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Macedonia, north of Thessaly, was not considered by the Hellenes as a part of Hellas, and had no political importance till now. Yet the peoples had elements in common, being Thracians and Illyrians, with a large mixture of Dorian settlers among them.


The line of Macedonian kings being of Hellenic descent, Greek civilization had been cultivated by some of them.

Philip of Macedon was a prince of great ability, educated at Thebes during the Theban supremacy, and trained in war by Epaminondas, on whose tactics he founded his famous invention, the “Macedonian phalanx.” His fame has been overshadowed by that of his illustrious son, but he made Macedonia the leading power in Greece, and gave Alexander the basis for his great achievements. He was a man of unscrupulous character, determined will, prompt action, and patient purpose; and when he became King of Macedon, in 359 B. C., he designed making his country supreme in the Hellenic world, as Athens, Sparta and Thebes had successively been.


From 356 B. C. to 346 B. C. the Phocian or First Sacred War was waged between the Thebans and the Phocians, with allies on each side, the origin of the war being a dispute about a bit of ground devoted for religious reasons to lying perpetually fallow. Philip of Macedon was called in to settle matters, and thereby his ambition secured a firm foothold in Greece. He possessed himself by force of the Athenian cities Amphipolis, Pydna, Potidæa, and Olynthus, being vigorously opposed throughout by the great Athenian orator and patriot Demosthenes, who strove to rouse his countrymen against Philip's dangerous encroachments, in the famous speeches known as the Olynthiac and Philippic orations.