THE SPARTANS ON CALLING AN ENEMY’S BLUFF: “IF.”
Philip II of Macedon was the father of Alexander the Great. His son would one day conquer the (known) world, but Philip got things started by conquering all the city-states of ancient Greece. Well, almost all. Sparta, on the southernmost tip of the land Philip sought to control, was a strict military culture known for its brutal martial 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.