Macedonian essay about Philip II, Alexander the Great and Thracian treasures

Macedonian essay about Philip II, Alexander the Great and Thracian treasures

During the 1st millennium BC the Macedonian region was populated by a mixture of peoples - Thracians, Illyrians, and Greeks. Between 356BC and 342BC Philip II of Macedon would venture deep into Thrace. He would also conquer most of Greece, creating the League of Corinth, an offensive and defensive alliance of all the Greek states except Sparta, organized in 337 BC. The Greeks hated the barbarian Philip, and were especially aggravated by his thick accent when speaking Greek.

Macedonian essay about Philip II, Alexander the Great and Thracian treasures

Philip II tried to force a passage through the Triballi’s land. But they inflicted a heavy defeat on him, scaring him for life.

When Philip II of Macedon died, his son, Alexander the Great set out to conquer the world. He succeeded his father as head of the league of Corinth. The Greek contribution of soldiers to Alexander’s Asian campaign was neither significant nor dependable. That’s why the first thing he had to do, was conquer the Triballi, he was afraid they would attack him from the back, once he went east. Alexander succeeded in conquering the Triballi and the Thracians provided him with valuable light-armed troops during his conquests. Many prominent Thracians took part in Alexander the Great’s campaign, such as the Odrysian Sitalkes who followed Alexander with cavalry, peltasts and lightly armed foot-soldiers. Alexander’s conquests would take him as far as Bukhara.

But the Thracian tribes didn’t remain quiet for long. The Getae were formidable warriors, they successfully fought off Alexander the Great when he attempted to quell a rebellion amongst their southern neighbors, the Triballi. The Getae remained a thorn in the side of the Macedonians for decades. During Alexander’s expedition, Thrace fell again under the sway of Seuthes III, King of the Odrysians, and it was only in 313 that the Macedonian supremacy was re-established by Lysimachus. Below is a treasure thought to Belong to King Seuthes III.

Discovered accidentally in 1949 near Panagyurishte by workmen digging up clay for the production of bricks. Made of pure gold, it weighs 6.164 kg. The amphora-rhyton, the four rhytons shaped like animal heads or fore-parts and decorated with mythological scenes, the three jugs-rhytons shaped like women’s heads and the phiale decorated with a black head and acorns compose a ceremonial set.

After the death of Alexander the Great, Lysimachos assumed the administration of Thrace. In 309 BC he built a new state capital, Lysimacheia, which lay a short distance from the Melana GuIf and the Propontis, for which reason it became a thriving commercial centre. In 306 BC he declared himself King of Thrace and, following his victory at Ipsos, became master of a large part of Asia Minor. By waging war against Demetrios and Pytrhos he added Macedonia and part of Thessaly to his realm. Lysimachos was defeated and killed at the battle of Koros, fought against Philetairos and his son Alexander in 281 BC. He was succeeded by the Ptolemy Keraunos, who married Lysimachos’ widow, Arsinoe.In 280 BC the Galatian incursions into Macedonia and Thrace began. Ptolemy was taken prisoner and murdered. The Gauls (Celts) continued their predatory raids and managed to create a state in Thrace, in 273 BC, with Tylis or Thylis as capital and Komontorios as ruler. Antigonos Gonatas, King of Macedonia, drove out the Gauls from the Chersonese and captured Lysimacheia. The Gauls passed into Asia Minor and settled in the northern pan of Great Phrygia, where they built their capital, Ankara. In 180 BC Kotys II became King of the Odrysae and allied with Perseas against the Romans, assisting his army in the battle of Pydna (168 BC). After Perseas’ defeat and the break up of the Macedonian state, Kotys made a truce with the Romans and acknowledged their sovereignty. The Romans were in no hurry to make Thrace a Roman province, but all its kings were their vassals and instruments, such as Kotys III, Raiskouporis I, Raskos, Roimetalkes I and Raiskouporis II. During the reign of the last king there was a revolt of the Bessi, led by the priest at the Oracle of Dionysos. Raiskouporis II was killed by the rebels, while Roimetalkes I was saved in the Chersonese. With the help of the Romans he supressed the uprising and became king of all Thrace(7 BC -AD12).

The next king, Kotys IV (AD 12-19), was surnamed the Great. He was a friend and ally of Augustus. His court at Vizye was frequented by orators, authors, poets, painters and musicians. The poet Ovid, in one of his letters, praises the virtues of King Kotys. After his death the Romans shared Thrace between Raiskoupores III and Kotys V. However, because the first assassinated the second, he was exiled by Tberius and died in Alexandria, Egypt. Thrace remained divided, its heirs being Roimetalkes II and the sons of Kotys V.

Another revolt of the Thracians against Roimetalkes II was quashed by the Romans. In AD 38 the next Roman emperor, Caligula gave the throne to Roimetalkes III, who was the last King of Thrace. When his wife was murdered in AD 46 the Romans dissolved the Thracian state for ever and declared Thrace a Roman province.

The Thracians never put a Thracian nation above their tribe, but they were a freedom loving people and for a very long period individual tribes repelled the attempts of the Roman empire to conquer them. Thracian disunity ensured that Rome allied with some Thracian kings while fighting others but despite this Thracian weakess it was two centuries after they first set foot on the Balkans, that the Romans finally succeeded in subjugating all Thracian lands.

Even after Rome “conquered” it, Thrace remained a wild and woolly place: the birthplace of the violent war god, Ares, the home of the man-eating mares of Diomedes. The geography of the Balkans not only protected and preserved the Thracians over the millenia, it also shrouded them in mystery and awe. The Thracians “were regarded as warlike, ferocious, and savagely bloodthirsty”. Warlike temper, courage, and soldierly qualities are generally recognized to have been characteristic of the Thracians. The Thynians and Bithynians were Thracian immigrants from the opposite shore, and had the same characteristics as their European cousins, savage hardihood, wild abandonment to the frenzy of religion and war. The terror of them kept the Greeks from making any settlement along their coast from Calchdon to Heraclea, and woe betide any mariner driven there. Could there be a more convincing personification of Ares’ spirit than the warlike Thracians? As early as the seventh century BC the poet Achilochus called the Thracians {in this case Abantes}, the gods of battle. And was not ashamed to admit having once fled from the field, leaving his shield as booty to a Thracian warrior. The ancients were hard put to it to decide which of the Thracian tribes was the most valiant: the Getae, Odomanti, Thyni, or Odrysae.