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Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great

Overview
Alexander III of Macedon (20/21 July 356 – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great , was a king of Macedon, a state in northern ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

. By the age of thirty, he had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world
Ancient history
Ancient history is the study of the written past from the beginning of recorded human history to the Early Middle Ages. The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 years, with Cuneiform script, the oldest discovered form of coherent writing, from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC...

, stretching from the Ionian Sea
Ionian Sea
The Ionian Sea , is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Adriatic Sea. It is bounded by southern Italy including Calabria, Sicily and the Salento peninsula to the west, southern Albania to the north, and a large number of Greek islands, including Corfu, Zante, Kephalonia, Ithaka, and...

 to the Himalayas
Himalayas
The Himalaya Range or Himalaya Mountains Sanskrit: Devanagari: हिमालय, literally "abode of snow"), usually called the Himalayas or Himalaya for short, is a mountain range in Asia, separating the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau...

. He was undefeated in battle, and is considered one of history's most successful commanders. Born in Pella
Pella
Pella , an ancient Greek city located in Pella Prefecture of Macedonia in Greece, was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia.-Etymology:...

 in 356 BC, Alexander was tutored by Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 until the age of 16.

Alexander succeeded his father, Philip II of Macedon
Philip II of Macedon
Philip II of Macedon "friend" + ἵππος "horse" — transliterated ; 382 – 336 BC), was a king of Macedon from 359 BC until his assassination in 336 BC. He was the father of Alexander the Great and Philip III.-Biography:...

, to the throne in 336 BC after Philip was assassinated.
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Timeline

356 BC   Alexander is born in Born in Pella, Macedon.

336 BC   Alexander becomes ruler of Macedonia after the murder of his father Philip.

335 BC   Alexander defeats the Triballians at the Battle of Lyginus.

333 BC   Alexander solves the riddle of the Gordian knot in Gordium.

333 BC   Alexander defeauts Darius III of Persia in the Battle of Granicus and captures the Persian royal family.

332 BC   Alexander beseiges the island of Tyre.

332 BC   Alexander is crowned Pharoh of Egypt in Memphis, Egypt.

331 BC   Alexander founds the city of Alexandria, Egypt.

331 BC   Alexander visits the oracle of Siwa who informs him that he is the son of Zeus and therefore a God.

330 BC   After looting the treasures of the Persian capital city of Persepolis, Alexander and his men burn its famous palace and the surrounding city to the ground.

 
Quotations

What an excellent horse do they lose, for want of address and boldness to manage him! ... I could manage this horse better than others do.

Statement upon seeing Bucephalas|Bucephalas being led away as useless and beyond training, as quoted in Lives by Plutarch, as translated by Arthur Hugh Clough

If I were not Alexander, I should wish to be Diogenes of Sinope|Diogenes.

After Diogenes of Sinope|Diogenes of Sinope who was lying in the sun, responded to a query by Alexander asking if he could do anything for him with a reply requesting that he stop blocking his sunlight. As quoted in "On the Fortune of Alexander" by Plutarch|Plutarch, 332 a-b

I do not steal victory.

Reply to the suggestion by Parmenion|Parmenion, before the Battle of Gaugamela|Battle of Gaugamela, that he attack the Persian camp during the night, reported in Life of Alexander by Plutarch, as quoted in A History of Greece to the Death of Alexander the Great (1900) by John Bagnell Bury

Youths of the Pellaians and of the Macedonians and of the Hellenic Amphictiony and of the Lakedaimonians and of the Corinthians… and of all the Hellenic peoples, join your fellow-soldiers and entrust yourselves to me, so that we can move against the barbarians and liberate ourselves from the Persian bondage, for as Greeks we should not be slaves to barbarians.

As quoted in the Alexander Romance|Historia Alexandri Magni of Pseudo-Kallisthenes, 1.15.1-4

Now you fear punishment and beg for your lives, so I will let you free, if not for any other reason so that you can see the difference between a Greek king and a barbarian tyrant, so do not expect to suffer any harm from me. A king does not kill messengers.

As quoted in the Alexander Romance|Historia Alexandri Magni of Pseudo-Kallisthenes, 1.37.9-13
Encyclopedia
Alexander III of Macedon (20/21 July 356 – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great , was a king of Macedon, a state in northern ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

. By the age of thirty, he had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world
Ancient history
Ancient history is the study of the written past from the beginning of recorded human history to the Early Middle Ages. The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 years, with Cuneiform script, the oldest discovered form of coherent writing, from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC...

, stretching from the Ionian Sea
Ionian Sea
The Ionian Sea , is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Adriatic Sea. It is bounded by southern Italy including Calabria, Sicily and the Salento peninsula to the west, southern Albania to the north, and a large number of Greek islands, including Corfu, Zante, Kephalonia, Ithaka, and...

 to the Himalayas
Himalayas
The Himalaya Range or Himalaya Mountains Sanskrit: Devanagari: हिमालय, literally "abode of snow"), usually called the Himalayas or Himalaya for short, is a mountain range in Asia, separating the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau...

