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View Poll Results: Who was the greater overall leader, Philip of Macedon or Sulla?
Philip II of Macedon 19 70.37%
Sulla 8 29.63%
Voters: 27. You may not vote on this poll

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Old November 13th, 2017, 03:19 AM   #1

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Philip II vs Sulla - Who was the greater leader?


The title of the thread speaks for itself. Out of Philip II of Macedon and Sulla, who was the best overall leader?

My vote goes to Philip. Kenneth W. Harl, Ph.D. [Tulane University], on a lecture about Philip and Greece:

"In any event, Philip himself gets high marks and current scholarship now thinks of Philip as, well, he may not have the title "Great" the way his son does but he may deserve it..."

and:

"One of Philip's problems was to have a son named "The Great", and unfortunately he does not hold that title, but one could almost set up a society to award it to him; by 346 BC he had done what no Macedonian king could ever have done, and that is to forge an effective kingdom that was now the arbiter of Greek affairs."

Last edited by Duke Valentino; November 13th, 2017 at 04:08 AM.
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Old November 13th, 2017, 03:25 AM   #2
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I'll make a pro-Sulla post when I get time, but I note the irony of you making this thread about their leadership, rather than their generalship (the subject under discussion in the other thread). It's basically a concession on your part that Sulla is the better general, and you need to make this about leadership as a way of giving Phillip a chance.
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Old November 13th, 2017, 03:26 AM   #3

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No, you in fact said yourself that Sulla was a better statesman than Philip, so might as well go all out on all points as well as generalship. Which also works quite well since so many things other than generalship all come under grand strategy. They are connected in a way that you can't usually separate.

Also, no point reviving the other thread here which is pure generalship.
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Old November 13th, 2017, 03:29 AM   #4
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I would take him as a superior leader, a lot of what he did is incredibly underappreciated. His circumstances were even more trying than Phillip's, albeit in different ways, but the fact that you have made this thread about his leadership (when you were asserting he was a better general) makes it clear you know Phillip will lose any generalship debate hands down, so you're trying to change the parameters to give Phillip a fighting chance.
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Old November 13th, 2017, 03:30 AM   #5

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Again, I'm more than happy to talk about generalship in the other thread [which is what it's actually for].

You said yourself that Sulla was the better statesman, so that's what I wanted to talk about on this post instead.
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Old November 13th, 2017, 04:18 AM   #6
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Just to outline roughly Sulla's political leadership skills, the situation he inherited as consul was pretty much untenable for any but the greatest of leaders. He had just prior to becoming consul been forced to fight and win a bloody civil war with the rest of Italy, in which Rome was initially outnumbered substantially. After winning that on the back of his own personal leadership, including getting the grass crown, Sulla returned home to be elected consul of a now backrupt and war torn Roman state. No sooner had he started to try and remedy the situation, and he gets news that hundreds of thousands of Roman and Italian citizens in Asia Minor have been massacred, Pontus has taken over the place, has hundreds of thousands of soldiers, and is moving on Greece too.

But wait, it gets better. Before Sulla can mobilise the paltry force he can afford to take with him to fight an existential war with Pontus, he has to deal with the imminent erosion of the Roman state. Demagogues like Sulpicius have decided to literally overthrow the Senate and replace it with mob rule. Almost everyone is going to be expelled from the Senate, and he's already mobilized gladiators and an armed bodyguard too strong to be overcome by the usual first class lynch mob. In the riots that follow many nobles are killed, including the other consuls son, and his command is taken from him. Sulla takes the never before attempted step of leading an army on Rome to restore order, something totally outside the box (like a lot of things he did), and takes the city by force. He's forced to exile his enemies, making himself even more unpopular, and do what he can to stabilize the situation before he goes East. He puts together what stable government he can, and goes East to war. The government he leaves gradually disintegrates, and is overthrown by a blatantly illegal one composed of his enemies, who spend the next 3 years mustering the full strength of Roman manpower in readiness to oppose Sulla, including sending an official commander to replace him. Sulla's supporters are purged (or escape).

In the East Sulla faces more impossible circumstances. He has no money, because Rome is broke, so he has to loot the local temples (and Athens, once he sacks it). He takes the city in a brutal siege, then smashes two gigantic Pontic armies that grossly outnumber him using novel tactics that negate their numbers, including perhaps the first recorded use of on field palisades and field artillery in battle. He does what he can to wrap the war up quickly, setting matters right in Greece and Asia, then heads home to take on foes who grossly outnumber him again. He wins battle after battle, culminating in his greatest victory outside the Colline Gate, where he defeats a battle hardened force of Roman legions outnumbering him at least 2 to 1. His army is literally pinned against the gates of Rome, and exhausted from their night march to get there in time to save the city.

After the war is wom, Sulla once more has to piece together the broken husk of Rome's empire. He reforms the government in all manner of novel and clever ways, albeit ones that are going to be hard to outlast him, creates the first professional and state run purge of undesirables, fostering a climate of fear that prevents rebellion. He solves innumerable problems facing Rome, then willingly gives up absolute power and goes off to the countryside to retire. As a general there's really no question, he runs circles around Phillip. Phillip had the happy fortune of being born a King. Sulla was born with a noble bloodline, but no money or influence whatever. His branch of the family was totally destitute, and he grew up almost on the streets, amid the poor and low classes. He finished his career the ruler of the most powerful Empire in the world at the time.

