Alexander the Great
(356 - 323 BCE)
Alexander the Great, born in 356 BCE in Pella, Macedonia,
was the son of Philip of Macedon and Princess Olympias of Epirus. As
a young boy he was always fearless, strong, and eager to learn. He went
on to inherit each of his parents best qualities. His father was an
excellent general and organizer, while his mother was extremely intelligent.
At the age of thirteen he became a pupil of Aristotle. It was Aristotle
who inspired Alexander's great love for literature. Through his mentor
Alexander learned the Greek ways of living and the ideals of Greek civilization.
However, it was not all work and no play for the young Alexander. He
spent a great deal of time participating in sports and daily exercise
to develop a strong body.
At a fairly young age Alexander was given many
responsibilities. His father made him his ambassador to Athens when
he was eighteen. Two years later he became the King of Macedonia.
During this time the Greek states had become restless under
Macedonian rule. While Alexander was away fighting, the people of
Thebes seized the opportunity and revolted. When Alexander returned
he attacked the city and destroyed almost everything in sight. This
dissipated any further attempts at rebellion and Alexander quickly
united the Greek cities and formed the League of Nations, of which he
Soon after this victory, Alexander set out to
conquer Persia. On the banks of the Granicus River Alexander quickly
defeated the Persian troops who had been waiting for him. This
victory made the rest of Asia Minor vulnerable. In 333 BCE Alexander
marched into Syria. Even though Darius III, King of Persia, had
raised a large army he was unable to withstand Alexander's powerful
infantry and phalanx. The entire region soon submitted to Alexander.
Following this he went to Egypt, where he was welcomed as a deliverer
because the Egyptians hated their cruel Persian rulers. It was here
that Alexander founded the famous city that bears his name.
Alexandria, situated on a strip of land between Lake Mareotis and the
Mediterranean Sea, became a world center of commerce and learning.
Alexander was soon drawn into battle with the
Persians again. In the decisive Battle of Gaugamela, Alexander routed
Darius and forced his entire army east. After this the city of
Babylon surrendered, which allowed Alexander to easily capture Susa
and Persepolis. Darius was soon killed by one of his generals which
made Alexander King of Asia. He did not rest for long, as he had set
his sights on India. In 326 BCE Alexander defeated Porus, the prince
Alexander was now at the height of his power. His
empire stretched from the Ionian Sea to northern India. However,
Alexander had even greater plans. He wanted to combine Asia and
Europe into one country, and named Babylon the new capital. In order
to attain this goal he encouraged intermarriages, did away with
corrupt officials, and spread Greek ideas, customs, and laws into
Asia. The great and many plans that he had abruptly came to an end.
While in Babylon Alexander became seriously ill with malaria and on
June 13, 323 BCE he died. During his time he conquered most of the
civilized world and has been remembered as one of the greatest
generals in history.