The road via Krene and that via Pherae are unarguably the main routes from southern Thessaly north and vice versa.
It would appear we are agreed well enough on that, at least !
Both the battle of 364 and that of 197 were fought at the same place (or very near enough). While it is a possibility that Philip thought only of blocking each of these routes, no such imperative existed for either Pelopidas or Alexander of Pherai in 364. Alexander marches west from Pherai to meet Pelopidas who marches from Pharsalos to meet him. There is no tactical imperative to block an ingress to Macedonia for either combatant or for either to be ustilising such a pass north. Nor does there seem to be any requirement for either to occupy the hill above Krene - particularly Pelopidas marching from Pharsalos.
I don’t understand what point you are trying to make here – the strategic imperatives ( not tactical) of 364 B.C are obviously not the same as 197 B.C., or for that matter 48 B.C. when Caesar defeated Pompey in this same vicinity. Nor does the battle site in 364, which involved Pelopidas leading the forces of Pharsalus against those of Alexander of Pherae – a purely Thessalian affair not involving Macedon - have anything in common with that of 197, other than at each battle both sides sought to seize the high ground. Pelopidas and Alexander of Pherae were simply seeking to confront each other, so of course Pelopidas was not looking to occupy a strategic feature.The armies meet in the plain at the Thetideion, and the battle was seemingly fought on a north-south axis rather than the east-west axis of 197. Both Pelopidas and Alexander sought to seize the foothills/heights which dominate the plain ( the ground of tactical importance – being uphill against a lower opponent was an advantage). It is even possible that if it was the whole area that was known as Kynoskephalae [plural], that the battle of 364 took place at a slightly different location to that of 197. But it is the battle of 197 that we are here concerned with, and when all the criteria are considered, the site I have suggested fits best for that battle.
I do not believe that Philip was only fighting a defensive action; that he meant to block access into Macedonia by plugging these passes. He could not continue such with any hope of a positive outcome. He had watched as the Romans had detached former allies and realised that he needed to act. He may well have dreamed of emulating his famous namesake until it became obvious he could not move past Pherai. He moved west towards Skotoussa and was in search of ground suitable to his forces. That Flamininus followed afterwards is surely indicated by his having only reached Pthiotic Eretrea on the first day. Philip wanted decent ground to the west and I believe that to be in the Enipeus plain a touch west of modern Vamvakou. Here he would roll the dice on a decisive battle. If he won he'd dictate terms to the Romanising Greeks and likely win back allies. It is the Hellenistic commanders' outlook. That the Romans might send another army is likely. Just as likely is that Rome would send another consul to command the Roman forces in Greece after Flamininus' term expired.
The "strategic triangle" is seductive. For all that, Philip assembled and drilled an army which I believe he intended to use in defeating the Roman consul rather than in a stalling game of blocking routes into Macedonia.
This suggestion opens a Pandora’s box of Strategic and Tactical considerations, and simply does not fit the evidence! Paralus simply follows Walbank and Hammond, who in turn blindly accept Polybius’ faulty rationalisation of how the armies came to move west. Firstly, consider Philip’s strategy in the First Macedonian War ( 217-205 BC). A young Philip [he was around 20] allied himself to Hannibal, and opportunistically sought to expand westward into Illyria at the expense of Rome and its allies while they fought their life-and-death struggle with Hannibal. In this he was urged on by the exiled Illyrian Demetrius of Pharos, who hoped to regain his possessions. By 208 Philip was at bay, and fought on the strategic defensive. In this he was successful, and Rome agreed “an honourable draw” by the Peace of Phoinike. Philip got to keep his Illyrian conquests and in return tacitly abandoned his ‘alliance’ with Hannibal, an easy concession since he had not really helped him in any significant way.
In the Second Macedonian War, Philip well knew he could not match the power of Rome, and again stood on the strategic defensive – as both Walbank and Hammond acknowledge. (As a famous Australian advertisement put it; "When you're on a good thing, stick to it!"
) In this he was successful in repelling Roman attacks from Illyria for two years, as related above. .Philip also sought peace in November 198, offering to give up all his territorial gains, except his ancestral lands, and thus leave Greece ‘free’, for Macedon was very war weary after decades of war. A tame peace treaty obviously did not suit Flamininus, who had glory and a Triumph in mind. He made impossible demands so that negotiations broke down.
