King of Macedonia and Conqueror of the Persian Empire
Alexander III the Great, the King of Macedonia and conqueror of the Persian Empire is considered one of the greatest military geniuses of all times. He was inspiration for later conquerors such as Hannibal the Carthaginian, the Romans Pompey and Caesar, and Napoleon. Alexander was born in 356 BC in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedonia. He was son of Philip II, King of Macedonia, and Olympias, the princess of neighboring Epirus. He spent his childhood watching his father transforming Macedonia into a great military power, winning victory after victory on the battlefields throughout the Balkans. When he was 13, Philip hired the Greek philosopher Aristotle to be Alexander’s personal tutor. During the next three years Aristotle gave Alexander a training in rhetoric and literature and stimulated his interest in science, medicine, and philosophy, all of which became of importance in Alexander’s later life. In 340, when Philip assembled a large Macedonian army and invaded Thrace, he left his 16 years old son with the power to rule Macedonia in his absence as regent, which shows that even at such young age Alexander was recognized as quite capable. But as the Macedonian army advanced deep into Thrace, the Thracian tribe of Maedi bordering north-eastern Macedonia rebelled and posed a danger to the country. Alexander assembled an army, led it against the rebels, and with swift action defeated the Maedi, captured their stronghold, and renamed it after himself to Alexandropolis. Two years later in 338 BC, Philip gave his son a commanding post among the senior generals as the Macedonian army invaded Greece. At the Battle of Chaeronea the Greeks were defeated and Alexander displayed his bravery by destroying the elite Greek force, the Theban Secret Band. Some ancient historians recorded that the Macedonians won the battle thanks to his bravery. The Family Split and the Assassination of Philip II
But not too long after the defeat of the Greeks at Chaeronea, the royal family split apart when Philip married Cleopatra, a Macedonian girl of high nobility. At the wedding banquet, Cleopatra's uncle, general Attalus, made a remark about Philip fathering a ‘legitimate’ heir, i.e., one that was of pure Macedonian blood. Alexander threw his cup at the man, blasting him for calling him 'bastard child’. Philip stood up, drew his sward, and charged at Alexander, only to trip and fall on his face in his drunken stupor at which Alexander shouted:
"Here is the man who was making ready to cross from Europe to Asia, and who cannot even cross from one table to another without losing his balance."
He then took his mother and fled the country to Epirus. Although allowed to return later, Alexander remained isolated and insecure at the Macedonian court. In the spring of 336 BC, with Philip’s Persian invasion already set in motion, the king was assassinated by a young Macedonian noble Pausanias, during the wedding ceremony in Aegae, the old capital of Macedonia. Why Pausanias killed the Macedonian king is a question that puzzled both ancient and modern historians. There is a claim that Pausanias was driven into committing the murder because he was denied justice by the king when he sought his support in punishing the Cleopatra's uncle Attalus for earlier mistreatment. But there are also reports that that both Olympias and Alexander were responsible for the assassination, by driving the young men into committing the act. That might explain why Pausanias was instantly put to death by Alexander's close friends as he attempted to flee the scene, instead of being captured alive and tried before the Macedonian assembly. Philip, the great Macedonian conqueror was dead, the men who liberated his own country and brought if from the edge of the abyss into a world power. His dream of conquering the Persian Empire now lays on his successor, his...