chapter  25
18 Pages

THE RISE OF MACEDON (359-336): DIPLOMACY AND WARFARE UNDER PHILIP II

The geography of Macedonia can be divided into two parts: Lower and Upper Macedonia. Lower Macedonia, which was the heart of the kingdom, consisted of a fertile coastal plain, situated on the shores of the Thermaic Gulf in the north-west Aegean; this region was ruled by the dynasty of the Argeadae, but internal dissension within the ruling family had in the past kept it weak. Upper Macedonia to the west consisted of a number of large inland plateaux, surrounded by high mountains, which were divided politically into cantons, each governed by their own dynasties. Thus this geographically and politically divided country was exposed to attack from Thessaly and the other major Greek powers in the south, from the non-Greek Illyrians on the Adriatic coast in the west, from the Paeonians in the north, and from the Greek Chalcidians and the Thracians in the east. It is hardly surprising that the kingdom of Macedon had always been viewed throughout the previous century and a half as a pawn in the super-power rivalry of Sparta, Athens and Thebes, and before that had attracted the Persians. Consequently, the Macedonian kings needed to become adept at diplomacy, choosing and changing the alliances that were vital to ensure the safety of their kingdom. However, the accession of Philip II in 359, whether as regent for the young son of Perdiccas or as king, heralded a dramatic change in the history of Macedon and Greece, although the urgent political and military problems confronting him in 359 appeared to be the same insuperable ones that had defeated his many predecessors. But Philip was no ordinary Macedonian king.