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Jewish History From The Babylonian Captivity To The Birth Of Christ

The Antediluvian World

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Grecian Civilization Before The Persian Wars

Rome In Its Infancy Under Kings

The Conquest Of Canaan To The Establishment Of The Kingdom Of David





Philip Of Macedon








No one would have supposed, B.C. 400, that the destruction of
Grecian liberties would come from Macedonia--a semi-barbarous kingdom
which, during the ascendency of Sparta, had so little political
importance. And if any new power threatened to rise over the ruins of the
Spartan State, and become paramount in Greece, it was Thebes. The
successes of Pelopidas and Epaminondas had effectually weakened the power
of Sparta. She no longer enjoyed the headship of Greece. She no longer was
the leader of dependent allies, submitting to her dictation in all
external politics, serving under the officers she appointed, administering
their internal affairs by oligarchies devoted to her purposes, and even
submitting to be ruled by governors whom she put over them. She had lost
her foreign auxiliary force and dignity, and even half of her territory in
Laconia. The Peloponnesians, who once rallied around her were disunited,
and Megalopolis and Messene were hostile. Corinth, Sicyon, Epidaurus, and
other cities, formerly allies, stood aloof, and the grand forces of Hellas
now resided outside of the Peloponnesus. Athens and Thebes were the new
seats of power. Athens had regained her maritime supremacy, and Thebes was
formidable on the land, having absorbed one-third of the Boeotian
territory, and destroyed three or four autonomous cities, and secured
powerful allies in Thessaly.

When the battle of Mantinea was fought, at which Epaminondas lost
his life, Perdiccas, son of Amyntas, was the king of Macedonia. He was
slain, in the flower of his life, in a battle with the Illyrians, B.C.
359. On the advice of Plato, who had been his teacher, he was induced to
bestow upon his brother Philip a portion of territory in Macedonia, who
for three years preceding had been living in Thebes as a hostage, carried
there by Pelopidas at fifteen years of age, when he had reduced Macedonia
to partial submission.

At Thebes the young prince was treated with courtesy, and resided
with one of the principal citizens, and received a good education. He was
also favored with the society of Pelopidas and Epaminondas, and witnessed
with great interest the training of the Theban forces by these two
remarkable men--one the greatest organizer, and the other the greatest
tactician of the age. When transferred from Thebes to a subordinate
government of a district in his brother's kingdom, he organized a military
force on the principles he had learned in Thebes. The unexpected death of
Perdiccas, leaving an infant son, opened to him the prospect of succeeding
to the throne. He first assumed the government as guardian of his young
nephew Amyntas, but the difficulties with which he was surrounded, having
many competitors from other princes of the family of Amyntas, his father,
that he assumed the crown, putting to death one of his half brothers,
while the other two fled into exile.

His first proceeding as king was to buy the Thracians, his enemies,
by presents and promises, so that only the Athenians and the Illyrians
remained formidable. But he made peace with Athens by yielding up
Amphipolis, for the possession of which the Athenians had made war in
Macedonia.

The Athenians, however, neglected to take possession of Amphipolis,
being engaged in a struggle to regain the island of Euboea, then under the
dominion of Thebes. It also happened that a revolt of a large number of
the islands of the AEgean, which belonged to the confederacy of which
Athens was chief, took place--Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Cos, and Rhodes,
including Byzantium. This revolt is called the social war, caused by the
selfishness of Athens in acting more for her own interest than that of her
allies, and neglecting to pay the mercenaries in her service. The revolt
was also stimulated by the intrigues of the Carian prince, Mausolus. But
it was a serious blow to the foreign ascendency of Athens, and in a battle
to recover these islands, the Athenians, under Chabrias, were defeated at
Chios. They were also unsuccessful on the Hellespont from quarrels among
their generals--Timotheus, Iphicrates, and Chares. The popular voice at
Athens laid the blame of defeat on the two former unjustly, in consequence
of which Timotheus was fined one hundred talents, the largest fine ever
imposed at Athens, and shortly after died in exile--a distinguished man,
who had signally maintained the honor and glory of his country. Iphicrates
also was never employed again. The loss of these two generals could
scarcely be repaired. Soon after, peace was made with the revolted cities,
by which their independence and autonomy were guaranteed. This was an
inglorious result of the war to Athens, and fatally impaired her power and
dignity, so that she was unable to make a stand against the aggressions of
Philip.


