Philip II of Macedon (382-336 B.C.)Philip II of Macedon (382-336 B.C.) - As king of Macedonia and conqueror of Greece, those feats alone would have been enough to make Philip II a famous historical character. But it was the fact that he was the father of Alexander the Great that made him most famous. Amazingly, his elevation onto the world stage might never have happened had it not been for a few breaks. He was the youngest son of King Amyntas III, and never even expected to even become king (basileus in Greek). Even when his two older brothers, Alexander II and Perdiccas III, died prematurely, he was only appointed regent of Macedonia to groom Perdiccas' son, Amyntas IV to eventually become king. Philip was obviously ambitious and expropriated the throne for himself with little or no opposition. He did not consider his nephew a threat, and allowed him to live. Alexander the Great apparently did consider him a threat though. Upon Philip's death, he had Amyntas IV executed as a potential rival.


Philip became king in 359 B.C. and began his conquest of Greece in 349. Thanks to their internal wars, the Greeks had severely weakened their own country, and somehow ignored the growing threat from the northern kingdom. Even after Philip's first move, the siege of Olynthus, several city-states were still at war with one another (a far cry from how they united during the Persian Wars). Besides the prize it presented, Philip had reason to dislike Greece. He had been been a hostage of Thebes from 368 to 365 B.C.. However, he also received an education from the Theban statesman, Epaminondas, while in custody. It took Philip eleven years to completely subdue Greece. The Greeks were finally able to unite in 338 B.C., thanks in large part to the efforts of the Athenian statesman, Demosthenes, who forged an alliance with Thebes. Their combined army met the Macedonians at the Battle of Chaeronea on August 2nd, 338. Philip was victorious and Greece was his. While a great military achievement, it was really just a stepping stone for his next move, Persia. He prepared his army for a Persian invasion, but was assassinated in 336 by one of his own bodyguards. Persia would have to wait for Philip's son, Alexander to launch the campaign.