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The Logic of Opportunity: Philip II, Demosthenes, and the Charismatic Imagination

From: Syllecta Classica
Volume 21 (2010)
pp. 1-33 | 10.1353/syl.2011.0003



Demosthenes' characterization of Philip II of Macedon as a charismatic leader and talented opportunist has framed the historical narrative of the fourth century BCE in terms of what Philip did right and the Greek poleis did wrong. An analysis of Philip's early campaigns, drawing on sociological approaches to the study of opportunity, suggests that his "charismatic imagination" was his open-ended, high-risk, and relentless pursuit of new opportunities for growth. Examination of the opportunities open to the Athenians and the Macedonians helps reframe the debate in terms of the overarching constraints affecting the strategic decisions of both states.

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