Gettysburg and the unification of ancient Greece

The battle of Gettysburg was a turning point during the American Civil war. It marked the beginning of the end – and also the beginning of the United States of America that the world now knows today.

The same can be said of the Greek battle of Chaeronea in 338 BCE.In ancient times Greece was not a single nation – but a group of nations and individual city states – such as Athens, Sparta, Thebes, Molossia,Corinth,Argos and Macedonia – linked by a common language, culture, and religion.Similar to the early United States where states individualy made alliances on who's side they will fight during the US Civil War.So in Greece we had a similiar outlook where Philip II of Macedon made alliances against the imminent threat of a unison between Thebes and Athens.We want to show you here contrary to Fyrom propaganda(Stefov,Gandeto,Donski etc etc) that it wasn't just Philip against the whole of Greece but a collection of states that joined him,against him or just stayed neutral.Chaeronea was the attempt of the philo-Philippic Greek party (Macedonians , Thessalians , Epeirotans , anti-Demosthenean Athenean party etc) to create a "common peace" situation (κοινή ειρήνη) among the Greek city States and Kingdoms (the Isocratic "Panhellenic Cause") against the "secessionist" philo-Demosthenean party (Atheneans , Thebans ,Eubeans etc) that prefered "autonomy" and "liberty of war" among Greek city states.

Isocrtaes supported Philip against Demosthenes


Side A'

Macedonia, Thessaly, Epirus, Aetolia, Northern Phocis, Epicnemidian Locrians*

Side B'

Athens, Beotian League (Thebes, etc), Euboean League, Achaean League, Corinth, Megara, Corcyra, Acarnania, Ambracia, Southern Phocis.

Neutral sides

Sparta, Argos, Arcadia, Messene. The three last had alliances both with Athens and Philip but their pro-Macedonian activity of 344/3 BC showed they were leaning towards Philip. However they didnt sent aid to Chaeronea in Philip's side because of the blocking in Isthmus by Corinth and Megara.Sparta had withdrawn almost entirely from Greek affairs in 344 BC.

Elis had an alliance with Philip though they didnt take part in Chaeronea but showed their pro-Macedonian feelings by joining their forces with Philip in the invasion of Laconia in the autumn of 338 BC.

This lack of unity meant that the full military strength of Greece was never fully realized – which is why they were such easy targets for the might of empires such as Persia and Rome. However, for one brief moment in history Greece was united – in way very similar to the way the United States of America was united under a single president following the American Civil war and Gettysburg.

In 338 BCE near Chaeronea, in Boeotia (Central Greece), Philip II – King of Macedonia - accompanied by allied contigents from Thessaly, Epirus, Aetolia, Northern Phocis and Epicnemidian Locrian, defeated the combined forces of Athens and Thebes and initiated the unity of ancient Greece.

Philip II of Macedon father of Alexander The Great King of the Greeks

The aim of Philip and his Macedonians was not to destroy their fellow Greeks – but to unite them. Following his victory at Chaeronea, Philip did not destroy Athens, Thebes or their allies – but offered them peace. But it needed to be a binding peace – a binding union. To do this he created the Corinthian League, which was also sometimes referred to as Hellenic League (Hellenes - 'The Greeks').

The major provisions of the League were:

Member states' constitutions in force at the time of joining were guaranteed.

The Synedrion, or congress of representatives, was to meet at Corinth.

The League would act to prevent any acts of aggression or subversion against any member state.

The League would maintain an army levied from member states in approximate proportion to their size.

Philip was declared commander of the League's army.

Unlike previous attempts to unite the Greek people, the Hellenic League lasted much longer and was far more successful than any Greek alliance attempted before, creating a sense of national unity and identity that has lasted until the present day, and helped the Greek people maintain their sense of nationality even during 500 years of Muslim occupation under the Otttoman Turks.

