Philip II of Macedonia


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Ian Worthington

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Alexander the Great is remembered as a brilliant conqueror, but his father’s achievements as a leader were greater still

Alexander the Great is probably the most famous ruler of antiquity, and his spectacular conquests are recounted often in books and films. But what of his father, Philip II, who united Macedonia, created the best army in the world at the time, and conquered and annexed Greece? This landmark biography is the first to bring Philip to life, exploring the details of his life and legacy and demonstrating that his achievements were so remarkable that it can be argued they outshone those of his more famous son. Without Philip, Greek history would have been entirely different.

Taking into account recent archaeological discoveries and reinterpreting ancient literary records, Ian Worthington brings to light Philip’s political, economic, military, social, and cultural accomplishments. He reveals the full repertoire of the king’s tactics, including several polygamous diplomatic marriages, deceit, bribery, military force, and a knack for playing off enemies against one another. The author also inquires into the king’s influences, motives, and aims, and in particular his turbulent, unraveling relationship with Alexander, which may have ended in murder. Philip became in many ways the first modern regent of the ancient world, and this book places him where he properly belongs: firmly at the center stage of Greek history.

Ian Worthington is Frederick A. Middlebush Professor of History, University of Missouri–Columbia. He lives in Columbia, MO.

“Professor Worthington is a leading expert on later fourth-century BCE Greek history. In this valuable study, he argues that Philip may be considered a greater king even than Alexander, reviving an argument that is destined to run and run, as long as the factors ultimately shaping Eurasian history are a matter of living concern to a broad public.”—Paul Cartledge


"A powerful narrative, which, like its subject, is both decisive and accessible in constructing a clear and authoritative analysis of how Philip forged Macedon into the instrument which carried his son to even greater glory. Worthington is equally at home in the cultural complexities of Macedonian society, judicious evaluation of the disparate ancient testimony, and the political geography of the fourth-century Greek world. A major contribution which will stand the test of time." - Michael Whitby, University of Warwick, editor of Cambridge History of Ancient Warfare

"Ian Worthington has spent a lifetime of scholarship relating the twilight hours of the Greek city-state and the career of Alexander the Great. Now he turns that experience and knowledge to the architect of that decline, Philip II of Macedon, and the results are just what we expect - meticulous research, independent thinking, and a narrative as interesting to the general reader as it is invaluable for the scholar." - Victor Davis Hanson, author of The Other Greeks and A War Like No Other

"Detailed, nuanced. . . . An important book for anyone with an interest in Greece, the Hellenistic age, and the roots of the West."—The New York Military Affairs Symposium Review

“A clear, detailed, and balanced account that judiciously separates the threads of often complex political and military situations” – Literary Review

"Worthington skilfully uses information from the rich documentation of Alexander the Great's early life to speculate about and suggest that of his father, and does so with a great deal of style." - The Daily Telegraph

"An admirable overview." - The Anglo-Hellenic Review

"This rich and thought-provoking monograph is an excellent and stimulating work ... and provides readers with the appropriate instruments to tackle the complex issue of Phillip II's biography." - Sehepunkte

"The book is clearly written, judiciously documented, . . . and is a careful study in a traditional vein by one of the world's leading authorities on fourth-century BC Greek history.  The timelines, maps, plates, and illustrations are useful complements to the text. . . . One could not hope for a more reliable and readable biographical account." —Craige B. Champion, The International History Review

"Plentiful notes, a bibliographic essay, and a healthy selected bibliography provide rich resources for future study. . . . Philip II of Macedonia is well worth reading and will surely become an authoritative biography of the ancient king." —Dr. J. Boone Bartholomees, Jr., Parameters: US Army War College Quarterly

"A detailed narrative of the political and military history of Phillip's region. . . . Overall the strengths are: the author's impressive range, his knowledge of the scholarship on Phillip, and his lively prose. . . . This is an important book on a remarkably successful king."—Peter Hunt, The Historian
ISBN: 9780300120790
Publication Date: November 3, 2008
336 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
16 b/w illus.