By the Spear: Philip II, Alexander the Great, and the Rise and Fall of the Macedonian Empire (Ancient Warfare and Civilization)
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Alexander the Great, arguably the most exciting figure from antiquity, waged war as a Homeric hero and lived as one, conquering native peoples and territories on a superhuman scale. From the time he invaded Asia in 334 to his death in 323, he expanded the Macedonian empire from Greece in the west to Asia Minor, the Levant, Egypt, Central Asia and "India" (Pakistan and Kashmir) in the east. Although many other kings and generals forged empires, Alexander produced one that was without parallel, even if it was short-lived.
And yet, Alexander could not have achieved what he did without the accomplishments of his father, Philip II (r. 359-336). It was Philip who truly changed the course of Macedonian history, transforming a weak, disunited, and economically backward kingdom into a military powerhouse. A warrior king par excellence, Philip left Alexander with the greatest army in the Greek world, a centralized monarchy, economic prosperity, and a plan to invade Asia.
For the first time, By the Spear offers an exhilarating military narrative of the reigns of these two larger-than-life figures in one volume. Ian Worthington gives full breadth to the careers of father and son, showing how Philip was the architect of the Macedonian empire, which reached its zenith under Alexander, only to disintegrate upon his death. By the Spear also explores the impact of Greek culture in the East, as Macedonian armies became avatars of social and cultural change in lands far removed from the traditional sphere of Greek influence. In addition, the book discusses the problems Alexander faced in dealing with a diverse subject population and the strategies he took to what might be called nation building, all of which shed light on contemporary events in culturally dissimilar regions of the world. The result is a gripping and unparalleled account of the role these kings played in creating a vast empire and the enduring legacy they left behind.
Alexander is his taming of the horse Bucephalas (“Ox-head”). Alexander may have been no more than 10 or 11 years old when one day a Thessalian horse trader visited Pella. Among the fine horses he brought with him was a large black stallion with an asking price of 13 talents—a small fortune. None of the men was interested because every time anyone approached the horse he reared up violently and no one could ride him. The young Alexander pestered Philip to let him try to mount the horse, and his
West and East. In doing so, he introduced to the Greeks a world that was far larger than that of the Mediterranean to which they had been accustomed for centuries. He was worshiped by 2 Introduction some of his subjects while he was still alive, and he died young, remaining a godlike example to all would-be conquerors. Without doubt Alexander is one of history’s most exciting people. Because of his spectacular military exploits he became a legend, and later fourth-century Greek history is
fame as one who with but the slenderest resources to support his claim to a throne won for himself the greatest empire in the Greek world, while the growth of his position was not due so much to his prowess in arms as to his adroitness and cordiality in diplomacy. Philip himself is said to have been prouder of his grasp of strategy and his diplomatic successes than of his valor in actual battle. Every member of his army shared in the successes which were won in the field, but he alone got credit
Greeks’ favor. The Spartans’ fear of the growth in the Athenians’ power led to a series of clashes between the two cities and eventually the Peloponnesian War (431–404).2 Despite the Athenian advantages of naval strength and financial resources, they suffered defeat, losing at least half and perhaps as much as 75 percent of their population. The Delian League was brought to a crushing end, and Sparta absorbed the Athenian allies into the Peloponnesian League, installing in Athens an oligarchy
waves and revealing a narrow path along the rocks that brought them safely out beyond the beach and into Pamphylia. Callisthenes proclaimed that the sea itself was performing proskynesis (genuflection)—it was bowing to Alexander.26 The similarity with Xenophon’s account in his Anabasis of 157 by the spear Cyrus’s crossing of the Euphrates at Thapsacus because the water receded for him is obvious.27 The Asian custom of proskynesis resurfaced in Bactria in 327 when Alexander unsuccessfully