters of other Macedonian grandees.

This paper is based on standard literary sources (Arrian, Plutarch, Diodorus, Appian, Justin, Memnon), the Alexander Romance, New Comedy, Athenian and Milesian inscriptions, coins of Amastris and Oxyartes, father of Rhoxane, and a newly published mosaic from Apamea. By juxtaposing Rhoxane to Macedonian "powerful women" it intends to show that gender played a more important role than ethnicity in determining the results of the power struggle in the age of Successors. The case of Amastris shows that her Achaemenid pedigree was an important factor contributing to her independent position as queen of Herakleia Pontike, shown in the unique actions of founding a city and coining in her name. Further, Apama's role in founding Apamea in Syria testifies to her independent economic large-scale activity, modeled on patterns of behavior more typical of the aristocratic Iranian milieu than of late-classical Greece or Macedonia. The Milesian epigraphic dossier and other evidence speak to Apama's role in implementing the Seleukid strategy of linking the dynasty with important gods of their realm (Apollo of Didyma) and transforming the empire through the colonization and toponomastic policy. By studying the careers of the Iranian princesses this paper proposes a partial reversal of what is usually called Hellenization, i.e. a unilateral transfer of Greek lifestyle and cultural values to the elites of eastern peoples in the Hellenistic Age. It argues that the process of cultural transfer was multidirectional with the Iranian princesses coining, making gifts to Greek gods, founding Greek and Macedonian cities, becoming the first Hellenistic queens, and at the same time not abandoning their cultural background.