|Birth||(Pella, Municipality of Pella, Central Macedonia Region, Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace)|
|Death||(Vergina, Veria Municipality, Central Macedonia Region, Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace)|
Philip II of Macedon (Greek: Φίλιππος Β΄ ὁ Μακεδών, Phílippos II ho Makedṓn; 382–336 BC) was the king (Basileus) of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon from 359 BC until his assassination in 336 BC. He was a member of the Argead dynasty of Macedonian kings, the third son of King Amyntas III of Macedon, and father of Alexander the Great and Philip III. The rise of Macedon during the reign of Philip II was achieved in part by his reformation of the Ancient Macedonian army, establishing the Macedonian phalanx that proved critical in securing victories on the battlefield. After defeating Athens and Thebes at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC, Philip II led the effort to establish a federation of Greek states known as the League of Corinth, with him as the elected hegemon and commander-in-chief of a planned invasion of the Achaemenid Empire of Persia. However, his assassination led to the immediate succession of his son Alexander, who would go on to invade the Achaemenid Empire in his father's stead.
Youth and accession
Philip was the youngest son of the king Amyntas III and Eurydice I. In his youth (c. 368 – 365 BC), Philip was held as a hostage in Thebes, which was then the leading city of Greece. While a captive there, Philip received a military and diplomatic education from Epaminondas, became eromenos of Pelopidas, and lived with Pammenes, who was an enthusiastic advocate of the Sacred Band of Thebes.
In 364 BC, Philip returned to Macedon. The deaths of Philip's elder brothers, King Alexander II and Perdiccas III, allowed him to take the throne in 359 BC. Originally appointed regent for his infant nephew Amyntas IV, who was the son of Perdiccas III, Philip succeeded in taking the kingdom for himself that same year.
Philip's military skills and expansionist vision of Macedonian greatness brought him early success. He first had to remedy a predicament which had been greatly worsened by the defeat against the Illyrians in which King Perdiccas himself had died. The Paionians and the Thracians had sacked and invaded the eastern regions of Macedonia, while the Athenians had landed, at Methoni on the coast, a contingent under a Macedonian pretender called Argeus.
Early military career
Using diplomacy, Philip pushed back the Paionians and Thracians promising tributes, and crushed the 3,000 Athenian hoplites (359). Momentarily free from his opponents, he concentrated on strengthening his internal position and, above all, his army. His most important innovation was doubtless the introduction of the phalanx infantry corps, armed with the famous sarissa, an exceedingly long spear, at the time the most important army corps in Macedonia.
Philip had married Audata, great-granddaughter of the Illyrian king of Dardania, Bardyllis. However, this did not prevent him from marching against the Illyrians in 358 and crushing them in a ferocious battle in which some 7,000 Illyrians died (357). By this move, Philip established his authority inland as far as Lake Ohrid and earned the favour of the Epirotes.
The Athenians had been unable to conquer Amphipolis, which commanded the gold mines of Mount Pangaion. So Philip reached an agreement with Athens to lease the city to them after its conquest, in exchange for Pydna (lost by Macedon in 363). However, after conquering Amphipolis, Philip kept both cities (357). As Athens had declared war against him, he allied Macedon with the Chalkidian League of Olynthus. He subsequently conquered Potidaea, this time keeping his word and ceding it to the League in 356.
In 357 BC, Philip married the Epirote princess Olympias, who was the daughter of the king of the Molossians. Alexander was born in 356, the same year as Philip's racehorse won at the Olympic Games.
During 356 BC, Philip conquered the town of Crenides and changed its name to Philippi. He then established a powerful garrison there to control its mines, which yielded much of the gold he later used for his campaigns. In the meantime, his general Parmenion defeated the Illyrians again.
In 355–354 he besieged Methone, the last city on the Thermaic Gulf controlled by Athens. During the siege, Philip was injured in his eye. It was later removed surgically. Despite the arrival of two Athenian fleets, the city fell in 354. Philip also attacked Abdera and Maronea, on the Thracian coast (354–353).
Third Sacred War
Philip was involved in the Third Sacred War which had begun in Greece in 356. In summer 353 he invaded Thessaly, defeating 7,000 Phocians under the brother of Onomarchus. The latter however defeated Philip in the two succeeding battles. Philip returned to Thessaly the next summer, this time with an army of 20,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry including all Thessalian troops. In the Battle of Crocus Field 6,000 Phocians fell, while 3,000 were taken as prisoners and later drowned.
This battle earned Philip immense prestige, as well as the free acquisition of Pherae. Philip was also tagus of Thessaly, and he claimed as his own Magnesia, with the important harbour of Pagasae. Philip did not attempt to advance into Central Greece because the Athenians, unable to arrive in time to defend Pagasae, had occupied Thermopylae.
