The land of Macedonia, lying to the north of Greece, for a
long time had been an inconspicuous part of the ancient world. Its people,
though only partially civilized, were Greeks in blood and language. No doubt
they formed an offshoot of those northern invaders who had entered the Balkan
peninsula before the dawn of history. The Macedonian kings, from the era of the
Persian wars, seized every opportunity of spreading Greek culture throughout
their realm. By the middle of the fourth century B.C., when Philip II ascended
the throne, the Macedonians were ready to take a leading place in the Greek
Philip of Macedonia, one of the most remarkable men of
antiquity, was endowed with a vigorous body, a keen mind, and a resolute will.
He was no stranger to Greece and its ways. Part of his boyhood had been passed
as a hostage at Thebes in the days of Theban glory. His residence there gave
him an insight into Greek politics and taught him the art of war as it had been
perfected by Epaminondas. In the distracted condition of Greece, worn out by
the rivalries of contending cities, Philip saw the opportunity of his own country.
He aimed to secure for Macedonia the position of supremacy which neither
Athens, Sparta, nor Thebes had been able to maintain.