. He was undefeated in battle, and is considered one of history's most successful commanders. Born in Pella
Pella
Pella , an ancient Greek city located in Pella Prefecture of Macedonia in Greece, was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia.-Etymology:...

 in 356 BC, Alexander was tutored by Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 until the age of 16.

Alexander succeeded his father, Philip II of Macedon
Philip II of Macedon
Philip II of Macedon "friend" + ἵππος "horse" — transliterated ; 382 – 336 BC), was a king of Macedon from 359 BC until his assassination in 336 BC. He was the father of Alexander the Great and Philip III.-Biography:...

, to the throne in 336 BC after Philip was assassinated. Upon Philip's death, Alexander inherited a strong kingdom and an experienced army. He was awarded the generalship of Greece, and used this authority to launch his father's military expansion plans. In 334 BC he invaded Persian-ruled Asia Minor
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 and began a series of campaigns that lasted ten years. Alexander broke the power of Persia in a series of decisive battles, most notably the battles of Issus
Battle of Issus
The Battle of Issus occurred in southern Anatolia, in November 333 BC. The invading troops, led by the young Alexander of Macedonia, defeated the army personally led by Darius III of Achaemenid Persia in the second great battle for primacy in Asia...

 and Gaugamela
Battle of Gaugamela
The Battle of Gaugamela took place in 331 BC between Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia. The battle, which is also called the Battle of Arbela, resulted in a massive victory for the ancient Macedonians and led to the fall of the Achaemenid Empire.-Location:Darius chose a flat, open plain...

. He subsequently overthrew the Persian king Darius III and conquered the entirety of the Persian Empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

. At that point his empire stretched from the Adriatic Sea
Adriatic Sea
The Adriatic Sea is a body of water separating the Italian Peninsula from the Balkan peninsula, and the system of the Apennine Mountains from that of the Dinaric Alps and adjacent ranges...

 to the Indus River
Indus River
The Indus River is a major river which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through China and India.Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and...

.

Seeking to reach the "ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea", he invaded India
Alexander's Indian campaign
After conquering the Achaemenid Empire of Persia, the Macedonian king Alexander the Great launched a campaign in north-western India. The rationale for this campaign is usually said to be Alexander's desire to conquer the entire known world, which the Greeks thought ended in north-western India...

 in 326 BC, but was eventually forced to turn back at the demand of his troops. Alexander died in Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

 in 323 BC, without executing a series of planned campaigns that would have begun with an invasion of Arabia
Arabian Peninsula
The Arabian Peninsula is a land mass situated north-east of Africa. Also known as Arabia or the Arabian subcontinent, it is the world's largest peninsula and covers 3,237,500 km2...

. In the years following his death a series of civil wars tore his empire apart, resulting in several states ruled by the Diadochi
Diadochi
The Diadochi were the rival generals, family and friends of Alexander the Great who fought for the control of Alexander's empire after his death in 323 BC...

 – Alexander's surviving generals and heirs.

Alexander's legacy includes the cultural diffusion
Cultural diffusion
In cultural anthropology and cultural geography, cultural diffusion, as first conceptualized by Alfred L. Kroeber in his influential 1940 paper Stimulus Diffusion, or trans-cultural diffusion in later reformulations, is the spread of cultural items—such as ideas, styles, religions, technologies,...

 his conquests engendered. He founded some twenty cities that bore his name
Alexandria (disambiguation)
Alexandria is a city in Egypt.Alexandria may also refer to- Alexandrias founded or renamed by Alexander the Great :* Iskandariya, Iraq* Alexandria Asiana, Iran* Alexandria Ariana, Afghanistan* Alexandria Bucephalous, Pakistan, on the Jhelum...

, most notably Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

, Egypt. Alexander's settlement of Greek colonists and the resulting spread of Greek culture in the east resulted in a new Hellenistic civilization
Hellenistic civilization
Hellenistic civilization represents the zenith of Greek influence in the ancient world from 323 BCE to about 146 BCE...

, aspects of which were still evident in the traditions of the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 in the mid-15th century. Alexander became legendary as a classical hero in the mold of Achilles
Achilles
In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War, the central character and the greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad.Plato named Achilles the handsomest of the heroes assembled against Troy....

, and features prominently in the history and myth of Greek and non-Greek cultures. He became the measure against which military leaders compared themselves, and military academies
Military academy
A military academy or service academy is an educational institution which prepares candidates for service in the officer corps of the army, the navy, air force or coast guard, which normally provides education in a service environment, the exact definition depending on the country concerned.Three...

 throughout the world still teach his tactics.

Lineage and childhood



Alexander was born on 20 (or 21) July 356 BC, in Pella
Pella
Pella , an ancient Greek city located in Pella Prefecture of Macedonia in Greece, was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia.-Etymology:...

