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Philip II King of Macedonian Kingdom 359-336BC Biography OLYMPIC GAMES Ancient Greek Coins

Buy authentic Philip II  Great coins, from 359-336BC from a trusted ancient coin dealer and expert, Ilya Zlobin. Every item purchased here comes with a beautiful custom-made certificate of authenticity, complete with professional description, research, professional photograph and historical synopsis, a $50-$100 value, absolutely free, signed by world-renowned ancient coin expert, Ilya Zlobin. A fun way to explore history, making a great gift, great for coin collecting and investment!

 Example Authentic Ancient Coin of:

Greek King Philip II of Macedon 359-336 B.C.
Bronze  Struck 359-336 B.C. in the Kingdom of Macedonia
Commemorating his Olympic Games Victory
Head of Apollo right, hair bound with tainia.
Nude athlete on horse prancing right, ΦIΛIΠΠΟΥ above.

* Numismatic Note: Authentic ancient Greek coin of King Philip II of Macedonia, father of Alexander the Great. Intriguing coin referring to his Olympic victory.

History Behind the Coin

Horse racing was an Olympic event of great prestige and intense competition. It was a great honor for Philip II of Macedon to gain entry to the games, since they were open only to Greeks. Prior to that time, the Macedonians were considered by other Greeks as barbarians. It was an even greater honor for Philip's horses to win the prize. In 356 BC his entry won the single horse event, and in 348 the two horse chariot event. Both of these victories were proudly announced (should we say propagandized) by placing references to them on the reverses of his coins struck in gold, silver and bronze. Plutarch tells us that this was indeed his intention: "[Philip] ...had victories of his chariots at Olympia stamped on his coins."

2nd century AD Roman statue of Apollo depicting the god's attributes—the lyre and the snake PythonIn Greek and Roman mythology, Apollo, is one of the most important and diverse of the Olympian deities. The ideal of the kouros (a beardless youth), Apollo has been variously recognized as a god of light and the sun; truth and prophecy; archery; medicine and healing; music, poetry, and the arts; and more. Apollo is the son of Zeus and Leto, and has a twin sister, the chaste huntress Artemis. Apollo is known in Greek-influenced Etruscan mythology as Apulu. Apollo was worshiped in both ancient Greek and Roman religion, as well as in the modern Greco-Roman Neopaganism.

As the patron of Delphi (Pythian Apollo), Apollo was an oracular god — the prophetic deity of the Delphic Oracle. Medicine and healing were associated with Apollo, whether through the god himself or mediated through his son Asclepius, yet Apollo was also seen as a god who could bring ill-health and deadly plague as well as one who had the ability to cure. Amongst the god's custodial charges, Apollo became associated with dominion over colonists, and as the patron defender of herds and flocks. As the leader of the Muses (Apollon Musagetes) and director of their choir, Apollo functioned as the patron god of music and poetry. Hermes created the lyre for him, and the instrument became a common attribute of Apollo. Hymns sung to Apollo were called paeans.

In Hellenistic times, especially during the third century BCE, as Apollo Helios he became identified among Greeks with Helios, god of the sun, and his sister Artemis similarly equated with Selene, goddess of the moon. In Latin texts, on the other hand, Joseph Fontenrose declared himself unable to find any conflation of Apollo with Sol among the Augustan poets of the first century, not even in the conjurations of Aeneas and Latinus in Aeneid XII (161–215). Apollo and Helios/Sol remained separate beings in literary and mythological texts until the third century CE.

Philip II of Macedon, (Greek: Φίλιππος Β' ο Μακεδών φίλος = friend + ίππος = horse — transliterated Philippos 382 – 336 BC, was an ancient Greek king (basileus) of Macedon from 359 BC until his assassination in 336. He was the father of Alexander the Great and Philip III.

Born in Pella, Philip was the youngest son of the king Amyntas III and Eurydice I. In his youth, (c. 368–365 BC) Philip was held as a hostage in Thebes, which was the leading city of Greece during the Theban hegemony. While a captive there, Philip received a military and diplomatic education from Epaminondas, became eromenos of Pelopidas, and lived with Pammenes, who was an enthusiastic advocate of the Sacred Band of Thebes. In 364 BC, Philip returned to Macedon. The deaths of Philip's elder brothers, King Alexander II and Perdiccas III, allowed him to take the throne in 359 BC. Originally appointed regent for his infant nephew Amyntas IV, who was the son of Perdiccas III, Philip managed to take the kingdom for himself that same year.

Philip's military skills and expansionist vision of Macedonian greatness brought him early success. He had however first to re-establish a situation which had been greatly worsened by the defeat against the Illyrians in which King Perdiccas himself had died. The Paionians and the Thracians had sacked and invaded the eastern regions of the country, while the Athenians had landed, at Methoni on the coast, a contingent under a Macedonian pretender called Argeus. Using diplomacy, Philip pushed back Paionians and Thracians promising tributes, and crushed the 3,000 Athenian hoplites (359). Momentarily free from his opponents, he concentrated on strengthening his internal position and, above all, his army. His most important innovation was doubtless the introduction of the phalanx infantry corps, armed with the famous sarissa, an exceedingly long spear, at the time the most important army corps in Macedonia.

