INTRODUCING KING PHILIP II

Who Was Philip II of Macedonia?Высокогорья

Although Philip II is only mentioned in the two volumes of SHADOW OF THE LION, he is still an important character because he was Alexander the Great’s father and one of the greatest warrior kings of the ancient world.

Philip was born about 383 to King Amnytas II and queen Eurydike (one of his two known wives). When he was a youth, Philip was sent as a “hostage” (guest-friend) to Thebes where he learned battle skills from the famous Thracian warrior Epaninandos. He came to power in Macedon in 359 BCE just after Macedonia had suffered a defeat at the hands of the Illyrians. At the time, the country was in political and military turmoil. Philip set out to gain control. Two years later, he defeated the Illyrians and sought to bring all of that area under control. He married the daughter of the Illyrian war-lord Bardylis. They later had a daughter, Kynane, who was married to Philip’s nephew Amyntas. Their daughter, Adeia-Eurydike, is the young warrior woman featured in SHADOW OF THE LION.

Philip had possibly seven wives in total. One of them, Philinna from Larissa, was the mother of Philip Arridaios. His third wife, Olympias, a young princess from Epiros, became the mother of Alexander and Kleopatra. Four years later he married a woman from Pherae and they had a daughter, Thessaloniki.

Alexander was marked early on as Philip’s successor partly due to his promise and partly by the unscrupulous deeds of his powerful mother. (Olympias was suspected as being behind the poisoning of Arridaios at an early age thus rendering her own son’s possible rival, incapacitated). Philip groomed Alexander, giving him the best education under the tutelage of the eminent Aristotle.

In 338 Philip’s army defeated the Athenian and Theban forces at the Battle of Chaeronea even though his own army was greatly outnumbered. Thebes and Athens were forced to become subjects of Philip and garrisons were established with Philip’s allies in control. (This included the garrison at Athens which features in Volume 2 of Shadow of the Lion, THE FIELDS OF HADES. Sparta was the only Greek state not under his domination. At the Council of Corinth the following year, Philip gave freedom and autonomy to all the city states and established a network that would be loyal to him.

Then, with the support of Greece, he declared war on Persia (spring 336). He sent an advance troop over to Asia Minor to begin liberating the Greek cities along the coast. But just before Philip was to travel to Asia himself, he was assassinated.

He was at the old palace of Aigai hosting a wedding reception for his daughter, Kleopatra, to her uncle, the King of Epiros. It was to be an extravagant affair held in the theatre with statues of the twelve Olympic gods and one of Philip. At the moment Philip entered the theatre and alit from his horse, he was stabbed to death by his bodyguard, Pausanias.  It was said that Pausanias sought revenge from Philip because he had been shunned and demeaned as a result of a love affair he’d had with the king. There was suspicion, however, that Pausanias was paid off by the Persians and most probably by Olympias who wanted to get rid of Philip because he had recently married the young daughter of his friend Attalus. To compound this suspicion, after Philip’s death, Olympias had the girl and her newborn child murdered. Philip’s nephew, Amyntas (father of Adeia-Eurydike) was accused of treason in the plot and was executed. To appease the family, later Alexander had Adeia-Eurydike engaged to his mentally deficient brother Arridaios.

During his twenty-three years as ruler Philip took Macedonia from a weak, divided state to one of great military and political eminence. Philip had devoted great attention to his army, training it in advanced skills and arming it with the most effective weapons. By the end of his reign he had increased the size of the army to about 30,000 foot and 3,000 horse. This was the outstanding army inherited by Alexander who was his father’s successor at the age of eighteen.

Unlike his more famous son, Philip was not always invincible in battle. He suffered two severe defeats by the Phocians and failed in his sieges of Perinthus and Byzantium. He suffered serious war wounds in these battles. One reason he succeeded in the end was the way he used bribery. He was a master of deception and his victims were usually unaware of his true intentions. He used his wealth to gain his political allies. Philip’s self-indulgent life style was criticized by his Greek contemporaries – his heavy drinking and wanton sexual desires were expected of Macedonian nobles and kings. Polygamy was practiced. Nearly all his wives were daughters of neighbouring warlords. This led to bitter jealousies and intrigues in the Macedonian court. Philip’s last marriage, in 337, to a young Macedonian nobleman’s daughter was part of his downfall. Olympias was vindictive and dangerous and this union created serious domestic strife, incited by Alexander who opposed his father. What happened at Kleopatra’s wedding was the final rift.