Macedon (măs´ədŏn), ancient country, roughly equivalent to the modern region of Macedonia. In the history of Greek culture Macedon had its single significance in producing the conquerors and armies who created the Hellenistic empires and civilizations.
Macedon proper constituted the coast plain NW, N, and NE of the Chalcidice (now Khalkidhikí) peninsula; Upper Macedon was the highland to the west and the north of the plain. The plain was fertile and productive, and there were important silver mines in the eastern part. The population of the region was complex when first known and included Anatolian peoples as well as several Hellenic groups. The capital of Macedon from c.400 to 167 BC was Pella.
Rise of Macedon
The first influence of Greek culture in Macedon came from the colonies along the shore founded in the 8th cent. BC and after; they had ties to their mother cities that tended to isolate them politically from Macedon. By the 7th cent. BC there was developing in W Macedon a political unit led by a Greek-speaking family, which assumed the title of king and aggrandized itself. Macedon was a Persian tributary in 500 BC but took no real part in the Persian Wars.
Alexander I (d. 450 BC) was the first Macedonian king to enter into Greek politics; he began a policy of imitating features of Greek civilization. For the next century the Hellenic influences grew and the state became stronger. With Philip II (reigned 359–336 BC) these processes reached their culmination, for by annexing Upper Macedon, Chalcidice, and Thrace he made himself the strongest power in Greece; then he became its ruler. He created an excellent army with which his son, Alexander the Great, forged his empire. That empire, although it was a Macedonian conquest, was a personal creation.
Successors of Alexander the Great
The Macedonian generals carved the empire up after Alexander's death (323 BC); these were the successors (the Diadochi), founders of states and dynasties—notably Antipater, Perdiccas, Ptolemy I, Seleucus I, Antigonus I, and Lysimachus. They had armies largely Macedonian and Greek in personnel, and most of them founded cities with colonies of their soldiers. Thus began the remarkable spread of the Hellenistic (Greek, rather than Macedonian) civilization. All these armies constituted a fatal drain on the population of Macedon. Macedon, with Greece as a dependency, was one of the states carved out of the Alexandrian empire. Almost immediately, however, there was struggle for the hold over Greece and even over Macedon itself. Cassander took (319–316 BC) Macedon and held it until his death (297); he refounded Salonica (now Thessaloníki). After a period of short-lived attempts by Demetrius I, Pyrrhus of Epirus, Lysimachus, and others to hold Macedon, Antigonus II established himself as king. He fought off the Galatian invaders and used his long reign (277–239 BC) to restore Macedon economically. There was constant trouble with the Greek city-states; many of them regained independence, but Antigonus III (reigned 229–221 BC), another strong king, reestablished Macedonian hegemony.
Wars with Rome
Under Antigonus III's successor, Philip V (reigned 221–179 BC), Macedon engaged in war against Rome. Although the First Macedonian War (215–205 BC) ended favorably for Philip, he was decisively defeated in the Second Macedonian War (200–197 BC), was forced to give up most of his fleet and pay a large indemnity, and was confined to Macedonia proper. By collaborating with the Romans, however, he was able to reduce the indemnity. His successor, Perseus (reigned 179–168 BC), foolishly aroused Roman fears and lost his kingdom in the Third Macedonian War (171–168 BC). Now Rome divided Macedon into four republics. Later (150–148 BC) a pretender, Andriscus, tried to revive a Macedonian kingdom. This time Macedonia was annexed to Roman territory and became (146 BC) the first Roman province. It never again had political importance in ancient times.
See S. Casson, Macedonia, Thrace, and Illyria (1926); W. W. Tarn, Hellenistic Civilization (3d ed. 1952); F. E. Adcock, The Greek and Macedonian Art of War (1957); N. G. C. Hammond, A History of Macedonia (2 vol., 1972–78); S. Pribichevich, Macedonia: Its People and History (1982).