Philip II’s Contribution Alexander the Great’s Achievements

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The lives of Philip II and Alexander the Great were intertwined in numerous ways. Philip II centralised ancient Macedonia. Philip II also built an army of unprecedented ability and resilience, which conquered the Greek peninsula and prepared the conquest of the Persian Empire that amalgamated with a Greco-Macedonia army. Alexander in point of fact led the invading forces, when he conquered the great Persian Empire. Alexander then took his army to the borders of modern India. Which is where Alexander created a monarchy and empire that, despite its fragmentation, shaped the political cultural, and religious world of the Hellenistic period. Alexander drove the engine his father had built, if Alexander had not done so, Philips II achievements might have been short lived as plenty of previous Macedonian rulers.

Although it might be true some scholars believed that Alexander played a role in his father’s murder, may be directly and indirectly, in Order to lead the voyage to Asia that Philip II had organised (Carney and Ogden, 2010). The aim of this essay is to examine Philips II contribution to the later achievements of Alexander the Great. The most crucial point is Philip had bequeathed to Alexander three significant things (Ashley, 2004, p: 7).The first part of the essay will examine, Alexander’s nature and education including Aristotle, the second part will examine the army that Philip created in which later Alexander inherited (Curtis & Hansen, 2013, p: 156). The third part and final analysis consists of the established homeland (Ashley, 2004, p: 8).

Alexander III of Macedon was better known as Alexander the Great, who was known to mankind for his famous persona and great accomplishments (Thomas, 2007, p: 1). Alexander was the son of Philip II and Olympia. Philip II was the king of Macedonia and Olympia’s was the princess of Epirus (Stewart, 1993, p18). Alexander achieved the impossible. It is worth noting that uniquely in 13 years Alexander managed to conquer the whole known world. Alexander moulded the greatest Greek empire in history. Despite all of Alexander’s great accomplishments, Alexander still lived in his father’s shadow. Due to the vigilant preparation and courage actions of Philip II of Macedon, Alexander would have little or no place in history. The supremacy of Philip on Alexander’s actions and life can be seen throughout every aspect of his behaviour. “Alexander owes his fate and place in history to his father’s actions and brilliant forethought (Joyer, 2012). This is clear due to Philips II military reforms, for example the sarissa, including infantry tactics, and a formidable Macedonian army and not forgetting an excellent education and tutoring of his day.

Alexander as he entered the greater wider world in his young adulthood commenced his education. Alexander’s main tutor Aristotle educated Alexander in philosophy, government, politics, poetry, drama and the sciences (Gunther, 2007, p: 28). Aristotle was appointed by Philip, but was educated away from court at Mieza and influenced Alexander’s religious education (Blackwell, 2009, p: 193). Aristotle in his Hymn to Excellence (arête) 1 used Alexander ancestors, Heracles, Achilles, as heroic ethos as a way of reinforcing the influence of his other mentors (Gunther, 2007, p: 28). The focal point of Alexander’s studies was the title Iliad as a handbook of martial valour. It is worth noting that Alexander is said to have learned it by heart (Worthington, 2012, p: 336) and the admiration of Achilles lasted during course of his life, because of these ancient influences and his individual character, Alexander became the most charismatic, successful, complicated, challenging and contentious conqueror of an ancient champion in Macedonia even in the 4th century.

Before turning to the question of the Macedonian army to which the foundations could only be constructed upon as a consequence of Philip, is the question of coinage, as this was an important contribution to later achievements of Alexander who was immensely effective tactician and propagandist. Coining was rapidly taken up in the thriving Greek city governments, just over the Aegean Sea, though it was mainly silver until Philip II of Macedon ( 359-336 BC) acquired the gold and silver mines in Thrace (New Bulgaria) (Whibley, 1916, p: 546). Philips son Alexander the Great (336-323 BC) conglomerated the Greek Empire with the defeat of the Persian empire, and acquiring it’s immerse gold treasure built up by the Persians from gold sources on the river Oxus.

