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 Drangiana/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)

Friday, September 2, 2011

Philip’s involvement in the Sacred Wars - Macedonia forged by Philip II - 5

Philip’s involvement in the Sacred Wars (355 BC)
But soon thereafter another situation called for Philip’s full attention when in 356 BC the state of Phocis seized Delphi, the home of Apollo’s oracle. His involvement in this Sacred War could and would boost Macedonia’s power dramatically.

Now the very name of Sacred War raises some questions with most of us and we tend to associate or compare it with our Crusaders heading for the Holy Land in the Middle-Ages. Yet, nothing is less true. Here it is all about the oracle site of Delphi, which the Greeks considered to be far too important for a single state or city to control. As a result they created an association of states called the Amphictyonic League to protect them - the word “amphictyony” meaning as much as “those that dwell around or near”. This Amphictyonic League was very powerful and at some point even counted as much as 24 states. This League was led by a Council functioning as its executive arm. So, whenever the oracle was violated, the Amphictyonic Council  would meet and could declare a Sacred War against the offending state, calling to the other league members to defend the rights of the Delphian Apollo.

The Third Sacred War that lasted from 355 till 346 BC was the one in which Philip got involved, fighting over the occupation of Delphi by Phocis, roughly the territory locked between Thessaly and Attica, because the Phocians cultivated land on which the sacrificial animals of Delphi were kept. But there was also a matter of unpaid fines, not only by Phocis but by other states as well, which made matters worse.

This situation escalated when Phocis tried to take advantage of the hostile feelings between Thebes - then a formidable military power - on one side, and Athens and Sparta on the other; while taking sides with Athens, Phocis arrogantly invaded Delphi with a nice promise to protect its treasuries. A sensitive matter since this is the place where beside the famous oracle, precious offerings and money from all over Greece were kept. All the states got involved one way or another and in 355 BC the Amphictyonic Council  declared the Sacred War against Phocis.


Phocis stubbornly went on the warpath, bluntly seizing part of the temple’s treasury in order to hire mercenaries, some ten thousand of them. It is interesting to learn from Ian Worthington that a mercenary in those days was nothing like what we understand it to be today. And I quote: “Mercenaries formed a distinct group that was an accepted part of Greek society; they had their own identity as a group regardless of where they came from, and they played a political and economic role in relations between states. States and generals who provided or led mercenary armies for rulers and the like made political and trading contacts with them. The Greeks had no word for ‘mercenary’ as such, but instead used terms like epikouros, ‘fighter-alongside’, misthophoros, ‘ wage-earner’ and xenos misthophoros, ‘foreign wage-earner’ (cfr Philip of Macedonia, Ian Worthington).” This army defeated the states of eastern Thessaly, splitting the territory in two. Facing this threatening situation, Larissa in eastern Thessaly turned to Philip for help. But Philip was busy laying siege on Methone, and when that was taken care of the next summer (354 BC) he went on to take four towns in eastern Thrace which were key ports on Athens’ corn route from the Black Sea.


Yet Larissa’s call for help was something that Philip could not ignore as Macedonia’s southern border could not be compromised. Besides, it was a convenient stepping stone for him to get more closely involved in the politics of Central Greece. Surprisingly and unexpectedly, Philips’ army was defeated by the Phocians – or should I say by the mercenaries they had hired. Antique sources tell us that Philip’s army had fallen into a trap set by Phocis, and that the king had to leave behind a large number of dead and injured soldiers. Of the men still alive, many deserted him and it was only with great difficulty that he instilled them enough courage and discipline to obey his orders in the retreat.

The outcome of this battle rattled like a thunderbolt through the streets of Eastern Thrace and Athens, followed by Illyria, Paeonia and even Epirus who all welcomed a potential disintegration in Philip’s power. Eastern Thracia was the first to renew its alliance with Athens which meant a serious blow to Philip’s arduous diplomatic maneuvers. Then Olynthus, in spite of its treaty of 357 BC with Philip, sought an alliance with Athens. The blow must have hit Philip very hard, making him realize how vulnerable Macedonia still was and how easily it could fall back in the chaos he found when he became king.

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