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Greece and Macedon
P.A. Brunt - Introduction to the translation of Arrian (Anabasis of Alexander), Loeb Classical Library, London, 1999

 

36. Philip has also imposed his will on Greece. His predecessors had always had a natural desire to dominate Thessaly, immediately to the south of their kingdom. In Philip's time the Thessalians were torn by internal feuds and had lost their traditional control of the shrine of Delphi to the Phocians. By a series of interventions Philip re-established peace within the country and restored in appearance the special position of the Thessalians at the shrine. In fact he himself was now its master, all the more because he was elected tagos or president of the Thessalian confederation. None the less most of the Thessalians seem to have been grateful for his services. Alexander succeeded him as tagos, and the Thessalian cavalry, the best in Greece, who were regularly stationed on his left wing in the great battles down to 331, were one of his most valuable units. Later in his reign discontent increased in Thessaly, and the Thessalians revolted in the Lamian war which broke out in Greece just after his death, but this does not concern us here.

37. By his action against the Phocians, who were allies of Athens, and still more by seizing places on the Macedonian seaboard which Athens had held or claimed, Philip had incurred the deep hostility of the most powerful maritime city in Greece. A peace patched up in 346 was regarded by Demosthenes and his friends, who gradually came to dominate Athenian counsels, as no more than a respite during which they could prepare a war of revenge. The intrigues and coups by which Philip tried to extend his influence in Greece, perhaps to counter that of Athens, strengthened the impression that his power menaced the liberties of all Greek cities, and enabled Athens to organize a strong coalition against him. It was even joined by the Thebans, who had the best army in Greece (cf. i 9, 6); old enemies of Phocis and Athens and former allies of Philip, they had become aware that their previous dominance in central Greece had been undermined by Philip's successes. This coalition was decisively defeated at Chaeronea in 338. Under the settlement Philip imposed Athens' maritime league was dissolved, and Thebes was still more harshly treated; the Boeotian federation was freed from her control, the anti-Macedonian leaders killed or banished, and a Macedonian garrison installed in her citadel, the Cadmea (cf. i 7). Philip next settled affairs in the Peloponnese to the disadvantage of Sparta and in the interest of the cities there which were his friends, because they feared Spartan power. For the time being opposition was cowed, but Athens, Thebes and Sparta naturally resented the foreign hegemony, nor was discontent confined to them. As soon as Philip died there was a widespread movement of disaffection in Greece ( 49); in 335 not only Athens but Elis, the Aetolians and some of the Arcadians almost came to the assistance of Thebes in her revolt (i 7, 4; 10, 1 f.), in 331 Sparta enjoyed the support of Elis and most of the Arcadians and Achaeans, while in 323 Athens was able to organize a still more formidable revolt in the Lamian war. Arrian occasionally indicates that Alexander himself was aware of such general discontent (i 7, 4; 18, 8; ii 26, 3) and of the need to terrorize the Greeks (i 29, 6), especially Athens and Sparta (ii 17). It is not disproved by flattering embassies the Greeks felt obliged to send in his honour (iii 5; vii 14; 23). Of course some Greeks were apprehensive of the ambitions of the great cities and looked for protection to Macedon (Polybius xviii 14); the bitter feelings that Thebes had provoked by prolonged oppression of her neighbors contributed to the harshness of her treatment in 335 (i 8, 8; 9, 6-9), and in 331 Antipater obtained indispensable aid against Sparta from her old enemies in the Peloponnese, Argos, Messene and the Arcadians who followed the lead of Megalopolis. It was fear of Sparta that made them loyal to Alexander (iii, 6, 3); once this had been allayed by Sparta's crushing defeat, even Argos and Messene were ready to rise against Macedon in 323. We may doubt if there was anywhere a party sincerely sympathetic to Macedon, as distinct from men who saw that the particular interests of their own cities, or sometimes their own private advantage, lay for the time in seeking Macedonian support.