There were no hostilities with Athens yet, but Athens was threatened by the Macedonian party which Philip's gold created in Euboea. From 352 to 346 BC, Philip did not again travel south. He was active in completing the subjugation of the Balkan hill-country to the west and north, and in reducing the Greek cities of the coast as far as the Hebrus. To the chief of these coastal cities, Olynthus, Philip continued to profess friendship until its neighbouring cities were in his hands.
In 349 BC, Philip started the siege of Olynthus, which, apart from its strategic position, housed his relatives Arrhidaeus and Menelaus, pretenders to the Macedonian throne. Olynthus had at first allied itself with Philip, but later shifted its allegiance to Athens. The latter, however, did nothing to help the city, its expeditions held back by a revolt in Euboea (probably paid for by Philip's gold). The Macedonian king finally took Olynthus in 348 BC and razed the city to the ground. The same fate was inflicted on other cities of the Chalcidian peninsula.
Macedon and the regions adjoining it having now been securely consolidated, Philip celebrated his Olympic Games at Dium. In 347 BC, Philip advanced to the conquest of the eastern districts about Hebrus, and compelled the submission of the Thracian prince Cersobleptes. In 346 BC, he intervened effectively in the war between Thebes and the Phocians, but his wars with Athens continued intermittently. However, Athens had made overtures for peace, and when Philip again moved south, peace was sworn in Thessaly.
Later campaigns (346–336 BC)
With key Greek city-states in submission, Philip II turned to Sparta; he sent them a message: "If I win this war, you will be slaves forever." In another version, he warned: "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city." According to both accounts, the Spartans' laconic reply was one word: "If". Philip II and Alexander both chose to leave Sparta alone. Later, Macedonian arms were carried across Epirus to the Adriatic Sea.
In 345 BC, Philip conducted a hard-fought campaign against the Ardiaioi (Ardiaei), under their king Pleuratus I, during which Philip was seriously wounded in the lower right leg by an Ardian soldier.
In 342 BC, Philip led a great military expedition north against the Scythians, conquering the Thracian fortified settlement Eumolpia to give it his name, Philippopolis (modern Plovdiv).
In 340 BC, Philip started the siege of Perinthus. Philip began another siege in 339 of the city of Byzantium. After unsuccessful sieges of both cities, Philip's influence all over Greece was compromised. However, he successfully reasserted his authority in the Aegean by defeating an alliance of Thebans and Athenians at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC, while in the same year, Philip destroyed Amfissa because the residents had illegally cultivated part of the Crisaian plain which belonged to Delphi.
It was these decisive victories that finally secured Philip’s position, with the majority of Greece under Macedonian sovereignty.
Philip created and led the League of Corinth in 337 BC. Members of the League agreed never to wage war against each other, unless it was to suppress revolution. Philip was elected as leader (hegemon) of the army of invasion against the Persian Empire. In 336 BC, with the Persian venture in its earliest stages, Philip was assassinated, and was succeeded as king by his son Alexander III, the soon-to-be conqueror of Persia.
Philip was murdered in October 336 BC, at Aegae, the ancient capital of the kingdom of Macedon. The court had gathered there for the celebration of the marriage between Alexander I of Epirus and Cleopatra of Macedon, who was Philip's daughter by his fourth wife Olympias. While the king was entering unprotected into the town's theatre (highlighting his approachability to the Greek diplomats present), he was killed by Pausanias of Orestis, one of his seven bodyguards. The assassin immediately tried to escape and reach his associates who were waiting for him with horses at the entrance to Aegae. He was pursued by three of Philip's bodyguards, tripped on a vine, and died by their hands.
The reasons for the assassination are difficult to expound fully: there was already controversy among ancient historians. The only contemporary account in our possession is that of Aristotle, who states rather tersely that Philip was killed because Pausanias had been offended by the followers of Attalus, uncle of Philip's wife Cleopatra (renamed Eurydice upon marriage).
Fifty years later, the historian Cleitarchus expanded and embellished the story. Centuries later, this version was to be narrated by Diodorus Siculus and all the historians who used Cleitarchus. According to the sixteenth book of Diodorus' history, Pausanias had been a lover of Philip, but became jealous when Philip turned his attention to a younger man, also called Pausanias. The elder Pausanias' taunting of the new lover caused the youth to throw away his life, which turned his friend Attalus against the elder Pausanias. Attalus took his revenge by inviting Pausanias to dinner, getting him drunk, then subjecting him to sexual assault.
When Pausanias complained to Philip, the king felt unable to chastise Attalus, as he was about to send him to Asia with Parmenion, to establish a bridgehead for his planned invasion. He also married Attalus' niece, or daughter, Eurydice. Rather than offend Attalus, Philip tried to mollify Pausanias by elevating him within the bodyguard. Pausanias' desire for revenge seems to have turned towards the man who had failed to avenge his damaged honour, so he planned to kill Philip. Some time after the alleged rape, while Attalus was already in Asia fighting the Persians, he put his plan in action.
