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Macedon at the time of Philip's accession was a small piece of the Grecian peninsula where it attaches to Europe proper, in the northwest corner of the Aegean Sea. When Philip was assassinated it had tripled its size, included Paeonia, the coast of Thrace down to the Hellespont, the islands of Samothrace and Lemnos, and a chunk of Thessaly. The people of Macedon were peasants, of purer Nordic blood than the Athenians, Greek in language, and very nearly Greek in sympathies.
Philip was the type of the leader-king, a redoubtable adversary at war, a brilliant military organizer, a friend of learning and perhaps the best educated man of his time. With Aristotle he discussed the philosopher's schemes for the organization of real knowledge, with Isocrates he planned a great union of Greek states to dominate the Eastern world. Occasionally he got drunk.
Windbag Demosthenes denounced this Philip with his mad scheme of a pan-Hellenic united front. ". . . Philip--a man who not only is no Greek, and no way akin to the Greeks, but is not even a barbarian from a respectable country--no, a pestilent fellow of Macedon, a country from which we never even get a decent slave..." In 338 B.C., however, at the battle of Chaeronea, Philip whipped the Athenians and gave them peace on astonishingly lenient terms. He became captain-general for the war against Persia.
Philip was married to Olympias, the daughter of the king of Epirus, and three years afterwards was born a boy who got history's best imperial training, whom his father nurtured lovingly and carefully that he might become a Conqueror. A boy whose shrewish, selfish, cruel, fanatical mother soon taught to hate his father.
Philip occasionally got drunk. Plutarch tells us of a scene at Philip's second-marriage feast when Attalus, the father of the bride, betrayed the general hostility to Olympias and Epirus by saying "he hoped there would be a child by the marriage to give them a truly Macedonian heir." Whereupon young Alexander rose and threw his cup of wine at Attalus . . . "What then am I?" Philip stood up and drew his sword, but stumbled and fell. And fiery Alexander . . .
"Macedonians! See there the general who would go from Europe to Asia! He cannot got from one table to another!"
Today at ten the Vagabond goes to Sever 26, to hear Professor Mason Hammond, in Greek B, on "Greek History, 430--330 B.C."
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