Phillip Ii Of Macedon Essay, Research Paper
The year was 359 BC. Greece, though weary from constant internal struggling still had supreme power over the Hellenistic world. Persia, though it had suffered large setback in the Persian Wars more then a century before was still a menacing force. The Barbarian State of Macedon was led by warrior kings who aspired to be Greek, yet ruled over a feudal society that was as multicultural as any of its time. Good morning Miss Boeston and class. Today’s seminar will conclusively prove to you the statement that “Philip II of Macedon was responsible for the rise to greatness of the Macedonian Empire in the Fourth Century BC” by examining several issues associated with Philip’s rule.
Macedon was a weak power, with possible invaders from many points, no access to the Aegean Sea, due to a circle of Greek cities, and a general lack of development in respect to internal governing and external relations. Within the next 36 years the backward state of Macedon would grow into the greatest empire the world had ever seen, enriched with culture of the Greeks, the strength of the Persians and the tactical brilliance of the man the made it all possible, Philip II of Macedon.
Philip II of Macedon was born in 382 BC in the city of Pella, the son of King Amyntas II, but Philip would not ascend to the throne until after the death of his brother.
From the age of fifteen, Philip was a Macedonian hostage living in Thebes during the height of the Theban hegemony. He was a political hostage, and generally treated well. He was held only as an insurance against hostilities between Thebes and Macedon, and it was his three years living as a Greek that gave Philip an advantage as he established himself as the major power in the Greek world. Philip admired the Greek way of life. He began to think of himself more Greek then Macedonian. He became well integrated into the politics and military of Greece, learning Greek political tactics and military strategy. Philip, in effect, had learned to be a Greek general. He had also seen how weak Greece was becoming with its painstakingly slow democratic system and the general disunity that was becoming predominant after many years of internal quarreling. Also, his time in Thebes gave him a greater understanding of the geography of Greece. He learned the strongholds, and the weak cities of Greek society, and this would prove priceless in later expeditions.
When his brother died, he left his infant son, Amyntas as the heir to the throne. Philip was, therefore, made regent, and had control of Macedon. He succeeded to the throne in 359 BC in the traditional Macedonian custom – a round of family assassinations. Macedon, at the time of Philip’s ascension to the throne, was not a very highly regarded northern state whose power depended upon a warrior aristocracy. The kingship rested more on personal ascendancy then institutions. Philip disposed of the young heir and immediately began implementing his plans to unite Macedon, and control the Greek world.
One of Philip’s first and most notable achievements was the creation of the National Army. He had learned the military tactics used in the Greek army and structured his army on the model of the Theban phalanx. However, Philip only based his army on the Greek model. He made sure that the Macedonian National army was a vast improvement on the Greek model, and ensured that the shortcomings of the Greek Phalanx were not the shortcomings of the Macedonian Phalanx.
The Macedonian phalanx consisted of individual battalions that were made up of local recruits. These groups encourage loyalty to the specific battalion, and eventually to Macedon and Philip. When compared to the Greek phalanx, the Macedonian phalanx had heavier armour then the Greeks. The spears, or sarissa, were longer, reaching 5.5 metres. The Macedonian phalanx was sixteen rows deep and each man was armed with a spear. Philip also created the manoeuvre known as the ‘Oblique Advance’. In this formation, the right side of the battalion would attack the opposition, until it has been weakened. Once this has occurred, the left and middle of the battalion would attack. The army could contain many hundreds of these individual battalions. Another component of the National Army was the Companion Cavalry. The members of this were recruited from the Macedonian aristocracy. They were organized into smaller, divisional squadrons whose loyalty was directed specifically towards Philip. This group included an elite corps referred to as the ‘royal guard’, which consisted of over one hundred men. The third component of the National Army were the Ancillary units which consisted of light cavalry, peltasts, slingers, engineers and sappers. The Macedonians also seemed to have a greater understanding of siege warfare. They effectively used catapults, battering rams, mobile towers and mounds of earth. All of the components of the army were extensively trained in many manoeuvres, which Philip had either developed or learned, and the army was drilled in these regularly. Philip built roads and fortified posts which lessened the difficulties associated with the armies’ frequent campaigns and also assisted in creating a sense of security within the Macedonian population. Equipped with his newly formed army Philip could begin to assert himself as a major power in the Greek world. Firstly, however, he had to unify and protect Macedon. He used his army to guard his borders in case of attack from northern rivals, and also to enforce the law amongst the unruly populace. Philip, when he came to power, was at a great disadvantage. One of the only attributes that Macedon could boast was its manpower. Macedon, as backward and uncivilized as many Greeks liked to think, was a well-populated place, and Philip utilized this abundance of people to build a strong, well-organized and efficient army, one whose size and tactics would prove very hard to defeat.
One of Philips main goals was to conquer the Greek world. His army, background in Greece, and the definite advantage of an autocrat, that being, speed, secrecy and dishonesty, gave Philip a certain power; the power to be diplomatic, or ruthless and vengeful, if the need arose.
Soon after the birth of his army, Philip crushed the Illyrian tribes that threatened from the north-east. He quickly secured Macedon from any external threats.