38. However, in 337 Philip's power enabled him to dictate to the whole of the Greek mainland and many of the island cities, and to organize what moderns call the League of Corinth, since it was at Corinth that the Greeks met by plenipotentiaries and concluded a new 'common peace' (cf. ii 14, 6). This was the latest in a series of such treaties, the first of which had been imposed on the Greek world by the combined will of the Persian king, Artaxerxes II, and Sparta in 387/6 and which was known either as the king's peace or the peace of Antalcidas, from the name of the Spartan diplomat concerned (cf. ii 1, 4; 2, 2). Under that peace, as under every I common peace' that followed, including Philip's, all Greek cities, great and small, were declared free and autonomous; the fine phrase always veiled the truth that some were in practice to be in subjection; in 337 Thebes was not the only city actually under the 'protection' of a Macedonian garrison. In 387/6 indeed it had been expressly provided that the Greek cities in Asia were to be excepted from the rule and subject to Persia; this was certainly not reaffirmed in 337 ( 39). In the past there had been no machinery to enforce the preservation of peace and the principle of autonomy: now all the member states were bound to take common action for these purposes (and also to suppress internal revolutions). Such common action was to be decided by a synedrion, consisting of plenipotentiaries sent by the members, in conjunction with the hegemon, that is to say, Philip himself (and his heirs after him). Thus, though the members were officially termed 'the cities that shared in the peace', in effect a league was created, and its very first act was to proclaim a common war against Persia. Hence Arrian (iii 24, 4 f.) refers to the organization as a league (koinon) or alliance and to the members as 'allies ' (i 9, 9; 24, 3; iii 19, 5). On Philip's death Alexander succeeded to his position as hegemon ( 49, cf. ii 14, 4); though the Greeks evidently renewed their treaties with him, he already had a hereditary right to that position. All league decisions required the concurrence of the hegemon as well as that of a majority in the synedrion, but in addition Philip seems to have been appointed I general with full powers ', i.e. given the right to act at his own discretion in the conduct of the war on behalf of the league, e.g. to accept new members, and Arrian's allusion to Alexander as 'hegemon with full powers' (vii 9, 5), incorrectly amalgamating the two functions, suggests that he too, as we should expect, was formally given this same role, presumably in 336 (i 1, 2). All this explains Arrian's references to the peace and alliance concluded by the Greeks with the Macedonians, i.e. with their kings (iii 24, 5, cf. 28), and to the treaties made with him or, more correctly, with him and the Greeks by two islands which acceded to the league (ii 1, 4; 2, 2). The Persian war was carried on by ' Alexander and the Greeks except Sparta' (i 16, 7); Sparta alone in mainland Greece stood outside the league on the pretext given in i 1, 2, but in reality because Macedonian power entrenched on her sovereignty and adversely affected her interests ( 37). Philip or Alexander could easily have coerced her, but her manifest hostility may bave actually suited them, binding to them other states in the Peloponnese. It can of course be seen that the league was an instrument of their dominance; this comes out in Arrian's statements that in 334 Alexander put Antipater in charge of the Greeks (i 11, 3, cf. ii 2, 4; iii 16, 10; Diodorus xviii 8, 4) and that in 324 Craterus as his successor was ' to direct the freedom (!) of the Greeks ' (vii 12, 4). Both may have been formally designated by the synedrion too as persons ' appointed for the common protection' (Ps-Demosthenes xvii 15).

