King of Macedon (386 BC – 336 BC)
King of Macedon from 359 BC till his assassination in 336 BC, one of the most powerful political figures of antiquity and father of Alexander the Great, by whom he is frequently overshadowed in history. Nevertheless, both father and son were capable strategists who established their own empires.
When he was a child, Philip studied the art of war next to Epaminondas and Pelopidas, two strategists renowned for their battles as well as the works of Isocrates, Plato and Aristotle. It was then that he was imbued with the idea of the unification of all Greece and the conquering of the Persians. Once he rose to the throne, he made this the goal of his life.
The first thing Philip did during his reign was to secure his position as king by exterminating all his usurpers. Afterwards, he began implementing his dream of Panhellenic Unification. In the beginning, Philip was faced with rejection as numerous city-states refused to recognize him as King of Greece and waged war against him. As a result, he descended Greece and turned against all major city-states in order to impose himself by means of war. He managed to take control of numerous goldmines which he harvested so that he could build a massive fleet. Philip successfully fended off all neighbouring enemies of the Macedonian Empire, improved the empire’s economy and succeeded in expanding his empire’s borders. Furthermore, he put an end to the Greeks who sought money from the Persians in order to battle against each other in civil wars.
It is worth mentioning that when Philip rose to power at the age of 23, his kingdom was nothing more but a poor country with peasants, surrounded by neighbouring enemies and suffering from internal conflicts. Philip took this country and transformed it into a mighty empire that stretched from the river Danube down to Peloponnesus, with an indestructible army of excellently trained soldiers that learned to love each other and fight coherently. Unfortunately, just when the treaty for Panhellenic Unification had been signed by all city-states, Philip was assassinated, leaving the undertaking in his son’s hands. Alexander was to carry out his father’s vision.
Philip was a cunning man. Even though he was admired by everyone for his bravery and intuition, he would rely on hypocrisy to carry out his plans and avoid bloodshed whenever possible. Sometimes he would pretend, other times he would betray his promise in order to reach his goals. Moreover, he used his vast amount of money to buy off and to corrupt people among his enemies. Nonetheless, Philip was very fond of philosophy and arts and for this reason he had invited Aristotle and many other philosophers to teach his son.
Philip and Alexander shared many traits in common. Both were charismatic leaders and would always fight alongside their fellow men in the first line of battle. Both were tough against their enemies. Their rule was to reward their friends and allies and punish anyone who became an obstacle. Both were idealists; one envisioned a world state where Greeks as a united force dominated the entire known world while the other accomplished it.
- “Philip II”. Helios New Encyclopaedic Dictionary. Passas, I. Athens: 1946. Print
- Pleuris, Konstantinos. The King Alexander. Athens. Hilektron. 2015. Print