The Comparison of who better deserves the title of “The Great”
Phillip II or Alexander
Dr. Paul Baxa
The common definition for the term “great” consists of being considerably above average or above normal. Normal can mean different things to different cultures and societies. For example, in the early years, having kings, the power to rule, and killing several thousands to accomplish this was normal to some, as was being a peasant, working on the farm and having nothing in your name to others. Both Philip II of Macedon and Alexander III of Macedon were above average and above normal in the sense that they achieved far more greatness than most in their time. This father/son duo ruled the Macedonian Empire and conquered a vast amount of surrounding land between 360-323 B.C. (1). Before Philip came to rule, the Macedonian empire was disintegrating and divided. The two men used different tactics both physically and politically to expand the empire. Philip unified the empire, created a new army and started expansion, Alexander continued this expansion conquering nearly 2,000,000 square miles of land (1). Philip II died at only the age of 46 when Alexander took over. After Alexander's death at an even younger age of 32, the new empire crumbled once again (2). Philip II and Alexander III are very different, which make them hard to compare. There is no doubt that both of these men were great kings and leaders, but which one better deserves the title of “The Great”?
The biggest controversy arises from the question of whether Philip laid out the groundwork for Alexander's success. We wonder if Alexander would have been as great without the teachings of some of his father's tactics, and Aristotle's teachings about kingship and politics, which his father sent him to learn (3). Alexander defeated the Persians and conquered more land than Philip had, but it would have been impossible for him to do without the unstoppable army and united country that was provided for him by his father (4). However, this does not sideline the fact that Alexander still had to make important decisions and was a large influence on his followers. He understood how to adapt his military tactics to be able to defeat a diverse amount of enemies.
Summary of Philip II of Macedon:
The development of the military as a full time occupation for Macedonia's countrymen, shepherds men, and peasants came about by one man, King Philip II of Macedon. The reason all of this worked out well for everyone was because he knew these people needed the money. Philip spent three years as a hostage of the Greeks at Thebes. During this time he had the opportunity to learn about the techniques, appreciate the culture, and gain knowledge of the army of the Greek society. The men of the military were paid with Gold from Mount Pangaeus that was attained when he conquered the Athenian colony of Amphipolic in Thrace which gave him control of the gold mines. This wealth he assumed became useful in several ways, including creating alliances and subduing enemies. The loyal and dependable military became a year round way of life for Philips' soldiers (5).
The main goal of this united army was to unify the Macedonian state and to expand Macedon's hegemony over all of Greece. He accomplished these goals with the help of a few inventions from his brilliantly crafted mind. New weapons such as the two handed spear, which reinforced the phalanx, the advancement of catapults, which also helped Alexander during his major sieges, and the creation of fortifications helped secure Macedonia. In addition to these inventions, he used wedge formations strategically against his opponents. Philip II arguably preferred to achieve his objectives by employing marriage, bribery, and diplomacy into his tactics. He reorganized his kingdom and secured Macedon's borders and constructed canals, bringing his...
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