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Philip II

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Philip II (Greek: φλλιππος Β'; 382-336 BC) was a Macedonian king who reigned from 359 BC. Philip II went down in history mainly as the father of Alexander the Great, although he fulfilled the most difficult initial task of strengthening the Macedonian state and actually uniting Greece within the framework of the Corinthian Union. Later, his son took advantage of the strong, battle-hardened army formed by Philip to create his vast empire.

Bust of Philip II of Macedon

Rise to power

Philip II was born in Pella, the capital of ancient Macedonia, in 382 BC. His father was King Amyntas III, and his mother Eurydice was descended from a noble Linkestid family that ruled independently for a long time in northwestern Macedonia. After the death of Amyntas III, Macedonia slowly disintegrated under the onslaught of Thracian and Illyrian neighbors, and the Greeks also did not miss the opportunity to take over the weakening kingdom. Around 368-365 BC. Philip was held hostage in Thebes, where he got acquainted with the structure of the social life of Ancient Greece, learned the basics of military strategy and got acquainted with the great achievements of Hellenic culture. In 359 BC, the invading Illyrians captured part of Macedonia and defeated the Macedonian army, killing King Perdiccas III, Philip's brother, and 4 thousand more Macedonians. Perdiccas III's son, Amyntas IV, was raised to the throne, but because of his infancy, Philip became his guardian. Having begun to rule as a guardian, Philip soon won the trust of the army and, having removed the heir, became king of Macedonia at the age of 23 at a difficult time for the country.

Demonstrating an outstanding diplomatic talent, Philip quickly dealt with the enemies. He bribed the Thracian king and persuaded him to execute Pausanias, one of the pretenders to the throne. Then he defeated another contender, Argaeus, who enjoyed the support of Athens. To protect himself from Athens, Philip promised them Amphipolis, and thus saved Macedonia from internal troubles. Strengthened and strengthened, he soon took possession of Amphipolis, managed to establish control over the gold mines and began minting gold coins. Thanks to these funds, Philip created a large standing army, which was based on the famous Macedonian phalanx, but at the same time built a fleet, was one of the first to make extensive use of siege and throwing machines, and also skillfully resorted to bribery (his expression is known: "An ass loaded with gold will take any fortress"). This gave Philip great advantages: his neighbors on the one hand were unorganized barbarian tribes, on the other — the Greek polis world, which was in deep crisis, as well as the Persian Achaemenid Empire, which was already disintegrating at that time.

Silver tetradrachm of Philip II from the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki

Establishment of Macedonian hegemony

Philip entered Greece not as a conqueror, but at the invitation of the Greeks themselves, to punish the inhabitants of Amphissa in central Greece for unauthorized seizure of sacred lands. However, after the ruin of Amphissa, the king was in no hurry to leave Greece. He captured a number of cities from which he could easily threaten the main Greek states.

Thanks to the energetic efforts of Demosthenes, Philip's old opponent and now one of the leaders of Athens, an anti-Macedonian coalition was formed between a number of cities; Demosthenes ' efforts attracted the strongest of them — Thebes, which had hitherto been allied with Philip. The long-standing feud between Athens and Thebes has given way to a sense of danger from the increased power of Macedonia. The combined forces of these states tried to push the Macedonians out of Greece, but to no avail. In 338 BC, the decisive battle of Chaeronea took place, putting an end to the splendor and grandeur of ancient Hellas.

The defeated Greeks fled the battlefield. Anxiety, which almost turned into panic, took hold of Athens. To stop the desire to escape, the People's Assembly adopted a resolution according to which such actions were considered high treason and were punishable by death. The inhabitants began to vigorously strengthen the walls of the city, accumulate food, the entire male population was called up for military service, and freedom was promised to the slaves. However, Philip did not go to Attica, remembering the unsuccessful siege of Byzantium and the fleet of Athens in 360 trier. After dealing harshly with Thebes, he offered Athens relatively lenient terms of peace. The forced peace was accepted, although the mood of the Athenians is indicated by the words of the orator Lycurgus about those who fell on the fields of Chaeronea: "After all, when they lost their lives, Hellas was enslaved, and with their bodies the freedom of the rest of the Hellenes was buried."

Related topics

Ancient Greece, Corinthian Congress