The Genius of Alexander the Great

By N.G.L. Hammond

The University of North Carolina Press

Copyright © 1997 N.G.L. Hammond. All rights reserved.
ISBN: 0-8078-2350-3

Chapter One

The boyhood of Alexander

Philonicus the Thessalian brought to Philip a stallion `Bucephalus' at an asking price of thirteen talents. So down they went into the plain to put him to the test. The verdict was that he was savage and quite unmanageable. He would let no one mount him, disregarded the voice of any of Philip's company, and reared up to strike at one and all. Thereupon Philip was angry. He ordered the removal of the animal as utterly wild and undisciplined. Alexander was present. `What a horse they are losing,' he said. `They cannot handle him because they lack understanding and courage.' Philip at first was silent. But when Alexander persisted time and again and grew impassioned, Philip said, `Criticise your elders, do you, on the ground that you yourself have a bit more understanding or are better able to manage a horse?' `This horse at any rate,' Alexander replied, `I'd manage better than anyone else would.' `And if you do not manage him, what price will you pay for your rashness?' `By Heaven,' he said, `I shall pay you the price of the horse.' There was an outburst of laughter. Then, as soon as the terms of the bet between them were settled in monetary terms, Alexander ran to the horse, took the bridle-rein, and turned him round to face the sun -- realising, so it seems, that the horse was completely upset by the sight of his own shadow dancing about in front of him.

    For a while Alexander ran alongside the horse and stroked him. Then on seeing that he was full of zest and spirit, he quietly cast aside his cloak, made a flying jump, and was securely astride him. For a time he held him back, using a touch of the reins to check the bit, but without pulling or tearing his mouth, and when he saw the horse had rid himself of the fear and was eager for the race, he let him go and actually urged him on with a bolder cry and with the pressure of his leg. At first those who were with Philip were agonised and silent. But when he turned the horse in the correct manner and rode back proud and jubilant, all the others cheered, but his father, it is said, wept a little for joy, kissed him when he dismounted, and said. `My boy, seek a kingdom to match yourself. Macedonia is not large enough to hold you.'

    On my interpretation we owe this vivid account to an eyewitness, oneMarsyas Macedon, who was an exact contemporary of Alexander andmany years later wrote a book called The upbringing of Alexander. Inaccordance with the etiquette of the court, King Philip and his chosenCompanions were attended daily by some of the Royal Pages; and onthis occasion Alexander and Marsyas, both probably in their fifteenthyear, were in attendance. Bucephalus, meaning `Oxhead', so namedfrom the brand-mark on his haunch, was a stallion some four years old. He was`of large size and noble spirit', as indeed we see him portrayed in the AlexanderMosaic commemorating the Battle of Issus (Plate 12). He had already beenbroken by his trainer Philonicus. Now he was bridled and available for barebackriding (stirrups and saddle were not to be invented until our Middle Ages) byanyone who wanted to try his paces. His wild and dangerous behaviourdaunted everyone except young Alexander.

    In his handling of the situation Alexander showed an independence ofjudgement, an understanding of the horse, and a degree of courage remarkablein a boy of his age. It is no wonder that the spectators were in an agony ofapprehension, for Alexander was risking his life. It is a measure of thatapprehension that Philip is said to have wept for joy when his son returned intriumph. To those who lived to see Alexander in Asia, this event foreshadowedmany occasions on which his independence, intelligence and courage broughttriumph after triumph. At the time the wager was won by Alexander, and we mayassume that Philip paid the price of the horse, which became Alexander'spersonal possession, was trained as a warhorse and would not accept any otherrider. The words attributed to Philip as `a saying' were probably not historical;for when father and son were dead, men liked to draw comparisons betweenthem. But there is this much truth in the account: Alexander was striving tocompete with his father and he was willing to risk his life to that end.

