Byzantion and Constantinopolis were reborn under a third name. This name - the one that the great city still bears - betrays its timeless status as metropolis. What is the origin of ‘Istanbul’? It is the medieval Greek peasant’s answer to the typical question posed by a stranger anywhere near Constantinople. 'Where does this road go? Where can I buy food and wine? Where will I find lodging tonight? The answer was is tin boli, 'to the City, at the City’. This was, without rival, 'the City’.
—  Flavours of Byzantium, Andrew Dalby


This is an excerpt from my post, ‘THRACIANS, REAPERS OF THE BALKANS’.

Philip II of Macedon (359–336 BCE), father of the famed Alexander the Great, came to rule Macedon at a difficult time. Macedon had long been harassed by the barbarous Illyrians and Thracians as well as the civilized Greeks to their south. Philip quickly began a series of diplomatic actions in the form of marriages and bribery. As an example, the Thracian prince Berisades was supporting a pretender to the Macedonian throne named Pausanias and planned an invasion of Macedon but Philip “prevented the return of Pausanias by winning over with gifts the king who was on the point of attempting his restoration” (Diodorus, 16.3.4). Philip’s diplomatic prowess allowed him momentarily lessen the number of threats, to literally buy enough time to reform his army and to pick off his enemies one at a time.

The Athenians were allied with the barbarous Illyrians, Paeonians, and Thracians who were troubling Macedon. The above mentioned Berisades, along with his son and co-ruler Cetriporis, joined this anti-Macedonian alliance alongside. Other than these two, there was another Thracian prince named Cersebleptes (son of Cotys) who declared war on his nephew Cetriporis after his father’s death. Cersebleptes ruled east of the Hebrus River and was a puppet, with the one truly in charge being a Greek (Euboean) mercenary named Charidemus who raised Cersebleptes after his father’s death. Philip II set his eyes on the gold and silver mines of Thrace, his opportunity to strike arose in c. 346 BCE when two Thracian princes and brothers (Cersebleptes and Amadocus) chose him to act as a judge or arbitrator “of their disputes” between the two. They chose Philip “not, indeed, from respect for his justice, but because each dreaded that he would unite his strength to that of the other”.

Philip, in accordance with his practice and disposition, came unexpectedly upon the brothers with an army in full array, not apparently to try a cause, but to fight a battle, and spoiled them both of their dominions, not like a judge, but with the perfidy and baseness of a robber.” – Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus by Marcus Junianus Justinus, Book 8.3.

By 340 BCE Philip had inevitably subjugated the divided Thracian kingdoms turned it into a Macedonian province, garrisoned forts in strategic locations and allied himself with the coastal Greek colonies. According to the later (2nd or 3rd century CE) Latin historian Justin (Marcus Junianus Justinus), while Philip II was besieging Byzantion (later known as Constantinople and Istanbul) he abandoned it to pursue an expedition into Scythia in the north for the purpose of plunder which would “make up for the expenses of one war by the profits of another” (Justin, 9.1). After defeating the Scythians and extracting tribute from them (slaves, horses and cattle), Philip and his army were confronted by the Triballi (Thraco-Illyrians) who would grant the Macedonians safe passage in exchange for a “share of the spoil” (Justin, 9.3).

Hence arose a dispute, and afterwards a battle, in which Philip received so severe a wound through the thigh, that his horse was killed by it; and while it was generally supposed that he was dead, the booty was lost. Thus the Scythian spoil, as if attended with a curse, had almost proved fatal to the Macedonians.” – Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus by Marcus Junianus Justinus, 9.3.

Head over to my post, ‘THRACIANS, REAPERS OF THE BALKANS’, to learn about their culture, religion, weaponry, armors, battle tactics, and their influence on the ancient world. Their history as well, from the tales in the Iliad to the era of the Greco-Persian Wars, the rise of Macedon under Philip II’s son (Alexander the Great), and the Roman conquests of the Balkans.