According to Thenailmythology, the conditions of Greece could not fail to appear very painful at the time; full as it was of dissension, of struggles in which its forces were consumed, without the three major hegemonies having been smashed one after the other, noting the possibility of a renewed harmony, and least of all of a renewed expansion in the territory of the Persian empire. This in turn was breaking up due to the incessant conflicts between the peoples who had been forcibly incorporated into it and the dissensions between the rulers. Such internal struggles, fighting with the council and with the arms of the Greeks, renewed every day the demonstration of the civil and military superiority of these over the barbarians; but the Greeks had no way of availing themselves of such superiority for their own profit. Absorbed in the struggles of the present, the more astute politicians were not looking for a remedy for this state of affairs. Only some of the most detached from the minute contingencies of the day, like Isocrates, thought of a vigorous resumption of the struggle against the barbarian and came to dream of the hypothesis that Philip offered the Greeks the effective aid of his arm for the victory over Persia, but of course he would never have dreamed of wishing the Macedonian king to forcibly reduce the Greeks to his dependence. Others, more adherent to concrete reality, had a clearer perception of Philip’s ambitious aims to dominate Greece. Some of them adapted to it with passive resignation, believing any resistance to be vain. Against, Demosthenes and his friends had long since resolved to fight Philip as the most dangerous opponent of the freedom of Greece, especially of Athens. But to fight it with a broader sense of solidarity among the free Greeks, not aiming only at the particular interest of Athens, but preparing with wise concessions to the interests and aspirations of others, to unite in a bundle all the Hellenic forces for the defense of the commune. freedom. This became all the more urgent and at the same time all the more difficult, as everywhere many, aware of Philip’s power, turned to him out of opportunism and for personal and class interests, as well as for selfish local patriotism. In particular, the property classes, tired of the frequent turbulence and demagogic excesses, they inclined to be guaranteed by Philip stability of conditions even at the cost of renouncing, at least in part, the freedom of the fatherland, precisely as the Athenian oligarchists, at the time of the Decelic war, had shown themselves willing to betray the country to the Spartans. On the other hand, they found a valid ally, albeit unconscious, in the inertia of the many who looked only at the present hour, not realizing the dangers glimpsed by Demosthenes. Demosthenes therefore in the years following the peace of Philocrates devoted all his energies to antagonizing the Athenian people against Philip, trying however to prevent an open conflict from coming ahead of time. To this end he did not resist denigrating the politicians who seriously wanted an approach to Macedonia, while he took care of the financial and military preparation for the war, he studied to forge relations with Philip’s adversaries in the various Greek cities and to prepare the basis for an alliance of the major Hellenic powers against the Macedonians. This was required above all, despite the frictions that have occurred in recent times, a rapprochement with Thebes. The price of this rapprochement could only be the abandonment of the pro-Spartan politics, which had by now been traditional in Athens since it had begun to decline the hegemony of Sparta. This policy was founded not on a community of ideals, but both on the memory of the ancient common struggle against the Persians, and on the prestige that Sparta, even after many disasters, still retained; and, advantageous when it came to fighting Thebes, now it no longer brought any real benefit. In the Peloponnese, the power of Sparta was now balanced by that of irreconcilable adversaries such as Messene, Megalopolis and Argos; outside the Peloponnese Sparta had no authority, and a friendship with it only made it impossible for friendship with Thebes, which was the only means of preventing, if still possible, the spread of Macedonian hegemony to central Greece. But a friendship with Thebes, which the permanent danger of Macedonian power made stable, meant for part of Athens, as for part of Thebes, the renunciation of a Pan-Athenian and Panbeotic policy respectively for a Panhellenic policy. Thus something entirely new was prepared in Greek history, different from either the temporary or permanent leagues established on the basis of hegemony, as it had been that of the Greeks against Xerxes and from the temporary leagues in which completely autonomous powers, but without true commonality of purpose or ideals, had united for contingent interests, such as the Corinthian league. To this work of Demosthenes, whose ideal fulcrum was the defense of freedom against the predominance of the Macedonian monarch, Philip did not oppose the program of the Panhellenic war against the barbarian. Indeed, his relations with Persia always remained good, and even when his assault against Perinth on the Sea of Marmara (340) aroused the suspicions of the satraps, relief to Perinth was sent by them on his own initiative and disavowed by the Great King. that Philip opposed, in addition to the petty propaganda of corruption, was the mirage of peace and order established in place of the dissensions that bloodied Greece, was the principle of local autonomies, of the pulverization of the major federations, that principle that the Spartans before him and, later, more than one of the diadochi proclaimed and finally the Romans, always with the evident purpose of submitting Greece to its own dominance, making it impossible, thus pulverized, any effective resistance to the rulers. The contrast between Demosthenes and Philip did not therefore consist, as many moderns imagine, in the opposition between a Panathenian ideal and a Panhellenic ideal or in that of a particularistic ideal to the unitary ideal, but in that between the ideal of freedom and reality of strength and material interests. This Demosthenes knew and this he gives to his prayers,
Philip took advantage of the peace to extend his authority in both Epirus and Thrace. In Thrace, after having tried in vain to conquer Perinth, he laid siege to Byzantium. Byzantium with several others of the ancient Athenian allies, aware of the danger, was once again in league with Athens. And Athens sent her help, which forced Philip to renounce the undertaking, and declared the peace of Philocrates violated and, at the proposal of Demosthenes, broke the stele on which it was engraved. Now Philip had no other way to continue his expansion than to threaten Athens on land, since the maritime superiority of the Athenians was absolute at that time. The weapon he used was a new sacred war which, as a member of the amphitionic council, gave him the right to intervene. And he succeeded in making the sacred war decree, under the pretext of a committed sacrilege, against the Locrians of Anfissa, Theban allies, on the proposal of the Athenian hieromnemon, loyal to him if not bought by him, Aeschines. It was a clever move to sow discord between Thebes and Athens and to frustrate the rapprochement, which Demosthenes had tended for so many years. But, more valid than the political intrigues, the reality of things acted on the Athenian spirit, when, precisely to start the sacred war, Philip passed Thermopylae with his army and occupied Elatea. It was then decided that alliance with Thebes which had been the perennial aim of Demosthenes, and suddenly the Panhellenic league which he had initiated embraced the most important part in the military respect of central Greece. And, a sign of the changed times.