From this point on, Philip became renowned for his military, political and diplomatic abilities, as he expanded Macedon and conquered Greece.
In 357, just two years after coming to power, Philip found himself in need of funds to finance his army, equip a fleet and secure himself politically with other states. Amphipolis was the most important port in the northern Aegean. It also blocked the path of invaders to Mt. Pangaeus, which contained valuable gold mines. He invaded and successfully captured Amphipolis, which became a major port for Macedonian timber. The capture of Amphipolis demonstrated that Macedon was becoming more powerful then Athens, as by capturing the city Philip disregarded Athens will, and Athens began to lose its influence.
After Amphipolis, Philip systematically conquered many Greek cities, including Crenidas in Thrace, which he renamed Philippi. Philippi is a prime example of Philip’s tactical abilities. Philip used diplomacy to gain peaceful entrance into Thrace and appeased his most serious rivals. Philippi contained gold mines, which Philip could exploit to pay his army and add to the wealth of Macedon. He settled Macedonians in his city, ensuring the gradual spread of his people into the ever-expanding empire. Also, access to the Thracian coastline gave Philip many outlets for his fleets. Over the next few years Philip concentrated on his control of Thrace, before finally attacking the Chalcidic League of Olynthus situated in Thrace, and razing the city of Olynthus.
Athens had been supporting Olynthus with military aid, and they had lost the battle. Athens, in a hurry to end the conflict, proposed a peace treaty that Philip eventually accepted. From this point, it seemed as though Philip had endeared himself in the hearts of the Athenians. They followed his progress as if he was the leader of their own state. Few saw Philip’s strategy, few knew his goal of securing all of Greece as his own. One man who saw the threat that Philip posed was an orator called Demosthenes. Demosthenes made speech after speech, which came to be known as Philippics, imploring Athens to take a stand against Macedon before it was too late. Demosthenes first Philippic reads as follows:
“ Observe, Athenians, the height to which the fellow’s insolence has soared: he leaves you no choice of action or inaction; he blusters and talks big… he cannot rest content with what he had conquered; he is always taking in more, everywhere casting his net round us, while we sit idle and do nothing. When, Athenians, will you take the necessary action? What are you waiting for? Until you are compelled, I presume. But what are we to think of what is happening now? For my own part I think that for a free people there can be no greater compulsion than shame for their position.”
In this speech it can be seen how Philip was gradually gaining the Athenians loyalty and trust, while empowering himself with his political and military strategy elsewhere. Philip knew that by befriending the largest power in Greece, he would be safe from them until the time was right, and once Athens had fallen, all of Greece would become Macedonia.
Eventually, Demosthenes prevailed. Athens ended its long quarrel with the Thebes and the united armies attacked Philip. The resultant battle was at Chaeronea, where Philip and the army he had created crushed the Greeks in a triumph Demosthenes called:
“that dishonest victory at Chaeronea, fatal to liberty.”
From that point on, all of Greece was Philip’s.
Philip’s character dictated his immense political and militaristic abilities. Philip was decisive, loyal, courageous and honorable. Philip was quick to act and his strategic brilliance saw Macedon establish itself as the most powerful state in the Greek world. He was a true leader, bravely leading the charge when his army attacked, rather then commanding from safety. His personal qualities and leaderships abilities gave Philip the power to lay the foundations for the mighty empire of Macedon. Philip also had a great respect for the Greeks, and admired their courage in battle. He loved their culture and lifestyle, and respected their place in the Greek world. However, the advance of the Greeks against Macedon and the betrayal by Thebes demonstrated how Philip was ruthless in his revenge of those lacking in honour.
Philip was a master of strategy. He conquered through diplomacy just as much as he did through force. Due to this, Philip married the daughters of several leaders in order to gain their co-operation and convince them of his sincerity. He had six or seven different wives, and consequently several children. His wives included Queen Olympias, who was a princess of Epirus, and his main wife. He also married the daughter of one of his generals. He had several children including a son to Olympias and a later son to his general’s daughter. He was a loving father, and had his son, Alexander the Great, tutored by non-other than Aristotle, and taught him the art of warfare by taking Alexander to battle with him. Through this, Alexander gained his father’s expertise, and was able to continue with Philip’s plans after his death.
Philip died at the hands of a young assassin in the year 336BC. There are many theories as to his motives, however no one may ever know for sure. It has been speculated that Philip’s wife Olympias ordered Philip’s murder for fear that Philip’s other son would succeed the throne ahead of Alexander, her own son. Olympias had not been on good terms with Philip, and it had also been rumored that she had killed and maimed Philips’ other sons. Whatever the truth may be, Philip’s short life had accomplished a task which just 50 years earlier would have seemed impossible. He had created one of the strongest, most efficient armies in the world, had gained the wealth of all of Greece, including regions of Thrace, and had laid the foundations for the one of the greatest empires ever formed. In essence, the Barbarian State of Macedon, perhaps centuries behind Athens in cultural and militaristic aspects conquered all of Greece, and after Philip, became the largest empire to have yet risen to glory. This emphasises the incredible leadership qualities possessed by Philip, and, indisputably supports the hypothesis that Philip the Second was responsible for the rise to greatness of the Macedonian Empire during the fourth century BC.