Philip II of Macedon: Greater Than Alexander

By Bonin, John A. | Parameters, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Philip II of Macedon: Greater Than Alexander

Bonin, John A., Parameters

Philip II of Macedon: Greater than Alexander

by Richard A. Gabriel

Washington, DC: Potomac Books, 2010




In Philip II of Macedon: Greater than Alexander, historian Richard Gabriel seeks to elevate Alexander's father, Philip II, to a "greater general and national king" than was his son. He is a member of a growing number of historians who seek relevant insights to present problems from the distant accounts of Greek and Roman wars. Gabriel is a distinguished professor in the Department of History and War Studies at the Royal Military College of Canada and in the Department of Defence Studies at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto. He has written numerous books and articles on military history.

What Gabriel seeks in this work is to examine "Alexander's inheritance" in detail. The author claims that "Philip's legacy was so significant that without it, there would have been no Alexander the Great." He goes on to state that "Philip was a military genius who invented the military instrument that allowed Alexander to carry out his conquest of Asia."

The book's first three chapters are short and readable accounts of Philip's personality, his strategic environment, and the Macedonian war machine. Gabriel also argues that "Philip was a supreme strategist in that he understood the place of war in policy, and he knew its limits." Philip had a manifest preference for political solutions over military ones, and was flexible in his willingness to change course politically or militarily when events required. Philip's grand strategy had two aims: to unify the Macedonian state into an effective national entity, and to expand Macedon's hegemony over all of Greece. When Philip came to power after the defeat and death of his brother Aymtas, for all practical purposes, the Macedonian Army had ceased to exist. Over the next 24 years Philip innovatively created a balanced and modern Macedonian war machine that transformed warfare itself. Gabriel states that "Philip's creation of the first competent corps of Macedonian infantry was not only an achievement of military genius but also an experiment in social engineering." This Macedonian phalanx employed a longer spear, or sarrisa, than Greek hoplites, also elevated peasants to paid members of the king's "foot companions and changed infantry combat completely by providing a unit with greater combat power, flexibility, and maneuverability than the traditional hoplite phalanx." Philip also reformed his cavalry from a noble mob incapable of defeating infantry hoplites to arguably the most effective cavalry arm in antiquity capable of breaking opposing infantry by employing penetrating wedge formations. In addition, Philip created a logistics service capable of supporting distant expeditionary operations and an engineering arm capable of successfully conducting sieges.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Philip II of Macedon: Greater Than Alexander


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?