One of the first things he did after defeating the Illyrians was to
lay siege to Amphipolis, although he had ceded the city to Athens. For
this treachery there was no other reason than ambition and the weakened
power of Athens. Amphipolis had long remained free, and was not disposed
to give up its liberties, and sent to Athens for aid. Philip, an arch
politician, contrived by his intrigues to prevent Athens from giving
assistance. The neglect of Athens was a great mistake, for Amphipolis
commanded the passage over the Strymon, and shut up Macedonia from the
east, and was, moreover, easily defensible by sea. Deprived of aid from
Athens, the city fell into the hands of Philip, and was an acquisition of
great importance. It was the most convenient maritime station in Thrace,
and threw open to him all the country east of the Strymon, and especially
the gold region near Mount Pangreus. This place henceforward became one of
the bulwarks of Macedonia, until the Roman conquest.

Having obtained this place, he commenced, without a declaration of
war against Athens, a series of hostile measures, while he professed to be
her friend. He deprived her of her hold upon the Thermaic Gulf, conquered
Pydna and Potidaea, and conciliated Olynthus. His power was thus so far
increased that he founded a new city, called Philippi, in the regions
where his gold mines yielded one thousand talents yearly. He then married
Olympias, daughter of a prince of the Molossi, who gave birth, in the year
B.C. 356, to a son destined to conquer the world.

The capture of Amphipolis by Philip was, of course, followed by war
with Athens, which lasted twelve years. And this war commenced at a time
Athens was in great embarrassments, owing to the social war.

But he was aided by another event of still greater importance--the
sacred war, which for a time convulsed the Hellenic world, and which grew
out of the accusation of Thebes, before the Amphictyonic Council, that
Sparta had seized her citadel in time of profound peace. The sentence of
the council, that Sparta should pay a fine of five hundred talents, was a
departure of Grecian custom, and Sparta refused to pay it, which refusal
led to her exclusion from the council, the Delphic temple, and the Pythian
games, and this exclusion again arrayed the different States of Greece
against each other, as to the guardianship of the Oracle itself.

Philip of Macedon seized this opportunity, when so many States were
engaged in war, to prosecute his schemes. He attacked Methone, the last
remaining possession of Athens on the Macedonian coast, and captured the
city, and then advanced into Thessaly against the despots of Pherae, who
invoked the aid of Onomarchus, now very powerful.

It was at this time, B.C. 353, that Demosthenes, the orator,
appeared before the Athenian people. He was about twenty-seven years of
age, and the wealth of his father secured him great advantages in
education. His father died while he was young, and his property was
confided to the care of guardians, named in his father's will. But they
administered the property with such negligence, that only a small sum came
to Demosthenes when he attained his civil majority, at the age of sixteen.
After repeated complaints, he brought a judicial action against one of the
guardians, and obtained verdict against him to the extent of ten talents.
But the guardian delayed the payment, and Demosthenes lost nearly all his
patrimony. He had, however, received a good education, and in spite of a
feeble constitution, he mastered all the learning of the age. His family
influence enabled him to get an early introduction to public affairs, and
he proceeded to train himself as a speaker, and a writer of speeches for
others. He put himself under the teaching of a famous rhetorician, Iaenus,
and profited by the discourses of Plato and Isocrates then in the height
of their fame. He also was a great student of Thucydides, and copied his
whole history, with his own hand, eight times. He still had to contend
against a poor voice, and an ungraceful gesticulation; but by unwearied
labor he overcame his natural difficulties so as to satisfy the most
critical Athenian audience. But this conquest in self-education was only
made by repeated trials and humiliations, and it is said he even spoke
with pebbles in his mouth, and prepared himself to overcome the noise of
the Assembly by declaiming in stormy weather on the sea-shore. He
sometimes passed two or three mouths in a subterranean chamber, practicing
by day and by night, both in composition and declamation, such pains did
those old Greeks take to perfect themselves in art; for public speaking is
an art, as well as literary composition. He learned Sophocles by heart,
and took lessons from actors even to get the true accent. It was several
years before he was rewarded with success, and then his delivery was full
of vehemence and energy, but elaborate and artificial. But it was not more
labor which made Demosthenes the greatest orator of antiquity, and
perhaps, of all ages and nations, but also natural genius. His
self-training merely developed the great qualities of which he was
conscious, as was Disraeli when he made his early failures in Parliament.
Without natural gifts of eloquence, he might have worked till doomsday
without producing the extraordinary effect which is ascribed to him, for
his speeches show great insight, genius, and natural force, as well as
learning, culture, and practice; so that they could be read like the
speeches of Burke and Webster, with great effect. He had great political
sagacity, moral wisdom, elevation of sentiment, and patriotic ardor, as
well as art. He would have been great, if he had stammered all his life.
He composed speeches for other great orators before he had confidence in
his own eloquence.

