Tuesday, May 24, 2011

“Philip II of Macedonia: Greater Than Alexander

by Richard A. Gabriel
Potomac Books Inc., Washington D.C.

Richard A. Gabriel is author of articles of several books on military history and professor of Department of History and War Studies at the Royal Military College. A retired U.S. Army officer and former professor at U.S. Army War College and Marine Corps University, he has masterfully written “Philip II of Macedonia: Greater Than Alexander.”

Students of ancient history, military history and strategy, will find the work detailed and well documented.

He demonstrates his outstanding knowledge of the subject by weaving Philip’s unique grasp of politics, diplomacy and charismatic leadership. In fact, it is the foundations laid by Philip II, that enabled Alexander to achieve the accomplishments for which he is known.

Philip II, of Macedonia, was a leader by example. He rode with his troops, at the head of them, wearing the same clothing with no distinguishing outward symbol of rank. In so doing, he sustained a number of significant and severe injuries including loss of his right eye and damage to a leg that resulted in permanent limb disfigurement and pain.

With each campaign throughout his long reign, he came closer to his ultimate goal of uniting Greece under one ruler, in which he ultimately succeeded.

At the beginning of his reign, Greece was composed of independent city states, which were in conflict with one another as well as with neighboring territories. He forged alliances through marriage and diplomacy.

Athens saw Philip as a barbarian without culture. Its leaders disapproved his taking multiple wives in order to solidify alliances with former enemies. They also thought of him as setting himself as one of the gods. In fact, Philip was well versed in history and had, as a youth taken hostage, learned many of the techniques that would serve his army well in later campaigns.

He had been tutored in the classics of the time and made use of that knowledge in his battles with the Athenians. He honored the gods and there was no data that he ever sought to equate himself as one.

Richard A. Gabriel connects the Greek classics of Homer and noted Greek philosophers with the art of survival of civilization in those times.

From his birth in or near 383 BCE until his death in 336 BCE, rulers like Philip II went to war almost yearly to gain land and in turn, secure peace for themselves and their people.