Philip of Macedon Essay

This essay has a total of 1491 words and 8 pages.

Philip of Macedon




The internal reforms that took place under Philip, strengthened Macedonia and enabled him
to conquer the Greek states. Philip used the League of Corinth to consolidate and
maintain his power through terms of peace.


To test the validity of this hypothesis we must look at three things:
· The major reforms in Macedonia under Philip
· How Philip went about conquering the Greek states
· The policies and terms under which the League of Corinth operated

Following the death of Perdiccas, Philip came to the throne in the autumn of 360B.C. He
realised that great reforms were essential if he intended to remain the King of Macedonia.
Macedonia underwent a major reconstruction at the hands of Philip but it was his military
and political reforms that truly strengthened his kingdom.


Due to Philip's intentions of immediate expansion, there was a large emphasis placed on
the reforms of his military. Philip made vast improvements in his cavalry and siege
engines, both of which were widely exploited by his son and successor, Alexander the
Great. These two improvements may have been important, but according to Tritle
(1997:179), the most telling tactical innovation of the famous Macedonian phalanx was the
introduction of the sarissa.

The sarissa was a large pike up to 18 feet long, twice as long as the Greek hoplite
spears. To compensate for the size and weight of this weapon, the Macedonian soldiers
wore lighter, cheaper and more maneuverable armour. This, combined with their famous
rigorous training and discipline, proved to be decisive in the battlefield.


The military reforms of Philip were decisive, but without the internal strength and
effective foreign policy built by his political reforms, Philip would not have been able
to capitilise on his military supremacy.

It can be said that the might of the Macedonians came from their unity. After Philip came
to power, he worked to strengthen and expand his large but weak kingdom by unifying them
under the single influence of the monarchy. Roebuck (1966:317) says, "Philip II provided
the leadership that welded the country into a national state, the first that had developed
in the Aegean area".

Philip achieved this sense of unity by centralising his political administration and
establishing large cities, not unlike the Greek polis. The main difference between the
two was the Macedonian cities were more dependent on royal control (Starr 1971:150). The
establishment of these cities, mainly in Thrace, not only stabilised his control in the
region but also enabled the potential of the agricultural and commercial benefits to be
exploited.

According to Tritle (1997:181), "Philip's greatest achievements no doubt lie in the realm
of foreign policy. He remains one of the great figures in classical antiquity because he
created a long-lasting hegemony over all the Greek states in the peninsula when no
individual or state had ever succeeded in doing so before. The reasons for his success
can be found in his pragmatism, seen not only in his approach to the problems that had
been chronically ailing Macedonia, but also in his dealings with the Greeks and non-Greeks
of the Aegean world."

There was much opposition to Philip's accession and it was through his foreign policy that
he avoided conflict and made peace with Thrace, Paeonia and Athens during his early years.
Philip single-handedly made all decisions concerning both domestic and foreign policy,
although towards the end of his reign, Roebuck (1966:322) says, "Alexander's tutor
Aristotle supplied him with the detailed political knowledge to reorganise the power
systems in Greece". If it weren't for these early peace settlements, he would not have
been able to utilise his political skill, which later allowed him to take control over all
of the Greek states.


With Macedonia reformed and strengthened both militarily and politically, Philip took
steps toward conquering the Greek states

After defeating the Illyrians and prolonged barbarian opposition to the north and east,
Philip moved to fulfill his foreign policy assumptions by expanding south into central and
southern Greece. A turning point in his acquisition of power was during the Third Sacred
War.

Although Macedonia's initial entrance into the Sacred War in 356B.C was only via alliance
to the Aleuads of Larissa, it was a major factor in Philip's eventual hegemony over the
Greek peninsula. The Aleuads made Philip tagos, leader of the Thessalian League and
commander of its forces. He used these forces to great effect in the Sacred War. Tritle
(1997:183) says that in 352B.C, "Philip defeated his enemies decisively and consolidated
his control over Thessaly," and by 348B.C, following his victories over Olynthus and the
Chalcidian League, "Philip was the greatest power in the Aegean Greek world". In 346B.C
Philip ended the Sacred War and established himself as hegemon over Greece.

Philip's expansion continued throughout Thrace, Thessaly and the Chersonesus, as well as
the Peloponnesus and even Persia.

Continues for 4 more pages >>




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