Philip of Macedon
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Philip of Macedon


Philip of MacedonPhilip of Macedon was the first conqueror of Greece, yet is more distinguished as the father of Alexander the Great. He was a younger son of King Amyntas, and was born in 382, B.C. At the age of fifteen he was sent as a hostage to Thebes, where be resided nearly three years, associated with Epaminondas and Pelopidas, and studied their military system, which had prevailed over that of Sparta. He succeeded his brother Perdiccas in 359, B.C, but his title was disputed by several other claimants of the throne.


Philip was by nature well qualified for command and ambitious enterprise, having a strong constitution, a noble and well formed physique, a ready eloquence, immense energy, fertility of invention, uncommon sagacity and consummate craft. He married Olympias, a daughter of Neoptolemus, King of Epirus, in 357. About 360, B.C., the Illyrians had gained a victory over King Perdiccas and occupied the western part of Macedonia. Philip defeated the Illyrians in a decisive battle in 359, and in the same year defeated and killed Argaeus, a pretender to the throne, and made a treaty of peace with the Athenians. Thus in one year he delivered himself from a difficult and dangerous position, and was ready to commence the aggressive wars which changed the little Macedonian monarchy into an empire.


He chose Pella for his capital, and fortified it. He organized his army on the plan of the phalanx, which had been originated by Epaminondas, and he armed and trained the Macedonians till they were superior to the troops of any Grecian State. The compact phalanx organized by him was invincible until it was opposed to the more flexible Roman legion. Though a master of the art of war, Philip advanced his interest and increased his power more by diplomacy, bribes, cajolery and craft than by force. He appears to have had an infinite fund of artifice taking advantage of the divided condition of Greece and of the general prevalence of corruption, he played off State against State and politician against politician. In 358 D.C., he captured the important town of Amphipolis. This was followed by the capture of Pydna and Potidaea, which were Athenian colonies. By the conquest of the coast of Thrace Philip became master of Tracian gold mines, from which he derived an annual revenue of 1,000 talents.


Thus far, Philip's conquests had been carried on in countries outside of Greece, yet they steadily approached it. He now 355 B.C. invaded Thessaly, the most northern Grecian State, and was defeated by Onomarchus in the first campaign but in 352 he was completely victorious, and annexed all of Thessaly to his kingdom. These conquests and aggressions soon involved him in war with the Athenians, still the leading State of Greece. In 352 D.C., Philip advanced to Thermopylae, but found that pass occupied by an Athenian army, and did not venture to attack it. His navy, however, damaged the commerce of Athens. The great orator, Demosthenes, now fully aware of the dangerous intentions of the King of Macedon, began to denounce Philip in his famous "Philippics," but the Athenian people were slow to take action against him, especially as the aristocratic party, led by the virtuous Phocion, accepted Philip's excuses.


But his aggressive designs were openly and unmistakably displayed in 350 D.C., when he began a war against Olynthus, which he took after a long siege in 347. The city was then destroyed, and thirty-one other free cities in Chalcidice shared its fate, while the wretched inhabitants were sold into slavery. The dispirited Athenians made overtures of peace and sent Demosthenes, with other orators: to negotiate with Philip a treaty of peace, which was concluded between Philip and the Athenians in 346.


Philip's ambitious projects were promoted by the civil war, called the Sacred War. The Thebans invited him to conduct this war against the impious Phocians, who had plundered the temple of Delphi, the common sanctuary of the Greeks. In a few weeks he defeated the Phocians, brought the Sacred War to an end, and obtained as his reward a seat in the Amphictyonic Council, the guardians of the religions affairs of the Greeks. At the same time was granted to him possession of Thermopylae, and he became the recognized leader of the Amphictyonic League. By his operations in the Sacred War his fame and popularity as the defender of religion were established. About 343 he invaded Eastern Thrace, threatening the Athenian possessions in that quarter, and aimed to obtain the command of the Bosphorus. His Continued aggressions again involved him in war against the Athenians. War was formally declared on both sides in 340 D.C. He besieged Perin thus and Byzantium in succession, but the Persians combined with Athens to resist him, and he was defeated partly by the Persian army and partly by the Athenian fleet. Waiting till the affairs of Greece should take a more favorable turn, he marched northward to the Danube in 339, and began a victorious campaign against a Scythian prince, who held the country now called Roumania.


