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                                       The Fourth Century-Rise of Philip of Makedon
Vergina macedonian tomb By the end of the war Sparta was the acknowledged head of Greece. But though for a while she tried to play the part of an im­perialist, she soon lost Persian aid, which was then for a time given to Thebes, previously a relatively unimportant city. Thebes, indeed, had lost all title to respect in Greece by collaborating with the Persians during the Persian Wars. Now however, she developed a new military tactic, and under the leadership of two great

Vergina Macedonian tomb.


generals established herself temporarily as the leading power in Greece. By defeating the Spartans in open warfare she freed the helots, thereby reducing Sparta forever to the rank of a second- or third-rate power. But away in the north from 359 b.c. onward, a new power was rising in Greece. This was Macedon, ruled by a shrewd and crafty semi-barbarian named Philip. Philip perceived very clearly that if he could keep the Greeks disunited he could pick them off one by one.

Thebes never did come to realize the dangerous nature of Philip, nor the threat that he presented to Greece. The Athenians were divided in their opinions, one party thinking it best to collaborate and "appease" Philip; the other, led by Demosthenes, believing that the only safe policy was to stop Philip before he became too strong. Philip himself did his best to win support in both cities, spending lavishly of the gold which he had won in northeastern Greece, while at the same time building himself a small but strong and effective army, with new military formations hitherto unknown in Greece Though Demosthenes was able to persuade the Athenians to send an expedition to Olynthus, which Philip was threatening, the expedition was too small and arrived too late to be of any great assistance. Philip, after capturing Olynthus, destroyed it utterly, thereby pro­viding an example to the rest of the Greeks which he hoped would prove salutary.

Philip's barbarity incensed Demosthenes but cowed most of the Athenian statesmen. Indeed, a writer of speeches named Isocrates even urged Philip to unite the Greeks and engage in a great expedition against Persia. Philip in fact intended to make such an expedition, but the means by which he proposed to unite Greece were not calculated to please any Athenian democrats. In fact Philip's diplomacy paid off handsomely. Although he was not himself regarded as a Greek by the other Greeks, who thought they could use him for their own ends, he was made head of a Greek religious league and invited to chastise some Greek cities which had been accused of sacrilege. Philip, nothing loath, came down into Greece, and suddenly confronted Thebes, which realized at last that there was nothing to hinder him if he wished to turn upon Thebes itself. Demosthenes hastily organized an alliance between Athens and Thebes, but it was too late. Philip defeated the united armies at the battle of Chaeronea in 338 b.c, and thereafter was the undisputed leader of Greece.


Philip, however, had not forgotten his intention of invading Persia. He wished to be supported by the Greeks so that the attack would appear to be a Greek expedition as a revenge for the fifth century invasion by Xerxes, even though it was headed by a Macedonian. The Greeks had no objection to making him their formal leader, though they had no intention of supplying him with any forces. It was, after all, possible that he would meet his death in Asia! Philip returned to his country to prepare for the expedition, but was shortly thereafter murdered. At once all the Greek cities revolted. However, Philip was succeeded not by a nonentity like most of his ancestors, but by Alexander the Great. As soon as his hands were free, Alexander descended upon the rebellious Greeks and destroyed the city of Thebes. Athens, fearing the same fate, submitted abjectly, even going so far as to congratulate Alexander on his destruction of Thebes. Alexander's terms were mild, though he insisted that Demosthenes should be sent into exile. But he was so much more interested in his expedition to Persia than he was in the affairs of Greece that he left a military governor in Greece and immediately embarked on the Persian expedition. Like his father, he was made head of the expedition by the Greeks. But most of the latter postponed any serious military support until it could be seen whether Alexander was likely to be successful.





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