    The following incidents and sayings were probably also taken by Plutarchfrom the work of Marsyas. Whenever news came that Philip had captured afamous city or won a remarkable victory, Alexander used to say to hiscontemporaries: `My father, boys, will be the first to win everything; and for mehe will leave no great and brilliant action to carry out together with you.' Whathe wanted as a young boy was not the enjoyment of pleasure or the spending ofhis wealth but the winning of `excellence and glory', that is to excel and berecognised as excelling, and to win glory and be acclaimed as glorious. He hadno doubt that one day he would be king. Indeed he felt he had to act already in amanner worthy of a king. That is the point of the story that, when the boys in hiscompany asked him whether he would compete in the foot-race in the OlympicGames (for `he was swift of foot'), he said, `Yes, if I am to have kings asfellow-competitors.' To some of his companions he may have seemedprecocious; for as Plutarch observed, probably citing Marsyas, `his ambitionkept him serious in mind and lofty in spirit'. But he had also a great gift forfriendship of the finest kind. For instance, he was very deeply attached toHephaestion, and he was loyal almost beyond reason to Harpalus, as we shallsee. He carried his friends with him in his ambitions; that is why he spoke ofwinning renown `together with you'.

    In stature Alexander was below the average height for a man of his time. Hisvoice was loud and assertive. He was of a strong and untiring physique. On themarch he would practice mounting and dismounting from a running chariot; andit was this strength and his athleticism which enabled him to jump onto the backof Bucephalus. Whereas his father had rugged features and a strongly masculineaspect, Alexander as a youth was remarkable for the softness of his features, theslight protuberance and the melting glance of his eyes, a fair skin and a ruddycomplexion. He probably inherited his looks less from his father than from hismother, Olympias (see Plates 1(a) and 15). Until the age of fourteen he waseducated at home where life was simple; for there were no slaves and thewomenfolk of the royal family cooked the meals and made the clothes. He musthave been much influenced by his paternal grandmother Eurydice, who as QueenMother was held in the highest esteem. She dedicated altars in the city-centre ofthe old capital Aegeae to `Eukleia', `Fair Fame', which was the guiding star ofyoung Alexander, and she composed a delightful epigram which accompanied adedication to the Muses:

Eurydice, daughter of Sirras, dedicated this (statue probably of Hermes) to her city's Muses, because she had in her soul a longing for knowledge. The happy mother of sons growing up, she laboured to learn letters, the recorders of the spoken word.

    Alexander too was devoted to the Muses. The Iliad of Homer was hisfavourite, he delighted in the works of Pindar, the great tragedians and thedithyrambic poets, and he had a natural love of learning and of reading.

    When Eurydice died, Alexander was about fourteen years of age. There was aseparate area at Aegeae where women of the royal family were buried, and it wasthere that Professor Andronicos excavated the earliest and largest vaulted tombyet known. He dated it late in the 340s and identified it as `The Tomb ofEurydice'. Alexander will have been at the ceremony of cremation and at theplacing of Eurydice's ashes in the main chamber of the Tomb. He must haveadmired the trompe l'oeil fresco of a facade on its back wall, which created theillusion of a room beyond.

    Alexander's strongest emotional attachment was to his mother, Olympias. Wehave to remember that not only in Macedonia but also in the city-states, thegiving of a girl in marriage was arranged by the man who was `responsible' forher. Commoners used such marriages to strengthen family ties and connections.Kings normally made marriages with, and arranged a daughter's marriage with amember of another royal house for political purposes (or as a cynical writer,Satyrus, put it, `for purposes of war'). Thus Eurydice, a princess of theroyal house of Lyncus, had been given in marriage to Amyntas and livedthereafter in Macedonia. Nor was she the only queen. For the kings andsometimes other males of the royal house practised polygamy in order toensure a supply of heirs in the direct line and to extend their politicalconnections. Amyntas, for instance, had at least two wives and fromthem six sons. In the two years 358 and 357 Philip, now in hismid-twenties, took four wives, of whom at least three bore him children.One of the four was Olympias, a princess of the royal house of Molossia,who was given in marriage to Philip by her uncle, Arybbas, the Molossianking. Later writers invented a love-match, which stemmed from ameeting of the young pair at the shrine of the Cabiri on Samothrace; butthat is ruled out by consideration of their respective ages. The four wiveswere treated as equals in queenly prestige.

