Alexander the Great Essay 22

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Few historical figures stand out in the same degree as that of Alexander the Great. He was a warrior by 16, a commander at age 18, and was crowned King of Macedon by the time he was 20 years old. He did things in his lifetime that others could only dream about. Alexander single-handedly changed the nature of the ancient world in just over a decade. There were many attributes that made Alexander “Great.” He was a brilliant strategist and an inspired leader; he led by example and was a conqueror at heart. In looking at his early childhood, accession to the throne, conquests, marriage, and death one can see why Alexander the Great is revered in historical contexts as one of the greatest figures of all time.

Alexander was born in Pella, the capital of Macedon, on July 20, 356 B.C. He was the son of King Philip II and his fourth wife Olympias, an Epirote princess. Alexander was bred to be a warrior; his father was a great commander and king, and his mom’s second cousin, Pyrrhus of Epirus, was a celebrated general. So there were noteworthy examples of military genius on both sides of his family. As a child, Alexander’s mother would tell him stories of how he was a descendant to Achilles and Hercules. Achilles was his favorite hero growing up, as he read of his adventures in Homer’s Iliad. From an early age Alexander was practically raised by everyone but his parents. He was originally educated by a strict teacher named Leonidas. Alexander’s father wanted Alexander to become a great man, so he acquired the famous philosopher Aristotle to become his tutor. Aristotle trained him in rhetoric and literature, and stimulated his interest in medicine, science, and philosophy. Aristotle is credited for Alexander’s fascination of the Iliad, as he gave this book to him at a young age. When Alexander was ten years old, a Thessalian brought a wild horse to Philip, but not one man could mount the animal. Alexander, noticing the horse was afraid of his own shadow, brought him into the sun and calmed him down. Young Alexander then jumped on the horse as Philip’s men watched on with amazement. Alexander kept the horse and named it Bucephalus, meaning “ox-headed.” He and the horse were companions throughout Alexander’s journeys and conquests, and when the horse died he named a city after him called Bocephia or Bucephala.

Alexander’s astonishing upbringing ultimately led to his accession to the throne of Macedon. But first, Philip’s life must be viewed in context with Alexander’s to see how this child became a king of a great nation. Philip had many successes in his early years as King of Macedon, particularly because of his speed and decisiveness of action in battle. Within three years of his accession to the throne at the age of 24, Philip had unified Macedonia. Philip’s defeat of the Greek allies at Chaeronea in 338 B.C. is typically regarded as the end of the history of the free Greek world. In joining and making Macedonia secure militarily, Philip granted the conditions from which emerged a Macedonian imperialism. Philip’s efforts are made possible because of the army he had built, which was later the same army Alexander led. The Macedonian army constantly had been a national army. The state was, indeed, the army; its king declared absolutely by the soldiers in arms. By the age of 27, Philip had fashioned a well-equipped and well-trained national army, intensely loyal to him, and hardened with the assurance of victory. All of the previously mentioned events are what helped Alexander once he became King of Macedon, because without Philip’s achievements Alexander might not have been so “Great.” In 336 B.C. Philip was assassinated at the wedding of his daughter, Cleopatra. Some believed that Philip’s murder was planned with the knowledge and association of Alexander, Olympias, or maybe even both. Other theories lead to Darius III, the newly crowned King of Persia. Regardless of how Philip died, the...
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