Early in 339, B.C., the Amphictyonic Congress issued a decree against the Locrians of Amphissa. Athens and Thebes refused to join in the crusade against Amphissa,and the aid of Philip was invoked. Appointed by the Amphictyonic as their leader in the new Sacred War, Philip again passed through Thennopylae and entered Phocis. By occupying Elatea he betrayed his intention to hold possession of central Greece. The Athenians were struck with astonishment. Demosthenes was sent as ambassador to Thebes, and by his eloquence persuaded the Thebans to join a league against Philip. The combined armies of Athens and Thebes took the field and marched to Chreronea, but Philip gained a decisive victory 338 D.C., which rendered him master of Greece. He treated the Athenians with clemency, and invited all the States of Greece to send deputies to a Congress which met at Corinth in 337 B.C. This Congress declared war against Persia and appointed Philip commander-in-chief.


Soon after this event Philip married Cleopatra, a niece of Attains, one of his generals, and celebrated the marriage by a rictous banquet. In the ensuing revelry bis son Alexander threw a goblet at Attains, who had offended him, and Philip, who was intoxicated, drawing his sword, rushed at his son, but stumbled and fell. Alexander and his mother Olympias then quieted the kingdom j but they were soon induced to return. In the spring of 336, B.C., Philip made preparation for an expedition against Persia but before he was ready to march he was assassinated in his palace at Pella by Pausanias, one of his body guards. Olympias, and possibly Alexander,. connived at the assassination of Philip, whose removal had become almost necessary to their own safety.




The evil genius of Atl1ens and of Hellas was now to work busily elsewhere. After the battle which destroyed the army of Mardonios at Plataiai, the Athenians had placed in the Delphian temple some gilt shields, bearing an inscription which marked them as spoils taken from the Persians and Thebans when they fought together against the Greeks. Through lapse of time the gold had become tarnished and the inscriptions so faded as to be almost illegible. The Athenians therefore ordered them to be burnished, and the visitors could now read at a glance the words which recorded the ancient treachery of the Thebuns. With some fairness and force it might have been urged that this parading of old misdeeds was both injudicious and malignant j but t.he Lokrians of Amphissa, who stood forth as accusers, chose rather to arraign the Athenians on the ground of impiety for setting up these offerings without going through the usual ceremonies of reconsecration. In the default of the Hieromnemon Diognetos, who was prostrate with fever, it fell to the lot of Eschines to reply to this charge. He might have insisted that from lack of the previous notice, to which all members of the Amphiktyonic brotherhood were entitled, the case could not be heard in the present session of the council and there can be no doubt that this plea must have insured its postponement. He might also have argued the matter on its merits, and have urged that the Athenians had a perfect right to regild the letters of a faded inscription.


He chose to do neither. The element of religious animosity, which had been allowed full play during the ten years of the last Sacred War, was not easily to be repressed and Aeschines, as he tells us, felt instinctively that the charge of impiety would be effectually met only by prompt retort. From the lofty platform of the temple he could look down on the haven of Kirrha, enlivened with the ships which brought crowds of pilgrims to the Delphian shrine, and surrounded by the: olive groves and corn fields which interposed a girdle of verdure between the city and the dreary desert beyond them. From this pleasant and busy scene he could draw the eyes of his hearers to the brazen plate all the wall, hard by, which recorded the sentence of the Amphiktyonic judges in the days of Solon. That strip of luxurious vegetation was a deadly offense against the Delphian god the wealth of the Kirrhaian port was amassed in direct defiance of the judgment pronounced by the mouth of his ministers. If he wished to rekindle the slumbering fires of religious fanaticism, he bad but to point the contrast between the prosperity of the pilgrims' haven and the desolation to which the whole plain had been doomed forever. Seeing that he could thus turn the tables on tile accusers of Athens, Aechines hesitated not for an instant. There, all the wall before them, was the fatal record and there, on the plain below, they might see the groves which bore witness to the impiety of generations, and the haven where the dock·owners enriched themselves by tolls the gathering of 'which was a profanation. " It is for you," he said, addressing the Council, to take vengeance for the sacrilege; and if you fail to do so, you can no longer, with a clear conscience, take part in the worship of the god.


His words roused in his hearers an ungovernable wrath; but the day wearing on, time was lacking to finish the work before the sun went down. "With the dawn, however, the whole Delphian people must be ready with their pickaxes and their spades to throw down the accursed walls and uproot the hateful vineyards. Such was the bidding of the herald, and all this errand of destruction the Delphians, in the trallquil1ightof a spring morning, streamed forth from their gates, burning with rage against a people for whom hut a few hams ago they would have expressed no feelings but those of kindly friendship. In utter amazement, the Lokrians of Amphissa beheld the distant flames as they rose from the harbor and the houses of Kirrha. Hurrying down with all speed, they caught the plunderers red-handed, and drove them back to Delphoi hut reverence for the Atnphiktyonic tribunal withheld them, it is said, from all attempts to wash out the wrong in blood. Such was the issue of the retort of Aeschines, and such were the exploits for which he unblushingly claimed the gratitude of his countrymen.


