On the death of his father (283), he assumed the title "king of Macedonia", but did not obtain possession of the throne until 276, after it had been successively in the hands of Pyrrhus, Lysimachus, Seleucus, and Ptolemy Ceraunus.
Ceraunus was killed by the invading Gauls in 279, and the Macedonian kingdom lapsed into anarchy for two years. Gonatas defeated an army of Gauls in 277, and then won him enough credit to claim the throne of Macedon.
He continued in undisputed possession of Macedonia till 274, when Pyrrhus returned from Italy. Pyrrhus launched an attack on the Macedonian army, then convinced it to support him rather than Gonatas. When Pyrrhus was killed adventuring in the Peloponnese in 272, Gonatas recovered his dominions. He was again (between. 263 and 255) driven out of the kingdom by Alexander, the son of Pyrrhus, and again recovered.
The latter part of his reign was comparatively peaceful, and he gained the affection of his subjects by his honesty and his cultivation of the arts. He gathered round him distinguished literary men — philosophers, poets, and historians. He died in the eightieth year of his age, and the forty-fourth of his reign. His surname "Gonatas", the meaning of which is lost, was usually derived by later Greek writers from the name of his supposed birthplace, Gonni (Gonnus) in Thessaly. More recent philologists suggest that it means "knock-kneed".
This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica. Please update as needed.