, the capital of the Ancient Greek Kingdom of Macedon and son of its king, Philip II
Philip II of Macedon
Philip II of Macedon "friend" + ἵππος "horse" — transliterated ; 382 – 336 BC), was a king of Macedon from 359 BC until his assassination in 336 BC. He was the father of Alexander the Great and Philip III.-Biography:...

. His mother was Philip's fourth wife Olympias
Olympias
Olympias was a Greek princess of Epirus, daughter of king Neoptolemus I of Epirus, the fourth wife of the king of Macedonia, Philip II, and mother of Alexander the Great...

, the daughter of Neoptolemus I
Neoptolemus I of Epirus
Neoptolemus I of Epirus was a king of Epirus and son of Alcetas I, and father of Alexander I of Epirus and Queen Olympias. He was a maternal grandfather of Alexander the Great...

, king of Epirus
Epirus (ancient state)
Epirus was an ancient Greek state, located in the geographical region of Epirus, in the western Balkans. The homeland of the ancient Epirotes was bordered by the Aetolian League to the south, Thessalia and Macedonia to the east and Illyrian tribes to the north...

. Although Philip had seven or eight wives, Olympias was his principal wife for some time, likely a result of giving birth to Alexander.

Several legends surround Alexander's birth and childhood. According to the ancient Greek biographer Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

, Olympias, on the eve of the consummation of her marriage to Philip, dreamed that her womb was struck by a thunder bolt, causing a flame that spread "far and wide" before dying away. Some time after the wedding, Philip is said to have seen himself, in a dream, securing his wife's womb with a seal engraved with a lion's image. Plutarch offered a variety of interpretations of these dreams: that Olympias was pregnant before her marriage, indicated by the sealing of her womb; or that Alexander's father was Zeus
Zeus
In the ancient Greek religion, Zeus was the "Father of Gods and men" who ruled the Olympians of Mount Olympus as a father ruled the family. He was the god of sky and thunder in Greek mythology. His Roman counterpart is Jupiter and his Etruscan counterpart is Tinia.Zeus was the child of Cronus...

. Ancient commentators were divided about whether the ambitious Olympias promulgated the story of Alexander's divine parentage, variously claiming that she had told Alexander, or that she dismissed the suggestion as impious.

On the day that Alexander was born, Philip was preparing a siege
Siege
A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. The term derives from sedere, Latin for "to sit". Generally speaking, siege warfare is a form of constant, low intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static...

 on the city of Potidea on the peninsula of Chalcidice
Chalcidice
Chalkidiki, also Halkidiki, Chalcidice or Chalkidike , is a peninsula in northern Greece, and one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Central Macedonia. The autonomous Mount Athos region is part of the peninsula, but not of the regional unit...

. That same day, Philip received news that his general Parmenion
Parmenion
Parmenion was a Macedonian general in the service of Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great, murdered on a suspected false charge of treason....

 had defeated the combined Illyria
Illyria
In classical antiquity, Illyria was a region in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula inhabited by the Illyrians....

n and Paeonian armies, and that his horses had won at the Olympic Games. It was also said that on this day, the Temple of Artemis
Temple of Artemis
The Temple of Artemis , also known less precisely as the Temple of Diana, was a Greek temple dedicated to a goddess Greeks identified as Artemis and was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was situated at Ephesus , and was completely rebuilt three times before its eventual destruction...

 in Ephesus
Ephesus
Ephesus was an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city, on the west coast of Asia Minor, near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era...

, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, burnt down. This led Hegesias of Magnesia
Hegesias of Magnesia
Hegesias of Magnesia , Greek rhetorician, and historian, flourished about 300 BC. Strabo , speaks of him as the founder of the florid Asiatic style of composition....

 to say that it had burnt down because Artemis
Artemis
Artemis was one of the most widely venerated of the Ancient Greek deities. Her Roman equivalent is Diana. Some scholars believe that the name and indeed the goddess herself was originally pre-Greek. Homer refers to her as Artemis Agrotera, Potnia Theron: "Artemis of the wildland, Mistress of Animals"...

 was away, attending the birth of Alexander. Such legends may have emerged when Alexander was king, and possibly at his own instigation, to show that he was superhuman and destined for greatness from conception.

In his early years, Alexander was raised by a nurse, Lanike
Lanike
Lanike or Lanice , also called Hellanike or Alacrinis, daughter of Dropidas, was the sister of Clitus the Black and the nurse of Alexander the Great...

, sister of Alexander's future general Cleitus the Black. Later in his childhood, Alexander was tutored by the strict Leonidas, a relative of his mother, and by Lysimachus
Lysimachus
Lysimachus was a Macedonian officer and diadochus of Alexander the Great, who became a basileus in 306 BC, ruling Thrace, Asia Minor and Macedon.-Early Life & Career:...