Other historians (e.g., Justin 9.7) suggested that Alexander and/or his mother Olympias were at least privy to the intrigue, if not themselves instigators. The latter seems to have been anything but discreet in manifesting her gratitude to Pausanias, according to Justin's report: he says that the same night of her return from exile she placed a crown on the assassin's corpse, and later erected a tumulus to his memory, ordering annual sacrifices to the memory of Pausanias.
Many modern historians have observed that all the accounts are improbable. In the case of Pausanias, the stated motive of the crime hardly seems adequate. On the other hand, the implication of Alexander and Olympias seems specious: to act as they did would have required brazen effrontery in the face of a military personally loyal to Philip. What seems to be recorded are the natural suspicions that fell on the chief beneficiaries of the murder; their actions after the murder, however sympathetic they might seem (if true), cannot prove their guilt in the deed itself.
Whatever the actual background to the assassination, it might have had an enormous effect on later world history, far beyond what any conspirators could have predicted; as asserted by some modern historians, had the older and more settled Philip been the one in charge of the war against Persia, he might have rested content with relatively moderate conquests, e.g., making Anatolia into a Macedonian province, and not pushed further into an overall conquest of Persia and further campaigns in India.
The dates of Philip's multiple marriages and the names of some of his wives are contested. Below is the order of marriages offered by Athenaeus, 13.557b–e:
- Audata, the daughter of Illyrian King Bardyllis. Mother of Cynane.
- Phila of Elimeia, the sister of Derdas and Machatas of Elimiotis.
- Nicesipolis of Pherae, Thessaly, mother of Thessalonica.
- Olympias of Epirus, mother of Alexander the Great and Cleopatra
- Philinna of Larissa, mother of Arrhidaeus later called Philip III of Macedon.
- Meda of Odessos, daughter of the king Cothelas, of Thrace.
- Cleopatra, daughter of Hippostratus and niece of general Attalus of Macedonia. Philip renamed her Cleopatra Eurydice of Macedon.
Tomb of Philip II at Aigai
In 1977, Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos started excavating the Great Tumulus at Aigai near modern Vergina, the capital and burial site of the kings of Macedon, and found that two of the four tombs in the tumulus were undisturbed since antiquity. Moreover, these two, and particularly Tomb II, contained fabulous treasures and objects of great quality and sophistication.
Although there was much debate for some years, as suspected at the time of the discovery Tomb II has been shown to be that of Philip II as indicated by many features, including the greaves, one of which was shaped consistently to fit a leg with a misaligned tibia (Philip II was recorded as having broken his tibia). Also, the remains of the skull show damage to the right eye caused by the penetration of an object (historically recorded to be an arrow).
A study of the bones published in 2015 indicates that Philip was buried in Tomb I, not Tomb II. On the basis of age, knee ankylosis and a hole matching the penetrating wound and lameness suffered by Philip, the authors of the study identified the remains of Tomb I in Vergina as those of Philip II. Tomb II instead was identified in the study as that of King Arrhidaeus and his wife Eurydice II. However this latter theory had previously been shown to be false.
More recent research gives further evidence that Tomb II contains the remains of Philip II.
Great Tumulus of Aigai
The tomb of Philip II of Macedon at the Museum of the Royal Tombs in Vergina
The golden larnax and the golden grave crown of Philip
The heroon at Vergina in Macedonia (the ancient city of Aegae – Αἰγαί) is thought to have been dedicated to the worship of the family of Alexander the Great and may have housed the cult statue of Philip. It is probable that he was regarded as a hero or deified on his death. Though the Macedonians did not consider Philip a god, he did receive other forms of recognition from the Greeks, e.g. at Eresos (altar to Zeus Philippeios), Ephesos (his statue was placed in the temple of Artemis), and at Olympia, where the Philippeion was built.
Isocrates once wrote to Philip that if he defeated Persia, there would be nothing left for him to do but to become a god, and Demades proposed that Philip be regarded as the thirteenth god; however, there is no clear evidence that Philip was raised to the divine status accorded his son Alexander.
- Fredric March portrayed Philip II of Macedon in the film Alexander the Great (1956).
- Val Kilmer portrayed Philip II of Macedon in Oliver Stone's 2004 biopic Alexander, opposite Colin Farrell as Alexander the Great and Angelina Jolie as Queen Olympias.
- Hegemony: Philip of Macedon is a PC game about Philip II's campaigns in Greece.
- Philip II appears in the Battle of Chaeronea in Rome: Total War: Alexander
- Filippos Veria, one of the most successful handball teams of Greece, bears the name of Philip II. He is also depicted in the team's emblem.
- The Philip II Arena (until 2009 known as Skopje City Stadium) is a sporting ground in Skopje.
- Philip II is depicted in the emblem of the 2nd Support Brigade of the Hellenic Army, stationed in Kozani.