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HISTORY OF GREECE
 
 


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The emergence of Macedonia: 356-338 BC

By the mid-century, with the military reputation of Sparta tarnished, Athens is again perceived as the leading Greek city-state.

But the Athenians are slow to respond to a new threat - the remorseless but diplomatically skilful pressure from the north of Philip II of Macedon. From about 349 the great orator Demosthenes urges his fellow citizens to make a stand against Philip (his series of speeches on the theme become known to history as the Philippics), and in 338 they finally do so. But a joint army from Thebes and Athens is convincingly defeated in that year by Philip at Chaeronaea. Demosthenes delivers the funeral oration for the Athenians who have died in the battle.
 









Philip follows his victory with a bout of diplomacy, persuading all the Greek cities (except Sparta, which stands proudly aloof) to attend a congress at Corinth, in 337. They enter into a treaty for military cooperation, both defensive and offensive, known as the League of Corinth. Greece is now more nearly united than ever before, even though under duress.
 






The campaign against Persia: from 336 BC

One of the resolutions of the League of Corinth is to launch a war against Persia, with Philip as commander of the confederate forces. In the following spring (336) an advance guard of 10,000 troops sets off eastwards. But that same summer, at a feast to celebrate the wedding of his daughter, Philip is murdered by one of his courtiers.

The League immediately elects his son, Alexander, in his place as commander. But this degree of unity is short-lived. The Thebans rebel against the League. Alexander storms Thebes in 335 BC, killing 6000. He then puts into effect a stern judgement by the council of the League. Theban territory is divided between its neighbours. The surviving Thebans are enslaved.
 








Macedonia after Alexander: 323 - 148 BC

The whole of Greece seems to hold its breath during the astonishing saga of Alexander's conquests in the east. His regent in Macedonia (Antipater, one of his father's most trusted generals) keeps the region calmly under control apart from one brief uprising by Sparta.

But Alexander's death in 323 reopens the floodgates of chaos. Macedonian generals spend the next forty years fighting over the division of his far-flung empire. Closer to home, Greek city-states resume their usual activity of forming military and naval alliances against each other, beginning with an Athenian campaign as early as 323 against the Macedonians.
 









Macedonia itself, Alexander's homeland, is subject to a succession of violent upheavals. In one of them his mother, Olympias, arrives with an army in 317 BC and kills his half-witted half-brother, Philip III, together with Philip's wife and 100 of his supporters. She loses her own life in the next coup, in the following year.

In 276 a stable dynasty is at last established by descendants of Antigonus, another of Alexander's generals. But its future is relatively short. As the most westerly part of Alexander's empire, Macedonia is the first region to be devoured by its imperial successor. Rome first invades Macedonia in 197 BC. From 148 Macedonia is reduced to the status of a Roman province. Not until the 19th century does it feature prominently again in history.
 






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