. Alexander was raised in the manner of noble Macedonian youths, learning to read, play the lyre
Lyre
The lyre is a stringed musical instrument known for its use in Greek classical antiquity and later. The word comes from the Greek "λύρα" and the earliest reference to the word is the Mycenaean Greek ru-ra-ta-e, meaning "lyrists", written in Linear B syllabic script...

, ride, fight, and hunt.

When Alexander was ten years old, a trader from Thessaly
Thessaly
Thessaly is a traditional geographical region and an administrative region of Greece, comprising most of the ancient region of the same name. Before the Greek Dark Ages, Thessaly was known as Aeolia, and appears thus in Homer's Odyssey....

 brought Philip a horse, which he offered to sell for thirteen talents
Attic talent
The Attic talent , also known as the Athenian talent or Greek talent, is an ancient unit of mass equal to 26 kg, as well as a unit of value equal to this amount of pure silver. A talent was originally intended to be the mass of water required to fill an amphora . At the 2009 price of $414/kg, a...

. The horse refused to be mounted and Philip ordered it away. Alexander however, detecting the horse's fear of its own shadow, asked to tame the horse, which he eventually managed. Plutarch stated that Philip, overjoyed at this display of courage and ambition, kissed his son tearfully, declaring: "My boy, you must find a kingdom big enough for your ambitions. Macedon is too small for you", and bought the horse for him. Alexander named it Bucephalas, meaning "ox-head". Bucephalas carried Alexander as far as India. When the animal died (due to old age, according to Plutarch, at age thirty), Alexander named a city after him, Bucephala
Alexandria Bucephalous
Alexandria Bucephalous, or Alexandria Bucephalus or Alexandria Bucephala or Bucephala or Bucephalia, was a city founded by Alexander the Great in memory of his beloved horse Bucephalus. Founded in May 326 BC, the town was located on the Hydaspes , east of the Indus River. Bucephalus had died after...

.

Adolescence and education



When Alexander was 13, Philip began to search for a tutor
Tutor
A tutor is a person employed in the education of others, either individually or in groups. To tutor is to perform the functions of a tutor.-Teaching assistance:...

, and considered such academics as Isocrates
Isocrates
Isocrates , an ancient Greek rhetorician, was one of the ten Attic orators. In his time, he was probably the most influential rhetorician in Greece and made many contributions to rhetoric and education through his teaching and written works....

 and Speusippus
Speusippus
Speusippus was an ancient Greek philosopher. Speusippus was Plato's nephew by his sister Potone. After Plato's death, Speusippus inherited the Academy and remained its head for the next eight years. However, following a stroke, he passed the chair to Xenocrates. Although the successor to Plato...

, the latter offering to resign to take up the post. In the end, Philip chose Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 and provided the Temple of the Nymphs at Mieza
Mieza
Mieza, "shrine of the Nymphs", was a village in Ancient Macedon, where Aristotle taught the boy Alexander the Great. It was the home to Alexander's companion Peucestas.Now the site of the modern town Náousa....

 as a classroom. In return for teaching Alexander, Philip agreed to rebuild Aristotle's hometown of Stageira
Stageira
Stageira was an ancient Greek city on the Chalkidiki peninsula and is chiefly known for being the birthplace of Aristotle. The city lies approximately 8 kilometres north northeast of the present-day village of Stagira, close to the town of Olympiada....

, which Philip had razed, and to repopulate it by buying and freeing the ex-citizens who were slaves, or pardoning those who were in exile.

Mieza was like a boarding school for Alexander and the children of Macedonian nobles, such as Ptolemy
Ptolemy I Soter
Ptolemy I Soter I , also known as Ptolemy Lagides, c. 367 BC – c. 283 BC, was a Macedonian general under Alexander the Great, who became ruler of Egypt and founder of both the Ptolemaic Kingdom and the Ptolemaic Dynasty...

, Hephaistion, and Cassander
Cassander
Cassander , King of Macedonia , was a son of Antipater, and founder of the Antipatrid dynasty...

. Many of these students would become his friends and future generals, and are often known as the 'Companions'. Aristotle taught Alexander and his companions about medicine, philosophy, morals, religion, logic, and art. Under Aristotle's tutelage, Alexander developed a passion for the works of Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

, and in particular the Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

; Aristotle gave him an annotated copy, which Alexander later carried on his campaigns.

Regency and ascent of Macedon




At age 16, Alexander's education under Aristotle ended. Philip waged war against Byzantion
Byzantium
Byzantium was an ancient Greek city, founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzas . The name Byzantium is a Latinization of the original name Byzantion...

, leaving Alexander in charge as regent
Regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

 and heir apparent
Heir apparent
An heir apparent or heiress apparent is a person who is first in line of succession and cannot be displaced from inheriting, except by a change in the rules of succession....

. During Philip's absence, the Thracian
Thracians
The ancient Thracians were a group of Indo-European tribes inhabiting areas including Thrace in Southeastern Europe. They spoke the Thracian language – a scarcely attested branch of the Indo-European language family...

