‘The foreign Macedonian King Philip led the Greeks’

Ancients'The foreign Macedonian King Philip led the Greeks'

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King Philip II of Macedonia (father of Alexander the Great) was the guarantor for Macedonia’s rise, as well as for the later glory that his son Alexander III of Macedonia would reap.

When Philip defeated the allied Hellenes at Chaironeia with Alexander’s help, it marked a turning point in the history of the “Greek world”. From then on the Greeks were led by a stranger: King Philip II of Macedonia, as the “Hegemon of the Corinthian League”.

In the Corinthian League, Philip gathered all the Greeks he had defeated – The Corinthian League was a federation of states that consisted of the defeated Greeks. Almost all city-states were “united” under the the federal government of the Macedonian king. Macedonia, on the other hand, was not a member of the Confederation. Philipp, however, let himself be determined as the hegemon, as he was the winner on the battlefield.

The German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel reported on these events in his work “Vorlesungen über die Philosophie der Geschichte.” (Lectures on the Philosophy of History). The lectures summarized in the work, date from the period 1822–1831.

We will quote from chapter 27 of this work, which was first published in 1837 after his death.

But first briefly about the author:

Who was Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel?

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (born August 27, 1770 in Stuttgart; died November 14, 1831 in Berlin) was a German philosopher, he is considered the most important representative of German idealism.

Hegel’s philosophy claims to interpret the whole of reality in the diversity of its manifestations, including its historical development, in a coherent, systematic and definitive manner. His philosophical work is one of the most powerful works in recent history of philosophy.

More about the author you can find at Wikipedia in several languages.

Lectures on the Philosophy of History – Chapter 27

As we mentioned, Philip II of Macedonia made himself head of the “united” Greeks. From the Greek propaganda, this circumstance is regarded as the first “unification” of the Greeks, which of course according to the Greek way of thinking, was led by a Greek.

However, Philip was not a Greek, but a Macedonian. That is why Hegel, and not only he, speaks of a foreign leader in his work when refering to the Macedonian king. Hegel also speaks not of “union” but of subjection.

Pausanias already described that the defeat of the Greeks at Chaironeia was “a disaster for all Greeks“. In Hegel’s words of “subjection”, this is repeatedly associated with a disaster for the ancient Greeks.

Here’s what we read in chapter 27:

The foreign Macedonian king Philip undertook to avenge the violation of the oracle, and now took its place by making himself lord of Greece. Philip submitted the Hellenic states and made them realize that their independence was over and that they could no longer sustain themselves independently.

(The longer) Excerpt from Chapter 27:

The further progress is now quite naive, namely that in place of the degraded oracle another lecture on the philosophy of history – Chapter 27, decisive will, a real powerful kingship appears. The foreign Macedonian king Philip undertook to avenge the violation of the oracle, and now took its place by making himself lord of Greece. Philip submitted the Hellenic states and made them aware that their independence was over and that they could no longer maintain themselves independently. The mundane, the hard, the violent, the politically deceitful – this hateful thing that Philip has so often been reproached for, no longer fell on the young man Alexander when he placed himself at the head of the Greeks. The latter did not need to be guilty of anything like that; he did not have to bother with forming an army, because he found it already there. Just as he only had to climb the Bucephalus, curb it and obey his will, just as he found that Macedonian phalanx, that rigid, ordered mass of iron, whose powerful effect had already been asserted under Philip, who modeled it on Epaminondas.

READ ALSO: Alexander the Great was not quite a Greek

Source: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel: Lectures on the philosophy of history – Chapter 27

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