In contrast with Demosthenes, who was rich, was Phocion, who
remained poor, and would receive neither money nor gifts. He went
barefoot, like Socrates, and had only one female slave in his household,
was personally incorruptible, and also brave in battle, so that he was
elected to the office of strategus, or general, forty-five times, without
ever having solicited place or been present at the election. He had great
contempt of fine speeches, yet was most effective as an orator for his
brevity, good sense, and patriotism, and despised the "warlike eloquence,
un-warlike despotism, paid speech-writing, and delicate habits of
Demosthenes."

This Athenian, with Spartan character and habits, was opposed to
the war with Philip, and was therefore the leading opponent of
Demosthenes, whose foresight and sagacity led him to penetrate the schemes
of the Macedonian king. But the Athenians were generally induced to a
peace policy in degenerate times, and did not sympathize with the lofty
principles which Demosthenes declared, and hence the influence of Phocion,
though of commanding patriotism and morality, was mischievous, while that
of Demosthenes was good. The citizens of Athens, enriched by commerce and
enervated by leisure, were at this time averse to the burdens of military
service, and formed a striking contrast to their ancestors one hundred
years earlier, in the time of Pericles. In the time of Demosthenes, they
sought home pleasures, the refinements of art, and the enjoyments of
cultivated life, not warlike enterprises. And this decline in military
spirit was equally noticeable in the cities of the Peloponnesus. And hence
the cities of Greece resorted to mercenaries, like Carthage, and intrusted
to them the defense of their liberties. The warlike spirit of ancient
Sparta and Athens now was pre-eminent in Macedonia, where the people were
poor, hardy, adventurous and bold.

It was against these warlike Macedonians, rude and hardy, that the refined
Athenians were now to contend, led by a prince of uncommon military
talents and insatiable ambition, and who joined craft to bravery and
genius. Demosthenes in vain invoked the ancient spirit which had inspired
the heroes of Marathon.

In the year 383 B.C., Philip attacked Lyeophron, of Pherae, in
Thessaly. Onomarchus, then victorious over the Thebans, advanced against
Philip, and defeated him in two battles, so that the Macedonian army
withdrew from Thessaly. But Philip repaired his losses, marched again into
Thessaly, defeated the Phocians, and slew Onomarchus. His conquest of
Pherae was now easy, and he rapidly made himself master of all Thessaly,
and expelled Lycophron. He then marched to Thermopylae, to the great alarm
of Athens, which sent a force to resist him, which force succeeded in
defending the pass, and keeping Philip, for a time, from entering Southern
Greece. The Phocians also rallied, again availed themselves of the
treasure of Delphi, and melted down the golden ornaments and vessels which
Croesus, the Lydian king, had given one hundred years before, among which
were three hundred and sixty golden goblets, from the proceeds of which a
new army of mercenaries was raised.

The power of Philip was now exceedingly formidable, and his
successes inspired great alarm throughout Greece, as would appear from the
first Philippic of Demosthenes, delivered in B.C. 352. But the Grecian
States had no general able to cope with him on the land, while he created
a navy to annoy the Athenians at sea.