    Olympias had good looks and a fiery temperament. She was intenselyreligious, sacrificing to the Olympian gods of the Macedonian state andobserving the rites of the mystery cults into which she had been initiated.One was the cult of the Cabiri, which was concerned with the fertility ofmen and animals and with survival after death in the underworld.Offerings were made to the Cabiri as `The Great Gods' in a circular pit inSamothrace and just outside the city-wall of Pella. Another cult was thatof Orpheus, which laid down rules of conduct and promised a happyafterlife to the faithful. The rape of Persephone by Pluto in accordancewith Orphic belief was the subject of frescoes in the Tomb of Amyntasand of a painting in the Tomb of Eurydice. A related cult was that ofDionysus, made famous by the Bacchae which Euripides composed andproduced in Macedonia. It was remarkable for the orgiastic rites of thewomen who were possessed by the spirit of the god, and it was said thatOlympias was `inspired and possessed more than any others' and handledhuge tame snakes in honour of the god. When Alexander was in Asia,she recommended to him a priestly server who was an expert -- likeherself -- in the Bacchic and Argeadic rites, the latter being those of theMacedonian royal tribe.

    Her influence on young Alexander was very great. He grew upprofoundly religious with a readiness to believe in the manifestation of thegods in many cults and in many places, and with many names; but as faras we know he did not follow her into the mystery cults of Orpheus andthe Cabiri. The bond of affection between them was exceptionallystrong. As he was to say later, one tear of his mother cancelledinnumerable accusations which had been made in letters by Antipater,his senior marshal. And when a rift developed between his father and hismother, he took her side and together with her left the court. However,strong personality though she certainly was, Alexander was notdominated by her; after he became king he gave her many presentsbut depended entirely on his own judgement in public affairs.

    On attaining the age of fourteen in 342 Alexander entered the Schoolof Royal Pages. Its origin was in the distant past, but such detailedknowledge as we have dates from the reigns of Philip and Alexander. Hewas one of probably fifty boys, the selected sons of leading Macedonians,who at the age of puberty started on a four-year course and graduated ontheir eighteenth birthday. During these years they lived at or near thecourt as boarders, and they received instruction in military matters,especially in horsemanship, and in the liberal arts, of which grammar,rhetoric, dialectic, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy and music were thebasic subjects. During the last year they served as the king's Bodyguardsin battle and as huntsmen on foot, supporting members of the royal familywho were required by law to hunt on horseback. See the fresco of theRoyal Hunt in Plate 2 and note the statutory uniform of the Royal Pageon the extreme right. Physical fitness was essential, and the boysengaged in athletics, gymnastics and wrestling.

    The king acted as headmaster, and he alone administered corporalpunishment to offenders. For instance, Philip flogged one boy `unenviably'for falling out of a paramilitary exercise to visit a public house; and in thelast year on military service discipline was very strict, even to the extentthat a Page was killed by Philip for disobeying orders and laying aside hisarmour. Philip employed as trainers and teachers capable freemen (notslaves as was often the case in private education at Athens). One ofthem, Leonidas, a relation of Olympias, was `a man of stern character'who was described as Alexander's second father and personal professor.He used to examine Alexander's boxes in case Olympias had packedsome delicacy for him, and he reprimanded the boy for being extravagantin throwing too much incense on an altar-fire. Alexander evidentlyregarded him as a Mr Chips, for he later sent him sixteen tons of incensefrom Egypt.

