It seems as if from the moment he was born, Alexander the Great was destined for extraordinary power. On July twentieth, 356 BC. , Olympius and King Philip the Second of Macedonia, gave birth to a son and named him Alexander. The actual date of his birth still lies in question though but July twentieth seems to be the most widely accepted one. Alexander developed into quite an individual. He was a very generous man who demonstrated extreme loyalty toward his friends, though at the same time he was very cautious and smart.
His great character and values were two of the things that made Alexander the Great a significant individual in history. Another, of course, being that he conquered a very large amount of territory in a relatively short amount of time. His empire seemed to promise a newer, brighter age in which the nations of the world could join together as equals. Through conquering Asia and India, defeating King Darius of Persia, and establishing different colonies, Alexander proved his magnificence. Arguably, there is no other leader in history who could inspire and motivate his men like Alexander the Great did.
When Alexander was a child, he would at times get discouraged when news came home that his father had conquered another territory. This was because he was worried that there would be nothing left for him to do. Alexander grew up around his father’s army for a good portion of his childhood and by the time he was thirteen, he was quite mature. Alexander’s maturity is illustrated through a famous story. His father had just bought a beautiful horse named Bucephalus. Much to Philip’s disappointment, no one he knew could ride it. Just about to get rid of it, Alexander decided to make a wager on whether or not he could ride it.
Alexander calmly approached the horse and found that the horse was afraid of its own shadow. Thinking, Alexander faced it toward the sun to keep the shadow behind it, got on Bucephalus and rode him. Alexander got to keep Bucephalus and later rode the same horse all the way to India. When the horse died there, Alexander founded a city and named it Bucephala after his beloved horse. Alexander’s parents wanted the best for their son, so they hired the best tutors around to give him a good education. When Alexander reached thirteen, he began learning from Aristotle.
From him he learned the ways of the Greeks which he incorporated into his life from that point on. Alexander also became fond of the works of Homer. Alexander read the Iliad, taking Achilles as his role model. By this time in Alexander’s life, he was a well-rounded and very intelligent teenager. Alexander rose to power rather quickly, and at an early age. When he was sixteen, he was already given some large responsibilities. When his father, King Philip, left him in charge while he was away for a short period of time, one of their colonies revolted.
Alexander quickly took charge of the situation and marched troops to the area. Also by the age of sixteen he had founded his first colony and named it Alexandroupolis. Alexander’s ultimate rise to power came in June 336 BC. when he was twenty years old. At the theatre King Philip was killed. Some have speculated that Alexander may have played a role in his father’s death, but most likely Alexander’s mother, Olympius, had more to do with it. With his father dead, Alexander was expected to became the king of Macedonia but would have to earn that tile.
Under the Macedonian system, a king’s son could not simply take the throne but he must win the support of the nobles and deal with any potential enemies. Alexander was able to do this, killing as few opponents as possible and soon took the title of Alexander the Great. He soon showed his power when the large city of Thebes revolted in 335 BC. He stormed the city with mighty force and in a brutal battle, his troops killed some 6,000 of its defenders and taking the remaining 30,000 as slaves. After that, he faced no serious opposition from city-states.
He then embarked on a mission that had been his father’s dream: conquest of the eastern Persian empire. The main body of Alexander’s army moved into Asia Minor. Meanwhile, Alexander crossed the Hellespont with a smaller army so that he could go on a personal pilgrimage to the site of Troy. Alexander began to see himself as the reincarnation of Achilles. When he arrived on Asian soil, he drove his spear into the ground as a symbol of conquest and later placed a wreath at Achilles’ grave. Eventually Alexander and his troops passed through the ancient city of Gordian.
Set there was a chariot tied with a rope tightly knotted so that no one could untie it. According to legend, King Midas has tied the Gordian knot and whoever untied it would go on to rule the world. Alexander simply cut the knot. By 333 BC. , Alexander moved into Cilicia, the area where Asia Minor meets Asia. The Persian emperor, Darius III, came to meet him with a force of 140,000. This became known as the Battle of Issus and Darius managed to survive, fleeing to the mountains, where he was killed by one of his own noblemen, leaving Alexander in control of western Persia.