Philip resumed his defensive strategy in 197 against Flamininus, as his earlier creating of a ‘moat’ by the devastation of the Enipeus valley demonstrates. Then there is the fact that Philip left a number of large garrisons as ‘bastions’ defending the major routes and passes. Many thousands of seasoned Macedonian troops were tied up by this. [ The garrison of Atrax, for example, consisted of experienced Macedonian phalangites who successfully defended a breach in the walls with their sarissas against Roman assaults]. Philip recruited under age boys and aged veterans to fill the ranks of the field army. Hardly the actions of a King seeking a ‘decisive battle’ - as Hammond noted. The defection of Greek allies was neither here nor there- once the Romans went home, he could easily re-impose his authority over Greece.
If Philip had wished to adopt an offensive strategy, he had ample opportunity and plenty of time to advance via one of the passes from Larissa into southern Thessaly, but did not. Instead, when he heard the news that the Romans had left Elatea in Phocis, he advanced no further than Larissa, and continued to wait, until he learnt that the Roman Army and its allies had arrived and were encamped “round Thebes
” [Livy XXXIII.3 –XXXIII.6]. Then he rushed to block the Pherae gap, arriving “in good time
”. [Polyb. XVIII.19.4.]. Again Walbank and Hammond agree Philip was acting defensively, as is obvious. So far, Philip had done nothing whatever offensive – for instance he could have awaited Flamininus in the plains around Larissa, ground eminently suitable for the phalanx, but did not. Moreover his lack of success in battle with the Romans the previous year will hardly have encouraged him to seek a ‘decisive battle’. It was Flamininus who confidently sought this, even going as far as to try and encourage Philip to fight by repatriating thousands of Macedonian POW’s back to Philip for a relatively cheap ransom (sans arms, of course).
Now we come to the tactical situation. The Romans could not force the Pherae pass with Philip ‘in situ’, and had several hostile garrisons in their rear. It was they who needed to ‘do something’ to break the deadlock. Philip needed only to wait, a completely risk free tactic. If he had desired a ‘decisive battle’ with his less than maximum strength army, he had only to withdraw to a suitable place back up his communications route/supply line to Larissa, tempting Flamininus to advance and fight, but he didn’t do this either. He was far too sensible to seek a ‘decisive battle’, recognising that the best chance for a successful conclusion to the war was to simply hold out until the Romans would be happy to agree another ‘Peace of Phoinike’.
As I related above, Polybius did not know which army initiated the move west:
Polybius does not in fact say that Philip headed west first, but rather that Flamininus “put his army in motion at the same time.” i.e. they set off simultaneously. True, he says Philip headed west to Scotussa to procure supplies, and that Flamininus intended to destroy the crops in the area of Scotussa before Philip could get there. This however is Polybius ‘rationalising’ the move west, and incidently once again showing a lack of military knowledge and understanding, and he must be wrong.
In the alternative, if we wish to think Polybius did know the truth, then he was disingenuously suggesting that Flamininus ‘pursued’ Philip rather than vice versa, which would sound better to Roman ears, but I think he guessed – and guessed wrongly –the sequence of events, and came up with his rationalisation. It simply makes no sense for Philip to head west, uncovering the Pherae pass, for Flamininus would have simply marched through, as he originally intended, and force Philip to turn at bay and fight and we would have had a 'Battle of Scotussa’, not Cynoscephalae. Alternately Flamininus could have captured an undefended Larissa, just a day’s march north, with a defenceless Macedon beyond to the north and Philip uselessly cut off in southern Thessaly !!
It must be certain then that the Romans headed off to try their luck at the western pass, covered by the Macedonians to the north of the Karadag range, since they couldn’t afford to leave Pherae otherwise.
In conclusion, Philip undoubtedly took the strategic defensive, as all commentators agree ( including Polybius) right up until Pherae. That he then hared off west to debouch through the western pass, to seek a ‘suitable battle field’, especially when there were plenty near at hand, for a ‘decisive battle’, abandoning his supply lines and leaving his base at Larissa defenceless, and the road to Macedon wide open, simply beggars belief. Far more likely that he followed the Romans west, intending to block them at Palaepharsalus as he had at Pherae. Unfortunately for Philip, fate led him reluctantly into a ‘decisive battle’ he was certainly not seeking, in which the Macedonians seemed at first to have all the advantages, but fate can be fickle and the war ended at a stroke, in Roman victory.
Paralus’ suggestion makes no military sense, for almost certain defeat would have followed such a course ( as Philip knew, and Cynoscephalae proved) and worse still the evidence is all against it. Such a course of action was tantamount to military suicide. It is a lucky thing that a militarily competent Philip commanded the Macedonians, and chose a strategy which offered reasonable prospects in the circumstances, and not Paralus !!