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Philip II reigned over Macedonia from 359 to 336 B.C. He became the head of an empire that was expanded by his son and successor, Alexander the Great.
Alexander the Great created a timeless impression of himself as a god-like figure that lasts even until this day.
Both Alexander's father and mother had a great influence on the man he became but his mother held a special significance in his upbringing.
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Born in either 383 or 382 B.C., Philip II became Macedonia's leader in 359, and was officially its king by 357. He used skilled military and diplomatic tactics to expand his country's territory and influence, and ended up dominating almost of all of his neighboring Greek city-states. He was assassinated in July 336, at the approximate age of 46, and was succeeded by his son, Alexander the Great.
The son of Macedonia's King Amyntas III and his wife, Eurydice, Philip II was born in either 383 or 382 B.C. After his brother, Alexander II, took the throne, Philip spent three years, from 368 to 365, as a hostage in Thebes. This time was well-spent, as it was in Thebes that Philip learned about military strategy from the work of Epaminondas, one of the greatest generals of the day.
After Alexander II's assassination, Philip's brother, Perdiccas III, became king and brought Philip back from Thebes. When Perdiccas was killed in 359 while fighting the Illyrians, Philip was selected to serve as the guardian for Perdiccas's young son, Amyntas IV.
From his new position of power, Philip began to use his military ingenuity in order to remake the Macedonian army. Members of the army were soon equipped with a sarissa, a pike that, at about 16 feet long, had a greater reach than Greek weapons. This innovation meant that Philip's army's phalanxes could make the first strike, which transformed them into a deadly force. In 358, his new army successfully invaded first Paeonia and then Illyria, regaining territory that Macedonia had ceded.
An excellent military tactician, Philip was also adept at consolidating power through other means. Macedonians were polygamous, so marrying the female relatives of powerful opponents and allies was a natural step for Philip (his seven wives included Molossian princess Olympias, the mother of Alexander the Great). By 357, Philip was no longer acting as his nephew's regent and was officially Macedonia's king.
In 357, Philip successfully faced off with Athens for control of the strategically located city of Amphipolis. Over the next two decades, Philip would achieve a series of victories in the region, only suffering a major defeat in 353. His able use of shifting alliances, combined with his military supremacy, granted him territory and influence that increased Macedonia's wealth, security and unity.
At Chaeronea in 338, Philip's army fought against a large assembly of Greek forces. Using a feigned retreat that created openings for his cavalry, Philip won a great victory over the Greeks. In consequence, he was able to form the League of Corinth in 337, which brought almost all of the Greek city-states into an alliance that was beholden to Philip.
After years of military campaigns, Philip was blind in one eye from being shot by an arrow and walked with a limp thanks to a devastating injury to his leg. In spite of these blows, he still dreamed of reaching Persia and its riches. He got the League of Corinth to sanction this invasion and began to prepare for the upcoming campaign.
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