It is proclaimed that “Alexander the Great took over 22 metric tonnes (7000,000 troy ounces) of gold coin in loot the Persians” (Sutherland, 1959). For both Philip II and Alexander the Great, gold became essential way of “paying their armies and meeting other military expenses” (Blackwell, 2011, p:465). “Under the Greek empire, the coins were stamped with the head of the king, instead of lions, bulls, rams, that had previously decorated gold coin elsewhere” (Sutherland, 1959). “In 357 Philip captured Amphipolis” (Roisman, 2011, p: 38.3.B). This colony was Athens. Philips authority of the strategic control became the disputation between Athens and Macedonia. Philip conceivably asseverated to reconstruct Athens, which Philip never did. Athens in turn stated war, which was never pursued (Roisman, 2011, p: 38.3.B). ” In 356 Philip captured the city of Crenides in the Thrace and after adding to it territory and settlers, “Philip rename it Philippi” (Roisman, 2011, pg. 38.3.B). The proprietorship of Philippi and Amphipolis permitted Philip to mine silver and gold ore. This made Philip wealthy, in fact one of the wealthiest men in Greece. Philips silver and gold coins in time replaced Athenian coins. Another relevant point is that, Philip was a extravagant spender, when Philip was murdered Alexander found he inherited Philips debt.

Philip learnt a lot from Epaminondas, by living in close approximately to a great man, by observing the consequence of his character. Philip learned a lesson in the power of individual will, of which his later life was a consistent exposition. Epaminondas was a “brilliant and forceful political idealist than Pericles, Epaminondas far transcends the Athenian in the ruder filed of action”. 2 Epaminondas “won their obedience by sheer dominance of will and their awestruck respect by consistent subordination of self to their common good (Hogarth, 1897, pg. 39). Empinondas also “stands alone in intellectual eminence”. 3 Empinondas was an ardent pupil of philosophy, and a first class lecturer. Philip created a formidable army. Philip also introduced military service as a paid and permanent job. This way the soldiers where better trained as they were not disrupted by harvests and farming work this meant the army was able to trained constantly. The army was also kept in one place to be ready at all times (Ashley, 2004, p: 14).

A pure military army is what Philip created, esprit de corps. Philip registered his citizens according their local and tribal divisions, which in turn were allocated to standing territorial regiments. For the infantry, the facts can only be deduced, from, 3 where the recruits (foot) from Macedonia are distributed. It has been found that the names of certain squadrons of the Calvary are actually recorded, instance ἡ Ανθεμοσιἁ and Λενγαá¼°α, and so are the homes of others, “the horseman from upper Macedonia,” or “Bottiaea and Amphipolis”. These standing regiments are known each by its colonel’s name, and quoted thus by Arrian, who reflects the military usage of his authorities. A τάξις of foot, whose colonel is absent, is still referred to as his, though lead by another even after death, for instance Cleitus’ cavalry command bears his name after his death, as stated in (Id. iii. 11; vi. 6). 5 Philip conceived different ranks on a scale of honour rising towards the person of the king. The heavy cavalry was ranked above the service in the foot, for the former were more especially the ἑταá¿-ροι, or “companions” of the king; their generals have the most important commands in Alexander’s army, and their troopers enjoy treble share of prize money as stated in (curt, vii. 5. 23). 6 Philip promoted whom pleased to this service. The ἑταá¿-ρι were “Royals”. The squadron of greatest honour “Royals,” or “kings own,” were called á¿ŸΑνγημα (Hogarth, 1897, p 55). The most honoured amount the foot corps of Guards (νπασπισταá¼±), specially attached to the person of the king. They became famous in Alexander’s wars and later became known as the silver shields (Αργνρá¼€σπιδες). Like the cavalry they were all “Royals,” but among them a special corps d’ elite (τὸ ἂγημα τὁ βασιλικá½€ν) as stated in the journal of philology, xvii., No.33, p: 14. “Army of Alexander”. 7

Relying on its training and discipline, Philip could introduce his army to new fighting methods. Philip thought his army charge, not in a line but in a wedge shaped formations (Tact 16: cited by Lendon, 2006, p: 96-100). 8 A device destined to be resorted to by Alexander at Arbela. For the infantry, Philip perfected the famous phalanx, although in conception this phalanx was not different from the existing Greek fighting attire. Philip was regarded as its inventor, as Philip developed and regulated it. Philip had two main ideas, ” first to render bodies of pike man more mobile and pliable than the Theban or Spartan (Hogarth, 1897, pg. 60). Philips second idea was the “sarissa” or long pike, which would enable his phalanx to strike the first blow. For such a weapon as this, training and discipline were essential. The Macedonian armies of the third and second centuries plied a sarissa even twenty-four feet long. 9 No reference is made by any historian of Alexander to such a uncharacteristic weapon as the sarissa. The secret to the success of Philips and Alexander’s battles lies in their horsemanship, Macedonian and allied light guards and archers. The guards are often reckoned into the phalanx for example in (iii.11), 10 in Arrian’s catalogue of the array at Arbela, but they are also distinguished clearly from the heavy phalangites.

