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Philip II of Macedon

“Philip II of Macedon was the father of Alexander the Great. His son would one day conquer the known world, but Philip was, in his own right, a brilliant military leader who set about conquering each of the city-states of ancient Greece. Well, almost all.

Sparta, on the southernmost tip of the land Philip sought to control, was a military powerhouse — a strict martial culture known for its brutal prowess. In 346 B.C, Philip sent a message to intimidate the Spartans. ‘You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army on your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people and raze your city.’ The term ‘Laconic wit,’ comes from the Spartan region Laconia. The Spartans employed it to great effect with their one word response to Philip: ‘If.’

Philip never attempted to conquer Sparta.”


A modern translation from Plutarch’s De Garrulitate (“On Talkativeness”). Find it in his Collected Essays.

The photograph is of a fragment of a statuette of Philip II of Macedon.