As we have already seen, when Philip found himself in the wrong, he was not afraid to admit his mistake, and to try to do better. He was also very patient and forgiving. On one occasion he heard that a man named Nicanor was always speaking ill of him. He therefore sent for the man, who came in fear and trembling, thinking that the king would either imprison or slay him. Philip, however, received him kindly, made him sit at his own table, and let him go only after giving him many rich gifts. As the king had not found fault with him in any way, Nicanor was greatly surprised, and vowed that he would not speak another word against so generous a man.
As soon as Philip had made sure of his authority at home, drilled his army, and piled up enough gold, he began to carry out his bold plans. First of all, he wished to subdue a few of his most unruly neighbors, such as the Thracians and Olynthians. An archer named Aster came to him just before he began this war. This man offered his help to the king, and began to boast how well he could shoot. Philip, who believed only in spears for fighting, sent the man away, after saying that he would call for his help when he began to war against starlings and other birds.
This answer made Aster so angry that he went over to the enemy and enlisted in their ranks. Philip soon came to besiege the city where Aster was stationed; and as soon as the archer heard of it, he got an arrow upon which he wrote, “To Philip’s left eye.” Aster then went up on the wall, took careful aim, and actually put out the king’s left eye. Philip was so angry when he heard of the writing on the arrow, that he ordered another shot into the city. On this arrow was written, “If Philip takes the city, he will hang Aster.” The city was taken, and the archer hung; for Philip always prided himself upon keeping promises of this kind. The Olynthians, finding that they would not be able to resist long, now wrote a letter to the Athenians, begging them to come to their rescue.
The Athenians read the letter in the public square, so that every one could hear it, and then began to discuss whether they should send any help. As was always the case, some were for, and others against, the plan, and there was much talking. Among the best speakers of the city was the orator Demosthenes, a very clearsighted man, who suspected Philip’s designs. He therefore warmly advised the Athenians to do all they could to oppose the Macedonian king, so as to prevent his ever getting a foothold in Greece. Indeed, he spoke so eloquently and severely against Philip, and told the people so plainly that the king was already plotting to harm them, that violent speeches directed against any one have ever since been called “Philippics,” like these orations against the King of Macedon.