Philip was a politician (Ellis, 1976, p.7). He knew how to influence those around him and how he could use them. For example Demosthenes tells he used ‘deception’ rather than force to take towns (Demosthenes, Philippic III, 13). He would get people loyal to him to seize the towns for him. He was the final judge to his people and would spend a lot of his time devoted to settling their disputes (Hammond, 1996, p.185). This may seem surprising but it was one of the things that the king of Macedon was expected to do. His people swore loyalty to him and he swore loyalty to them in that he would stick to the laws of the land (Ellis,1976, p.28). This was not one of the ways in which he signified that he was a new type of king. Neither was the fact that he was regarded as the chief priest within Macedon. These were the honours and customs that were passed down from one king to the next. It was expected that the Macedonian king would be these.
One of Philip’s greatest achievements was the reformed army. It during his reign that it was to become the leading army in the Mediterranean (Hammond, 1994, p.187) However, King Archelaus had made his own military reforms which included the cutting of straight roads into the country which would be of great benefit to horses, heavy infantry and the transportation of other war materials if we are to believe Thucydides (Book 2, 100, 2). Furthermore, it was not Philip who first trained the troops to adopt a phalanx formation. That honour goes to his brother, Alexander II (Hammond, 1994, p.9). King Agesilaos showed Philip and Alexander III what could possibly be done with the army in Asia Minor in terms of conquest in 396-4 BC, this perhaps provided a model for them. (Austin, 1993, p.203).
If we consider what it was that Philip had done, then it is perhaps only to have trained the cavalry to ride in formation and use their weapons much more effectively (Cawkwell, 1978, p.32). We should not forget the importance of the new Sarissa however; it was five and a half metres long and required both hands in order to wield it properly (Cawkwell, 1978, p.33 and Shipley, 1993, p.17). Even if he did not do as many military reforms as might liked to be believed, he was the Macedonian king who realised that the army could be used in order to affirm his power; ‘the vital elements were already there, the realisation of their potential was his achievement’ (Ellis,1976, p.9). He did make all of the cavalry and the foot soldiers his Companions. This was a fundamental move in ridding himself of the possibility of regional kings defecting with the troops to suit their [the regional kings’] motives and ambitions (Cawkwell, 1978, p.38), before it had just been the cavalry who were the kings’ companions. Furthermore he did not rest in the winter and campaign just in the summer (Demosthenes, Philippic III, 50). Instead he would campaign constantly and so enemy states had no real time to rest from his attacks. The army were used constantly and were his companions, they had effectively become the state like him (Ellis,1976, p.231).
The kings during the Athenian Empire greatest height struggled ‘to keep them at arms length’ and this was repeated again when the Spartans became the dominant force within the Greek world (Cawkwell, 1978, p.23). The fact that Philip was able to turn these tables around so that it was the Greek states that would struggle to keep Macedon at arms length is testament to his abilities as a king and shows just what the changes that he brought about could achieve. Macedon could now easily intervene where it saw fit, unlike in the fifth century when it simply was not strong enough to enter neighbouring Thessaly (Cawkwell, 1978, pp.20-5). To survive on the Macedonian throne was ‘ambition enough’ for Philip (Ellis,1976, p.9). Between the kings Archelaus and Amyntus (the years 399-392 BC) most of Archelaus’ achievements had been undone. Macedon was once again week and Amyntus nearly lost his throne only months after his succession with the Illyrian invasion (Cawkwell, 1978, p.25). By 359 BC Macedon was completely exposed to its enemies who surrounded it. Philip therefore had a hard task in attempting to consolidate his power. Despite the odds of succeeding in doing this he did. He was able to at first buy off the Paeonians and the Thracian king, and then defeated them after he had beaten Argaeus (Cawkwell, 1978, pp.29-30).
He made the unity of Macedon so that there was one kingdom with the one people. This would have the implications of a smaller chance of risings and defections against the monarchy (Hammond, 1994, p.188). The king effectively became the king, Philip. Peace treaties along with other governmental matters were signed in his name on behalf of Macedon (Bosworth, 1988, p.6). Prior to this, Macedon had been split into lower Macedon which was in the direct control of the Macedonian king, whilst upper Macedon was controlled by tribal kings who were still subject to the King of Macedon (Cawkwell, 1978, p.20). Macedon was a key area for agriculture in the Aegean and as such Philip had a major resource at his hands, food for his people (Bosworth, 1988, p.10). This was another key way in which Philip proved himself to be a new kind of king, he was able to unite a country and exploit its resources in order to dominate. Philip had brought his people down from the mountains and made them into city-dwellers, civilising them with laws (Arrian Anabasis, 7.9).