The wrath of the crusaders was now turned against the Amphissians. A special meeting of the Amphiktyous was to determine the measure of the punishment to be meted out to them. These were godless rebels who must be forcibly put down the Athenians were champions of the god, deserving all honor. The Demos, on the return of Aeschines, were naturally tempted to lay this flattering unction to their souls, and to resent the freedom with which Demosthenes warned them that AEschines was bringing an Amphiktyonic war within the borders of Attica itself. But it was no hard task to convince them that the building of the city of Kirrha and the cultivation of the laud around it were offenses only against the sentence of men who had been dead well nigh two hundred years, while they vastly promoted the comfort and security of the pilgrims who crowded to the Delphian festivals and thus Aeschines found himself foiled by the resolution of the people to have nothing to do with the special Amphiktyonic meeting t.o which he bad invited them. The fact that the Thebans came to the same decision seems to indicate the growth of a more friendly feeling on their part towards the Athenians, and to account for the slender success which attended the operations of the remaining Amphiktyous.


At the regular meeting held in the autumn, the Athenian envoys were, it seems, present; nor call we doubt that Philip also was there represented. As a member of the brotherhood, he had a right to interfere in person; but it was more in accordance with the policy of his life to wait with patience for the invitation which he knew was coming. He had no sooner received it than he announced his immediate purpose of marching to the help of the god but, instead of hastening through the desolate Phokis to Delphoi, he paused by the way to re.fortify the dismantled town of Elateia. Any further attempt to keep up the pretence of Amphiktyonic execution against the Lokrians would now have been absurd. The mask was therefore flung aside, and his envoys appeared at Thebes to say that he was going to punish the Athenians, and to demand their aid in the enterprise. Of their compliance he entertained no doubt. He knew welt how wide a gulf had separated Thebes from Athens; he knew that if he had made a free passage into Attica the condition of his help during the last Sacred War, he would have encountered no opposition; and he felt that having given that help unconditionally, he might now fairly look for his reward. Assuredly he would not have been disappointed, jf at this moment Aeschines could have carried the Athenians with him.


The Prytaneis were seated at their evening meal when the messenger reached Athens with the tidings that Philip had established himself at Elateia. At once they cleared the, and sent the herald to summon the people to the Assembly at break of day. When, however, the Senate had explained the reason for the summons and the citizens were invited to speak, there was for a while a dead silence. All felt, says Demosthenes, that neither patriotism nor wealth could supply the lack of the one thing needful in a counselor at this crisis,-the knowledge, namely, of the real motives by which Philip was guided. Conscious that he had divined these motives but too well, Demosthenes at length came forward to cheer them with the assurance that they might yet, if they bestirred themselves, check him in his triumphant career. They might suppose or they might have been told that the Thebans were to a mall on Philip's side. The very fact that he was fortifying Elateia conclusively refuted such a notion. The hearty support of the Thebans would have rendered that task superfluous, and the Athenians would by this time have seen his army within their borders. But Philip had not this support and it remained for the Athenians to determine whether they would avail themselves of the friendly feeling which many Thebans assuredly entertained for them. If they chose to harp upon the miserable quarrels of their past history, the golden opportunity would soon be lost; if, on the other hand, they would offer to help them at once, and with all their forces and unconditionally, he felt assured that their offer would be joyfully welcomed, and a foundation laid for harmonious action which might lead to permanent union.


The proposal was carried without a dissentient voice. Even Aeschines felt that in the supreme exaltation of the moment he dared not put before them his poisoned cup of flattery and treason. He saw that for once the people were in earnest, and to his dismay he learned that the same spirit had been kindled in the Thebans. Nor was the disappointment of Philip less keen than that of his worshiper. He had fully counted on their neutrality at least, if not on their enthusiastic support, and now he must fight his way through Boiotia instead of marching leisurely across it into Attica. At Athens Demosthenes had at length acquired an influence scarcely less than that which had been exercised by Perikles. By his advice everything was made to give way to the indispensable needs of the hour. The new works at the Piraieus were suspended; the existing law respecting the Theoric Fund was repealed, and the revenue which would have been spent on religious celebrations was diverted to the purposes of the war.