Last edited by Caesarmagnus; November 13th, 2017 at 04:41 AM.
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Old November 13th, 2017, 06:46 AM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caesarmagnus View Post
Just to outline roughly Sulla's political leadership skills, the situation he inherited as consul was pretty much untenable for any but the greatest of leaders. He had just prior to becoming consul been forced to fight and win a bloody civil war with the rest of Italy, in which Rome was initially outnumbered substantially. After winning that on the back of his own personal leadership, including getting the grass crown, Sulla returned home to be elected consul of a now backrupt and war torn Roman state. No sooner had he started to try and remedy the situation, and he gets news that hundreds of thousands of Roman and Italian citizens in Asia Minor have been massacred, Pontus has taken over the place, has hundreds of thousands of soldiers, and is moving on Greece too.

But wait, it gets better. Before Sulla can mobilise the paltry force he can afford to take with him to fight an existential war with Pontus, he has to deal with the imminent erosion of the Roman state. Demagogues like Sulpicius have decided to literally overthrow the Senate and replace it with mob rule. Almost everyone is going to be expelled from the Senate, and he's already mobilized gladiators and an armed bodyguard too strong to be overcome by the usual first class lynch mob. In the riots that follow many nobles are killed, including the other consuls son, and his command is taken from him. Sulla takes the never before attempted step of leading an army on Rome to restore order, something totally outside the box (like a lot of things he did), and takes the city by force. He's forced to exile his enemies, making himself even more unpopular, and do what he can to stabilize the situation before he goes East. He puts together what stable government he can, and goes East to war. The government he leaves gradually disintegrates, and is overthrown by a blatantly illegal one composed of his enemies, who spend the next 3 years mustering the full strength of Roman manpower in readiness to oppose Sulla, including sending an official commander to replace him. Sulla's supporters are purged (or escape).

In the East Sulla faces more impossible circumstances. He has no money, because Rome is broke, so he has to loot the local temples (and Athens, once he sacks it). He takes the city in a brutal siege, then smashes two gigantic Pontic armies that grossly outnumber him using novel tactics that negate their numbers, including perhaps the first recorded use of on field palisades and field artillery in battle. He does what he can to wrap the war up quickly, setting matters right in Greece and Asia, then heads home to take on foes who grossly outnumber him again. He wins battle after battle, culminating in his greatest victory outside the Colline Gate, where he defeats a battle hardened force of Roman legions outnumbering him at least 2 to 1. His army is literally pinned against the gates of Rome, and exhausted from their night march to get there in time to save the city.

After the war is wom, Sulla once more has to piece together the broken husk of Rome's empire. He reforms the government in all manner of novel and clever ways, albeit ones that are going to be hard to outlast him, creates the first professional and state run purge of undesirables, fostering a climate of fear that prevents rebellion. He solves innumerable problems facing Rome, then willingly gives up absolute power and goes off to the countryside to retire. As a general there's really no question, he runs circles around Phillip. Phillip had the happy fortune of being born a King. Sulla was born with a noble bloodline, but no money or influence whatever. His branch of the family was totally destitute, and he grew up almost on the streets, amid the poor and low classes. He finished his career the ruler of the most powerful Empire in the world at the time.
I'll begin by mentioning or going over one or two things you've written before going into my "pro-Philip" opening discourse.

Firstly, I doubt that the 8+ personal legions Sulla had under his own command could be considered a "paltry force". Nor was the 30,000 strong force he moved into Greece with [plus the legion of reinforcements he received].

This was not the first recorded use of field palisades or field artillery in battle. We see the Thebans erecting palisades against Alexander. And we see Onomarchus use field artillery against Philip, plus Alexander use it offensively against the Scythians.

For the Colline Gate, do we have any indication of the size of Sulla's army and that of his opponent's? And wasn't it just another infantry slugfest where his right wing won but he left wing lost? Not really indicative of great generalship, even for him.

You're factually incorrect about Philip as having being born a king. He was the third brother, and probably not expecting in anyway to actually take the throne. Even during the crisis of 359 BC after the death of his brother, historians are unsure whether he was announced king or acted as regent for his nephew. Regardless, Philip didn't have much money or influence for a king either. The picture you're trying to paint is one of a leader who assumes command of a centralised and stable state with an army, plenty of money in the treasury and loyal servants, when it was the complete opposite.

Anyway, I'll make my case for Philip tomorrow morning, too tired. Just wanted to bring up those points for questioning.

Last edited by Duke Valentino; November 13th, 2017 at 07:03 AM.
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Old November 13th, 2017, 09:54 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caesarmagnus View Post
Phillip had the happy fortune of being born a King.
How can you spend tens of thousands of words in numerous threads arguing about Philip's abilities or lack thereof and not even know that he was NEVER born to be a king?

Seriously. Its like arguing how a Prius is faster than a Corvette without knowing what gasoline is.
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Old November 13th, 2017, 10:42 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by aggienation View Post
How can you spend tens of thousands of words in numerous threads arguing about Philip's abilities or lack thereof and not even know that he was NEVER born to be a king?

Seriously. Its like arguing how a Prius is faster than a Corvette without knowing what gasoline is.
He was born to the royal family. Sulla was born to a broke patrician family where he do all sorts of weird jobs as a child.

Big difference between the two.
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Old November 13th, 2017, 11:17 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by mariusj View Post
He was born to the royal family. Sulla was born to a broke patrician family where he do all sorts of weird jobs as a child.

Big difference between the two.
And Sulla was born to a consular noble family.

Macedonia was a tiny and highly fractured kingdom at the time Philip was born. As the third son, with one older brother having a son and successor, in a dynastic family that favored sons over brothers, it meant Philip's chances to rule was about as high as Sulla's. Both rose through ability and ruthlessness.

But the fact remains that Caesarmagnus didn't know that. He literally didn't have a clue that Philip was the third son and had no direct claim and usurped the position. He thought he was born a prince destined to be king. Because Caesarmagnus likes to argue about things he clearly isn't well read on.
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