    In 342 Philip hired Aristotle at a handsome salary to teach `philosophy',which embraced both practical and theoretical knowledge. Lessons andseminars were held usually in the open air in the sanctuary of theNymphs near Mieza, a beautiful place with natural grottos in thelimestone, which was visited by sightseers in Plutarch's day and still is sovisited. The influence of Aristotle on Alexander was profound.Alexander accepted as correct Aristotle's views on cosmology,geography, botany, zoology and medicine and therefore took scientistswith his army to Asia, and he was fascinated by Aristotle's lectures onlogic, metaphysics, the nature of poetry, and the essence of politics.Above all he learnt from Aristotle to put faith in the intellect. In theirpersonal relationship the boy's admiration developed into a deepaffection, and they shared a special interest in establishing the text of theIliad. No doubt Aristotle hoped to guide the future king in theperformance of his duties, even as his own teacher, Plato, had tried toguide the younger Dionysius as the ruler of Syracuse. To that end he wrote forAlexander a treatise On Kingship, which unfortunately has not survived. Whetherit had any effect when Alexander came to the throne may be doubted.But in 336, having been elected to command the joint forces of theGreeks and the Macedonians for the war against Persia, Alexandershowed his regard for `philosophy' during a visit to the asceticphilosopher Diogenes by remarking, `If I were not Alexander, I wouldindeed be Diogenes.'

    To be the son of the headmaster of the School of Pages cannot havebeen easy for a young boy who had a strongly competitive spirit. ThatPhilip loved his son and admired his courage is clear from the account ofthe taming of Bucephalus. Alexander probably reciprocated that love; forhis father had strong affections, a charismatic personality and culturedinterests. That Alexander admired him exceedingly for his achievementsgoes without saying, for in 342 Philip was the leading statesman in theGreek world and had made his country the leading military power inEurope. From 342 onwards father and son were in close contact. Asheadmaster Philip guided and observed Alexander's progress, and hedeveloped complete confidence in his son's abilities.

    It was probably late in 342 that Persian envoys came to the court inthe absence of Philip and were entertained by Alexander. They wereimpressed by his geniality and the perceptive nature of his enquiriesabout their country and its ruler. In 340, when Philip was undertakinga major campaign in Thrace, he appointed Alexander to act as hisdeputy, thereby indicating that he intended Alexander to be his successorif he himself should be killed during the campaign. We are told that Philiphad had several sons by his wives, but that some died a natural death andothers died in war, presumably as Pages. It may be that Alexander's onlymale sibling surviving in 340 was Arrhidaeus, who was much the sameage but was intellectually retarded. The advancement of Alexanderbrought special prestige to Olympias, who was marked out as theprospective Queen Mother.

    As deputy for his father Alexander was entrusted with the royal seal.He therefore carried out the routine duties of the king and with the sealvalidated documents of state. In particular he carried out the dailysacrifices. He had probably participated in these from the age offourteen, and now he was qualified to conduct them on behalf of thestate and on behalf of the royal family which had its own worship ofHeracles Patrous, that is of Heracles as the ancestor of the Temenidae.During 340 there was a rising by the Maedi in the Strymon valley,which Alexander defeated as commander of Macedonian forces. Hecaptured their capital city, expelled the natives, and refounded the city as`Alexandropolis' with a mixed population of Macedonians, Greeks andThracians. Therein he followed the example of his father, who hadintroduced Macedonian settlers into the Greek city `Crenides' andrenamed it `Philippi'. Alexander did so no doubt with the approval of hisfather, who was founding similar mixed settlements in central Thrace inthe latter part of 341, one being named `Philippopolis'. Father and sonwere evidently in complete accord.

    In summer 338 Alexander and the contemporaries of his yeargraduated. They came of age on their eighteenth birthdays, and theyknew what their careers were to be. The School of Pages, like Eton andWinchester in Victorian England, was famous as `a training-ground ofgreat governors and generals'. Physically fit graduates entered theCompanion Cavalry as troopers. Those, like Harpalus, whose physiquewas impaired, entered the service of the king in an administrativecapacity. Alexander emerged from the School with flying colours. Hehad won distinction as a cavalryman mounted on his warhorseBucephalus, as a fearless huntsman, and as a deputy of the king. Hisfuture was assured, and he had every expectation that one day in thefuture he would be elected by the Assembly of Macedonians to be theirking.