Philip had married Audata, great-granddaughter of the Illyrian king of Dardania, Bardyllis. However, this did not prevent him from marching against them in 358 and crushing them in a ferocious battle in which some 7,000 Illyrians died (357). By this move, Philip established his authority inland as far as Lake Ohrid and the favour of the Epirotes.

He also used the Social War as an opportunity for expansion. He agreed with the Athenians, who had been so far unable to conquer Amphipolis, which commanded the gold mines of Mount Pangaion, to lease it to them after its conquest, in exchange for Pydna (lost by Macedon in 363). However, after conquering Amphipolis, he kept both the cities (357). As Athens declared war against him, he allied with the Chalkidian League of Olynthus. He subsequently conquered Potidaea, this time keeping his word and ceding it to the League in 356. One year before Philip had married the Epirote princess Olympias, who was the daughter of the king of the Molossians.

In 356 BC, Philip also conquered the town of Crenides and changed its name to Philippi: he established a powerful garrison there to control its mines, which granted him much of the gold later used for his campaigns. In the meantime, his general Parmenion defeated the Illyrians again. Also in 356 Alexander was born, and Philip's race horse won in the Olympic Games. In 355–354 he besieged Methone, the last city on the Thermaic Gulf controlled by Athens. During the siege, Philip lost an eye. Despite the arrival of two Athenians fleets, the city fell in 354. Philip also attacked Abdera and Maronea, on the Thracian seaboard (354–353).

Map of the territory of Philip II of Macedon

Involved in the Third Sacred War which had broken out in Greece, in the summer of 353 he invaded Thessaly, defeating 7,000 Phocians under the brother of Onomarchus. The latter however defeated Philip in the two succeeding battles. Philip returned to Thessaly the next summer, this time with an army of 20,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry including all Thessalian troops. In the Battle of Crocus Field 6,000 Phocians fell, while 3,000 were taken as prisoners and later drowned. This battle granted Philip an immense prestige, as well the free acquisition of Pherae. Philip was also tagus of Thessaly, and he claimed as his own Magnesia, with the important harbour of Pagasae. Philip did not attempt to advance into Central Greece because the Athenians, unable to arrive in time to defend Pagasae, had occupied Thermopylae.

Hostilities with Athens did not yet take place, but Athens was threatened by the Macedonian party which Philip's gold created in Euboea. From 352 to 346 BC, Philip did not again come south. He was active in completing the subjugation of the Balkan hill-country to the west and north, and in reducing the Greek cities of the coast as far as the Hebrus. To the chief of these coastal cities, Olynthus, Philip continued to profess friendship until its neighboring cities were in his hands.

In 349 BC, Philip started the siege of Olynthus, which, apart from its strategic position, housed his relatives Arrhidaeus and Menelaus, pretenders to the Macedonian throne. Olynthus had at first allied itself with Philip, but later shifted its allegiance to Athens. The latter, however, did nothing to help the city, its expeditions held back by a revolt in Euboea (probably paid by Philip's gold). The Macedonian king finally took Olynthus in 348 BC and razed the city to the ground. The same fate was inflicted on other cities of the Chalcidian peninsula. Macedon and the regions adjoining it having now been securely consolidated, Philip celebrated his Olympic Games at Dium. In 347 BC, Philip advanced to the conquest of the eastern districts about Hebrus, and compelled the submission of the Thracian prince Cersobleptes. In 346 BC, he intervened effectively in the war between Thebes and the Phocians, but his wars with Athens continued intermittently. However, Athens had made overtures for peace, and when Philip again moved south, peace was sworn in Thessaly. With key Greek city-states in submission, Philip turned to Sparta; he sent them a message, "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city." Their laconic reply: "If". Philip and Alexander would both leave them alone. Later, the Macedonian arms were carried across Epirus to the Adriatic Sea. In 342 BC, Philip led a great military expedition north against the Scythians, conquering the Thracian fortified settlement Eumolpia to give it his name, Philippopolis (modern Plovdiv).

In 340 BC, Philip started the siege of Perinthus. Philip began another siege in 339 of the city of Byzantium. After unsuccessful sieges of both cities, Philip's influence all over Greece was compromised. However, he successfully reasserted his authority in the Aegean by defeating an alliance of Thebans and Athenians at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC, while in the same year, Philip destroyed Amfissa because the residents had illegally cultivated part of the Crisaian plain which belonged to Delphi. Philip created and led the League of Corinth in 337 BC. Members of the League agreed never to wage war against each other, unless it was to suppress revolution. Philip was elected as leader (hegemon) of the army of invasion against the Persian Empire. In 336 BC, when the invasion of Persia was in its very early stage, Philip was assassinated, and was succeeded on the throne of Macedon by his son Alexander III.


