Get to Know Ancient Macedonians I

While Alexander the Great is one of the best-known characters in ancient Macedonian history, there are a great number of kings, poets, writers, and mighty generals that helped shape the culture. In this article, you will encounter a few notables, including King Philip II and a 2nd century military writer.


At one point, the Macedonian Army was led by Craterus (362 to 321 BC) , one of the more productive younger generals that served under Alexander the Great. He took over the position that once belonged to Parmenio (before Alexander ordered his death). Alexander grew to trust him and in 324, he placed Craterus in charge of bringing back 11,000 Macedonian veterans to Macedonia. As a result, he was appointed to replace Antipater in Europe. Following the death of Alexander the Great, Craterus was appointed the guardian of King Philip III Arrhidaeus, who was the half-brother of Alexander.

King Philip II

Ruling Macedonia from 359 to 336 BC, King Philip II started out as the youngest son of king Amyntas III. His birthplace was the city of Pella , the capital of the ancient Macedonian kingdom. Philip underwent an interesting experience that proved beneficial in his favor. From 368 to 365 BC, he was kept as a hostage at Thebes with the Greeks. During his captivity, he watched how the Greeks prepared in regards to their military techniques. At the time, they were considered the powerhouse of the military world. When he finally returned to Macedonia, he went about assisting the current king of Macedonia (his brother Perdiccas III). Because of his observations, he was able to later help strengthen and rejuvenate the Macedonian army.

Polyaenus (or Polyenus)

During the 2nd century, Polyaenus made a living as a Macedonian author. His best-known work is called ‘Stratagems in War,’ which he dedicated to Marcus Aurelius (161 to 180) and the co-emperor of Rome at one time , Verus (161 to 169), while they fought in the Parthian War (which took place between 162 and 165). Polyaenus wrote his work at a time when he was too old to actually see the military campaigns with his own eyes.

The author’s work was separated into 8 different books. The first six contained an account of the stratagems of the most respected Greek generals. In the seventh book, he touched upon the accomplishment of foreigners. Unfortunately, parts of the sixth and seventh books have been lost. In the end, he described 900 stratagems, but only 833 have been recovered. The eighth book focused on the Romans and famous women.


This ancient Macedonian was a runner who participated and won in the Olympics around the 1st century BC. However, he wasn’t the luckiest of athletes, as he was struck and killed by lightning while he was on his way home.