    The strand in his personality which needs to be emphasised is hisreligious faith. Since childhood he had worshipped Heracles Patrous, theson of Zeus and a mortal woman, and through his mother he wasdescended from Achilles, son of the goddess Thetis and a mortal, Peleus.In his mother's veins there was also the blood of a son and a daughter ofPriam, King of Troy. To Alexander, Heracles and Achilles were notfantasies of poetic imagination but real people, who expected theirdescendants to excel as warriors and as benefactors of mankind. Hehoped to rival or even to surpass them. Everything in his upbringing hadconspired to instil in him a profound belief in the Olympian gods: dailysacrifice in the company of his father, participation in religious festivals,proximity to the throne of Zeus on Mount Olympus, and the religiosity ofthe Macedonian people. His father's coins proclaimed a devotion toZeus, Apollo and Heracles; and as Alexander grew up, he saw his fathertriumph as the champion of Apollo in a `Sacred War'. He too hoped thatthe gods would inspire him to excel in their service.

Chapter Two

The world of Philip as king and
Alexander as prince

1. The setting of Alexander's birth and boyhood

In 356, the year of Alexander's birth, a political pamphleteer calledIsocrates wrote of the Greek-speaking world, `Every part of Greece isfilled and obsessed with war and revolutions and massacres andinnumerable evils.' This terrible situation was the result of a century ofinternecine wars between city-state and city-state and of internalrevolutions in most city-states, which had bred fierce hatreds and led toatrocities on a scale only too familiar in modern times. Many wars arosefrom local frontier-disputes, for instance between Athens and Thebesover the possession of Oropus, and were apt to recur with any change inthe strength of the contestants. Major wars were initiated by states whichwished to exercise leadership over other states, and then competed withone another. Thus in 460 Athens, already in control of many maritimestates, started a fifteen-year war against Sparta, the leader of a group ofland-powers; and in 431 she embarked on a second such war, whichended disastrously for her in 404. Undaunted, she made two furtherattempts, one starting in 394 and the other in 377. Her last venture endedwith defeat at the hands of some of her subject-states in 356. Spartafought two successful wars against Athens, but in the fourth century herdespotic conduct as an imperial power led to revolts and to defeat by anew rival, Thebes, in 371.

    Thereafter Sparta and Athens combined in war against Thebes andher associates. In 362 an indecisive battle was fought at Mantinea in thePeloponnese, in which most city-states of the mainland took part. In 356,when Athens was at war with her subject-states, Thebes tried todiscipline her neighbour Phocis, which was a reluctant `ally', but theresult was that the leader of a Phocian political party seized the templeof Apollo at Delphi. That was the beginning of what became `TheSacred War' in which at first all prisoners were executed. It wasdestined to last ten years, during which most states of the mainland wereinvolved.

    These general wars were in some ways less damaging than internalrevolutions in city-states, which were initiated by party-leaders and oftenled to intervention by an outside power. A terrifying example atCorcyra in 427 was described by Thucydides. The `democrats' there had thesupport of an Athenian fleet, and some four hundred `oligarchs' soughtsanctuary in the temple of Hera. The democrats persuaded fifty to come out andstand trial, and then condemned them all to death.

The mass of the suppliants slew each other there in the consecrated ground; while some hanged themselves upon the trees, and others destroyed themselves as they were severally able. During seven days the Corcyraeans were engaged in butchering those of their fellow-citizens whom they regarded as their enemies .... Death thus raged in every shape; and as usually happens at such times, there was no length to which violence did not go; sons were killed by their fathers, and suppliants dragged from the altar or slain upon it; while some were walled up in the temple of Dionysus and died there. So bloody was the march of revolution (stasis) .... Later on, one may say, the whole Hellenic world was convulsed .... The sufferings which revolution entailed upon the cities were many and terrible, such as have occurred and always will occur, as long as the nature of mankind remains the same. (trs. R. Crawley).