The murder occurred during October of 336 BC, at Aegae, the ancient capital of the kingdom of Macedon. The court had gathered there for the celebration of the marriage between Alexander I of Epirus and Philip's daughter, by his fourth wife Olympias, Cleopatra. While the king was entering unprotected into the town's theater (highlighting his approachability to the Greek diplomats present), he was killed by Pausanias of Orestis, one of his seven bodyguards. The assassin immediately tried to escape and reach his associates who were waiting for him with horses at the entrance of Aegae. He was pursued by three of Philip's bodyguards and died by their hands.

The reasons for Pausanias' assassination of Phillip are difficult to fully expound, since there was controversy already among ancient historians. The only contemporary account in our possession is that of Aristotle, who states rather tersely that Philip was killed because Pausanias had been offended by the followers of Attalus, the king's father-in-law.

Fifty years later, the historian Cleitarchus expanded and embellished the story. Centuries later, this version was to be narrated by Diodorus Siculus and all the historians who used Cleitarchus. In the sixteenth book of Diodorus' history, Pausanias had been a lover of Philip, but became jealous when Philip turned his attention to a younger man, also called Pausanias. His taunting of the new lover caused the youth to throw away his life, which turned his friend, Attalus, against Pausanias. Attalus took his revenge by inviting Pausanias to dinner, getting him drunk, then subjecting him to sexual assault.

When Pausanias complained to Philip the king felt unable to chastise Attalus, as he was about to send him to Asia with Parmenion, to establish a bridgehead for his planned invasion. He also married Attalus's niece, or daughter, Eurydice. Rather than offend Attalus, Phillip attempted to mollify Pausanius by elevating him within the bodyguard. Pausanias' desire for revenge seems to have turned towards the man who had failed to avenge his damaged honour; so he planned to kill Philip, and some time after the alleged rape, while Attalus was already in Asia fighting the Persians, put his plan in action. Other historians (e.g., Justin 9.7) suggested that Alexander and/or his mother Olympias were at least privy to the intrigue, if not themselves instigators. The latter seems to have been anything but discreet in manifesting her gratitude to Pausanias, if we accept Justin's report: he tells us that the same night of her return from exile she placed a crown on the assassin's corpse and erected a tumulus to his memory, ordering annual sacrifices to the memory of Pausanias.

The entrance to the "Great Tumulus" Museum at Vergina.

Many modern historians have observed that all the accounts are improbable. In the case of Pausanias, the stated motive of the crime hardly seems adequate. On the other hand, the implication of Alexander and Olympias seems specious: to act as they did would have required brazen effrontery in the face of a military machine personally loyal to Philip. What appears to be recorded in this are the natural suspicions that fell on the chief beneficiaries of the murder; their actions after the murder, however sympathetic they might appear (if actual), cannot prove their guilt in the deed itself. Further convoluting the case is the possible role of propaganda in the surviving accounts: Attalus was executed in Alexander's consolidation of power after the murder; one might wonder if his enrollment among the conspirators was not for the effect of introducing political expediency in an otherwise messy purge (Attalus had publicly declared his hope that Alexander would not succeed Philip, but rather that a son of his own niece Eurydice, recently married to Philip and brutally murdered by Olympias after Philip's death, would gain the throne of Macedon).


The dates of Philip's multiple marriages and the names of some of his wives are contested. Below is the order of marriages offered by Athenaeus, 13.557b-e:

 Archaeological findings

On November 8, 1977, Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos found, among other royal tombs, an unopened tomb at Vergina in the Greek prefecture of Imathia. The finds from this tomb were later included in the traveling exhibit The Search for Alexander displayed at four cities in the United States from 1980 to 1982. Initially identified as belonging to Philip II, Eugene Borza and others have suggested that the tomb actually belonged to Philip's son, Philip Arrhidaeus. Disputations often relied on contradictions between "the body" or "skeleton" of Philip II and reliable historical accounts of his life (and injuries).

The initial 'proof' that the tomb may belong to Philip II was indicated by the greeves (leg armor to protect the tibia ('shin') bone), one of which indicated that the owner had a leg injury which distorted the natural alignment of the tibia (Philip II was recorded as having broken his tibia).

What is now viewed as final proof that the tomb indeed did belong to Philip II and that the surviving bone fragments are in fact the body of Philip II comes from forensic reconstruction of the scull of Philip II by the wax casting and reconstruction of the scull which shows the damage to the right eye caused by the penetration of an object (historically recorded to be an arrow). See John Prag and Richard Neave's report in Making Faces: Using Forensic and Archaeological Evidence, published for the Trustees of the British Museum by the British Museum Press, London: 1997.


The heroon at Vergina in Greek Macedonia (the ancient city of Aigai - Αἶγαι), is thought to have been dedicated to the worship of the family of Alexander the Great and may have housed the cult statue of Philip. It is probable that he was regarded as a hero or deified on his death. Though the Macedonians did not consider Philip a god, he did receive other forms of recognition by the Greeks, such as at Eresos (altar to Zeus Philippeios), Ephesos (his statue was placed in the temple of Artemis), and at Olympia, where the Philippeion was built. Moreover, Isocrates wrote to Philip that if he defeated Persia, there was nothing left for him to do to but become a god while Demades proposed that Philip be regarded as the thirteenth god. However, there is no clear evidence that Philip was raised to divine status like that of his son Alexander.

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