This accomplished military system was the work of many years. Largely mercenaries supplemented Philips national army. 11 This method of assistants was not abandoned entirely by his son Alexander his son. A most crucial point we know as fact is that Alexander inherited forty thousand seasoned men, and a well-established system. Ancient warfare played a major role in Philips eleven sieges. Many of Philips military reforms did not happen overnight, but continued throughout his reign and even after his death with Alexander. In 350 headed by Polyeidos (Polyidus) of Thessaly Philip II established an “engineering corps” to design and build new siege machinery including the Mechanical Bow and Torsion Catapult (figure 11, Worthington, 2014. P: 37). Philip used the first early prototypes of the torsion catapult was in 340 at the siege of Byzantium (Ashley, 2004, p: 74).

Philips chief engineer went on to develop a prototype of a more powerful torsion catapult that could shoot larger stones and arrows over greater distances. It is worth noting that the surviving documents refer to this new type of catapult as “katapellai makedonikoi” (Macedonian catapults) (Gabriel, 2010, p: 92). Polyeidos trained two of his students Diades, and Charias to continue his work. In 334 BCE Diades succeeded Polyeidos as Alexander’s chief engineer, together Diades and Charias complete the development of the torsion catapult, by producing a machine capable of throwing “stone shot” large enough destroy walls (Ashley, 2004, p: 74). Under Alexander the Great the development of artillery continued, in 330’s B.C. The torsion catapult was further developed to throw “one-talent” (57 pound stones) (Ashley, 2004, p: 74). It was under Alexander the Great siege warfare reached its height. This would never have possible if hadn’t of been Alexander inheriting the ability to subdue cites quickly because of the work Polyeidos (Philips engineer) created, as Alexander’s Persian campaign would not been possible (Gabriel, 2010, p: 92).

This was a difficult essay to write, as sources dealing with Philip are limited (Ashley, 2004, p: 74). Depending on the way you approach as it’s easy to focus too narrowly on the achievements of Alexander, without having analysed the contribution of Philip. Briefly it can be said that in many of the books I have read about this topic, many of the chapters were occupied with details of opinions about Alexander the Great, and in that progress his father King Philip of Macedonia was forgot. What a shortcoming! Personally, “I am inclined to believe that world had not known Alexander the Great as Alexander ranked his self above ordinary mortals” (Rostovtzeff, 1926, p: 352) then Philip would not have been talked about. On the other hand if it had not been for Philip, who laid most of the ground work in which Alexander inherited, Alexander then he would not have become Alexander the Great. Alexander reaped the benefit of his father’s work not just military (the army he had been trained to use), but through shrewd economic and diplomatic policy.

Macedonia was a poor territory. The people lived in constant war with everyone and each other. Philip took things into his own hands, as he had great political acuteness and subtlety. Philip did this by creating a professional army, consolidating boarders with armed cities. Philip achieved this by bribing with coinage and cunning his enemies. Philip turned silver and gold mining to a profitable business. Philip also built roads and canals. The merger of Macedonia was a very difficult and prolonged project. Which paid off very well in the end. To return to an earlier point it is worth noting that it was “Philip who created the first land state in history” (Gabriel, 2010, p: 2), Greece, by replacing the obsolete city state system. Philips most formidable achievement was the peace of Corinth where Philip finally united all his previous adversaries, not forgetting Athens into one entity. The contributions that lead to the later achievements of Alexander were the education of Aristotle, the army Philip created including coinage and an established homeland. Unfortunately for Alexander, he felt held back by his father and always seem to live in the shadow of his father which seem to haunted by this as his achievements insignificant to those of his father. Alexander and Philip competed with each in many ways “emulation and resentment” as stated in Fredricksmeyer 1990. Even though I do not agree with every argument in journal of Alexander and Philip by Fredricksmeyer 1990. It’s a fascinating portrayal of their relationship and gives excellent sources of references and occurrences in their relationship. Alexander and Philip were both great in their own right. If Philip had not created the army he did, Alexander could not have achieved what he did, yet Philip on the other hand could not have achieved what Alexander did had he survived. Alexander was Philips true son and heir. It was Philips contributions that laid the foundations for Alexander to become the man he was, for instance, education, the army and siege warfare that Alexander inherited and an established homeland.


