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II. — BEGINNING OF HIS REIGN
Philip is reconciled to Olympias and Alexander.—Olympias and Alexander returned.—The great wedding.—Preparations for the wedding.—Costly presents.—Celebration of the wedding.—Games and spectacles.—Statues of the gods.—Military procession.—Appearance of Philip.—The scene changed.—Assassination of Philip.—Alexander proclaimed king.—Alexander's speech.—Demosthenes' Philippics.—The Greeks suspected of the murder.—The Persians also.—Alexander's new position.—His designs.—Murderers of Philip punished.—Alexander's first acts.—Parmenio.—Cities of Southern Greece.—Map of Macedon and Greece.—Athens and Corinth.—Thebes.—Sparta.—Conquests of Philip.—Alexander marches southward.—Pass of Thermopylæ.—The Amphictyonic Council.—March through Thessaly.—Alexander's traits of character.—The Thessalians join Alexander.—He sits in the Amphictyonic Council.—Thermopylæ.—Leonidas and his Spartans.—Death of Leonidas.—Spartan valor.—Alexander made commander-in-chief.—He returns to Macedon.
ALEXANDER was suddenly called upon to succeed his father on the Macedonian throne, in the most unexpected manner, and in the midst of scenes of the greatest excitement and agitation. The circumstances were these:
Philip had felt very desirous, before setting out upon his great expedition into Asia, to become reconciled to Alexander and Olympias. He wished for Alexander's co-operation in his plans; and then, besides, it would be dangerous to go away from his own dominions with such a son left behind, in a state of resentment and hostility.
So Philip sent kind and conciliatory messages to Olympias and Alexander, who had gone, it will be recollected, to Epirus, where her friends resided. The brother of Olympias was King of Epirus. He had been at first incensed at the indignity which had been put upon his sister by Philip's treatment of her; but Philip now tried to appease his anger, also, by friendly negotiations and messages. At last he arranged a marriage between this King of Epirus and one of his own daughters, and this completed the reconciliation. Olympias and Alexander returned to Macedon, and great preparations were made for a very splendid wedding.
Philip wished to make this wedding not merely the means of confirming his reconciliation with his former wife and son, and establishing friendly relations with the King of Epirus: he also prized it as an occasion for paying marked and honorable attention to the princes and great generals of the other states of Greece. He consequently made his preparations on a very extended and sumptuous scale, and sent invitations to the influential and prominent men far and near.
These great men, on the other hand, and all the other public authorities in the various Grecian states, sent compliments, congratulations, and presents to Philip, each seeming ambitious to contribute his share to the splendor of the celebration. They were not wholly disinterested in this, it is true. As Philip had been made commander-in-chief of the Grecian armies which were about to undertake the conquest of Asia, and as, of course, his influence and power in all that related to that vast enterprise would be paramount and supreme; and as all were ambitious to have a large share in the glory of that expedition, and to participate, as much as possible, in the power and in the renown which seemed to be at Philip's disposal, all were, of course, very anxious to secure his favor. A short time before, they were contending against him; but now, since he had established his ascendency, they all eagerly joined in the work of magnifying it and making it illustrious.
Nor could Philip justly complain of the hollowness and falseness of these professions of friendship. The compliments and favors which he offered to them were equally hollow and heartless. He wished to secure theirfavor as a means of aiding him up the steep path to fame and power which he was attempting to climb. They wished for his, in order that he might, as he ascended himself, help them up with him. There was, however, the greatest appearance of cordial and devoted friendship. Some cities sent him presents of golden crowns, beautifully wrought, and of high cost. Others dispatched embassies, expressing their good wishes for him, and their confidence in the success of his plans. Athens, the city which was the great seat of literature and science in Greece sent a poem, in which the history of the expedition into Persia was given by anticipation. In this poem Philip was, of course, triumphantly successful in his enterprise. He conducted his armies in safety through the most dangerous passes and defiles; he fought glorious battles, gained magnificent victories, and possessed himself of all the treasures of Asiatic wealth and power. It ought to be stated, however, in justice to the poet, that, in narrating these imaginary exploits, he had sufficient delicacy to represent Philip and the Persian monarch by fictitious names.
The wedding was at length celebrated, in one of the cities of Macedon, with great pomp and splendor. There were games, and shows, and military and civic spectacles of all kinds to amuse the thousands of spectators that assembled to witness them. In one of these spectacles they had a procession of statues of the gods. There were twelve of these statues, sculptured with great art, and they were borne along on elevated pedestals, with censers, and incense, and various ceremonies of homage, while vast multitudes of spectators lined the way. There was a thirteenth statue, more magnificent than the other twelve, which represented Philip himself in the character of a god.
This was not, however, so impious as it would at first view seem, for the gods whom the ancients worshiped were, in fact, only deifications of old heroes and kings who had lived in early times, and had acquired a reputation for supernatural powers by the fame of their exploits, exaggerated in descending by tradition in superstitious times. The ignorant multitude accordingly, in those days, looked up to a living king with almost the same reverence and homage which they felt for their deified heroes; and these deified heroes furnished them with all the ideas they had of God. Making a monarch a god, therefore, was no very extravagant flattery.
After the procession of the statues passed along, there came bodies of troops, with trumpets sounding and banners flying. The officers rode on horses elegantly caparisoned, and prancing proudly. These troops escorted princes, embassadors, generals, and great officers of state, all gorgeously decked in their robes, and wearing their badges and insignia.
At length King Philip himself appeared in the procession. He had arranged to have a large space left, in the middle of which he was to walk. This was done in order to make his position the more conspicuous, and to mark more strongly his own high distinction above all the other potentates present on the occasion. Guards preceded and followed him, though at considerable distance, as has been already said. He was himself clothed with white robes, and his head was adorned with a splendid crown.
The procession was moving toward a great theater, where certain games and spectacles were to be exhibited. The statues of the gods were to be taken into the theater, and placed in conspicuous positions there, in the view of the assembly, and then the procession itself was to follow. All the statues had entered except that of Philip, which was just at the door, and Philip himself was advancing in the midst of the space left for him, up the avenue by which the theater was approached, when an occurrence took place by which the whole character of the scene, the destiny of Alexander, and the fate of fifty nations, was suddenly and totally changed. It was this. An officer of the guards, who had his position in the procession near the king, was seen advancing impetuously toward him, through the space which separated him from the rest, and, before the spectators had time even to wonder what he was going to do, he stabbed him to the heart. Philip fell down in the street and died.
A scene of indescribable tumult and confusion ensued. The murderer was immediately cut to pieces by the other guards. They found, however, before he was dead, that it was Pausanias, a man of high standing and influence, a general officer of the guards. He had had horses provided, and other assistance ready, to enable him to make his escape, but he was cut down by the guards before he could avail himself of them.
An officer of state immediately hastened to Alexander, and announced to him his father's death and his own accession to the throne. An assembly of the leading counselors and statesmen was called, in a hasty and tumultuous manner, and Alexander was proclaimed king with prolonged and general acclamations. Alexander made a speech in reply. The great assembly looked upon his youthful form and face as he arose, and listened with intense interest to hear what he had to say. He was between nineteen and twenty years of age; but, though thus really a boy, he spoke with all the decision and confidence of an energetic man. He said that he should at once assume his father's position, and carry forward his plans. He hoped to do this so efficiently that every thing would go directly onward, just as if his father had continued to live, and that the nation would find that the only change which had taken place was in the name of the king.
The motive which induced Pausanias to murder Philip in this manner was never fully ascertained. There were various opinions about it. One was, that it was an act of private revenge, occasioned by some neglect or injury which Pausanias had received...