For a time, however, the efforts of Philip were diverted from
Southern and Central Greece, in order to conquer the Olynthians. They were
his neighbors, and had been his allies; but the expulsion of the Athenians
from the coast of Thrace and Macedonia now alarmed the Olynthians,
together with the increasing power of Philip, so that they concluded a
treaty of peace with Athens. Hostilities broke out in the year 350 B.C.,
and Demosthenes put forward all his eloquence to excite his countrymen to
vigorous war. Athens, partially aroused, sent a body of mercenaries to the
assistance of Olynthus, one of the most flourishing of the cities of
Chalcidia, southeast of Macedonia. But before effective aid could he
rendered, the island of Euboea, through the intrigues of Philip, revolted
from Athens. It was in an expedition to recover that island that
Demosthenes served as a hoplite in the army, under Phocion as general. It
was not till the summer of B.C. 348 that this territory was recovered by
Athens. In the year following, Athens made great exertions in behalf of
Olynthus, and amid great financial embarrassments. Three expeditions were
sent into Chalcidia, under the command of Chares, numbering altogether
four thousand Athenians and ten thousand mercenaries. But they were
powerless against the conquering arms of Philip, who completely overran
and devastated the peninsula, taking thirty-two cities, and selling the
people for slaves. At last Olynthus fell, B.C. 347, and the spoils of this
old Hellenic city were divided among the soldiers of the conqueror, who
celebrated his victories by a splendid festival.

No such calamity had befallen Greece for a century as the conquest of
Chalcidia, and it filled Athens with unspeakable alarms. AEschines, the
rival of Demosthenes as an orator, now joined with him in denouncing
Philip as the common enemy of Greece. Aristodemus was sent to him with
propositions of peace, and Philip professed to entertain them favorably,
with his characteristic duplicity.

Meanwhile the sacred war had impoverished the Phocians, and there
were dissensions among themselves. Their temple of Delphi had already been
stripped of the enormous sum of ten thousand talents, eleven million five
hundred thousand dollars, probably equal in our times to two hundred and
thirty million dollars; so that it must have been richer, when the
relative value of gold and silver is considered, than any church in
Christendom. The treasures of the temple, enriched for three hundred years
by offerings from all parts of the world, still enabled the Phocians to
maintain war with Thebes. At last the Thebans invoked the aid of Philip,
and a Macedonian army, under Parmenio, advanced as far as Thessaly. But
the Phocians, in alarm, entreated both Sparta and Athens for assistance.
The crisis was great, for if Philip should once secure the Pass of
Thermopylae, all Southern Greece was in imminent danger. The whole defense
of Greece now turned upon this Pass, of as much importance to Philip as to
Athens and Sparta, for it was the only road into Greece. Envoys were again
sent from Athens to Philip, to learn on what conditions peace could be
secured, among whom were Demosthenes and AEschines. But he would grant no
better terms than that each party should retain what they already
possessed, and the Athenians consented. Philip reaped all the advantages
of a peace, which gave him the possession of the cities and territory he
had taken. The Phocians were left out in the negotiations, a fatal step,
since it required the united forces of Greece from preventing the further
encroachments of the Macedonian king. He had now leisure for the
completion of the conquest of Thrace. When this was completed, he marched
toward Thermopylae, which was held by the Phocians, carefully veiling his
real intentions, and even pretending that his advance to the south was for
the purpose of reconstituting the Boeotian cities and putting down Thebes.
His real object was to surprise the Pass, for he was a man who had very
little respect to treaties, promises, or oaths. All this while he
contrived to deceive Athens and the Phocians, with the connivance of
AEschines, whom he had bribed or cheated. But he did not deceive
Demosthenes, who entreated his countrymen to make a stand against him,
even at the eleventh hour, for he was then within three days' march of the
Pass. But the eloquence and warnings of Demosthenes were in vain. The
people went with AEschines, who persuaded them that Philip was friendly to
Athens and only hostile to Thebes. It was the design of Philip to detach
Athens from the Phocians, and thus make his conquest easier; and he
succeeded by his falsehoods and intrigues. Under these circumstances, the
Phocians surrendered to Philip the pass, which they ought to have defended
at all hazard, and the king retired to Phocis, but still professed the
greatest friendship for Athens, with whom he made peace.