    Any civil war of this kind bequeathed a legacy of hatred and a desire forrevenge, which frequently led to a further civil war. In 353 Plato, havingvisited the city-states in Sicily where revolution and counterrevolution wereendemic, wrote thus of stasis.

To this there is never any end. What seems to be an end always links on to a new beginning, so that this circle of strife is likely to destroy utterly both factions, those of dictatorship and those of democracy alike. The Greek tongue will almost die out in Sicily as it becomes a province of Carthage and Italy.

    How was the decline to be arrested? In 360-350 Plato wascomposing his last dialogue, Laws, in which he described his ideal city-state.He believed that his system of state-education would so inspire the citizensunder specified economic and social conditions that they would obey theirrulers, namely the laws. This was an intellectual's long-term solution. Otherthinkers wanted a quicker reform. In 355 Xenophon, having written hisHistory of Greek Affairs from 411 to 362, saw the need to set up in Greece`Guardians of the Peace' (eirenophylakes), and he thought that if Athensabandoned her interventionist policy she might be able to become the mediatorof such a peace. As a first step he urged Athens to persuade the Phocians toleave Delphi. Isocrates too advised Athens to abandon her imperial ambitionsand to concentrate on a policy of peace, but he did not think her capable ofleading the other states towards reconciliation. Instead, in 356-355, hewrote an open Letter to Archidamus, the King of Sparta, in which he proposedthat Archidamus as reconciler should wean the city-states from `theirmadness and contentiousness' and lead them in a crusade against Persia.These proposals went unheeded, and the ensuing Sacred War plungedthe states into further confusion and slaughter.

    There were two parts of the Greek-speaking world at this time whichdid not suffer from revolution and did not seek to impose rule over thecity-states. In Epirus there were three clusters of tribal states, calledMolossia, Thesprotia and Chaonia, and although a tribal state might movefrom one cluster to another cluster, each state remained a tight-knitcommunity (a koinon as it was called). The strongest cluster in 356 wasthe Molossian state. Its monarchy had exceptional prestige because theroyal family, it was believed, was descended from Neoptolemus, son ofAchilles. These states held the frontier against the Illyrians, whoseinstitutions were fairly similar. In the fourth century down to 360 theywere outfought by a cluster of Illyrian states which formed around theDardanians (in Kosovo and Metohija), whose king Bardylis developed astrong economy. In 385 the Molossians lost 15,000 men in battle andwere saved from subjection only by a Spartan army. They sufferedlosses again in 360.

    The other part of the Greek-speaking world extended from Pelagoniain the north to Macedonia in the south. It was occupied by several tribalstates, which were constantly at war against Illyrians, Paeonians andThracians. Each state had its own monarchy. Special prestige attachedto the Lyncestae whose royal family, the Bacchiadae, claimed descentfrom Heracles, and to the Macedonians, whose royal family had asimilar ancestry. Although these tribal states occasionally fought oneanother, each was close-knit and free from revolution (stasis). Theysuffered most from the Dardanians who raided far and wide, evenreaching the Thermaic Gulf where they imposed a puppet-king on theMacedonians from 393 to 391. Thereafter Pelagonia and Lyncus werefrequently overrun, and in 359 the Macedonian king Perdiccas and 4,000Macedonians were killed in battle against the Dardanians.

    In the opinion of the city-states these tribal states were backward andunworthy of the Greek name, although they spoke dialects of the Greeklanguage. According to Aristotle, monarchy was the mark of people toostupid to govern themselves. The city-states, on the other hand, with theexception of Sparta, had rid themselves of monarchy centuries ago.They governed themselves democratically or oligarchically, and theircitizens were highly individualistic. There were other great differencesThe northern states lived largely by transhumant pastoralism, used bartermore than currency, and had no basis of slaves, whereas the city-statepopulations lived largely in cities, had capitalist economies and employedvery large numbers of slaves, even in agriculture. Northerners herdedtheir flocks, worked the land, and served as soldiers in person, whereasin the fourth century the mostsophisticated southerners, the Athenians, preferred to leave labour to slavesand foreigners, and hired mercenaries for wars overseas.

