Alexandria's founded by Alexander

Alexandria's founded by Alexander the Great (by year BC): 334 Alexandria in Troia (Turkey) - 333 Alexandria at Issus/Alexandrette (Iskenderun, Turkey) - 332 Alexandria of Caria/by the Latmos (Alinda, Turkey) - 331 Alexandria Mygdoniae - 331 Alexandria (Egypt) - 330 Alexandria in Areia (Herat, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria of the Prophthasia/in Dragiana/Phrada (Farah, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Caucasus (Begram, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria of the Paropanisades (Ghazni, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria Eschate or Ultima (Khodjend, Tajikistan) - 329 Alexandria on the Oxus (Ai-Khanoum OR Termez, Afghanistan) - 328 Alexandria in Margiana (Merv, Turkmenistan) - 326 Alexandria Nicaea (on the Hydaspes, India) - 326 Alexandria Bucephala (on the Hydaspes, India) - 325 Alexandria Sogdia - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria on the Indus - 325 Alexandria Xylinepolis (Patala, India) - 325 Alexandria in Carminia (Gulashkird, Iran) - 324 Alexandria-on-the-Tigris/Antiochia-in-Susiana/Charax (Spasinou Charax on the Tigris, Iraq) - ?Alexandria of Carmahle? (Kahnu)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Philip's Boyhood - Macedonia forged by Philip II - 1

Philip’s boyhood (383-382BC)
Although we have a pretty good idea of what Macedonia looked like when Alexander succeeded his father in 336 BC, we have only a vague vision of this country when Philip became king some twenty years earlier. Since it was Philip who put Macedonia on the map to start with (something we generally tend to forget), I decided it was high time to investigate this chapter of history. Without his relentless efforts and strong ambition he would not have succeeded – and let’s not forget his excellent judge of characters and his evaluation of political and military situations which have largely contributed to achieving his goal.

Macedonia was hardly a country to be reckoned with and the only envy of the surrounding enemy tribes was its fertile lowlands. Greece as such did not exist yet, only leading city-states and dispersed bands of tribes constantly at war with one another. And Macedonia was no exception. However, the situation was going to change dramatically after the death of King Perdiccas III in 359 BC.

At that time, Macedonia covered a rather restricted area which started north of Mount Olympus and was squeezed between the valleys of the rivers Haliacmon in the west and Axius in the east to where they flow into the Thermaic Gulf. The most fertile part and the very heart of Macedonia was, of course, this rich coastal plain, also called Lower Macedonia, whereas Upper Macedonia stretched vaguely to the west into the remote cantons of the Illyrians. The Illyrians envied the good agricultural land and lush grasslands of the Macedonian floodplains and invaded the country on a more or less regular basis. It was during such an attack by the Illyrian King Bardylis that Perdiccas III was killed and with him 4,000 brave Macedonian soldiers. This incursion left the door open for further invasions for not only could the Illyrians push all the way down to the Thermaic Gulf but neighboring tribes like the Paeonians from the north and the Thracians from the east could also seize this opportunity. And we shouldn’t forget Thebes who was the dominant military power at that time and Athens who had an eye on several harbors up north serving as safe havens for their wheat ships on their way home from the Pontus Euxinus.


The situation in Macedonia at this point was rather dramatic. The borders were open game, its manpower was very much depleted with so many men killed in action, and to make things worse they had lost their King and leader. Perdiccas’ son Amyntas, the heir to the throne was only an infant, so all eyes were turned toward Philip, Perdiccas’ youngest brother who according to the ruling laws should be named regent until Amyntas’ coming of age. However, hard decisions had to be made and very quickly so. Instead of being called to the regency, Philip then 24 years of age, was proclaimed King by the Macedonian Assembly. King Philip II of Macedonia made his entry on the stage of history.

Now, who was this Philip? Philip was born in 383 or 382 as the third son of King Amyntas III and Queen Eurydice. The eldest son, Alexander II lost the battle against mighty Thebes who demanded the surrender of 50 sons of noble Macedonians as hostages, including his youngest brother Philip. Philip must have been about 13 years old at that time, just a year or so older than Alexander when he tamed Bucephalus when he was led to Thebes. He must have spent about 3 years there at the house of Pammenes, a leading general and statesman during the days that Thebes was the dominant power in Greece. According to Justin, Philip learned much about military strategy from Pammenes’ friend Epaminondas, especially when it came to the use of shock tactics and the combined attack from infantry and cavalry. He must have watched when the famous Sacred Band was training, the elite corps made of 300 Theban soldiers – supposedly 150 pairs of lovers who would fight to death to defend their partner in battle. Epaminondas, in spite of Thebes being so far inland, also had solid plans to build a naval force in order to face mighty Athens in due time, a tactical important prowess that certainly was not lost on Philip. And there was the fact that Thebes was a polis, a true city with its benefits and shortcomings, something that was not known in Macedonia yet.

Although Philip was only a teenager, we should not forget that Macedonian princes learned by example. From an early age, they were trained in warfare, to admire courage and to aspire to excellence, schooled in the great battles of the Illiad, no doubt. Philip was no exception. We will remember how the story goes that Alexander at the age of seven inquired with the Persian envoys about their communication routes and their army. Philip would not have done less.

Living the daily life of a city like Thebes, Philip had witnessed the importance of military power and although this was essential, he was also aware that a state needed to be unified and able to keep actual and potential opponents from uniting with others against him. Securing its borders was an important component of this complex pattern.

After the death of Alexander II (who was killed by his mother’s lover, Ptolemy), his brother Perdiccas III took over after murdering this Ptolemy and during this time Philip apparently returned to Macedonia. From the little that is known from that period, it seems that Perdiccas gave his brother part of his kingdom, probably not to rule in his place but merely to rule on his behalf. According to speculations, he would be entrusted with the territory of Amphaxitis, a strategic stretch of land between the Axius river and the Thermaic Gulf. At this time, Philip married his first wife, Phila, the daughter of Derdas II of Elimeia, probably a diplomatic alliance arranged by Perdiccas as was his right as king. Macedonia was in turmoil and Philip may have done his share in the fights to secure its borders especially with the Peonians and the Thracians. It is not impossible that he experimented with some of the military tactics he had picked up in Thebes.

So, when in 360/59 BC Perdiccas III is killed in a battle against the invading Illyrians as mentioned above, Macedonia was faced with several threats to the kingdom’s security. And there was also the matter of succession to the throne since the dead king’s son Amyntas was still a youngster. The Athenians tried to interfere pushing forward a certain Argaeus and the Thracians with a certain Pausanias who already marched towards the capital city of Pella. Given all these threats, the Macedonian Assembly unexpectedly proclaimed Philip as King, and the people swore their oath of allegiance to him. There is no question (according to Ian Worthington) that Philip was more experienced in military and administrative affairs than either the infant Amyntas or Philip’s three half-brothers (the sons of Gygaea) whose interference if any was inconsequential. It is possible that at this point Philip had his oldest half-brother, Archelaus, killed as a warning to the others who found shelter at Olynthus which Philip besieged later on.

Click here to read the full story about Philip II from the beginning

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Argyraspid, it was high time someone told this impressive story...