Master now of Phocis, with a triumphant army, he openly joined the
Thebans and restored the Temple of Delphi to its inhabitants, and convoked
the Amphictyonic Council, which dispossessed the Phocians of their place
in the assembly, and conferred it upon Philip. The unhappy Phocians were
now reduced to a state of utter ruin. Their towns were dismantled, and
their villages were not allowed to contain over fifty houses each. They
were stripped, and slain, and their fields laid waste. Philip was now
master of the keys of Greece, and the recognized leader of the
Amphictyonic Council. Athens had secured an inglorious peace with her
enemy, through the corruption of her own envoys, B.C. 346, and was soon to
reap the penalty of her credulity and indolence. She allowed herself to be
deceived, and Philip, in co-operation with Thebes, the enemy of Athens,
presently threw off the mask and disgracefully renewed the war with
Athens, He had gained his object by bribery and falsehood. It is mournful
that the Athenians should not have listened to the warnings of the most
sagacious patriot who adorned those degenerate times, but the influence of
AEschines was then paramount, and he was sold to Philip. He cried peace,
when there was no peace. The great error of Athens was in not rendering
timely assistance to the Phocians, who possessed the Pass of Thermopylae,
although they had brought upon themselves the indignation of Greece by the
seizure of the Delphic treasures.

The victories and encroachments of Philip, within the line of
common Grecian defense, were profoundly lamented by Demosthenes, and he
now felt that it was expedient to keep on terms of peace with so powerful
and unscrupulous and cunning a man. Isocrates wished Philip to reconcile
the four great cities of Greece, Sparta, Athens, Thebes, and Argos, put
himself at the head of their united forces, and Greece generally, invade
Persia, and liberate the Asiatic Greeks. But this was putting the Hellenic
world under one man, and renouncing the independence of States and the
autonomy of cities--the great principles of Grecian policy from the
earliest historic times, and therefore a complete subversion of Grecian
liberties, and the establishment of a centralized power under Philip,
whose patrimonial kingdom was among the least civilized in Greece.

The peace between Philip and Athens lasted, without any formal
renunciation, for six years, during which the Macedonian king pursued his
aggressive policy and his intrigues in all the States of Greece. His
policy was precisely that of Rome when it meditated the conquest of the
world, only his schemes were confined chiefly to Greece. Every year his
power increased, while the States of Greece remained inactive and
uncombined--a proof of the degeneracy of the times--certainly in regard to
self-sacrifices to secure their independence. Demosthenes plainly saw the
approaching absorption of Greece in the Macedonian dominion, unless the
States should unite for common defense; and he took every occasion to
denounce Philip, not only in Athens, but to the envoys of the different
States. The counsels of the orator were a bitter annoyance to the despot,
who sent to Athens letters of remonstrance.

At last an occasion was presented for hostilities by the refusal of
the Athenians to allow Philip to take possession of the island of
Halicarnassus, claiming the island as their own. Reprisals took place, and
Philip demanded the possession of the Hellespont and Bosphorus, and the
Greek cities on their coast, of the greatest value to Athens, since she
relied upon the possession of the straits for the unobstructed importation
of corn. The Athenians now began to realize the encroaching ambition of
Philip, and to listen to Demosthenes, who, about this time, B.C. 341,
delivered his third Philippic. From this time to the battle of Chaeronea,
the influence of Demosthenes was greater than that of any other man in
Athens, which too late listened to his warning voice. Through his
influence, Euboea was detached from Philip, and also Byzantium, and they
were brought into alliance with Athens. Philip was so much chagrined that
he laid siege to Perinthus, and marched through the Chersonese, which was
part of the Athenian territory, upon which Athens declared war. Philip, on
his side, issued a manifesto declaring his wrongs, as is usual with
conquerors, and announced his intention of revenge. The Athenians fitted
out a fleet and sent it under Chares to the Hellespont. Philip prosecuted,
on his part, the siege of Perinthus, on the Propontis, with an army of
thirty thousand men, with a great number of military engines. One of his
movable towers was one hundred and twenty feet high, so that he was able
to drive away the defenders of the walls by missiles. He succeeded in
driving the citizens of this strong town into the city, and it would have
shared the fate of Olynthus, had it not been relieved by the Byzantine and
Grecian mercenaries. Philip was baffled, after a siege of three months,
and turned his forces against Byzantium, but this town was also relieved
by the Athenians, and the inhabitants from the islands of the AEgean. These
operations lasted six mouths, and were the greatest adverses which Philip
had as yet met with. A vote of thanks was decreed by the Athenians to
Demosthenes, who had stimulated these enterprises. Philip was obliged to
withdraw from Byzantium, and retreated to attack the Scythians. An
important reform in the administration of the marine was effected by
Demosthenes, although opposed by the rich citizens and by AEschines.

