Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great, was born in June, 356 BC, in Pella, the ancient
capital of Macedonia. His parents were Philip II and Olympia. Some say that Zeus
was his father but it is probably just a myth. Aristotle taught Alexander in
his early teen years. He stimulated his interest in science, medicine, and
philosophy. In the summer of 336 BC, Alexander’s father was assassinated, and
Alexander ascended to the Macedonian throne. He found himself surrounded by
enemies at home and threatened by civilizations all over. But Alexander disposed
of quickly of all his enemies by ordering their execution. Then he took off to
Thessaly, where partisans of independence had gained ascendancy, and restored
Macedonian rule. Before the end of the summer of 336 BC as general of the
Greeks in a campaign against the Persians, originally planned by his father
before he croaked, he carried out a successful campaign against the defecting
Thracians, penetrating to the Danube River. On his return he crushed in a single
week the threatening Illyrians and then again took of to Thebes, which had
revolted. He took the city by storm and razed it, sparing only the temples of
the gods and the house of the Greed lyric poet Pindar, and selling the surviving
inhabi tants, about 8000 in number, into slavery. Alexander’s promptness in
crushing the revolt of The bes brought the other Greek states into instant

Alexander began his war against Persia in the spring of 334 BC by
crossing the Hellespont (now Dardanelles) with an army of 35,000 Macedonian and
Greek troops: his chief officers, all Macedonians, included Antigonus, Ptolemy,
and Seleucus. At the river Granicus, near the ancient city of Troy, he attacked
an army of Persians and Greek soldiers which totaled 40,000 men. His forces
slatured the enemy and according to tradition, only lost 110 men! After this
battle all the stated of Asia Minor submitted to Alexander. Continuing south,
Alexander encountered the main Persian army, commanded by King Darius III, at
Issus. The size of Darius’s army was unknown; but ancient tradition said it
contained about 500,000 men but now is considered a very big exag geration. The
Battle of Issus, in 333 BC, ended in a great victory for Alexander, who treated
them with the respect due to royalty. Tyre, a strongly guarded seaport, offered
obstinate resistance, but Alexander took it to by storm in 332 after a siege of
seven months. Alexander captured Gaza next and then passed on into Egypt, where
he was greeted as a deliverer. By these successes the Nile River, the city of
Alexandria, which later became the literacy, scientific, and commercial center
of the Greek world. Cyrene, the capital of the ancient North African kingdom of
Cyrenaica, gave up to Alexander soon afterward, extending his dominance to
Carthaginian territory.

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In the spring of 331, Alexander made a trip to the great temple and
oracle of Amon-Ra, Egyptian god of the sun, whom the Greeks identified as Zeus.

The earlier Egyptian pharaohs were believed to be sons of Amon-Ra; and Alexander,
the new ruler of Egypt, wanted the god to ac knowledge him as his son. Amon-Ra
(Zeus) agreed. I tried doing that the other day and Amon-Ra accepted but I told
him that he wasn’t good enough for me. So he has cursed me by making my right
arm longer then my left are for 7 years.Crossing the Euphrates and the Tigris
rivers, Alex ander met Darius at the head of an army of unknown size, which,
according to the exaggerated accounts of antiquity, was said to number a million
men! This army he completely defeated in the Battle of Guagamela, Oct 1, 331.

Daruis fled as he had done at Issus and was later killed by two of his own
generals. Babylon surrendered after Gaugamela did, and the city of Susa with
its enormous treasures was soon taken over also by Alexander. Then, in midwinter,
Alexander forced his way to Persepolis, the Persian capital, and plundered in
and the royal treasures and took the rich by their butt, and burned the city
during a drunken binge and thus completed the destruction of the ancient Persian
Empire. His domain now extended along and beyond the southern shores of the
Caspian Sea, including modern Central Asia. It had taken Alexander only 3 years
to master this vast area.

In June, 323 BC, Alexander contracted a dangerous fever and died. He
left his empire, in his own words, too the strongest; this resulted in huge
conflicts for half a century. Alexander was one of the greatest generals of all
time, noted for his brilliance as a tactician and troop leader and for the
rapidity with which he could traverse great expanses of territory. He was
usually brave and generous, but could be very cruel and ruthless when politics
demanded. Is has been said that he was actually and alcoholic having, for
example, killed his friend Clitus in a drunken fury. He later regretted this act
deeply. He himself, in his life had a few wives and a few children. He was also
reported to have had sexual relations with his close friend Hephaestion, who was
a man.

Category: Social Issues


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