The Life of Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great served as king of Macedonia from 336 to 323 BC. During this time, Alexander united Greece, reestablished the Corinthian League, and conquered the Persian Empire.

Alexander’s Childhood:

He was the child of King Philip II and Queen Olympia. Alexander was raised with his sister in Pella’s Royal Court. Alexander rarely saw his father, as he was busy with military campaigns and extra-marital affairs. Alexander grew up resenting his father because of his absence and philandering.

Alexander received a unique education, as he went through a many tutors. His Tutors were supposed to teach Alexander math, archery, and how to ride a horse. His tutors struggled to control Alexander because he was rebellious.

In 343 BC, King Philip II hired Aristotle, a philosopher, to teach Alexander, and even some of his friends, philosophy, poetry, drama, science, and politics. Aristotle introduced Alexander to the Iliad, which inspired Alexander to pursue becoming a heroic warrior.

Alexander finally finished his education at Meiza in 340 BC. In just a year after that, Alexander became a soldier and went on his first military expedition, which was against the Thracian tribes. In two years, Alexander took charge of the Companion Cavalry and supported his father in defeating the Athenian and Theban armies. However, as soon as King Philip succeeded in his campaign to unite all Greek states, except Sparta, the father and son relationship dissolved. After which, Alexander’s father ousted his mother and married Cleopatra. Alexander and his sister would live on the run with his mother’s family until he was able to solve the differences between he and his father.

Alexander: The King of Macedonia

In 336 BC, Alexander’s sister married the Molossian king. King Philip II was murdered by Pausanias at the festivities that followed the wedding.

After his fathers death, Alexander, a man only 19 years old, was determined to take the throne at any cost. He easily gained the support of the Macedonian army, and the soldiers that fought with him at Chaeronea. Olympia, Alexander’s mother, was very loyal and sought to aid her son’s claim to the throne. She murdered the daughter of King Philip II and Cleopatra, and even drove Cleopatra to commit suicide.

Even though Alexander was the feudal king of Macedonia, he did not obtain control of the Corinthian League immediately. After Philip II’s death, the southern states of Greece were divided and expressed divided interests. They actually hoped to take control of the league. In response, Alexander sent his army south and forced the southern states to recognize him as the rightful ruler.

Alexander’s Campaigns and Conquests

As Alexander was nearing the end of his northern campaign, he was delivered the news that Thebes, a Greek city-state, had forced out the Macedonian troops that were garrisoned there. Fearing a revolt among the other city-states, Alexander leapt into action, marching his massive army consisting of 3,000 cavalry and 30,000 infantry southward all the way to the tip of the Greek peninsula.

Alexander and his army arrived in Thebes so fast, that the city-state was unable to pull its allies together to aid in there defense. Alexander hoped that Thebes would serve as an example to all city-states that this was the result of revolting. This intimidation tactic would prove to be very effective, the remaining states pledged their loyalty to Alexander, or remained neutral.

Next up on Alexander’s agenda was his campaign to conquer Egypt. After besieging Gaza on his way to Egypt, Alexander easily achieved his conquest; Egypt fell without resistance. In 331, he created the city of Alexandria, designed as a hub for Greek culture and commerce. Later that year, Alexander defeated the Persians at the Battle of Gaugamela. With the collapse of the Persian army, Alexander became “King of Babylon, King of Asia, King of the Four Quarters of the World.”

Alexander’s next conquest was eastern Iran, where he created Macedonian colonies and in 327 seized the fortress in Ariamazes. After capturing Prince Oxyartes, Alexander married the prince’s daughter, Rhoxana.

In 328, Alexander defeated King Porus’ armies in northern India. Finding himself impressed by Porus, Alexander reinstated him as king and won his loyalty and forgiveness. Alexander forged eastward to the Ganges but headed back when his armies refused to advance any farther. On their way back along the Indus, Alexander was wounded by Malli warriors.

In 325, after Alexander had recovered, he and his army headed north along the rugged Persian Gulf, where many fell prey to illness, injury and death. In February 324, Alexander at last reached the city of Susa. Desperate to retain his leadership and recruit more soldiers, he tried to connect Persian nobles to Macedonians in order to create a ruling class. To this end, at Susa he commanded that a large number of Macedonians marry Persian princesses. After Alexander managed to recruit tens of thousands of Persian soldiers into his army, he dismissed many of his existing Macedonian soldiers. This enraged the soldiers, who spoke critically of Alexander’s new troops and condemned him for adopting Persian customs and manners. Alexander appeased the Macedonian soldiers by killing 13 Persian military leaders. The Thanksgiving Feast at Susa, which had been geared towards solidifying the bond between Persians and Macedonians, shaped up to be quite the opposite.

Alexander’s Death

While considering the conquests of Carthage and Rome, Alexander the Great died of malaria in Babylon (now Iraq), on June 13, 323 B.C. He was just 32 years old. Rhoxana gave birth to his son a few months later.

After Alexander died, his empire collapsed and the nations within it battled for power. Over time, the cultures of Greece and the Orient synthesized and thrived as a side effect of Alexander’s empire, becoming part of his legacy and spreading the spirit of Panhellenism.


This was created by Collin Janecka


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