 Maedi
Maedi
The Maedi , were a Thracian or Illyrian tribe, which in historic times, occupied the area between Paionia and Thrace, on the southwestern fringes of Thrace, along the middle course of the Strymon, between the Kresna Gorge and the Rupel Pass...

 revolted against Macedonia. Alexander responded quickly, driving them from their territory. He colonized it with Greeks, and founded a city named Alexandropolis
Alexandropolis Maedica
Not to be confused with Alexandropolis the modern Greek city of ThraceAlexandropolis in the Thracian region of Maedians, was the first town founded in 340 BC by Alexander the Great, after defeating the local tribe, as a regent of Macedon....

.

Upon Philip's return, he dispatched Alexander with a small force to subdue revolts in southern Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

. Campaigning against the Greek city of Perinthus, Alexander is reported to have saved his father's life. Meanwhile, the city of Amphissa began to work lands that were sacred to Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

 near Delphi
Delphi
Delphi is both an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis.In Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god...

, a sacrilege that gave Philip the opportunity to further intervene in Greek affairs. Still occupied in Thrace, he ordered Alexander to muster an army for a campaign in Greece. Concerned that other Greek states might intervene, Alexander made it look as though he was preparing to attack Illyria instead. During this turmoil, the Illyrians invaded Macedonia, only to be repelled by Alexander.

Philip and his army joined his son in 338 BC, and they marched south through Thermopylae
Thermopylae
Thermopylae is a location in Greece where a narrow coastal passage existed in antiquity. It derives its name from its hot sulphur springs. "Hot gates" is also "the place of hot springs and cavernous entrances to Hades"....

, taking it after stubborn resistance from its Theban garrison. They went on to occupy the city of Elatea, only a few days march from both Athens and Thebes. The Athenians, led by Demosthenes
Demosthenes
Demosthenes was a prominent Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens. His orations constitute a significant expression of contemporary Athenian intellectual prowess and provide an insight into the politics and culture of ancient Greece during the 4th century BC. Demosthenes learned rhetoric by...

, voted to seek alliance with Thebes against Macedonia. Both Athens and Philip sent embassies to win Thebes' favor, but Athens won the contest. Philip marched on Amphissa (ostensibly acting on the request of the Amphictyonic League
Amphictyonic League
In the Archaic period of ancient Greece, an amphictyony , a "league of neighbors", or Amphictyonic League was an ancient association of Greek tribes formed in the dim past, before the rise of the Greek polis...

), capturing the mercenaries sent there by Demosthenes
Demosthenes
Demosthenes was a prominent Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens. His orations constitute a significant expression of contemporary Athenian intellectual prowess and provide an insight into the politics and culture of ancient Greece during the 4th century BC. Demosthenes learned rhetoric by...

 and accepting the city's surrender. Philip then returned to Elatea, sending a final offer of peace to Athens and Thebes, who both rejected it.
As Philip marched south, his opponents blocked him near Chaeronea
Chaeronea
Chaeronea is a village and a former municipality in Boeotia, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Livadeia, of which it is a municipal unit. Population 2,218...

, Boeotia
Boeotia
Boeotia, also spelled Beotia and Bœotia , is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Central Greece. It was also a region of ancient Greece. Its capital is Livadeia, the second largest city being Thebes.-Geography:...

. During the ensuing Battle of Chaeronea
Battle of Chaeronea (338 BC)
The Battle of Chaeronea was fought in 338 BC, near the city of Chaeronea in Boeotia, between the forces of Philip II of Macedon and an alliance of Greek city-states...

, Philip commanded the right wing and Alexander the left, accompanied by a group of Philip's trusted generals. According to the ancient sources, the two sides fought bitterly for some time. Philip deliberately commanded his troops to retreat, counting on the untested Athenian hoplites to follow, thus breaking their line. Alexander was the first to break the Theban lines, followed by Philip's generals. Having damaged the enemy's cohesion, Philip ordered his troops to press forward and quickly routed them. With the Athenians lost, the Thebans were surrounded. Left to fight alone, they were defeated.

After the victory at Chaeronea, Philip and Alexander marched unopposed into the Peloponnese, welcomed by all cities; however, when they reached Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

, they were refused, but did not resort to war. At Corinth
Ancient Corinth
Corinth, or Korinth was a city-state on the Isthmus of Corinth, the narrow stretch of land that joins the Peloponnesus to the mainland of Greece, roughly halfway between Athens and Sparta. The modern town of Corinth is located approximately northeast of the ancient ruins...

, Philip established a "Hellenic Alliance" (modeled on the old anti-Persian alliance of the Greco-Persian Wars
Greco-Persian Wars
The Greco-Persian Wars were a series of conflicts between the Achaemenid Empire of Persia and city-states of the Hellenic world that started in 499 BC and lasted until 449 BC. The collision between the fractious political world of the Greeks and the enormous empire of the Persians began when Cyrus...