    The Balkan tribes beyond the Greek-speaking world were continually at war. Foras Herodotus said of the Thracians, `to live by war and rapine is the mosthonourable way of life, and the agricultural worker is the least esteemed'. Thewell-armed aristocrats of the Thracian tribes engaged in wide-ranging raids, suchas that led by Sitalces, the king of the Thracian Odrysae, into Macedonia in 429.The Paeonians (in southeast Yugoslavia) and the Illyrians (in Albania) wereequally warlike, and they too engaged in rapine. In the raids they carried off men,women and children as well as goods and livestock. One Illyrian tribal group, theArdiaei, boasted at this time that it had acquired 300,000 serfs.

2. The Macedonian State

Wars not for conquest but for survival were the lot of the Macedonians. Theinstitutions of the country were therefore designed for military efficiency. Thepopulation lived mainly in towns which they called `cities' (poleis), becauseeach had its own citizenship (e.g. Pellaios) and its system of government withmagistrates, council and assembly. Each city trained its own militia for defence,and the training in the time of Philip was educational as well as military. Thecities were subject to the rule of the central government, which consisted of twoelements -- the king and the King's Men under arms. When a king died, hissuccessor was elected by the King's Men meeting under arms in assembly. If heobtained their confidence, his powers were very extensive. He sacrificed to thegods on behalf of the state, conducted the religious festivals, commanded theforces in person, and initiated diplomatic relations. He owned all mineraldeposits, stands of fine timber, large areas of land and hunting grounds. Hecontrolled recruitment into the forces of the King's Men from the city militia,directed promotion and enforced discipline. He brought matters of policy beforethe assembly of the King's Men, and he had to persuade them that he wasconducting their affairs properly. In particular he could go to war only if he wasassured of their support. When there was suspicion of treason, the kingprosecuted and the defendant spoke before the assembly of the King's Men,which delivered the verdict and put it into effect. Thus the powers of theassembly were sovereign, but they were exercised only rarely. In the criticalmoments when raiders burst into Macedonia the King's Men went into action athis order.

    Citizenship as `Macedones', and with it membership of the assembly, washeld only by the King's Men, who had the honour of being the king's`Companions'. From them he selected his commanders and administrators,whom he called his `Friends' and in a special sense his `Companions'.On occasion and at his own discretion he consulted a group ofthem, but he was not bound to accept their advice and they had noconstitutional standing. Many of them had graduated from the School ofPages. Outstanding service was rewarded by the king, who granted therevenues of an estate or other property to the recipient for life. TheFriends could rise no higher, for the Macedones would recognise as kingonly a member of the royal family. The King's Men were divided into twocategories. In the reign of Philip the cavalrymen wore a metal cuirassand a metal helmet, wielded a lance with a blade at either end, and rodebareback into action. They had a long tradition of excellence as`heavy-armed cavalry', which required much training in horsemanship (seeFig. 1 (a)). The infantrymen had been organised as `heavy-armed' troopsonly in 369. Ten years later Philip re-equipped them with his newweapon, the sixteen-foot pike, a small shield suspended from the neck,helmet and greaves. They fought, like the `hoplites' of the city-states, in asolid phalanx of men, shoulder to shoulder, eight to ten men deep. Thepike outreached the seven-foot spear which the hoplite wielded with onearm, so much so that a phalanx presented four pike-heads to a hoplite'ssingle spearhead (see Fig. 1 (b)). Whereas the `Cavalry Companions'provided their own mounts and equipment, the king supplied the `InfantryCompanions' (pezhetairoi) with pikes and equipment from his ownresources. To wield the pike and to maintain the formation of the phalanxrequired intensive training and physical fitness.