4. Philip II of Macedonia’s assassination paved the way for Alexander to conquer the world
Alexander the Great is widely-recognized as one of the greatest military minds of all time. However, he may never have got the chance to make history had it not been for the assassination of his father, Philip II of Macedonia, in 336BC. Indeed, it was Phillip who was responsible for establishing the fearsome Macedonian Army. He also devised the Macedonian phalanx, the strategy Alexander was to use to such great effect when conquering lands near and far. However, while Alexander is widely-remembered and even has major Hollywood movies dedicated to his colorful life, Phillip is relatively unknown, thanks in no small part to his premature death at the hands of an assassin.
Phillip was attending his daughter’s wedding when he was struck down. As he was entering the temple, alone and unguarded, one of his own bodyguards, a man by the name of Pausanias, cut him down with his sword. Pausanias himself was then killed before he could reveal who had put him up to the killing or, far less likely, if he was acting alone. According to Aristotle, who provided us with the only contemporary account of the assassination, it might have been due to the fact that Pausanias had been offended by the uncle of Philip’s wife. While this may sound tenuous, such slights often had fatal consequences in ancient Macedon.
Some later historians have speculated that perhaps Alexander himself was, if not involved in the plot directly, knew about it and did nothing to stop it. Certainly, the assassination of Philip II in 336BC had huge historical implications. Had Philip still been on the throne, for instance, he might have been more restrained in the war against Persia. As it is, the young Alexander was far more ambitious and set his sights on nothing less than conquering all of the known world.