39. The league had two possible pretexts for attacking Persia. One is given only by Diodorus (xvi 91, 2; xvii 24, 1): to free the Greeks in Asia from Persian rule. This objective was perhaps adopted by Alexander only after initial hesitation, when he ordered that the cities previously subject to Asia should be given autonomy and immunity from tribute and that they should be governed democratically (cf. i 18, 2). Immunity from tribute did not mean that they were not required to make a contribution (syntaxis) to war costs, which was probably obligatory on all league cities; though there is no testimony that the Asian cities were admitted to the league, it is reasonable to assume that they were. However, as Alexander came into possession of the Persian hoards of precious metal (App. X 3), he ceased to need Greek contributions, and we happen to hear of his remitting that previously demanded from Priene; in the end at least the Greek cities gained financially from the abolition of the tribute permanently exacted by Persia. As autonomous, the Asian cities were theoretically to be free from interference by Alexander as king or his satraps: in practice, they were no more exempt from Macedonian control than those of old Greece. Indeed, the establishment of democracies in 334 was in itself an interference in their internal affairs. Its motive cannot have been that Alexander intrinsically preferred democracy (cf. v 2, 3); elsewhere he even backed tyrants, but in Asia the oligarchs had favoured the cause of the Persian king, who had upheld their local authority. No doubt, however, the overthrow of those oligarchs was of great benefit to the Asian Greeks, and the gratitude they felt for liberation was still commemorated by cults centuries later.

40. The other pretext for the league's war with Persia was retribution for the Persian invasion of Greece in 480-479.60 Officially it was in fulfillment of this war aim that Alexander set Persepolis on fire and destroyed its temples (iii 18, 12). The war was now over for the league, and their contingents, even the valued Thessalians, were disbanded soon afterwards (iii 19, 6). Athens had suffered more than any other city from the Persian invasion (iii 18, 12), and though well aware of her hostility, Alexander sought to give colour to the Panhellenism of his enterprise by dedicating trophies at Athens after the Granicus (i 16, 7) and restoring the statues of Harmodius and Aristogiton which Xerxes had removed to Susa (iii 16, 7). He claimed to be fighting for Greece (i 29, 5) and could punish as traitors Greeks who served Darius (cf. also i 16, 6); indeed he treated any Greek cities, whether or not members of the league, which showed sympathy for Persia, as in principle liable to penalties, though he could also pardon both communities and individuals on the ground that they had acted under force majeure, or simply because it was in his own interest to show clemency.

41. Isocrates had long been urging the Greeks to combine in a war of conquest against Persia, and had latterly incited Philip to lead the enterprise. But Isocrates evinced little concern for the ' enslavement ' of the Asian Greeks or desire to revenge the atrocities of the Persians in 480-479.62 In his conception a Panhellenic crusade would promote peace at home and provide the Greeks with new lands on which to settle their surplus population; Philip was to be content with the glory of benefiting the Greeks by victories over the barbarians.63 If we can believe the ' vulgate ', Callisthenes may well have shared this na1ve idea, for we are told that he reminded Alexander of his original purpose, to annex ' Asia' to Greece (iv 11, 7). It is quite unlikely that either Philip or Alexander ever entertained such a purpose. They could allege Macedonian casus belli: in the fifth century the Persians had invaded Macedon as well as Greece, and in 340 they had helped Perinthus to repel Philip's attack; Alexander even had the impudence to add that Darius had been guilty of hostile acts against him-after Philip had already invaded Asia (ii 14, 4 f.). But all these were surely pretexts. Conquest must have been the real purpose. Immediately after Granicus Alexander began to organize provinces and collect taxes (i 17, 1-8); he continued to do so, as he advanced. In his letter to Darius he already claimed to be 'king of Asia' (ii 14, 7), and to make good this Macedonian or personal objective, be carried on the war after dismissing the league troops; indeed' Asia' came to mean more than the Persian empire as it was in 336, or had ever been (cf. n. 64). The Greeks benefited in that his requirements for mercenaries gave many of them opportunity of employment, and that he founded cities where they were settled, but these benefits were incidental to the aggrandizement and protection of his own dominions.

42. Arrian altogether fails to make Alexander's aims clear: in fact he does not discuss them. He seems to assume that the war needs no explanation. Even the casus belli are mentioned quite late in his narrative (ii 14), and he gives no hint that they are to be considered mere pretexts, and that some of them were simply absurd. Contrast the observation of Polybius (iii 6) that the real cause of the war lay in Philip's conviction that the Persian empire was weak, that an attack on it would bring him handsome rewards and win popularity in the Greek world and that he seized on the pretext of avenging Persian lawlessness ' in 480.