), which included most Greek city-states except Sparta. Philip was then named Hegemon (often translated as "Supreme Commander") of this league (known by modern scholars as the League of Corinth
League of Corinth
The League of Corinth, also sometimes referred to as Hellenic League was a federation of Greek states created by Philip II of Macedon during the winter of 338 BC/337 BC after the Battle of Chaeronea, to facilitate his use of military forces in his war against Persia...

), and announced his plans to attack the Persian Empire
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

.

Exile and return


When Philip returned to Pella, he fell in love with and married Cleopatra Eurydice
Cleopatra Eurydice of Macedon
Eurydice , born Cleopatra was a mid. 4th century BCE Macedonian noblewoman, niece of Attalus, and 5th wife of Philip II of Macedon.- Biography :...

, the niece of his general Attalus
Attalus (general)
Attalus , important courtier of Macedonian king Philip II of Macedonia.In 339 BC, Attalus' niece Cleopatra Eurydice married king Philip II of Macedonia. In spring of 336 BC, Philip II appointed Attalus and Parmenion as commanders of the advance force that would invade the Persian Empire in Asia Minor...

. The marriage made Alexander's position as heir less secure, since any son of Cleopatra Eurydice would be a fully Macedonian heir, while Alexander was only half-Macedonian. During the wedding banquet, a drunken Attalus publicly prayed to the gods that the union would produce a legitimate heir.
Alexander fled Macedon with his mother, dropping her off with her brother, King Alexander I of Epirus
Alexander I of Epirus
Alexander I of Epirus , also known as Alexander Molossus , was a king of Epirus of the Aeacid dynasty. As the son of Neoptolemus I and brother of Olympias, he was an uncle of Alexander the Great...

 in Dodona
Dodona
Dodona in Epirus in northwestern Greece, was an oracle devoted to a Mother Goddess identified at other sites with Rhea or Gaia, but here called Dione, who was joined and partly supplanted in historical times by the Greek god Zeus.The shrine of Dodona was regarded as the oldest Hellenic oracle,...

, capital of the Molossians
Molossians
The Molossians were an ancient Greek tribe that inhabited the region of Epirus since the Mycenaean era. On their northeast frontier they had the Chaonians and to their southern frontier the kingdom of the Thesprotians, to their north were the Illyrians. The Molossians were part of the League of...

. He continued to Illyria, where he sought refuge with the Illyrian King and was treated as a guest, despite having defeated them in battle a few years before. However, it appears Philip never intended to disown his politically and miltarily trained son. Accordingly, Alexander returned to Macedon after six months due to the efforts of a family friend, Demaratus the Corinthian
Demaratus the Corinthian
Demaratus the Corinthian was the father of Lucius Tarquinius Priscus, the fifth King of Rome and the grandfather of Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the seventh and last king.-Life:...

, who mediated between the two parties.

In the following year, the Persian satrap
Satrap
Satrap was the name given to the governors of the provinces of the ancient Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as the Sassanid Empire and the Hellenistic empires....

 (governor) of Caria
Caria
Caria was a region of western Anatolia extending along the coast from mid-Ionia south to Lycia and east to Phrygia. The Ionian and Dorian Greeks colonized the west of it and joined the Carian population in forming Greek-dominated states there...

, Pixodarus
Pixodarus of Caria
Pixodarus was a prince or king of Caria.-Biography:He was the youngest of the three sons of Hecatomnus, all of whom successively held the sovereignty of their native country...

, offered his eldest daughter to Alexander's half-brother, Philip Arrhidaeus. Olympias and several of Alexander's friends suggested this showed Philip intended to make Arrhidaeus his heir. Alexander reacted by sending an actor, Thessalus
Thessalus
In Greek mythology, the name Thessalus is attributed to three individuals, all of whom were considered possible eponyms of Thessaly.*Thessalus, son of Jason and Medea and the twin of Alcimenes. He escaped being murdered by his mother and, after the death of Acastus, became king of...

 of Corinth, to tell Pixodarus that he should not offer his daughter's hand to an illegitimate son, but instead to Alexander. When Philip heard of this, he stopped the negotiations and scolded Alexander for wishing to marry the daughter of a Carian, explaining that he wanted a better bride for him. Philip exiled four of Alexander's friends, Harpalus
Harpalus
For other uses, see Harpalus Harpalus son of Machatas was an aristocrat of Macedon and boyhood friend of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC. Being lame in a leg, and therefore exempt from military service, Harpalus did not follow Alexander in his advance within the Persian Empire but...

, Nearchus
Nearchus
Nearchus was one of the officers, a navarch, in the army of Alexander the Great. His celebrated voyage from India to Susa after Alexander's expedition in India is preserved in Arrian's account, the Indica....

