King Phillip II of Macedon Underappreciated in the shadow of Alexander the Great

Nov 2011
1,120
The Bluff
For Philip was king over the Macedonians for twenty-four years, and having started from the most insignificant beginnings built up his kingdom to be the greatest of the dominions in Europe, and having taken over Macedonia when she was a slave to the Illyrians, made her mistress of many powerful tribes and states. And it was by his own valour that he took over the supremacy of all Hellas with the consent of the states, which voluntarily subordinated themselves to his authority....

Such was the end of Philip, who had made himself the greatest of the kings in Europe in his time, and because of the extent of his kingdom had made himself a throned companion of the twelve gods. He had ruled twenty-four years. He is known to fame as one who with but the slenderest resources to support his claim to a throne won for himself the greatest empire in the Greek world, while the growth of his position was not due so much to his prowess in arms as to his adroitness and cordiality in diplomacy.
Diodoros. 16.1.3-4 & 95.1-2. The Sicilian well understood Philip, the self made man. He not only made himself but also Macedonia. It is no exaggeration to state that, upon his taking the throne, Philip took over a Macedon which was one minute away from becoming an irrelevant footnote in history. By the time of his assasination Macedonia, once the plaything of the great and not so great powers, was the most powerful state in the Greek, if not European, world. While one shouldn't underrate the deeds of his son, the twenty-four year creation of that state by Philip, having started with near nothing, is an outstanding feat. One wonders whether any other individual might have achieved same with such unprepossessing beginnings.
 
May 2018
934
Michigan
This is a major strawman argument. Among anyone even vaguely familiar with Ancient Greek/Macedonian history is very well aware of Philip's achievements and how impressive they were. You'd have to be more specific in which group of people you think are not appreciating him enough. Do you mean random people walking down the street, who know nothing about history but just know the name of Alexander the Great? Of course they won't even know about Philip, let alone be able to intentionally overshadow him.

And let's be honest here, as great as Philip's achievements were, they really do pale in comparison to the monumental things his son did. That's just a fact. When you somehow manage to conquer the largest empire in the world in less than ten years, while being vastly outnumbered and thousands of kilometres away from home, you damn well do deserve to get high praise for it. I'm sure Philip himself would agree had he lived (despite his occasional resentment and dislike of Alexander). It is entirely possible for a historical figure to be praised for his achievements, while also acknowledging that his successor surpassed them. Philip is appropriately rated among people with knowledge of the era. I'm sick of some people that have seen a few YouTube videos about Philip (you know what I'm referring to...) and then jumping on the bandwagon of "wahhh Philip is so underrated, he did all the hard work, Alexander just took advantage of it!!" You know what? That applies to almost every single great military commander in history (with the exception of a few genuinely self-made men like Genghis Khan); Hannibal used the great Carthaginian army his father had established; Julius Caesar used the great Roman army that Sulla had established; Napoleon used the great French army the Revolution had established... the list goes on. You are not being enlightening by making pop-history claims like Alexander's achievements weren't that impressive because his dad built the army a few decades before.
I could agree with most of this. I would allege that Phillip did much of the hard work, and Alexander took advantage of it because he was smart, and utilized the tools he had available.

That being said, Richard Gabriel does a pretty good job of putting Alexander in perspective in his book.
 
Sep 2013
635
Ontario, Canada
Phillip II was a masterful diplomat as well as a keen general who built the very military superweapon which his son would wield in conquering the ancient world.

But he didn't have his son's driven-to-conquer personality and I believe the conquest of Persia would've progressed very differently had he lived to command it.

Following a couple victories in Persia (after Issus) I believe Phillip II would've bargained and settled with Darius III for half of the Persian Empire west of the Euphrates River.

Even Alexander's commanders were advising him to take that offer, especially since he already had Persepolis and the immense stockpile of treasure (equivalent to 120,000 silver talents) found there.

Phillip II was a much better ruler than Alexander ever was, though. He built up the Macedonian Empire up from literally nothing, and perhaps it might have been a lasting one had he lived another twenty years.
 
Nov 2011
1,120
The Bluff
Following a couple victories in Persia (after Issus) I believe Phillip II would've bargained and settled with Darius III for half of the Persian Empire west of the Euphrates River.

Even Alexander's commanders were advising him to take that offer, especially since he already had Persepolis and the immense stockpile of treasure (equivalent to 120,000 silver talents) found there.
I see nothing in Philip’s actions that would indicate such. Why he would leave an undefeated empire with such a vast border adjacent to himself I cannot fathom.
 
Sep 2016
1,331
Georgia
Even Alexander's commanders were advising him to take that offer, especially since he already had Persepolis and the immense stockpile of treasure (equivalent to 120,000 silver talents) found there.
Alexander didn't have Persepolis at that time. He managed to take it only after victory at Gaugamela, capture of Babylon and victory at Persian Gates.
 
Jun 2019
39
USA
And let's be honest here, as great as Philip's achievements were, they really do pale in comparison to the monumental things his son did. That's just a fact..
This is not a fact. Its an opinion. And it can be proven in any basic logic course that your statement is bias as well as intellectually dishonest.

In my opinion, Alexander was a historical outlier. An angry, genocidal, war-mongering megalomaniac and momma's boy who should give all the credit in the world to his father. No alcoholic drunk, reckless teenager, or psychopathic prince has ever benefited so much from outcome bias. His accomplishments were either stolen from the work of others or borrowed from his army. He is obviously more myth than man; but as a boy king he knew nothing of grand strategy, nation-building, or tactics beyond opportunism and selfish risk-taking. He truly believed he was a god and could not be killed. War and glory (to include gambling with his army) were thus his playground and his true legacy is that of an ego-centric monster given way too much power to play with.
 
Feb 2019
625
Thrace
Philip certainly wasn't underrated by ancient writers. Diodorus of Sicily called him the greatest king in Europe in his time and a "throned companion of the twelve gods." Furthermore, Dio Chrysostom mentioned his reputation as "the cleverest of kings."
 
  • Like
Reactions: macon and Gvelion
Mar 2016
1,222
Australia
This is not a fact. Its an opinion. And it can be proven in any basic logic course that your statement is bias as well as intellectually dishonest.

In my opinion, Alexander was a historical outlier. An angry, genocidal, war-mongering megalomaniac and momma's boy who should give all the credit in the world to his father. No alcoholic drunk, reckless teenager, or psychopathic prince has ever benefited so much from outcome bias. His accomplishments were either stolen from the work of others or borrowed from his army. He is obviously more myth than man; but as a boy king he knew nothing of grand strategy, nation-building, or tactics beyond opportunism and selfish risk-taking. He truly believed he was a god and could not be killed. War and glory (to include gambling with his army) were thus his playground and his true legacy is that of an ego-centric monster given way too much power to play with.
This comment is so bizarre and over-the-top that I honestly don't even know how to respond to it. May I ask what sources you're using to base these opinions on?