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The Great Empires of Prophecy, from Babylon to the Fall of Rome

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    Demosthenes Against Philip—The Sacred War—Philip the Head of Greece—Philip Generalissimo

    To Nebuchadnezzar the Lord said that after him there should arise another kingdom “inferior” to his, which was Medo-Persia, “and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.” 1[Page 141] Daniel 2:39, last part.GEP 141.1

    2. In Daniel 10:20 the angel said, “And now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia; and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come.” Therefore we know that Grecia was the power that should succeed that of Media and Persia—that Grecia was the “third kingdom of brass” which should “bear rule over all the earth.”GEP 141.2

    3. Philip II succeeded to the kingdom of Macedon B. C. 360, at the age of twenty-three or twenty-four. “Macedonia is a part of Greece.”—Strabo. 2[Page 141] “Fragments,“book vii, chap 1, par. 1; sec. iii, par. 1. “At first Hellas denoted nothing but the spot in Thessaly where the tribe of Hellenes dwelt. In later times, after Philip of Macedon obtained a seat at the Amphictyonic Council, 3[Page 141] The Amphictyonic Council “was a Hellenic institution, ancient and venerable, but rarely invested with practical efficiency. Though political by occasion, it was religious in its main purpose, associated with the worship of Apollo at Delphi and of Demeter at Thermopylae. Its assemblies were held twice annually—in spring at Delphi, in autumn at Thermopylae, while every fourth year it presided at the celebration of the great Pythian festival near Delphi, or appointed persons to preside in its name. It consisted of deputies called Hieromnemones and Pylagorae, sent by the twelve ancient nations or factions of the Hellenic name, who were recognized as its constituent body. Thessalians, Boeotians, Dorians, Ionians Perrhaebians, Magnetes, CEtaeans, or AEnianes, Achaeans, Malians, Phocians, Dolopes. These were the twelve nations, sole partners in the Amphictyonic sacred rites and meetings, each nation, small and great alike, having two votes in the decision and no more; and each city, small and great alike, contributing equally to make up the two votes of that nation to which it belonged. Thus Sparta counted-only as one of the various communities forming the Dorian; Athens, in like manner in the Ionian, not superior in rank of Erythrae of Priene.”—Grote’s “History of Greece,” chap 87, par. 2. it meant the whole peninsula south of the Balkan Mountains (Haemus), including Macedonia and Thrace.” 4[Page 141] Encyclopedia Britannica, art. Greece, par.1.GEP 141.3

    4. “Macedon was a hereditary kingdom, situated in ancient Thrace, and bounded on the south by the mountains of Thessaly; on the east by Battia and Pieria; on the west by the Lyncestae; and on the north by Mygdonia and Pelagonia. But after Philip had conquered part of Thrace and Illyrium, this kingdom extended from the Adriatic Sea to the river Strymon. Edessa was first the capital of it, but afterward resigned that honor to Pella, famous for giving birth to Philip and Alexander. The kings of Macedon pretended to descend from Hercules by Caranus, and consequently to be Greeks by extraction. Philip was the son of Amyntas II, who is reckoned the sixteenth king of Macedon from Caranus.”—Rollin. 5[Page 142] Ancient History,” Philip, sec. 1. 1, 3.GEP 142.1

    5. Apart from Macedonia, at the accession of Philip, Greece consisted of nineteen distinct States; and was “at the moment completely disorganized.” These nineteen States were, Epirus and Thessaly, which composed North Greece; Acarnania, AEtolia, Locris, Doris, Phocis, Megaris, Baeotia, and Attica, which composed Central Greece; and the Corinthia, Sicyonia, Achaia, Elis, Messenia, Lagonia, Argolis, and Arcadia, which composed the Peloponnesus, or Southern Greece; the island of Euboea, which lay along the eastern coast, formed the nineteenth State,—but taken all together, the whole territory was only a little larger than is the State of West Virginia, having an area of 25,811 square miles, while West Virginia has 23,000.GEP 142.2

    6. Imagine a territory so small as that, with a coast line as great as that of Greece, divided into nineteen independent States, two of which comprise fully half of the whole area, each one of the nineteen being jealous of all the others, besides being itself disturbed by factions jealous of each other, with all public spirit gone—imagine such a condition of affairs as this, and you have a picture of Greece at the time that Philip became king of Macedon.GEP 142.3

