3/29/2012

Phillip and Alexander

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In 8 Phillip of Macedonia advanced his troops into battle at a place called Chaeronea. For both the Athenians and the Macedonians it was a very historical battle, a battle in which the result would decide the future for Athenians, Macedonians and all Greeks. For if the Athenians had secured victory on that morning in Chaernoea, then many questions need to be asked.


Demosthenes’, who some have said was the greatest orator in this time of Greece and is often refereed to as the father of Democracy, did little to help the causes of Phillip of Macedonia. When news of Phillips success, in the north in Amphissa and Elateia, reached Athens, the Athenians were shocked, and no speaker dared to mount the rostrum as nobody was sure of what advice should be given . Demosthenes then stood proud and urged the Athenians to stand by the Thebans and fight Phillip. From this time onward Demosthenes was supported by all of Greece, which had recovered its confidence to the extent that even the generals would follow orders from him .


Phillip, whilst taking a more diplomatic approach, wanted a Greek war against Persia , which meant he wanted the cooperation of all Greeks states, especially the Athenians. The Athenians were important for many reasons but the main reason being that they still controlled a great navy and that an Athenian Fleet would be very useful . It is also possible that Phillip recognized Athens as the spiritual leader and center of Greece .


So when the peace ambassadors arrived in Athens they were sent away because Demosthenes had convinced the Athenians that Phillip was intending to destroy Athens , which is later disproved. Plutarch supports the bias view of Demosthenes when he states


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“Demosthenes political position was clear enough even while peace still prevailed, for he allowed no act of Phillips to pass un-criticized, and seized upon every occasion to incite and inflame the Athenians against him”


This statement shows how Demosthenes would oppose everything that Phillip had said and that he tried his best to keep the Athenians away from Phillip. Demosthenes, being a strong advocator of Democracy probably realized the problems associated with Athens had they signed any alliance with Phillip. So Phillip had no choice but to meet a combined military contingent of the Greeks at a place known as Chaeronea. The battle was short and it was evident that the combined army of Thrace, Athens and allies was no match for the Macedonian army. Phillip dealt with the Thebans severely but was very lenient on the Athenians.


Phillip shocked everyone and proved Demosthenes’ wrong which lowered the respect for the once popular orator who at this stage had every able person fixing and manning the city walls. But instead of chasing the fleeing Athenians back into Athens he stayed put and called for a meeting of all Greek States. Phillip then acted in a way in which even Demothenes would have been shocked. To show respect, Phillip cremated the bodies of those killed in battle and sent the ashes escorted by Alexander, Antipater and Alcimachus back to Athens. The remaining captured prisoners were then sent home without ransom , which was unheard of. The Athenians, with much gratitude, welcomed an alliance with Phillip and the assembly voted to erect a statue of Phillip in the Agora, after making Phillip and Alexander honoree citizens of Greece .


With Athens now under control and with Demosthenes silenced Phillip then called a meeting in Corinth of the representatives of all city-states. It was there that he proposed an alliance, known now as the League of Corinth. Phillip ordered that ambassadors from all states should be summoned to Corinth in order to discuss the current state of affairs involving Greece . Phillip would not intervene in any structure of governments but a peace was to be established uniting all of Greece together. The original meeting was to safeguard the common peace and punish prospective transgressors. At no point it is believed , did Phillip approach the league at this foundational meeting about an invasion of Persia, but merely arranged the league into a working order that dealt with contributions as well as those members of the league that would decide to break the alliance.


The laws of the league were somewhat different then expected. The states that agreed to the peace and signed with the league (all but Sparta), were guaranteed freedom from outside attack even by their own exiles, freedom of navigation meaning that the states no longer had sea boundaries, and freedom from intervention in their internal affairs . States were to be protected against revolutionary changes to their constitutions and the league was to take action against those who cited a revolt or political coup against the accordance of the state. Like the Delian league , city-states were asked to contribute in times of war, in the ways that suited the league best. According to Justin, the league provided 00,000 infantry and 15,000 cavalry, as well as the Macedonian army . Once the plans of the league were presented, each state involved in the league contributed a number of members to the council of delegates that were responsible for administering the common affairs of the Greeks. This council not only passed decrees but also acted as a court, which could speak or act on individuals or cities. These rulings allowed the league to maintain full control of Greece.


In the summer of 7, the league went into an offensive and defensive alliance for all time with the Macedonian state, defined as Phillip and his descendants’ . Phillip then announced that he wanted to go to war with the Persians on behalf of the Greeks and to inflict punishment on them for the acts of sacrilege that they had committed . This sacrilege that Diodorus talks about is referring to the burning of the Greek temples and shrines during the Persian invasion of 40-8 .


