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Philip and the Greeks

After his reorganization of the Macedonian army, Philip embarked on a whirlwind of diplomacy, bribery, and military action to make the states of Greece acknowledge his superiority1. He financed this activity by prodigious spending of the gold and silver coinage he had minted from the mines of Macedonia and those that he captured in Thrace2. A Greek contemporary, the historian Theopompus3 of Chios, labeled Philip “insatiable and extravagant; he did everything in a hurry ... he never spared the time to reckon up his income and expenditure.” By the late 340s B.C. Philip had cajoled or forced most of northern Greece to follow his lead in foreign policy. His goal then became to lead a united Macedonian and Greek army against the Persian Empire4. His announced reason sprung from a central theme in Greek understanding of the past: the need to avenge the Persian invasion of Macedonia and Greece of 480 B.C. Philip also feared the potentially destabilizing effect on his kingdom if his reinvigorated army were left with nothing to do. To launch his grandiose invasion, however, he needed to strengthen his alliance by adding the forces of southern Greece to it.

At Athens, Demosthenes used his stirring rhetoric to castigate the Greeks for their failure to resist Philip: they stood by, he thundered, “as if Philip were a hailstorm, praying that he would not come their way, but not trying to do anything to head him off.”5 Finally, Athens and Thebes headed a coalition of southern Greek states to try to block Philip's plans. In 338 B.C., Philip and his Greek allies trounced the coalition's forces at the battle of Chaeronea6 in Boeotia. The defeated Greek states retained their internal freedom, but they were compelled to join an alliance under Philip's undisputed leadership7, called the League of Corinth by modern scholars after the location of its headquarters.

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