    7. Ever since the time of Xerxes, Greece had been anxiously longing to reach the heart of Persia and wreak her vengeance there, as Persia had done in Greece in the burning of Athens. But it is evident that before Greece could do anything at all herself, or before anything could be done by any one with her, she must be united. She must be united upon her own choice, and so be free; or else be united against her choice, and be in subjection. To form a united Greece under his own hand, was the task which Philip set for himself. Therefore, as soon as he had settled the affairs of his own kingdom, he deliberately set about what he knew to be a mighty task—the bringing of all the States of Greece into subjection to himself. And this with the definite object of “getting himself appointed, in the assembly of the Greeks, their generalissimo against the Persians.”—Rollin. 6[Page 143] Id., sec. vii, par. 1.GEP 142.4

    8. Greece, of course, was not willing to have it so. She did not desire to have even her dearest wish accomplished in any way that Philip designed. Therefore, everything that he attempted was strenuously opposed by at least a considerable portion of the States of Greece. Demosthenes was at this time just rising to power as an orator; and as such he was the most steady, most determined, and most powerful antagonist to Philip that was found in all Greece. Philip was now twenty-four years old, and demosthenes was twenty-six. And the task which fell to Demosthenes (for Athens was the head of Greece), to keep the Greeks awake and alive to steady opposition to Philip, was hardly less difficult than was that of Philip to bring all Greece into subjection to himself.GEP 143.1

    9. For “we must not form a judgment of the character of the Athenians, in the age of which we are now speaking, from that of their ancestors in the time of the battles of Marathon and Salamis, from whose virtues they had extremely degenerated. They were no longer the same men, and had no longer the same maxims nor the same manners. They no longer discovered the small zeal for the public good, the same application to the affairs of State, the same courage in enduring the fatigues of war by sea and land, the same care in managing the revenues, the same willingness to receive salutary advice, the same discernment in the choice of generals of the armies, nor of the magistrates to whom they entrusted the administration of the State.” There “had succeeded a fondness for repose, and an indolence with regard to public affairs, an aversion for military labors, which they now left entirely to mercenary troops, and a profusion of the public treasures in games and shows, a love for the flattery which their orators lavished upon them, and an unhappy facility in conferring public offices by intrigue and cabal—all the usual forerunners of the approaching ruin of States. Such was the situation of Athens at the time when the king of Macedon began to turn his arms against Greece.” 7[Page 144] Id., sec. iii. par. 2GEP 143.2

    10. In his very first Philippie, 8[Page 144] The Philippics of Demosthenes are his speeches against Philip. Hence the term “Philippie.” Demosthenes said to the people of Athens: “See to what a height the arrogance of that man rises, who will not suffer you to choose either action or repose; but employs menaces, and, as fame says, speaks in the most insolent terms; and not contented with his first conquests, which are incapable of satiating his lust for dominion, engages every day in some new enterprise. Possibly you wait till necessity reduces you to act. Can there be a greater incentive to free born men than shame and infamy? Will you then forever walk in the public squares with this question in your mouths, ‘What news is there?’ 9[Page 144] Acts 17:21 Can there be greater news than that a Macedonian has vanquished the Athenians, and made himself the supreme arbiter of Greece? ‘Philip is dead,’ says one; ‘No,’ replies another, ‘he is only sick.’ 11[Page 144] Rollin’s translation, “Ancient History,” Philip. sec. iii, par 4 But whether he be sick or dead, is nothing to the purpose, O Athenians! for the moment after heaven had delivered you from him, should you still behave as you now do, you would raise up another Philip against yourselves; since the man in question owes his grandeur infinitely more to your indolence, than to his own strength.”GEP 144.1

    11. And now Philip on his part, “as a politician and conqueror, revolves how he may best extend his frontiers, reduce his neighbors, and weaken those whom he is not able to conquer at present; how he may introduce himself into the affairs of Greece, take part in her intestine feuds, make himself its arbiter, join with one side to destroy the other, in order to obtain the empire over all. In the execution of this great design, he spares neither artifices, open force, presents, nor promises. He employs for this purpose negotiations, treaties, and alliances, and each of them singly in such a manner as he judges most conducive to the success of his design, expediency solely determining him in the choice of measures.GEP 144.2

    12. “We shall always see him acting under this character, in all the steps he takes thenceforth, till he assumes his last character, which is, preparing to attack the great king of Persia, and endeavoring to become the avenger of Greece, by subverting an empire which before had attempted to subject it, and which had always continued its irreconcilable enemy, either by open invasions or secret intrigues.”—Rollin. 12[Page 145] “Ancient History,” Philip, sec. i, pars. 21, 22.GEP 145.1

