Alexander III is well known as the Great for the battles he won and the territory he conquered. During his childhood he was commanding armies, winning battles and learning from the Greek philosopher Aristotle. His father, Phillip II, began the conquest of the Persian Empire but died before he could complete it. Alexander was placed in power in 336 B.C.E. and amassed one of the greatest empires in the middle ages. Upon his demise, Alexander’s empire would crumble under the pressures of internal fighting and disagreements of his policies. In the following text you will learn a more in depth view of his childhood, his conquests, his legacy and why he is considered one of the greatest military geniuses of all time. (Walbank)
Alexander was born in 356 B.C.E. to Phillip II and Olympias in Macedonian. At the age of 13 his father hired Aristotle to educate Alexander in science, philosophy, and literature (Walbank). In 340, when Philip assembled a large Macedonian army and invaded Thrace, he left his 16 year 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 (Alexander the Great Alexander of Macedon Biography, 2001-2003 ). With this victory Alexander was promoted to a general in his father’s army, where he was able to defeat the Greek forces and his bravery was said to have won the battle (Alexander the Great Alexander of Macedon Biography, 2001-2003 ). After the war his father and mother were divorced and his father married Cleopatra. Alexander took his mother and fled from Macedonia to Epirus, due to a disagreement between Alexander and Phillip II (Walbank). Alexander was allowed to return to Macedonia to take his place in the Macedonian court.
After Alexander’s father was assassinated he quickly took control of the Macedonian empire and quelled a Greek rebellion. At this time he turned his attention to conquering the Persian Empire to complete his father’s dream. In 334B.C.E. Alexander began his push into Asia Minor with an army of 37,000 men (Duiker & Spielvogel, 2009). The first battle was fought at the river Granicus were the Persian forces numbered 20,000 Persians and 20,000 Greeks. The Persian forces were trying to bait Alexander into crossing the river and entering into a trap. The Persian lines were broken and they fled, and Greek army stood their ground but later was massacred. During this battle 18,000 Greeks that fought for the Persians were killed and 2,000 were taken back as slaves to Macedonia (Alexander the Great Alexander of Macedon Biography, 2001-2003 ). After the victory at Granicus Alexander was in control of half of Asia Minor, and he was to meet the Persian King Darius III at the Battle of Issus. The battle was won by the Macedonian Army even though they were outnumbered. After defeating the Persian Army at the Battle of Issus, Alexander moved south and conquered modern day Syria, Palestine and Egypt. In 331 B.C.E Alexander won a decisive battle at Gaugamela which allowed him to enter into Babylon and proceed to the Persian capitols at Susa and Persepolis. He was able to take control of the riches of the Persian Empire. Darius III was assassinated by a Persian soldier, which allowed Alexander to take the title and office of the Great King of the Persians. Alexander then pushed into India fighting numerous battles and extending his empire. While continuing to push across India Alexander’s troops began to resist, mutinied and refused to go on. Alexander returned to Babylon only after losing thousands of troops in the arid desserts of South Persia. Until his death in 323 B.C.E. Alexander was still planning on conquering all of Asia Minor (Duiker & Spielvogel, 2009).
Alexander’s reign over the Macedonian Empire has long lasting effects over the Arab and Asian countries and cultures. In some circles he was known as a great general and in other circles he is known as a tyrant or a barbarian. With numerous battles won there is evidence of that he was a master of the art of war. He also attempted to breed Macedonians and Persians to create a society loyal to him only. There were some experiments that Alexander attempted that were abolished at the moment of his death and this could be an example of the tyrant. One of his legacies continues today in the city of Alexandria. His conquering of the Persian Empire allowed Greek and Macedonian architecture, literature, art and Greek language to become part of the Asian culture. During this time it was known as the Hellenistic Period which means “to imitate Greeks”. With Alexander being of Macedonian decent he was able to combine different cultures which still affect the world today (Duiker & Spielvogel, 2009) (Alexander the Great Alexander of Macedon Biography, 2001-2003 ).
Alexander the Great has been depicted as one of the greatest artisans of war that ever took a battle field. He was the ruler of one of the largest dynasties of all time and yet let greed ruin everything. He command respect from his subjects and killed those who refused. He was educated by Aristotle as a teenager, which shows that he was able to embrace other customs and attempt to expand on them. Many of the actual depictions of the events of his life are unknown, but there is one thing for sure, out of the early dynasties there is only one that ends with the great and it is Alexander’s. Even though his dynasty was strong in life it crumbled in death.