1 Hymn to Arête: Athen. 15.696 B-D. Study of lliad: Plut: Alex 8.2; 26.1-2; Plin. NH 7. 108; Strabo 13.1. 27. Memorising lliad: Dio Ghrysostom 4.39.

2. Nepos, Epam. 4.

3. Id., Epam. 3; Diod., l.c., and 88.

4 From Arr., iii. 16, where the recruits (foot) from Macedonia are distributed into, τá¼€ξεις. Cf. Curt., v. 2. 6, where we are told that Alexander’s main innovation at Susa were the abolition of all local and national divisions throughout the army.

6 Cf. Diod., xvii. 63, 74; Curt., vii. 5. 23

7 “Army of Alexander” in journal. Of philology, xvii, No. 33, p: 14.

8 Tact.16 cited in Lendon

9 The coincidence of Polybius (xvii. 12) with Polyaenus (ii. 29. 2) and the second recension of the Tactica (15) puts this beyond doubt. Cf. also Livy’s remarks on its unwieldy length (xliv. 41). The first recension of the Tactica reads πá½€δας for πá¼ χεις, reducing the length to fourteen or sixteen feet: but either this is a manuscript error or correction, or it is a reminiscence of the earlier sarissa.

10 ld. iii. 11; vi. 6.

11 Diod., xvi. 8.


Ashley. J. 2004, The Macedonia Empire: The Era of Warfare Under Philip II and Alexander Great, 359-323 B.C.


Blackwell. W. 2011, The Companion to Ancient Macedonia: Edited by JOSEPH ROISMAN AND IAN WORTHINGTON.

Carney. E and Ogden. D. 2010, Philip II and Alexander the Great: “Father and Son, Lives and Afterlives” (Oxford university press).

Curtis. K. & Hansen. V. 2013, Voyages in World History

Curt. 4.6.29; 9.3.19; Arr.5.28.3;7.14.4; Plut. Alex. 15.8-9; 62.5; 72.3; Diod.17.97.3; Ael. VH 7.8 Ameling 1988.

Edmunds 1971: 363-91; King 1987: 1-45; Fredricksmeyer 1990: 304-6; Ameling 1988: 658-60; Stewart 1993:81; Huttner 1997: passim.

Fredricksmeyer, E. A. 1990. Alexander and Philip: Emulation and Resentment.” CJ 85: 300-15.

Gabriel. R. 2010, Philip II of Macedonia: Greater Than Alexander.

Gunther. J. 2007, ALEXANDER THE GREAT.

Joyer. B. 2012, Alexander: Living inside the shadow. Available at posted in Bens Den (accessed March 2015).

Lendon. J. E, 2006, Soldiers & Ghosts: A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity.

Rostovtzeff. M. 1926, A History of the Ancient world: The Orient and Greece.

Roisman. J. 2011, Ancient Greece from Homer to Alexander: The Evidence.

Roisman. J. & Worthington. I. 2011, A companion to Ancient Macedonia.

Stewart. A. 1993, Faces of Power: Alexander’s image and Hellenistic politics.

Sutherland. C.H.V. 1959, Gold its Beauty and Power and Allure Board portrait of appeal of gold over last 5000 years, Thames and Hudson London. Available at: Accessed March 2015.

Thomas. G. 2007, Alexander The Great in His World.

Whibley. L. 2016, A companion to Greek studies, Cambridge university press.

Worthington. I. 2012, ALEXANDER THE GREAT ( A READER).

Worthington. I. 2014, By The Spear: Alexander the Great, and the rise and fall of the Macedonian Empire.

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