During the ten mouths which passed between the fortification of Elateia and the catastrophe which closed the struggle, the allies were not idle. Demosthenes was crowned for some successes gained by their combined forces, and a more serious hindrance was placed in Philip's path by the re-establishment of Phokis. On the other hand, that unwearied and politic leader fulfilled the mission which the Amphiktyous bad laid upon him. The sentence passed in the time of Solon was again put in force, and the Amphissians were driven into exile. Of the incidents immediately preceding the fatal fight of Chaironeia we know nothing, of the battle itself little more than the result. It is enough to say that all the one side was the most consummate general of the age, on the other no one commander of more than average military talent; that among the allies citizens who had to overcome a strong repugnance to personal service were pitted against veteran mountaineers, such as those who won for the elder Cyrus a hundred victories; that if the Thebans had their Sacred Baud and the phalanx which had wrought wonders when wielded by Epameinondas, their discipline was now more slack and their ardor less vehement, while lastly the tactic which had won the day at Leuktra and Mantineia was more than counteracted by the new weapon with which Philip had armed his columns. The long sarissa or pike could do terrible execution at a distance which the Theban spear failed to reach. 'rite struggle was fierce and obstinate; but at length the youthful Alexander saw the Sacred Band borne down beneath his father's hosts, and the iron discipline of his northern warriors shatter the hopes of Thebes and Athens.


The loss on the side of the allies, both of the slain and of prisoners, was terrible. The two Athenian leaders escaped from the field but by a practice which had now become a habit the people summoned Lysikles before their bar and condemned him to death. The Theban general Theagenes was among the dead; but his countrymen stigmatized him as a traitor. Both the men were in all likelihood innocent; but a people must be far gone on the down ward path when they call habitually treat failure after holiest effort as a crime. If some in like manner taunted Demosthenes with gross cowardice, the fact that his iufluence was increased rather than abated proves conclusively that the charge was not credited by the Athenians generally. Either by his advice or by that of Hypereides, decrees were passed ordering the country population to take refuge in the outlying forts or within the walls of Athens, removing the civil disabilities of or citizens who had been deprived of their franchise, granting citizenship to the Metoikoi and freedom to the slaves on condition of their bearing arms for the defense of the city. All that was needed for the repair of the walls or fortifications was done with that rapidity which had always characterized Athenian workmen and Athens stood ready for a siege, for which she might fairly expect a successful issue, so long as her fleets, unaffected by the recent disasters, remained supreme at sea. The tidings of the catastrophe had been received with dismay; but calmer thought soon showed the wide contrast between their present circumstances and the hopelessness of their position when they learned that their fleet and army had both been destroyed at Syracuse.


For the present they had nothing to fear. Philip shrank probably from an enterprise which might involve mouths of toil and a ruinous outlay, while it might also awaken a genuine Panhellenic spirit which was now either dormant or dead. His wrath burst not on the Athenians, but on the people who had changed sides when it was too late, and had appeared with his enemies on the field of Chaironeia. His Theban prisoners were sold into slavery; and when Thebes itself whether by blockade or otherwise, fell into his hands, many of the citizens were slain, many banished, and ,the old despotism of the days of Phoibidas was restored, with only the difference that the Kadmeia was held by a Macedonian instead of by a Spartan garrison. The Athenians, he saw,might be made more useful by taking another course. In the devotion of .Aeschines, who now threw off all disguise and proclaimed his personal friendship and affection for the conqueror, he had an instrument more powerful than squadrons of armed men. It was his purpose to combine the forces of the chief Hellenic cities under his own command and to men like Aeschines, who could share the drunken revels which celebrated his victory, he must look for the success of his scheme.


From the mission which he had offered to undertake, Aeschines came back with loud praises of the generosity which consented to release without ransom all the Athenian prisoners and to restore their frontier fortress of Oropos, on the one condition that they should publicly acknowledge Philip as supreme chief of all the Hellenes in peace and in war. The terms obtained by Demades were accepted. Probably even Demosthenes felt that further resistance was for the present at least impossible, while the adulations with which his country men greeted their new lord must have left him with little hopes for the future. The Athenians were now paying the penalty of the infatuation which had left the Olynthian Confederacy at the mercy of the man whom they were now can· tent to approach as apt disciples in the school of Battery.


There was, in fact, not much more work to be done. Philip passed on into Peloponesos, and treating with contempt the refusal of the Spartans to acknowledge his supremacy, summoned a congress of his dependent allies to meet him at Corinth and discuss a plan for the conquest of Persia. Among the subjects appeared the Athenians, to sanction an enterprise which the achievements of the Ten Thousand had shown to be practicable, if not easy, and which Isokrates had held up to the ambition or avarice of his countrymen. The scheme which in his Panegyric had attracted them with its glowing colors, lost its special charms when it was seen to mean nothing more than obedience to the dictates of a foreign master. To the Greeks of Lesser Asia the overthrow of the Persian despot would bring not the coveted liberty of tearing each other in pieces, but merely a change of lords. To the world at large it was a matter of not much consequence; and for themselves it may be doubted whether the strong repression of a foreign power was not a better thing than the freedom which during the whole course of their history had been little more than a fine name for feuds, factions, and internecine war. -SIR G. W. COX.


Philip of Macedon