With Darius out of the way, Alexander was crowned King of Persia in November of the same year, and became known as the king of all of Asia. Instead of raping and pillaging which was what most commanders would allow, Alexander ordered his armies to make a disciplined movement through conquered territories. The Persians welcomed him as a liberator and as he did in Macedonia, Alexander left with few enemies. Along his many journeys, Alexander the Great founded many cities and colonies. Quite possibly the most famous is the one that bares his name, Alexandria. When Alexander reached Egypt in 331 BC.
The Egyptians viewed him as their deliverer from Persian rule, and crowned him as their Pharaoh. He then perhaps founded his most famous city, Alexandria, which is located on the mouth of the Nile River. Alexandria was established as the center of commerce and Greek learning for centuries to come. With all these new nations under Alexander’s rule, he needed to unite these nations together to keep things running smoothly. He now controlled the entire Persian empire but did not want to stop there. He asked his men, who had been away from home for almost four years, if they would go with him.
It proved his great ability as a leader that they agreed to do so. From 330 BC. to 324 BC. , they ventured into India where Alexander married Princess Roxana. Alexander was aware some of his troops were growing weary so he sent the oldest home. Alexander was determined to go as far east as possible though and add to his empire. Eventually, Alexander the Great started to lose some of his power. In July of 326. , his troops refused to go on. They wanted to go home again, but Alexander kept pushing them to conquer more, thus losing their support.
There might have been a rebellion if Alexander said no so he sent two groups of men home. He took a third through southern Iran on a journey where the entire army nearly lost its way. In one incident, while drunk, Alexander fought and killed his friend Clitus. At this point, he lost the trust from the already unhappy troops. Not only were some of his soldiers unhappy with him, but a lot of the Macedonians started to dislike him. This was caused by his adoption of Persian ways. Though he was pulling together his vast empire, the Macedonians felt they were losing their leader.
Also by accepting his promised worship after his death, he started to feel as though he was a god while he was still living. He started self-worship to help unite his varied territories with a common religion, but he took it too far with having people of his empire bow before him. On June tenth, 323 BC. , a little more than a month from his thirty-third birthday, Alexander the Great died. The actual cause of his death remains unknown, but it seems unlikely that a thirty-two year old man of his health would die of natural causes, even for his time in history.
One more colourful account tells how Alexander drank a cup of wine, which was poisoned, and he started gasping and choking, and died soon after. Most likely, he died from complications of the flu, or was struck by malaria while in Babylon. At that time though, during his downfall, many soldiers still loved their leader, and they all sat around outside his tent as his condition deteriorated. The day before he died, his soldiers marched past his death bed, honouring their great leader. They embalmed him and placed his body in a gold tomb which was taken to Memphis, Egypt.
Later it was transported to it’s final destination, Alexandria. With no successor named on his death bed, his empire went out to generals and officers who would then become governors of sections of his empire. They lacked Alexander’s vision and soon after, Alexander the Great’s empire split and then crumbled. As stated, Alexander the Great won an impressive number of battles but what is even more unbelievable is that he lived through all of them, at times even while being outnumbered. What is even more startling is that he rode in front of the army in the first line.
This leader was strong, willful, powerful, courageous, and could withstand almost anything. In the battle against the Mallians, when an arrow pierced Alexander’s lung, his troops thought that their leader was killed. Alexander made it through with a splintered rib and a torn lung. The effects Alexander had on the world were colossal. He encouraged intermarriages, and set the example by marrying a second wife who was Persian. He also drew soldiers from all different provinces to mix cultures within his army. A uniform currency system was also used in the region under Alexander’s rule.
During the dark ages, much of the Greek language and cultures had been forgotten until Alexander changed all that. Starting at the age of only 20, Alexander the Great conquered Persia, then the entirety of Asia and Asia Minor. He defeated King Darius and untied the Gordian knot. He founded colonies and cities, took over Egypt, then India. He pushed his troops when they were tired and weak. Alexander’s strength, intelligence and compassion for others defined him as one of the truly dedicated and spirited leaders the world has ever known.