History 107Lecture 17 The Expansion of Greece: Phillip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great
A New Power--Macedon • Ancient Greece was philosophically, politically, and culturally creative, but too war-like to remain unified • From 431 to 338 B.C. it was in constant conflict • Warring Greeks don’t notice developments in the northern Kingdom of Macedon • This area is known today as Macedonia or the “southern Balkans”
Philip II of Macedon (r. 359-336 B.C.) • Philip II became king of Macedon, north of Greece, in 359 B.C. • He stabilized kingdom through skillful diplomacy, captured gold mines, and reorganized the army • As a military leader, he optimized the army’s Phalanx formation • Expanded kingdom, which brought him into contact (and conflict) with Thessaly (northern Greece), Athens, and Thebes • Greeks asked themselves a question: Is this Philip a dangerous aggressor or the savior of Greece? “Two Views of Philip” Coin with bust of Philip II
Philip II of Macedon (r. 359-336 B.C.) • Athens and Thebes did not trust Philip and rejected an alliance, so conflicts began • Philip attacked Athens and Thebes in 338 B.C. (Sparta tries to remain neutral) • Philip creates defensive league among the Greek poleis; sets his sights on Persia • Murdered before he can invade Persia by a “disgruntled lover” in Macedonia (336 B.C.) • Dies just two years after invading Greece, leaving a 20-year old heir, Alexander III Coin with bust of Philip II
Alexander the Great (336 - 323 B.C.E.) • Alexander III (Alexander the Great) was an exceptional warrior. Led troops in Battle of Chaeronea at age 18 • But who was the real Alexander the Great? Legend vs. reality • New battle style: Squads of 16 men with pikes • Major military conquest: Defeats the Persian Empire. Invades Asia Minor (334 B.C.), Syria (333), Egypt, Iraq, and Persepolis (330 B.C.) • Persian ruler, Darius III, killed, and Persian capital city of Persepolis destroyed during battle • Alexander encouraged Greek nobles to marry Persian noblewomen, creating a new race of nobles • Continued conquest of Afghanistan in 328 B.C. • Married Roxane, an Afghani women in Afghanistan • Continued with conquest in India (Indus river, battle elephants) • Returned to Babylon in 324 B.C.
Alexander the Great (336 - 323 B.C.E.) Battle scene depicting Alexander on horseback (left), Istanbul sarcophagus
Aftermath of Conquest • What Alexander was planning to do with this new, huge empire is difficult to say • Rather than a systematic administrator, Alexander may have been more interested in glory and plunder in the tradition of Greek heroes (Odysseus) • However, Alexander died after a party (possibly from infection) on June 10, 323 B.C. • He named no successor, simply smiling that “the strongest” should take the empire • Alexander was just 33 years old, and had personally walked some 20,000 miles in his desire for glory • Three empires emerged from what Alexander had created: Ptolemaic Egypt, Seleucid Asia, and Greek Macedonia.
Ptolemaic Egypt • First ruled by a general of Alexander named Ptolemy, and later called Ptolemaic Egypt • Ptolemy’s descendants would rule Egypt for the next 300 years (322 to 30 B.C.), down to Queen Cleopatra • New capital of Egypt based in Alexandria, a port city on the Mediterranean established by Alex • Alexandria grew to a major city as scholars visited and art flourished. Medicine, astronomy, and anatomy become leading sciences here • At it peak, Alexandria swelled to 500,000 people and became the center of a vast trading empire • Style of rule: Ptolemaic rulers were chameleons that appeared as Macedonian rulers to the Greek world but as godlike, semi-divine pharaohs to the Egyptians
Seleucid Asia • The Macedonian leader Seleucus was not one of Alexander’s generals, but he emerged in 281 B.C. as the leader of the former Persian empire, which included much of Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Syria • His descendants were called Seleucids • Following Babylonian traditions, Seleucus’s son Antiochus called himself “the Great King”, like Hammurabi or Darius • Seleucids founded Antioch in Syria, a Greek-styled city that would become one of the most important ports on the Eastern Mediterranean • Seleucids also develop professional and mercantile trades, and parts of Seleucid Asia thrive
Greece and Macedonia • Back in Macedonia, a general named Antigonus established control c. 276 B.C. and ruled Greece and Macedonia • As the Greek city/states chafed under this rule, various leagues and federations of cities emerged as an alternate form of political unification • James Madison and America’s founding fathers used one of these (The Achaean League) as a model when they advocated Federalism in the early United States • But the Greece and Macedonia were no longer where the main action was—commercial and cultural interests had expanded into Alexandria, Antioch, and so on