PHILIP II AND THE RISE
It is one of the great paradoxes of ancient history that the Greek poleis were able to maintain their independence until almost the last third of the fourth century BC. Their tiny size and constant quarrels made their escape from Persian conquest in the early fifth century BC appear almost miraculous, even in antiquity. It was not surprising when the threat of foreign conquest returned a little over a century later. What was surprising was the source of the threat: not the mighty Persian empire, feared by the Greeks for almost two centuries, but the hitherto insignificant kingdom of Macedon located north of Greece in southeastern Europe.
The success of Macedon in conquering the Greek states was due in part to the internal divisions and economic strains that inhibited the evolution of a consistent policy in Athens, in part to the mutual mistrust that stood in the way of an effective united front on the part of the leading poleis--Athens, Sparta, and Thebes. A large part was played as well by the longing many Greeks felt for a radical cure for the ills of Hellas--monarchy, perhaps, and even a crusade such as a monarch could mount against Persia. Credit however must also be given to the unique military and diplomatic gifts of the man who became king of Macedon in 359 BC. A man of exceptional talents and indefatigable determination, Philip II has fascinated historians of antiquity for over two thousand years and continues to do so today.
Reconstructing the history of Macedon before the reign of Philip II is difficult. The lack of sources that bedevils much of Greek history is an obvious part of the problem. We know the names of several historians who wrote histories of Macedon in antiquity, but only meager fragments of their works survive. The most important of these works was the fifty-eight-book-long Philippica of Theopompus