    13. In 355 B. C. the Sacred War broke out among the states of Greece, and lasted ten years, which gave Philip his desired opportunity to interfere in the internal affairs of Greece. The Sacred War was caused by the Phocians, who dwelt near Delphi, through the plowing up of certain grounds that had been consecrated to Apollo. When this was done, it was reported to the states general of Greece as sacrilege. The Phocians were summoned before the Amphictyonic Council, and after an examination of the whole affair, they were declared guilty of sacrilege, and sentenced to pay a heavy fine. They refused to submit, and took up arms. The council met again and declared war on the Phocians, and then the trouble began. Nearly all Greece took part in the quarrel, some of the States taking sides in favor of the god, others joining the Phocians.GEP 145.2

    14. “In this general movement of the Greeks ... Philip thought it most consistent with his interest to remain neuter.... He was also well pleased to see both parties weaken and consume each other, as he should thereby be enabled to fall upon them afterward with greater ease and advantage.” 13[Page 145] Id., sec. ii, par. 7. However, in 353 B. C., Philip interfered so far as to join Thessaly to his kingdom, and the Thessalian cavalry to his standard, and start to invade Phocis; but the Athenians seized Thermopylae, and he was obliged to return to Macedonia for a season. At last the Thebans grew tired of the Sacred War, and sought the alliance of Philip. This was just what Philip was waiting for, and he therefore, “declared at once in their favor.” 15. “There was nothing Philip had more at heart than to possess himself of Thermopylae, as it opened to him a passage into Greece; to appropriate to himself all the honor of the Sacred War, as if he had been the principal in that affair; and to preside in the Pythian games. He was desirous of aiding the Thebans, and by their means to possess himself of Phocis; but then, in order to put this double design into execution, it was necessary for him to keep it secret from the Athenians, who had actually declared war against Thebes, and who for many years had been in alliance with the Phocians. His business, therefore, was to place other objects in their view; and on this occasion the politics of Philip succeeded to a wonder.” 14[Page 146] Id., sec. iv, par. 2.GEP 145.3

    16. Just at this juncture, the Athenians also grew tired of the war, and sent two commissioners to Philip to sound him in regard to his helping to bring about a peace. He of course answered very favorably. Thereupon Athens sent ten ambassadors, of whom Demosthenes was one, to inquire fully about all points in regard to the important question. The ten returned with a very favorable report indeed. Then these ten ambassadors were immediately sent back to Philip “with full powers to conclude a peace and ratify it by oaths.” After considerable delay on the part of the ambassadors, and more on the part of Philip, with his troops advancing all the time, peace was ratified, but Philip refused to include the Phocians. When the embassy returned to Athens a controversy arose there whether Philip was to be trusted or not, and while they were contending over that question, Philip decided it by taking possession of Thermopylae, “which opened to him the gates, and put into his hands the keys, of Greece.” He at once invaded Phocis. The Phocians sued for peace, and yielded themselves to Philip’s mercy. And so ended the Sacred War, with Philip in possession of the key of Greece.GEP 146.1

    17. Philip immediately assembled the Amphictyonic Council to pass judgment on the Phocians. The council decreed that all the cities of Phocis should be destroyed; that they should have no towns of more than sixty houses each; that such towns should be a certain distance apart; that none should enjoy any possessions except upon the payment of an annual tribute; and that the Phocian seat in the council was forfeited. Then Philip demanded that the council give him the vacant seat, which, as a matter of course, was done, and so Philip of Macedon became a member of the general council of the States of Greece. Next the obsequious council gave him, in conjunction with the Boeotians and Thessalians, the superintendence of the Pythian games. Thus he had obtained all his wish, after which he returned to Macedon, but still holding possession of Thermopylae.GEP 146.2

    18. The next seven years Philip spent in wars in Illyria, Thrace, and Scythia, and in an unsuccessful siege of Byzantium. In 338 B. C., another trouble, similar to that which caused the Sacred War, arose among the Locrians. The question came before the Amphictyonic Council. Philip had bribed the orators of the council, and they persuaded the deputies that it were much better to elect Philip generalissimo of all Greece, than to assess their respective States for the means with which to hire soldiers to fight the Locrians.GEP 147.1

    19. Accordingly, “by a public decree, ‘ambassadors were sent to Philip of Macedon, who, in the name of Apollo and the Amphictyons, implore his assistance, beseech him not to neglect the cause of that god which the impious Amphissians make their sport; and notify him, that for this purpose all the Greeks, associated in the council of the Amphictyons, elect him for their general, with full power to act as he shall think proper.’ This was the honor to which Philip had long aspired, the aim of all his views, and the end of all the engines he had set at work till that time. He therefore did not lose a moment, but immediately assembled his forces ... and possessed himself of Elataea, the greatest city in Phocis.” 15[Page 147] Id., sec. vi, pars, 5, 6.GEP 147.2

