Prosperity is the measure or touchstone of virtue, for it is less difficult to bear misfortune than to remain uncorrupted by pleasure. — Tacitus

Story of the Greeks - Helene Guerber

Philip of Macedon

In the days when Thebes was the strongest city in Greece, and when Epaminondas was the leader in his native country, he received in his house a young Macedonian prince called Philip. This young man had been sent to Greece as a hostage, and was brought up under the eye of Epaminondas. The Theban hero got the best teachers for Philip, who was thus trained with great care, and became not only quite learned, but also brave and strong.

Macedon, Philip's country, was north of Greece, and its rulers spoke Greek and were of Greek descent; but, as the people of Macedon were not of the same race, the Greeks did not like them, and never allowed them to send any one to the Amphictyonic Council.

Two years after the battle of Mantinea, when Philip was eighteen years old, he suddenly learned that the king, his brother, was dead, and had left an infant to take his place. Philip knew that a child could not govern: so he escaped from Thebes, where he was not very closely watched, and made his way to Macedon.

Arriving there, he offered to rule in his little nephew's stead. The people were very glad indeed to accept his services; and when they found that the child was only half-witted, they formally offered the crown of Macedon to Philip.

Now, although Macedon was a very small country, Philip no sooner became king than he made up his mind to place it at the head of all the Greek states, and make it the foremost kingdom of the world.

This was a very ambitious plan; and in order to carry it out, Philip knew that he would need a good army. He therefore began to train his men, and, remembering how successful Epaminondas had been, he taught them to fight as the Thebans had fought at Leuctra and Mantinea.

Then, instead of drawing up his soldiers in one long line of battle, he formed them into a solid body,—an arrangement which soon became known as the Macedonian phalanx.

Each soldier in the phalanx had a large shield, and carried a spear. As soon as the signal for battle was given, the men locked their shields together so as to form a wall, and stood in ranks one behind the other.

The first row of soldiers had short spears, and the fourth and last rows very long ones. The weapons of the other rows were of medium length, so that they all stuck out beyond the first soldiers, and formed a bristling array of points which no one dared meet.

Philip not only trained his army so as to have well-drilled soldiers ready, but also found and began to work some gold mines in his kingdom. As they yielded much precious metal, he soon became one of the richest men of his time.

This wealth proved very useful, for it helped him to hire a great force of soldiers, and also to buy up a number of allies. In fact, Philip soon found that his gold was even more useful than his army, and he was in the habit of saying that "a fortress can always be taken if only a mule laden with gold can be got inside."

Philip was so kind and just that he soon won the love of all his subjects. It is said that he listened to the complaints of the poor and humble with as much patience as to those of his noblest courtiers.

Once, after dining heavily and drinking too much, Philip was suddenly called upon to try the case of a poor widow. As the king's head was not very clear, he was not able to judge as well as usual: so he soon said that she was in the wrong, and should be punished.

The woman, who knew that she was right, was very angry; and, as the guards were dragging her away, she daringly cried, "I appeal!"

"Appeal?" asked Philip, in a mocking tone, "and to whom?"

"I appeal from Philip drunk to Philip sober!" replied the woman.

These words made such an impression upon Philip, that he said he would try the case again on the next day, when his head was quite clear. He did not forget his promise on the morrow; and when he found that the woman was right, he punished her accuser, and set her free.


Front Matter

Early Inhabitants of Greece
The Deluge of Ogyges
Founding of Important Cities
Story of Deucalion
Daedalus and Icarus
The Adventures of Jason
Theseus Visits the Labyrinth
The Terrible Prophecy
The Sphinx's Riddle
Death of Oedipus
The Brothers' Quarrel
The Taking of Thebes
The Childhood of Paris
Muster of the Troops
Sacrifice of Iphigenia
The Wrath of Achilles
Death of Hector and Achilles
The Burning of Troy
Heroic Death of Codrus
The Blind Poet
The Rise of Sparta
The Spartan Training
The Brave Spartan Boy
Public Tables in Sparta
Laws of Lycurgus
The Messenian War
The Music of Tyrtaeus
Aristomenes' Escape
The Olympic Games
Milo of Croton
The Jealous Athlete
The Girls' Games
The Bloody Laws of Draco
The Laws of Solon
The First Plays
The Tyrant Pisistratus
The Tyrant's Insult
Death of the Conspirators
Hippias Driven out of Athens
The Great King
Hippias Visits Darius
Destruction of the Persian Host
Advance of the Second Host
The Battle of Marathon
Miltiades' Disgrace
Aristides the Just
Two Noble Spartan Youths
The Great Army
Preparations for Defense
Leonidas at Thermopylae
Death of Leonidas
The Burning of Athens
Battles of Salamis and Plataea
The Rebuilding of Athens
Death of Pausanias
Cimon Improves Athens
The Earthquake
The Age of Pericles
Teachings of Anaxagoras
Peloponnesian War Begins
Death of Pericles
The Philosopher Socrates
Socrates' Favorite Pupil
Youth of Alcibiades
Greek Colonies in Italy
Alcibiades in Disgrace
Death of Alcibiades
Overthrow of Thirty Tyrants
Accusation of Socrates
Death of Socrates
The Defeat of Cyrus
Retreat of the Ten Thousand
Agesilaus in Asia
A Strange Interview
The Peace of Antalcidas
The Theban Friends
Thebes Free Once More
The Battle of Leuctra
Death of Pelopidas
The Battle of Mantinea
The Tyrant of Syracuse
Damon and Pythias
The Sword of Damocles
Dion and Dionysius
Civil War in Syracuse
Death of Dion
Philip of Macedon
Philip Begins His Conquests
The Orator Demosthenes
Philip Masters Greece
Birth of Alexander
The Steed Bucephalus
Alexander as King
Alexander and Diogenes
Alexander's Beginning
The Gordian Knot
Alexander's Royal Captives
Alexander at Jerusalem
The African Desert
Death of Darius
Defeat of Porus
Return to Babylon
Death of Alexander
Division of the Realm
Death of Demosthenes
Last of the Athenians
The Colossus of Rhodes
The Battle of Ipsus
Demetrius and the Athenians
The Achaean League
Division in Sparta
Death of Agis
War of the Two Leagues
The Last of the Greeks
Greece a Roman Province