, Ptolemy and Erigyius
Erigyius
Erigyius , a Mytilenaean, son of Larichus, was an officer in Alexander the Great's army. He had been driven into banishment by Philip II, king of Macedon, because of his faithful attachment to Alexander, and returned when the latter came to the throne in 336 BC...

, and had the Corinthians bring Thessalus to him in chains.

Accession



In 336 BC, while at Aegae
Vergina
Vergina is a small town in northern Greece, located in the peripheral unit of Imathia, Central Macedonia. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Veroia, of which it is a municipal unit...

 attending the wedding of his daughter Cleopatra to Olympias's brother, Alexander I of Epirus
Alexander I of Epirus
Alexander I of Epirus , also known as Alexander Molossus , was a king of Epirus of the Aeacid dynasty. As the son of Neoptolemus I and brother of Olympias, he was an uncle of Alexander the Great...

, Philip was assassinated by the captain of his bodyguards, Pausanias. As Pausanias tried to escape, he tripped over a vine and was killed by his pursuers, including two of Alexander's companions, Perdiccas
Perdiccas
Perdiccas was one of Alexander the Great's generals. After Alexander's death in 323 BC he became regent of all Alexander's empire.Arrian tells us he was son of Orontes, a descendant of the independent princes of the Macedonian province of Orestis...

 and Leonnatus
Leonnatus
Leonnatus was a Macedonian officer of Alexander the Great and one of the diadochi.He was a member of the royal house of Lyncestis, a small kingdom that had been included in Macedonia by King Philip II of Macedon. Leonnatus was the same age as Alexander and was very close to him. Later, he was one...

. Alexander was proclaimed king by the nobles and army
Ancient Macedonian military
The army of the Ancient kingdom of Macedonia was among the greatest military forces of the ancient world. It became formidable under King Philip II of Macedon and his son, Alexander the Great....

 at the age of 20.

Consolidation of power


Alexander began his reign by eliminating potential rivals to the throne. He had his cousin, the former Amyntas IV
Amyntas IV of Macedon
Amyntas IV was a titular king of Macedonia in 359 BC and member of the Argead dynasty.- Biography :Amyntas was a son of King Perdiccas III of Macedon. He was born in about 365 BC. After his father's death in 359 BC he became king, but he was only an infant. Philip II of Macedon, Perdiccas'...

, executed. He also had two Macedonian princes from the region of Lyncestis killed, but spared a third, Alexander Lyncestes
Alexander Lyncestes
For other persons with the same name, see AlexanderAlexander , son of Aeropus II of Macedon, was a native of the upper Macedonian district called Lyncestis, whence he is usually called Alexander of Lynkestis or Alexander Lyncestes...

. Olympias had Cleopatra Eurydice and Europa, her daughter by Philip, burned alive. When Alexander learned about this, he was furious. Alexander also ordered the murder of Attalus, who was in command of the advance guard of the army in Asia Minor and Cleopatra's uncle. Attalus was at that time corresponding with Demosthenes, regarding the possibility of defecting to Athens. Attalus also had severely insulted Alexander, and following Cleopatra's murder, Alexander may have considered him too dangerous to leave alive. Alexander spared Arrhidaeus, who was by all accounts mentally disabled, possibly as a result of poisoning by Olympias.

News of Philip's death roused many states into revolt, including Thebes, Athens, Thessaly, and the Thracian tribes north of Macedon. When news of the revolts reached Alexander, he responded quickly. Though advised to use diplomacy, Alexander mustered the Macedonian cavalry of 3,000 and rode south towards Thessaly. He found the Thessalian army occupying the pass between Mount Olympus
Mount Olympus
Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece, located on the border between Thessaly and Macedonia, about 100 kilometres away from Thessaloniki, Greece's second largest city. Mount Olympus has 52 peaks. The highest peak Mytikas, meaning "nose", rises to 2,917 metres...

 and Mount Ossa, and ordered his men to ride over Mount Ossa. When the Thessalians awoke the next day, they found Alexander in their rear and promptly surrendered, adding their cavalry to Alexander's force. He then continued south towards the Peloponnese
Peloponnese
The Peloponnese, Peloponnesos or Peloponnesus , is a large peninsula , located in a region of southern Greece, forming the part of the country south of the Gulf of Corinth...

.

Alexander stopped at Thermopylae, where he was recognized as the leader of the Amphictyonic League before heading south to Corinth
Corinth
Corinth is a city and former municipality in Corinthia, Peloponnese, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Corinth, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit...

. Athens sued for peace and Alexander pardoned the rebels. The famous encounter between Alexander and Diogenes the Cynic occurred during Alexander's stay in Corinth. When Alexander asked Diogenes what he could do for him, the philosopher disdainfully asked Alexander to stand a little to the side, as he was blocking the sunlight. This reply apparently delighted Alexander, who is reported to have said "If I were not Alexander, I would like to be Diogenes,". At Corinth Alexander took the title of Hegemon ("leader"), and like Philip, was appointed commander for the coming war against Persia. He also received news of a Thracian uprising.