    20. Athens at last awoke to the reality of danger, and took prompt measures for defense. She sought also to secure the alliance of Thebes against Philip. Ambassadors, of whom Demosthenes was chief, were sent to that city for this purpose. Philip also was very desirous of securing the alliance of Thebes, and therefore sent ambassadors, of whom Pithon, his finest orator, was chief. These two embassies met at Thebes. It was in truth an oratorical contest between Demosthenes and Pithon as to which side should have the alliance of Thebes. Demosthenes, however, completely overwhelmed his antagonist, and like an avalanche carried the Thebans to the desired alliance with Athens against Philip.GEP 147.3

    21. Philip was somewhat disconcerted by this union of the two strongest States of Greece; and immediately “sent ambassadors to the Athenians to request them not to levy an armed force, but to live in harmony with him.” Of course this overture failed; for the Athenians were now thoroughly convinced that, of all people they could not trust Philip. The army of Philip was composed of thirty thousand infantry and two thousand cavalry; the army of the allies was nearly as large.GEP 148.1

    22. The two armies met at Chaeronea, in Boeotia. Of the allies the Thebans formed the right wing, and the Athenians the left. Philip commanded his own right wing against the Athenians, and his left wing, opposed to the Thebans, he gave “to his son Alexander, who was then but sixteen or seventeen years old, having posted his ablest officers near him.” “Alexander discovered in this battle all the capacity which could be expected from a veteran general, together with all the intrepidity of a young warrior. It was he who brake, after a long and vigorous resistance, the sacred battalion of the Thebans, which was the flower of their army. The rest of the troops, who were round Alexander, being encouraged by his example, entirely routed them.”—Rollin. 16[Page 148] Id., sec. iv, par. 18, On the right, after a bitter struggle, Philip succeeded in routing also the Athenians. Demosthenes was among them, and he “threw down his arms and fled with the rest.” As he was fleeing, his robe happened to catch on a bramble. He was so badly frightened that he mistook it for one of the enemy, and in terror shouted, “Spare my life!” 17[Page 148] Id., par. 19.GEP 148.2

    23. By the victory of Chaeronea, all Greece finally lay at the feet of Philip. “Macedon at that time, with no more than thirty thousand soldiers, gained a point which Persia, with millions of men, had attempted unsuccessfully at Plataea, at Salamis, and at Marathon.”—Rollin. 18[Page 148] Id., sec. vii, par. 1.GEP 148.3

    24. However, “Philip used his victory moderately; for he wished to leave Greece quiet behind him when he crossed into Asia to assail the great king” 19[Page 149] Encyclopedia Britannica, art. Macedonian Empire, par. 3. of Persia. “In the first years of his reign he had repulsed, divided, and disarmed his enemies. In the succeeding ones, he had subjected, by artifice or force, the most powerful States of Greece, and had made himself its arbiter; but now he prepares to revenge the injuries which Greece had received from the barbarians, and meditates no less a design than the destruction of their [the Persian] empire. The greatest advantage he gained by his last victory (and this was the object he long had in view, and never lost sight of) was to get himself appointed, in the assembly of the Greeks, their generalissimo against the Persians.”—Rollin. 20[Page 149] “Ancient History,” Philip, sec. vii, par. 1.GEP 149.1

    25. Having attained all the other objects of his ambition, as originally designed, Philip now advanced to the accomplishment of this final one. Accordingly he “next proceeded to convene a congress of Grecian cities at Corinth. He here announced himself as resolved on an expedition against the Persian king, for the purpose of liberating the Asiatic Greeks and avenging the invasion of Greece by Xerxes. The general vote of the congress nominated him leader of the united Greeks for this purpose, and decreed a Grecian force to join him, to be formed of contingents furnished by the various cities.... It was in 337 B. C. that this Persian expedition was concerted and resolved. During that year preparations were made of sufficient magnitude to exhaust the finances of Philip, who was at the same time engaged in military operations, and fought a severe battle against the Illyrian king Pleurias. In the spring of 336 B. C., a portion of the Macedonian army under Parmenio and Attalus was sent across to Asia to commence military operations, Philip himself intending speedily to follow.”—Grote. 21[Page 149] “History of Greece,” chap 90, par. 11 from end.GEP 149.2

    26. But it was not for Philip to carry the war against Persia. He could unite Greece under one head; he could shape the forces so that they could be wielded by one mighty arm; and then his work was done. It was reserved for a mightier than he to hurl the rugged forces of Macedon and Greece against the multitudes of the Persian king. In B. C. 336, Philip was assassinated at the marriage feast of his daughter. Thus he died at the age of forty-seven years, after a reign of twenty-four years. Ochus, king of Persia, died the same year—poisoned by the eunuch Bagoas.GEP 149.3

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