While these events transpired, a new sacred war was declared by the
Amphictyonic Council against the Locrians of Amphissa, kindled by
AEschines, which more than compensated Philip for his repulse at Byzantium,
bringing advantage to him and ruin to Grecian liberty. But the Athenians
stood aloof from this suicidal war, when all the energies of Greece were
demanded to put down the encroachments of Philip. As was usual in these
intestine troubles, the weaker party invoked the aid of a foreign power,
and the Amphictyonic Assembly, intent on punishing Amphissa, sought
assistance from Philip. He, of course, accepted the invitation, and
marched south through Thermopylae, proclaiming his intention to avenge the
Delphian god. In his march he took Nicaea from the Thebans, and entered
Phocis, and converted Elatea into a permanent garrison. Hitherto he had
only proclaimed himself as a general acting under the Amphictyonic vote to
avenge the Delphian god,--now he constructed a military post in the heart
of Greece.

Thebes, ever since the battle of Leuctra, had been opposed to
Athens, and even now unfriendly relations existed between the two cities,
and Philip hoped that Thebes would act in concert with him against Athens.
But this last outrage of Philip exceedingly alarmed Athens, and
Demosthenes stood up in the Assembly to propose an embassy to Thebes with
offers of alliance. His advice was adopted, and he was dispatched with
other envoys to Thebes. The Athenian orator, in spite of the influence of
the Macedonian envoys, carried his point with the Theban Assembly, and an
alliance was formed between Thebes and Athens. The Athenian army marched
at once to Thebes, and vigorous measures were made at Athens for the
defensive war which so seriously threatened the loss of Grecian liberty.
The alliance was a great disappointment to Philip, who remained at Phocis,
and sent envoys to Sparta, inviting the Peloponnesians to join him against
Amphissa. But the Thebans and Athenians maintained their ground against
him, and even gained some advantages. Among other things, they
reconstituted the Phocian towns. The Athenians and their allies had a
force of fifteen thousand infantry and two thousand cavalry, and
Demosthenes was the war minister by whom these forces were collected.
These efforts on the part of Thebes and Athens led to renewed preparations
on the part of Philip. He defeated a large body of mercenaries, and took
Amphissa. Unfortunately, the Athenians had no general able to cope with
him, and it was the work of Demosthenes merely to keep up the courage of
his countrymen and incite them to effort.

At last, in the month of August, Philip, with thirty thousand foot
and two thousand horse, met the allied Greeks at Chaeronea, the last
Boeotian town on the frontiers of Phocis. The command of the armies of the
allies was shared between the Thebans and Athenians, but their movements
were determined by a council of civilians and generals, of which
Demosthenes was the leading spirit. Philip, in this battle, which decided
the fortunes of Greece, commanded the right wing, opposed to the
Athenians, and his son Alexander, the left wing, opposed to the Thebans.
The Macedonian phalanx, organized by Philip, was sixteen deep, with
veteran soldiers in the front. The Theban "Sacred Band" was overpowered
and broken by its tremendous force, much increased by the long pikes which
projected in front of the foremost soldiers. But the battle was not gained
by the phalanx alone. The organization of the Macedonian army was perfect,
with many other sorts of troops, bodyguards, light hoplites, light
cavalry, bowmen, and slingers. One thousand Athenians were slain, and two
thousand more were made captives. The Theban loss was still greater.

