Philip II of Macedon has been proclaimed to be the greatest king in European History. He changed Macedon from a divided group of fiefdoms into a powerful unified kingdom that vanquished great empires and became a terror in the ancient world. Phillip was a diplomatic genius possessing a natural strategic ability. Under his leadership, the Macedonian army would become the most formidable fighting force in the ancient world. After trade with Greece declined, Philip used the resources of Macedon to acquire revenue to build up his army. Philip also sought to improve the military by constantly training and drilling his soldiers in the use of new weapons and lighter armor. New, innovative tactics were also developed and utilized. Philip's most formidable opponent was Athens. Although he sought to be on good diplomatic terms with Athens initially, they would eventually engage in war. Athens attacked Philip, but was defeated at the battle of Charisoneia on August 22, 338 B.C. Afterwards, Philip concentrated on expanding his empire to the east. However, before his dream was realized, he was assassinated in 336 B.C. His son, Alexander the Great, would ascend the throne and go on to realize his father’s vision of an expansive eastern empire.
How many hands have touched a coin in your pocket or your purse? What eras and lands have the coin traversed on its journey into our possession? As we reach into our pockets to pull out some change, we rarely hesitate to think of who touched the coin before us, or where the coin will venture to after us. More than money, coins are a symbol of the state that struck them, of a specific time and place, whether currency in the age we live or an artifact of a long forgotten empire. Worth a month’s salary, a silver coin like this would have rewarded the bravery and fortitude of the officers serving under one of history’s most celebrated leaders, Philip II. Following his father’s example, Philip’s son Alexander carved out one of the largest kingdoms the world has ever known. While this vast empire dissolved after Alexander’s death, the legend of Philip II will continue to live on not only in our history books and museums, but also in artifacts like this coin: concrete remnants of ancient empires passed from the hands of civilization to civilization, from generation to generation. - (C.9550)