During the middle of the fourth century, Macedonia (in northern Greece) became a formidable power under a remarkable king, Philip II, whose success set the stage for his son Alexander the Great’s unparalleled conquest of much of the ancient world. His victory over the Greeks at the Battle of Chaeroneia in Boeotia in made Philip II the undisputed ruler of Greece, and the Macedonian royal court became the leading center of Greek culture. Fine tomb paintings, notably at Vergina, precious metal vessels, and elaborate gold jewelry give an indication of the splendor of the arts produced for the Macedonian royal family. Alexander the Great (ruled 336-323 BC) who had been educated by Aristotle, the greatest of Plato’s pupils, cultivated the arts on an unprecedented scale. He maintained a retinue of Greek artists, including Lysippos of Sikyon as court sculptor,Apelles of Kolophon as court painter, and Pyrgoteles as court gem engraver. Lysippos was arguably the most important artist of his century. His works, notably portraits of Alexander (and the works they influenced, mark the culmination of Classical sculpture.They inaugurated features, such as heroic-ruler portraiture, that would become major aspects of Hellenistic sculpture (323-31 BC). Furthermore,Alexander’s conquests opened exchanges with cultures as far east as the Indus River valley in modern Pakistan.This expanded Greek world would have a profound impact on the arts of the succeeding centuries.
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