Cynane (pronounced "Kee-nah-nay") was an imposing figure with a dramatic effect on world history. The half-sister of Alexander the Great, she lived from around 357 to 323 BC and was a leading warrior of her time. This is a short summary of her large and impactful life.
Early Cynane: Martially Trained (almost) From Birth
Born the daughter-in-law of Princess Audata of Ilyria and King Philip II of Macedon, she was trained in martial arts from an early age also displayed a knack for military tactics, intelligence, and leadership.
Cynane joined the Macedonian army campaigns from an early age, where her training, military smarts and physical toughness quickly earned her fame in Macedonia and beyond as a tenacious warrior princess.
Given her status and military accomplishments, it wasn't long before tales of her battle skills, bravery and achievements spread throughout Macedonia and beyond.
Rising To Power: An Unfortunate Widow
When Alexander, then the prince of Macedonia, descended to the throne in 336BC, he swiftly moved to eliminate any rivals, which included his cousin Amyntas, who was married to our faithful Cynane. Alexander married her off as a political move a few years later -- but Cynane was less than pleased with the arranged marriage, and her new husband soon died under suspicious circumstances.
Much of Macedonian history focuses for the next decade or so on Alexander (now Alexander the Great) and his conquests, but around 323 BC -- the time of Alexander's death -- more information starts to emerge about Cynane.
Amid the chaos following the king's death, many power disputes erupted into turmoil and uncertainty. Cynane, being a prominent figure, well-respected and politically-savvy, recognised her chance to seize power.
However, contrary to most power seizures taken by force, Cynane chose a different path: marrying her 15-year-old daughter Aedea to Alexander's successor - the new king Philip Arrhidaeus III. With her daughter so close to the king, Cynane could now wield significant influence over the most powerful man in the empire.
Depiction of Alexander The Great (Credit: Wikipedia)
Death: A Friendship Turned Sour
During the power struggle, Cynane gathered significant support for her daughter (and through that, for herself) and formed a small army to mount against her rival, with whom she was once very close as he was a childhood friend.
Prior to a large battle, she berated him in front of his army, and history says he killed her then and there. And so ended the life of Cynane -- warrior princess and influencer of the royal court.
Despite the bitter rivalry, the Macedonian army looked in with horror when Cynane was killed - she was well-respected, and linked to the revered Alexander The Great. Enraged, angry and devastated at her death, the soldiers forced the General who had killed her -- along with others of influence -- to put her daughter on the throne (as she was campaigning for).
Representing Women: Cynane's Campaign for Equality
In a world dominated by men, Cynane also crusaded for women. Not content to tolerate equality or conform to traditional norms, she refused to be intimidated by men, physically, politically and intellectually, and held her own until the very end.
Despite her demise, she ultimately won the war: Her daughter Adea did ascened to the throne, married to the new king, and became Queen Eurydice, ruling for years to come and playing an important role in upcoming wars and ruling of the empire.