Peace of Philocrates, 346 BC

The Peace of Philocrates (346 BC) ended the ten year long War of Amphipolis between Athens and Macedon, and helped establish Philip II of Macedon as a power in central and southern Greece. For the previous ten years two parallel wars had dominated Greece. In central Greece the Third Sacred War involved Phocis, Athens and Sparta on one side and Thebes, Boeotia and Thessaly on the other, and saw armies campaigning in Boeotia, Phocis and Thessaly. Further north Macedon and Athens had officially been at war since Philip attacked and captured Amphipolis, also claimed by Athens. The war had seen Athens form alliances with the Chalcidice League and various Thracian kings, but without achieving anything.

The Sacred War and the War for Amphipolis both ended in 346 BC, after some complex negotiations. Philip first sent out peace feelers in the summer of 347. After some careful investigations the Athenian politician Philocrates proposed that Philip should be invited to send peace envoys. This first prospect of peace quickly passed, and instead the Athenians sent out envoys to try and arrange an anti-Macedonian alliance. These efforts failed. Philip appears to have been motivated by a desire to create a stable settlement in Greece and an alliance with Athens that would allow him to concentrate on a campaign against the Persians in Asia Minor.

Meanwhile in Phocis the existing leader Phalaecus, had been deposed, and his successors offered to give Athens and Sparta the key fortresses that defended Thermopylae. The Athenians sent one expedition to the Chersonese to work with Cersobleptes, and prepared to send another to occupy Thermopylae. At the end of 347 the Athenians made another attempt to form an anti-Macedonian alliance, although this time they also included the possibility of a collective peace. They also asked Philip if he would release the prisoners captured at Olynthus.

Early in 346 news reached Athens that Phalaecus had been restored as leader at Phocis, and that Philip was willing to release the captives in return for peace. This convinced the Athenians to open peace negotiations, and ten envoys (including Demosthenes) were sent to Pella to meet with Philip. Philip offered fairly generous terms. He offered not to attack Athens's allies in the Chersonese during the peace negotiations, return the prisoners from Olynthus without a ransom, help the Athenians regain their position on Euboea, and repopulate Thespiae and Plataea (both destroyed by Thebes). In return Philip was to be free to deal with Phocis. In mid March the Athenian envoys left Pella to return home. Philip in turn moved east, and defeated Cersobleptes in eastern Thrace.

In April the negotiations moved to Athens, where Philip's envoys met the Athenian assembly. The Athenians debated two motions - one to wait until the envoys dispatched at the end of 347 had returned, the other to demand a Common Peace, open to all Greeks. Philip's senior envoy, Antipater, made it clear that this wasn't acceptable. Athens was now faced with simple choice - make peace on Philip's terms, or fight on almost alone. She decided to make peace, and even excluded Phocis and Cersobleptes from the peace treaty.

The Athenians now sent the same ten ambassadors back to Pella, where they had to wait for Philip to return from Thrace. Philip refused to let them go home without him, and instead made them accompany him as he marched south. Philip didn’t formally agree to the treaty until they had reached Pherae. By the time he was approaching Thermopylae it was too late for anyone to stop him. Demosthenes now broke from the other Athenian envoys and managed to get the Assembly to refuse Philip's call to supply troops for a possible clash with Thebes. Philip chose to abandon any plans for a military clash, and instead went for the peaceful route. Phaleacus, the Phocian leader, agreed to surrender Thermopylae to Philip and went into exile.

With their army gone, the Phocians had now choice other than to surrender. Philip didn’t want to punish them too harshly, and in particular wanted to keep them as a counter to Thebes. The Phocians did have to repay the money taken from Delphi, dismantle their towns and move back into villages, and lost their position on the Delphic Amphictyony, (taken by Philip). The peace settlement ended the Third Sacred War and the War for Amphipolis, but it also alienated Athens and Thebes. The Athenians felt that their allies in Phocis had been punished too harshly, and that their interests had not been served well by the peace treaty (few of the promised benefits had been delivered). Thebes, which had been Philip's ally in the Sacred War, no longer trusted Philip and began to suspect that he posed a threat to their city, and was also angry that Phocis hadn't been punished more severely.

After settling the two wars, Philip left a Thessalian garrison to watch Thermopylae, giving him easy access to central Greece. He also began to hint that his main aim was an expedition into Asia Minor

The peace in Greece didn't last too long. Demosthenes kept agitating against Philip, and Athens was one of a number of allies of Byzantium and Perinthus when they came under siege in the early 330s. This fight was soon overshadowed by the Fourth Sacred War or Amphissean War (339-338 BC), which saw Philip invade central Greece to punish Amphissa for sacrilege against the Delphic Oracle, but expanded into a wider war when Athens finally managed to gather an alliance against him. The war was ended by the crushing Macedonian victory at Chaeronea (August 338 BC), which established Philip II as the dominant power in all of Greece. 

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (27 January 2017), Peace of Philocrates, 346 BC , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/peace_philocrates.html

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