On the day Alexander the Great, son of King Phillip II and Olympias, was born Phillip II captured the city of Potidaea, Phillip II’s general Parmenion won another important battle, and Phillip II’s horse won a race at Olympia. It was said that a son whose birth coincided with three victories would himself prove to be invincible. It was also said that Alexander descended from the Greek heroes and demi-gods Heracles and Achilles. During his kingship Alexander did very little to disprove these statements. Alexander the Great changed the known world in little more than a decade by founding over seventy cities, integrating Greek and Persian customs, spreading the ideas of democracy, and spreading the Greek language and culture throughout Asia. At the same time he caused Greek to be the language of the early Christian church and influenced future conquerors by military example.
Phillip II wanted to make sure that Alexander was prepared to take the throne when Phillip II died; therefore he had Alexander educated by the philosopher Aristotle. At the time Phillip II was in the midst of conquering Greece and preparing to attack Persia to avenge their attacks on Greece nearly one hundred and fifty years earlier. In 336 B.C.E. King Phillip II was assassinated and Alexander became king of Macedonia. Phillip II was never able to attack Persia, but Alexander intended on finishing his father’s plan. Alexander first began by finishing the conquering of Greece, and in 334 B.C.E. he crossed into Asia Minor and began his annex of Persia with the Battle of Granicus. Alexander originally only wanted to avenge Persia’s attacks on Greece, but he soon wanted to see himself as king of all Persia. He then began to free Greek city-states under Persian control in Asia Minor. Alexander helped the spread of democracy by allowing the city-states he freed to exercise democracy. Although Alexander was not in favor of democracy he allowed the city-states to exercise it in order to keep them loyal to him. After freeing the city-states, Alexander met the Persian army again in the Battle of Issus; this was also the first battle in which Alexander met Darius III. Once again Alexander defeated the Persian forces, but not before Darius III fled. Rather than pursuing Darius, Alexander headed south down the Phoenician coast. He met resistance from the island city of Tyre and the city of Gaza. Alexander spent seven months capturing Tyre and only two months capturing Gaza. After securing the entire eastern Mediterranean coast Alexander decided to invade Egypt and free it from Persian rule. The Egyptians saw Alexander as a liberator and welcomed him with open arms. The Egyptians also made Alexander pharaoh of Egypt. While in Egypt Alexander visited the oracle at Delphi and was told that he was the son of Zeus and was invincible. In Egypt, Alexander founded the city of Alexandria, one of over seventy cities he founded. Alexander showed his respect for diversity by having the builders build temples honoring both Greek and Egyptian gods. Eventually, Alexandria became an academic and business center of the known world. Alexander then headed back into Persia for one final battle against King Darius III. Alexander and his Macedonian army met the Persian army and King Darius III at the Battle of Guagamela. Once again Alexander defeated the Persian army despite being vastly outnumbered, and once again Darius III fled before Alexander could get to him. After the battle Alexander knew he was now king of Persia and that no other army in central Asia could stop him. Alexander then headed to the city of Babylon. Alexander ordered the restoration of religious temples while he was in Babylon. He also appointed local Babylonians and Persians to govern the city. These acts once again showed his religious tolerance and his ideas of unity. Alexander’s next goal was to attack Persepolis, the capital and heart of the Persian Empire. While on his way...
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