Modern Historians about Macedonia – Martin Sicker

The Pre-Islamic Middle East of Martin Sicker, 2000


The Greek leaders perceived the sudden resurgence of Persian power in the region as a new and significant challenge to their interests. To gain support for an activist policy, some attempted to redefine the nature of the Greek-Persian conflict from one of straightforward geopolitics to the more emotional issue of pan-Hellenism. For such proponents of a continuation of the struggle the issue was no longer merely the matter of the defense of the Greek city-states. The Persian challenge was now characterized as a conflict of principle, of Hellenic culture and civilization against Asiatic barbarism in an unrelenting struggle for survival. They advocated a crusade to be carried out by a unified Greek nation that was to include all that partook of Greek civilization. However, the traditional leadership of Athens and the other prominent city-states, exhausted by the long external and internal wars, were unable to mobilize the support necessary for an effective response to the Persian challenge. Nonetheless, the pan-Hellenic crusade was soon to be undertaken, but not by Athens. It was Macedonia that was to impose its own leadership on Greece and undertake the renewed struggle against Persia in the name of the Hellenes

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After successfully annexing Thessaly and Thrace, Philip was widely acknowledged as the natural leader of a Hellenic alliance. The venerable Isocrates saw Philip as the man that Greece needed to deal with a chronic demographic problem that menaced its future. He argued that Greece was plagued by overpopulation, which produced large numbers of men suitable for military service who wandered about, without loyalty to any city, selling their services to anyone who could pay for them and thereby posing a constant menace to the stability of the country. What was needed, he suggested, was a new country that might be colonized by Greece’s surplus population. This new land would have to be conquered from Persia, and Philip of Macedon, who was already successfully challenging the Persians in a contest for control of the European shores of the Hellespont, was clearly the only one who might be able to annex all Anatolia to the Hellenic world.

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Philip had no illusions about the stability of the Common Peace, given the turbulent history of the Greek city-states, their competitiveness, and their general reluctance to sacrifice their freedom of action even for the common good. Moreover, he was a Macedonian, from the backwater of the Greek world


A Persian offer of 300 talents was privately accepted by Demosthenes, who employed it for purposes compatible with mutual Athenian-Persian interests in thwarting Macedonian ascendancy

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