The Conquering Father Who Made an Empire-Building Son

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If asked to think about the greatest generals of the ancient world, one name is likely to come to mind first: Alexander the Great — the incomparable military commander who amassed the world's largest empire by the time he was but thirty years old. A name that probably won't come to mind, however, is that of Philip the II, Alexander's father.

But my guest today argues that if Philip hadn't done all that he did, Alexander wouldn't have been able to do all that he did. His name is Adrian Goldsworthy, and he's a classical historian and the author of numerous books on antiquity, including Philip and Alexander: Kings and Conquerors. Adrian first surveys the state of the Macedonians before Philip assumed the throne, sharing how they differed from other Greeks, who actually weren’t sure Macedonians even counted as fellow Greeks, and how Macedon was burdened with political instability, a deficient army, and a palace full of deadly intrigue. Adrian then explains how Philip, despite having little political or military experience, was able to take control and turn his army and kingdom around, including the innovations in weaponry and tactics that allowed him to achieve domination in Greece. We then talk about the relationship between Philip and his son Alexander, and how Alexander inherited many things from his father that set him up for his own success, including the plan to invade the Persian Empire. We end our conversation exploring the question of whether Philip, if he had lived longer, could have achieved what Alexander did.

After the show is over, check out the show notes at aom.is/philipandalexander

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