The Story of the Greeks

Page: 97

Arriving there, he offered to rule in his little nephew's stead. The people were very glad indeed to accept his services; and when they found that the child was only half-witted, they formally offered the crown of Macedon to Philip.

Now, although Macedon was a very small country, Philip no sooner became king than he made up his mind to place it at the head of all the Greek states, and make it the foremost kingdom of the world.[Pg 218]

This was a very ambitious plan; and in order to carry it out, Philip knew that he would need a good army. He therefore began to train his men, and, remembering how successful Epaminondas had been, he taught them to fight as the Thebans had fought at Leuctra and Mantinea.

Then, instead of drawing up his soldiers in one long line of battle, he formed them into a solid body,—an arrangement which soon became known as the Macedonian phalanx.

Each soldier in the phalanx had a large shield, and carried a spear. As soon as the signal for battle was given, the men locked their shields together so as to form a wall, and stood in ranks one behind the other.

The first row of soldiers had short spears, and the fourth and last rows very long ones. The weapons of the other rows were of medium length, so that they all stuck out beyond the first soldiers, and formed a bristling array of points which no one dared meet.

Philip not only trained his army so as to have well-drilled soldiers ready, but also found and began to work some gold mines in his kingdom. As they yielded much precious metal, he soon became one of the richest men of his time.

This wealth proved very useful, for it helped him to hire a great force of soldiers, and also to buy up a number of allies. In fact, Philip soon found that his gold was even more useful than his army, and he was in the habit of saying that "a fortress can always be taken if only a mule laden with gold can be got inside."

Philip was so kind and just that he soon won the[Pg 219] love of all his subjects. It is said that he listened to the complaints of the poor and humble with as much patience as to those of his noblest courtiers.

Once, after dining heavily and drinking too much, Philip was suddenly called upon to try the case of a poor widow. As the king's head was not very clear, he was not able to judge as well as usual: so he soon said that she was in the wrong, and should be punished.

The woman, who knew that she was right, was very angry; and, as the guards were dragging her away, she daringly cried, "I appeal!"

"Appeal?" asked Philip, in a mocking tone, "and to whom?"

"I appeal from Philip drunk to Philip sober!" replied the woman.