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Philip II of Macedonia
Philip II was the king of Macedonia from 359–
336 B.C. He was the father of Alexander the
Great. In his youth Philip spent several years in
Thebes, where he learned Greek military tactics
and became a fervent admirer of Greek culture.
Upon the death of his older brother Philip became
king.
Philip's ambition was
to gain control of Greece
and to bring Greek
culture to Macedonia. He
first seized the gold
mines of the coastal
mountains, then he
reorganized the
Macedonian army. He
devised a new tactical
formation, the
Macedonian phalanx, and started moving southward.
Philip provided his Macedonian solders in the phalanx with sarissa, a
spear which was long 6 meters, about 18 feet. The sarissa, when held
upright by the rear rows of the phalanx (there were usually eight
rows), helped hide maneuvers behind the phalanx from the view of the
enemy. When held horizontal by the front rows of the phalanx, it was
a brutal weapon for people could be run through from 20 feet away.
Philip made the military a way of life for the Macedonian men. It
became a professional occupation that paid well enough that the
soldiers could afford to do it year-round, unlike in the past when the
soldiering had only been a part-time job, something the men would do
during the off peak times of farming. This allowed him to count on his
man regularly, building unity and cohesion among his men.
He used force only when necessary, preferring negotiation, bribery,
and fraud to achieve his purpose. Philip had several political inventions
that helped turn Macedonia into a power. He bought off the
neighboring leaders with gifts. His primary method of creating
alliances and strengthening loyalties was through marriages, and it is
said that he was more proud of his diplomatic maneuvers then of his
military victories.
The Athenian orator Demosthenes urged the
Greeks to unite against Philip but little was done until
it was too late. Philip defeated Athens and its allies
at Chaeronea in 338 B.C. and then subdued the
Peloponnesus. He planned next to free the Greek
cities of Asia Minor from Persian rule, and in 336
sent advance forces to the Hellespont. Before he
could take further action he was assassinated by
Pausanias, a member of his court. Both Alexander
and his mother, Queen Olympias, have been
suspected of involvement in the crime (Philip had
recently left Olympias for another woman), but
probably without justification.
Greece – Philip
of Macedon