Unspeakable was the grief and consternation of Athens, when the
intelligence reached her of this decisive victory. A resolution was at
once taken for a vigorous defense of the city. All citizens sent in their
contributions, and every hand was employed on the fortifications. The
temples were stripped of arms, and envoys were sent to various places for
aid.

Thebes was unable to rally, and fell into the hands of the victors,
and a Macedonian garrison was placed in the Cadmea, or citadel. From
Athens, envoys were sent to Philip for peace, which was granted on the
condition that he should be recognized as the chief of the Hellenic world.
It was a great humiliation to Athens to concede this, after having
defeated the Persian hosts, and keeping out so long all foreign
domination. But times had changed, and the military spirit had fled.

Athens was not prostrated by the battle of Chaeronea. She still retained
her navy, and her civic rights. Thebes was utterly prostrated, and never
rallied again.

Philip, having now subjugated Thebes, and constrained Athens into
submission, next proceeded to carry his arms into the Peloponnesus. He
found but little resistance, except in Laconia. The Corinthians, Argeians,
Messenians, Elians, and Arcadians submitted to his power. Even Sparta
could make but feeble resistance. He laid waste Laconia, and then convened
a congress of Grecian cities at Corinth, and announced his purpose to
undertake an expedition against the king of Persia, avenge the invasion of
Greece by Xerxes, and liberate the Asiatic Greeks. A large force of two
hundred thousand foot and fifteen thousand horse was promised him, and all
the States of Greece concurred, except Sparta, which held aloof from the
congress. Athens was required to furnish a well equipped fleet. All the
States, and all the islands, and all the cities of Greece, were now
subservient to Philip, and no one State could exercise control over its
former territories.

It was in the year B.C. 337, that this great scheme for the
invasion of Persia was concerted, which created no general enthusiasm,
since Persia was no longer a power to be feared. The only power to be
feared now was Macedonia. While preparations were going on for this
foolish and unnecessary expedition, the prime mover of it was
assassinated, and his career, so disastrous to Grecian liberty, came to an
end. It seems that he had repudiated his wife, Olympias, disgusted with
the savage impulses of her character, and married, for his last wife, for
he had several, Cleopatra, which provoked bitter dissensions among the
partisans of the two queens, and also led to a separation between himself
and his son Alexander, although a reconciliation afterward took place. It
was while celebrating the marriage of his daughter by Olympias, with
Alexander, king of Epirus, and also the birth of a son by Cleopatra, that
Pausanias, one of the royal body-guard, who nourished an implacable hatred
of Philip, chose his opportunity, and stabbed him with a short sword he
had concealed under his garment.

Alexander, the son of Philip by Olympias, was at once declared
king, whose prosecution of the schemes of his father are to be recounted
in the next chapter. Philip perished at the age of forty-seven, after a
most successful reign of twenty-three years. On his accession he found his
kingdom a narrow territory around Pella, excluded from the sea-coast. At
his death the Macedonian kingdom was the most powerful in Greece, and all
the States and cities, except Sparta, recognized its ascendency. He had
gained this great power, more from the weakness and dissensions of the
Grecian States, than from his own strength, great as were his talents. He
became the arbiter of Greece by unscrupulous perjury and perpetual
intrigues. But he was a great organizer, and created a most efficient
army. Without many accomplishments, he affected to be a patron of both
letters and religion. His private life was stained by character or
drunkenness, gambling, perfidy, and wantonness. His wives and mistresses
were as numerous as those of an Oriental despot. He was a successful man,
but it must be borne in mind that he had no opponents like Epaminondas, or
Agesilaus, or Iphicrates. Demosthenes was his great opponent, but only in
counsels and speech. The generals of Athens, and Sparta, and Thebes had
passed away, and with the decline of military spirit, it is not remarkable
that Philip should have ascended to a height from which he saw the Grecian
world suppliant at his feet.





Next: Alexander The Great

Previous: Dionysius And Sicily



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