II of Macedonia
King of Macedonia
and father of Alexander the Great, Philip was born in Pella as the youngest
son of king Amyntas II. At the age of 23 he seized power after a short time
as a regent for his nephew Amyntas. After reorganising the Macedonian army
he secured his kingdom and his seat on the throne.
Much of his strategic knowledge he had taken while hostage in Thebes under Epaminondas. The young Philip had studied the Theban tactics there and had also learnt the complicated politics between the many Greek city states.
Philip II led a very aggressive policy, conquering places like Amphipolis, Potidea, Pydna and Crenides, which was renamed Philippi. He made his way down to Thermopylae, and in 351 Demosthenes started publicly speaking to the Athenians against the Macedonians.
Philip knew to take advantage of the hostilities between the Greek city states, and when Thebes asked for help against the Phoceans, he gladly obliged After defeating Phocis in 356 Philip got the right to participate in Greek politics as a member of the Amphictyonic League instead of Phocis. He was made commander of the league's forces, which of course upset Demosthenes and his fellow Athenians.
Together with Thebes they tried to defeat him, but they lost the battle of Chaeronea in 338, making Philip complete master of Greece. The Thebans were severely punished by Philip, but he decided to be merciful to the Athenians. This made him very popular, and the people of Athens hade a statue of him raised, and Alexander was made honorary citizen.
After this Philip turned to Asia and started preparations to invade Persia. Not before long, though, he was assassinated and succeeded by Alexander. The assassination was regarded as very suspicious by its contemporaries.
Philip had been married to Olympias, a princess from Epirus. She was known for her beauty, but also for her orgiastic religiosity, and when Philip divorced her to marry his young mistress Cleopatra Olympia set out to get her revenge. She tried to incite her brother, the king of Epirus, to make war against the Macedonians, but Philip calmed him down by letting him have Philip and Olympias daughter, his niece, as his wife.
At the magnificent wedding there were processions, games and plays, and Philip was murdered while entering the theatre. After the assassi-nation, Cleopatra and her son were also murdered, and Olympia and Alexander were both suspected of the crime, even though Alexander claimed the Persian king was behind the deed.
Philips supposed tomb in Vergina was discovered and excavated by the Greek archeologist Andronicus in 1977. One of Philips most quoted utterances was Divide and Rule, in latin Divide et impera.