Alexander the Great is said to be one of the greatest conquerors of all time, and yet, his significance in battle showed up late in his life. His early years were spent in poverty, and as the years progressed, his dream of being a war hero grew dimmer and dimmer. Ironically, while he was later known as a war hero, he was still feared by all because of his reputation as a drinker and murderer. But first, his background. He was born in 356 BC. His parents were Philip, the brother of King Perdiccas III of Macedon, in Northern Greece. His mother was Olympias, daughter of King Neoptolemus I of Epirus, in modern Albania.
He also had a younger sister, Cleopatra (not the famous Egyptian queen). However, this family was not as ordinary as one might think. In fact, his parents absolutely hated each other. Philip had complied with Macedonian tradition and had a few wives. Soon, one of his wives had a baby which had mysteriously become disabled after birth. It was said that the disability was due to poisoning from Olympias. Olympias sometimes told Alexander that Philip wasn’t his real father, but this probably wasn’t true. After all, Philip certainly did seem to care for Alexander as if he was his real son.
He even appointed Aristotle himself as Alexander’s first and only tutor. Yet, there were some things about Alexander that made Philip angry. He hated the fact that his was very skinny and the fact that he had a high-pitched voice. Still, Alexander felt lucky to have this man as his father and mentor. In 359 BC, when Alexander was three, Philip’s Brother, King Peridcaas III, died. It was originally planned that his son, Amyntas, was tosucceed him with Philip as his regent, but Philip usurped his nephew’s throne and made himself King Philip II. In a few decades, he proved to be a stronger king and he eventually conquered most of Greece.
When he was in his teens, Alexander’s father came to him one day and told him that he had to leave to fight in a war. Thus Alexander, being his regent, would have to serve for the time being. While his father was away, Alexander led an expedition to a wild region of modern day Bulgaria. Here, he found a race of wild barbarians, whom he later subdued. He, then, established his first city, Alexandropolis, at the site of this defeat. This made his strength apparent to everyone and consequently became general of his father’s army. However, things still weren’t amiable between father and son.
On one occasion, Philip was attacked and hurt by rioters and he fell and played dead on the ground. Alexander shielded the attackers away and his father lived, but he never acknowledged the fact that Alexander saved his life. Alexander deeply resented him for this. Alexander was known for his many temper tantrums. One memorable one was during a dinner party celebrating his final marriage. His uncle gave a toast saying that he hoped that they would have a child to take over throne. Alexander replied,” so am I just a bastard? ” and he threw his goblet at his uncle.
This started such a great brawl between the two that Philip stood up and drew his sword at Alexander, but fell over drunk before he got even close to him. To this Alexander yelled, ”Look, men,he’s about to cross from Europe to Asia, and he falls crossing from chair to chair. ” This incident forced Alexander and his mother to leave Macedon, but, several years later, they reconciled with him and moved back. However, soon after their return, Philip was stabbed by the Captain of his bodyguards while he was entering the theater that his nephews wedding was being held in. The assassin fled across a vineyard.
He might have escaped, but a vine caught his foot and he tripped. He was killed by some other bodyguards instantly. Philip’s death in 336 BC lead Alexander to succeed him and become King Alexander III. By this time, he was twenty years old. It was said that he was an incredibly handsome man and he always was clean shaven. Although he was a heavy drinker, he was very healthy and very athletic. He liked reading, music and theater and he was incredibly loyal to his friends. Soon, Alexander had conquered Persia and, in an attempt to make the Persians to respect him as their leader, he treated them fairly.
However, his drinking and heavy temper got in his way. On one occasion, the son of Alexander’s most trusted general was involved in a plot to assassinate him . Although the general had nothing to do with the incident, he was executed along with his son. Soon thereafter, the successor of the old general insulted Alexander at a party and Alexander killed him on the spot. In 327 BC, Alexander captured a group of rebels and fell in love with the leader’s daughter, Roxane. They were married and she got pregnant, but the baby was stillborn.
It was four years until his next baby, but he was still conquering much of India and was away from Roxane for a long period of time. His men refused to go any further, however, and he turned back to go home. On the march home, he fought many cities, and took an arrow in the chest, but lived. On a later visit to Persia, he found that many of his Governors had abused their power. He had them executed and, in an attempt to reunite the two civilizations, he married the old King’s daughter, Barsine, while still married to Roxane. His best friend, Hephaestion, married Barsine’s sister, Drypetis. He even gave some Persians high rankings in his army.
But these attempts failed and even the marriages broke up. In the fall of 324 BC, Alexander’s best friend, Hephaestion, died. Alexander was heartbroken and in the following summer, Alexander became ill and died on June 13 in Babylon at the age of 32. Modern historians have long suspected that he died from Malaria, but, recently, it has been suggested that Typhoid Fever was the culprit. Today, we know Alexander as one of the greatest generals, leaders, and conquerors of all time, and we know that this was his main goal in life… To be remembered, not as a villain, but as his childhood dream….. A war hero.