43. Even Polybius was mistaken (like many moderns) if he thought that the war did reconcile the Greeks to Macedonian hegemony. Panhellenism derived its true force from the sense that all Greeks had certain characteristics in common which distinguished them from barbarians (Herodotus viii 144). But not the least of these characteristics was attachment to a free, independent city state. The political unity of the Greek 'nation' would involve the sacrifice of an element essential to Greekness. This was one of the rocks on which the attempts had foundered which Greek cities, Athens and Sparta, had made to create larger political units. But the Macedonians were not even Greek: they were as barbarian in Greek eyes as the Persians. In Philip lifetime it had still been possible to style the Persian king 'the common enemy of the Greeks' (Demosthenes xiv 3), but such conventional language, for a century past, had not prevented Greek cities seeking aid from him, and now it was evident that the true threat to Greek liberty came from Macedon. It was in the name of liberty that Athens, Thebes and Sparta all contended with the Macedonians and they felt no shame in accepting and avowing Persian aid. Arrian himself mentions the Theban appeal to' freedom and liberty of speech, time-honoured and finesounding words ' (i 7, 2); there is a nuance of contempt. He does not wholly conceal the extent of discontent in Greece, though he almost ignores the anti-Macedom'an movement immediately after Philip's death ( 49), merely alludes to Agis' revolt (Appendix VI) and has nothing on the actions of Alexander in 324 which provoked the Lamian war. But he is clearly unsympathetic to it. The ideal of the independent polis was remote to this Hellenized and Romanized Bithynian, and he could hardly have grasped that to contemporaries the Macedonians were not Greeks and Alexander not at all the ' national' hero that he might seem later. In the context of his general admiration for Alexander and uncritical reporting of his claim to be fighting for Greece, the reader is surely meant to feel that revolts and 'medism' were as treasonable as Alexander pretended. He cannot avoid describing the atrocious treatment of Thebes, but he conveys the impression (i 9, 6 ff.) that it was just retribution for her own misdeeds and that in any event Alexander was not primarily responsible.68 He makes us feel that towards Athens Alexander was remarkably forbearing, failing (again like many modern scholars) to make it clear that it would have been an odd prelude to a war of retribution on Persia, if Alexander had shown severity to Persia's chief victim in 480, and, more important, that Athens was strongly fortified, that all experience before the capture of Tyre suggested that such a city could not be taken by assault, that her ships commanded the seas and could bring in supplies, and that in the event of a long siege Persian intervention east of the Aegean and further revolts in Greece were to be apprehended.

44. It was not only the revolts that manifested Greek sentiments. The soldiers the league contributed to Alexander's army were neither numerous ( 56) nor, except for the Thessalians who stood in a special relation to their tagos ( 36), important. The army did indeed include a steadily growing proportion of Greek mercenaries, but they were individuals serving Alexander for pay, as their compeers served Darius.10 On the other hand, his fleet in 334 was Greek (i 18, 4 n.), and it was inadequate 160 ships, when Athens alone had 400 in her dockyard and could have given Alexander something approaching naval parity with the Persians. He dismissed it, keeping 20 Athenian ships, presumably as hostages. Naval inferiority distorted his strategy. For fear that the Persian navy even after Issus might stir u a great revolt in Greece and strike at his home base in Macedon, be adopted the plan of capturing the Persian naval bases and thereby bringing about the disintegration of the enemy fleet; hence, instead of pursuing Darius with his usual speed and audacity, marching at once into Mesopotamia and depriving him of the chance to mobilize new forces and fight again in conditions much less favourable to the Macedonians, he had to spend a year in the conquest of Phoenicia. Arrian explains this strategy plainly enough (ii 16, 8 n.), without drawing out its unfortunate consequences. It may be added that in 331 Alexander relied on the old Persian navy to repress his own ' allies ' in Greece (iii, 6, 3), and that in 322 the Phoenicians played a decisive part in the Macedonian sea victory at Amorgos, in which the Athenian navy was finally destroyed and Salamis at last avenged.

 

 
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