This offensive view taken by Phillip won the respect of many Greeks, and so Phillip was unanimously elected ‘Hegemon’, with full powers of command over its forces by land and see, as a benefactor of Greece . This election by the Greek states handed all power over to Phillip. He was now in control of everything in Greece, with the exception of Sparta whom refused to join. Phillip was given Hegemon, not because of military strength, though I am sure that played a part, but more so for his diplomacy skills which he utilized tremendously well over the Greek states. His will power to revenge the Greek losses during the Persian wars was something that all Greeks had been looking forward and had anticipated for many years. Many leagues were formed but the Greek states often fought themselves over who was to lead Greece (Delian League). The fact that he did not advance onto Athens and other Greek states after the battle at Chaeronea and returned the ashes of the Athenian dead as well as releasing the prisoners were also important factors in Phillips diplomacy which caused the Greek states to join the league and honour Phillip as hegemon.


There is however two other reasons for the league forming. Isocrates, who had spent most of his career handing out pamphlets on Greek unity to fight a common enemy, had wrote a letter to Phillip after the battle of Chaeronea urging Phillip to “put an end to the madness and the imperialism with which the Greeks have treated one another, reconcile and bring them into concord, and declare war on Persia . Isocrates, who was 8 when he wrote the letter , said that he realized that his dreams of Greek unity were on the eve of fulfillment. Isocrates was a well-known and liked orator and Phillip admired him greatly. Phillips actions of uniting Greece were always on his agenda, however with letters from people such as Isocrates, Phillip would have felt encouraged and supported.


The second important aspect of the formation of the league was started when Phillip returned the Athenian army to Athens without ransom . Demades, also an orator, was a prisoner from the battle of Chaeronea. Phillip sent Demades back to Athens to open negotiations and to reiterate that he meant what he said by an alliance. At this stage, The Athenians, listening to Demosthenes, had everyone building the walls and manning forts . So the Athenians were surprised when Demades came with this settlement offer. The Athenians entered talks with Phillip and sent Demades and other delegates back to Phillip to continue negotiation and to ask for the return of soldiers . Phillip then handed the prisoners over to Demades without ransom. Demades also helped to organize the structure of the peace alliance, and when Alexander went to Athens to negotiate the peace, Demades played the leading role in securing the peace . The reasons for Demades being important is that had Athens sent someone else, such as Demothenes, who was originally sent with other delegates and turned back, then the peace alliance probably would have been stalled and therefore the league of Corinth may have been jeopardized.


The league, I believe, was a positive outcome from the point of view of Greece. I do however see Demothenes side, and it is difficult to presume what may have happened had Athens stayed out of the league or won at Chaeronea. Within the next two hundred years Rome would stamp their authority and there is no doubt that the battle of Chaeronea meant the end for Athens in that respect. Had Athens won at Chaeronea history could have changed in many ways. Phillip may of, and Alexander certainly would have come back into Greece in order to unite them. Persian intervention, which had already been present in Thrace , could have helped the southern Greek states hold out the Macedonians.


But the most important factor to consider was, was Athens already finished as far as Hellene Hegemony was concerned. We must remember here that Phillip ceased to pursue Athens after the battle. Had Phillip not been set on uniting Greece would he have taken Athens and if so, what would be of Athens and Greece in the years after the death of Alexander? This question is where I disagree with Demosthenes on the future of Athens. The Persians and Spartans had knocked down Athens many times before and so I believe that the Athenians were more than capable of bouncing back, as they did before, and take leadership of Greece. The only reasons why I can suggest for why they, and the rest of Greece, came to a sudden halt was because of lack of leadership. The deaths of Demosthenes, and Alexander in the years � compromised any structure that had previously been put into place.


The League of Corinth for these reasons was the work of a shrewd statesman and a positive outcome. Greece was finally united, like Isocrates had dreamed. The Greeks, led by Alexander the Great, son of Phillip of Macedon, under Macedonian leadership went into Persia and took revenge, which many Greeks had waited for. The purpose of the league, although short term, was successful in uniting the Greeks in order to cause destruction upon the Persians for the acts of sacrilege that they had committed during the Persian wars .


Phillip may have had a primary agenda of uniting Greece in order to destroy Persia, but he hadn’t much confidence in the Greeks as allies. When Phillip went back to Macedonia he left the Greeks with a number of reminders so that they were kept aware of who was hegemon and that complete cooperation was required. Phillip had a number of garrisons placed around Greece. Thrace, for their act of betrayal had a garrison installed, along with Corinth, Chalci and Ambacia. These garrisons however were not installed as a sign of authority but more so as a peacekeeping force . This can be confirmed by the fact that a garrison was installed in Ambacia, a part of Greece that Phillip had no quarrel with but may of thought it was a convenient site for a force to keep peace in northwestern Greece.


In 7 BC, Phillip of Macedon wanted to unite Greece in order to fight the Persians. The League of Corinth was formed which saw the dreams of Isocrates and others finally come true. It wasn’t the first time the Greeks got together for war against the Persians , but it was the first time that the Greeks had a leader like Phillip. The league was successful in its aims, they were united and Persia was conquered. However, there was the price of freedom, which is exactly what the Greeks lost. They might have retained their states intact, but like the Athenians who lost control over their fleet, the states were under the control of Phillip and his successor Alexander up until the Greeks revolted in . The League of Corinth succeeded in uniting the Greeks in a war against Persia and was not intended to destroy or weaken any states, though it did.





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