Tha battle formation

In this way we can see the similarities with the early United States – individual states providing political and military support – with the president as commander in chief of the combined armies. It was this united strength of Greece that gave rise to the victories of Alexander the Great that brought to light the Hellenic age of the ancient world.

 It was this sense of unity that helped the Greek people reclaim their nation and seek to reunite their people – even as recently as 1913 when the final part of the puzzle – Macedonia – was reunited with Greece under the Treaty of Bucharest.

Today Macedonia – the homeland of Philip II, who sought to unite Greece more than 2,300 years ago – is the largest region of Greece, and is home to some 2.6 million individuals – proudly Macedonian, but also fiercely proud to be Greek.

This is the sense of unity created by great men like Abraham Lincoln and Philip II of Macedon, and the outcome of great battles like Gettysburg and Chaeronea.

Philip II of Macedon (359-336 B.C.) Silver Tetradrachm Amphipolis mint

In recent times the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) has sought to undermine the unity of Greece engendered by Philip and Chaeronea, by claiming that Macedonia is not Greek – by attempting to rewrite history and claim lands that have belonged to the Greek people since time immemorial. This is a continuation of a Communist Government policy engendered by the now defunct Yugoslavia in 1944.

Considering as a historical fact Philip's Demosthenean accusation as a "barbarian from Pella" is as stupid and shallow as considering Abraham Lincoln as a "Tyrant" simply because John Wilkes Booth while shooting him clamored "sic semper tyrannis !!" (Latin: "Thus always to tyrants !!").

To put it into context, it would be like Mexico claiming that Texas and California are really Mexican lands – and that their inhabitants are really Mexican – but have been convinced by the ´Americans´ in the north that they aren´t – that these lands being part of the United States is all a fictitious lie.

Unfortunately the FYROM policy of rewriting history and trying to claim Macedonia for their own has been supported by the Bush administration – who recognized FYROM as ´Macedonia´ in exchange for a handful of troops going to Iraq – an exchange to support the Bush administrations arguments of a New Europe.

If the chances of another issue to the battle of Chaeronea have been

exaggerated, the significance of that event has been often misrepresented. The battle of Chaeronea belongs to the same historical series as the battles of Aegospotami (405 B.C.) and Leuctra (371 B.C.).

As the hegemony or first place among Greek states had passed successively from Athens to Sparta, and to Thebes, so now it passed to Macedon. The statement that Greek liberty perished on the plain of Chaeronea is as true or as false as that it perished on the field of Leuctra or the strand of the Goat's River. Whenever a Greek state became supreme, that supremacy entailed the depression of some states and the dependency or subjection of others. Athens was reduced to a secondary place by Macedon, and Thebes fared still worse; but we must not forget what Sparta, in the day of her triumph, did to Athens, or the more evil things which Thebes proposed."

The monument built by the Thebans to honour their Sacred Band's 254 dead. A few years back, archaeological excavations brought to the light the remains of 254 men, burried in seven layers. When King Philip saw the 254 Thebans lying dead, said in tears: "Perished is the man who suspects that these brave men have done bad deeds or have accepted measly things"

The famous speech by the young Alexander III the future King of all Greeks after the battle


"Holy shadows of the dead, I´m not to blame for your cruel and bitter fate, but the accursed rivalry which brought sister nations and brother people, to fight one another. I do not feel happy for this victory of mine. On the contrary, I would be glad, brothers, if I had all of you standing here next to me, since we are united by the same language, the same blood and the same visions."

Alexander the Great addressing the dead Greeks of the battle of Chaeronia. Curtius Rufus

Macedonia has always been Greek. It was Greek to Philip and Alexander; it was Greek to St Paul when he visited Thessaloniki and Philippi – and when he wrote his letters in Greek to the early Greek churches in Macedonia (now part of the New Testament).

Gettysburg and Chaeronea – two turning points in history that should never be forgotten. Support Greece. Support the Truth. Macedonia is Greek!

author Andreas MOTW