It was during his Theban captivity that Philip learnt the secret of their power as the most dominant Greek poleis at the time; the constant ‘training, practise, experience and action’ of the military along with a body of elite troops, the shock tactics that was used and the using of both the cavalry and infantry together instead of as separate entities (Hammond, 1994, p.10). This had a profound effect on him and can be possibly attributed to his successes on the battlefield with him following the example of the Theban general, Epaminondas. It could also be a reason as to why he introduced the educational policy with the sons of some of the hetairoi class, being taken away from their families and assigned to the Royal Court as well as the reasoning of keeping these families loyal. This is where the later generals would come from for both Philip and Alexander. There they were taught loyalty to the king, administrative work and military actions (Cawkwell, 1978, p.39 and Ellis, 1976, p.231). This was a new policy which made Philip a new kind of Macedonian king, he was constantly thinking about how he could keep the unity of his country and integrated the means in which to do this.
Philip even with all his councillors could still make decisions with very little actual consultation (Bosworth, 1988, p.8). He was patience and knew his limits. For example he knew that despite his powerful army, he did not have the capacity to build and maintain a fleet which might be able to defeat the Athenian fleet. (Cawkwell, 1978, p.164). He had the power to buy the good-will of his opponents as well as encourage their co-operation. He could even finance dissidents to seize their home cities (Bosworth, 1988, p.9). Philip’s forces were strong and large enough to allow him to police the Macedonian plains against any marauders as well as giving him the man power to carry out his military plans (Cawkwell, 1978, p.81). Propaganda needed by Macedonian kings to do with the reason for the Persian invasion so that they had the ‘status in relation to the Greek world’ (Austin, 1993, p.201).
Philip was in some ways a new kind of Macedonian king and in others very much a product of the Macedonian lineage. He was able to unite Macedon under the one banner and to make it a truly united kingdom, something his predecessors seemed unable to do or to keep as. Philip retained the aspects of kingship that were expected of him and in these ways he was not a new kind of Macedonian king, he remained the chief judge and priest and was the protector of the people. However how he did this last point is where he begins to become the new kind of king. He expanded the territory of Macedon and finished the developments to the army that led to them becoming the dominant force in Greece and the Mediterranean. Even if these reforms had been begun by past kings, it was Philip who had disciplined the troops to constantly train. It was Philip who had the ideas for expansion after his defence of the territory that had always been weak. He made it strong and made Macedon a central power which would be powerful for decades to come with fine commanders due to his education system. Overall Philip was the precedent for what Alexander the Great would go on to achieve.
Arrian. Anabasis, 7.9 as cited by Shipley, G. 1993. Introduction: The Limits of War. In J. Rich and G. Shipley (eds), War and Society in the Greek World, (Leicester-Nottingham Studies in Ancient Society, 4), London and New York: Routledge.
Demosthenes. Olynthaic I and Philippic III (trans. A.N.W. Saunders) in Saunders, A.N.W, 1970, Greek Political Oratory, Bungay, Suffolk: Penguin Books.
Thucydides. Book 2, Chapters 90-105, (trans. P.J. Rhodes) in Rhodes, P.J. 1988. Warminster: Aris & Phillips.
Shipley, G. 1993. Introduction: The Limits of War. In J. Rich and G. Shipley (eds), War and Society in the Greek World, (Leicester-Nottingham Studies in Ancient Society, 4), London and New York: Routledge.
Austin, M. 1993. Alexander and the Macedonian Invasion of Asia: Aspect of the Historiography of War and Empire in Antiquity. In J. Rich and G. Shipley (eds), War and Society in the Greek World, (Leicester-Nottingham Studies in Ancient Society, 4), London and New York: Routledge.
Ellis, J.R. 1976. Philip II and Macedonian Imperialism, London: Thames and Hudson.
Parkins, H. and Shipley G. 1998. Greek Kings and Roman Emperors. In B.A. Sparkes (ed.), Greek Civilisation: An Introduction, Oxford: Blackwell.
Cawkwell, G. 1978. Philip of Macedon, London: Faber and Faber.
Hammond, N.G.L. 1994. Philip of Macedon, London: Duckworth.
Bosworth, A.B. 1988. Conquest and Empire: The Reign of Alexander the Great, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.