Balkan campaign



Before crossing to Asia, Alexander wanted to safeguard his northern borders. In the spring of 335 BC, he advanced to suppress several revolts. Starting from Amphipolis
Amphipolis
Amphipolis was an ancient Greek city in the region once inhabited by the Edoni people in the present-day region of Central Macedonia. It was built on a raised plateau overlooking the east bank of the river Strymon where it emerged from Lake Cercinitis, about 3 m. from the Aegean Sea. Founded in...

, he traveled east into the country of the "Independent Thracians"; and at Mount Haemus
Haemus Mons
In earlier times the Balkan mountains were known as the Haemus Mons. It is believed that the name is derived from a Thracian word *saimon, 'mountain ridge', which is unattested but conjectured as the original Thracian form of Greek Haimos....

, the Macedonian army attacked and defeated the Thracian forces manning the heights. The Macedonians marched into the country of the Triballi
Triballi
The Triballi were an ancient tribe whose dominion was around the plains of southern modern Serbia and west Bulgaria, at the Angrus and Brongus and the Iskur River, roughly centered where Serbia and Bulgaria are joined....

, and defeated their army near the Lyginus river (a tributary of the Danube). Alexander then marched for three days to the Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

, encountering the Getae
Getae
The Getae was the name given by the Greeks to several Thracian tribes that occupied the regions south of the Lower Danube, in what is today northern Bulgaria, and north of the Lower Danube, in Romania...

 tribe on the opposite shore. Crossing the river at night, he surprised them and forced their army to retreat after the first cavalry skirmish. News then reached Alexander that Cleitus
Cleitus the Illyrian
Cleitus was an Illyrian king of the Dardanian State attested in 335 BC. Cleitus was the son of Bardyllis and the father of Bardyllis II.....

, King of Illyria, and King Glaukias of the Taulanti were in open revolt against his authority. Marching west into Illyria, Alexander defeated each in turn, forcing the two rulers to flee with their troops. With these victories, he secured his northern frontier.

While Alexander campaigned north, the Thebans and Athenians rebelled once again. Alexander immediately headed south. While the other cities again hesitated, Thebes decided to fight. The Theban resistance was ineffective, and Alexander razed the city and divided its territory between the other Boeotian cities. The end of Thebes cowed Athens, leaving all of Greece temporarily at peace. Alexander then set out on his Asian campaign, leaving Antipater
Antipater
Antipater was a Macedonian general and a supporter of kings Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great. In 320 BC, he became Regent of all of Alexander's Empire. Antipater was one of the sons of a Macedonian nobleman called Iollas or Iolaus and his family were distant collateral relatives to the...

 as regent.

Conquest of the Persian Empire



Asia Minor



Alexander's army crossed the Hellespont in 334 BC with approximately 48,100 soldiers, 6,100 cavalry and a fleet of 120 ships with crews numbering 38,000, drawn from Macedon and various Greek city-states, mercenaries, and feudally-raised soldiers from Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

, Paionia
Paionia
In ancient geography, Paeonia or Paionia was the land of the Paeonians . The exact original boundaries of Paeonia, like the early history of its inhabitants, are very obscure, but it is believed that they lay in the region of Thrace...

, and Illyria
Illyria
In classical antiquity, Illyria was a region in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula inhabited by the Illyrians....

. He showed his intent to conquer the entirety of the Persian Empire by throwing a spear into Asian soil and saying he accepted Asia as a gift from the gods. This also showed Alexander's eagerness to fight, in contrast to his father's preference for diplomacy. After an initial victory against Persian forces at the Battle of the Granicus
Battle of the Granicus
The Battle of the Granicus River in May 334 BC was the first of three major battles fought between Alexander the Great and the Persian Empire...

, Alexander accepted the surrender of the Persian provincial capital and treasury of Sardis
Sardis
Sardis or Sardes was an ancient city at the location of modern Sart in Turkey's Manisa Province...

 and proceeded along the Ionia
Ionia
Ionia is an ancient region of central coastal Anatolia in present-day Turkey, the region nearest İzmir, which was historically Smyrna. It consisted of the northernmost territories of the Ionian League of Greek settlements...

n coast. At Halicarnassus
Halicarnassus
Halicarnassus was an ancient Greek city at the site of modern Bodrum in Turkey. It was located in southwest Caria on a picturesque, advantageous site on the Ceramic Gulf. The city was famous for the tomb of Mausolus, the origin of the word mausoleum, built between 353 BC and 350 BC, and...

, in Caria
Caria
Caria was a region of western Anatolia extending along the coast from mid-Ionia south to Lycia and east to Phrygia. The Ionian and Dorian Greeks colonized the west of it and joined the Carian population in forming Greek-dominated states there...

, Alexander successfully waged the first of many siege
Siege
A siege is a military blockade of a city or fortress with the intent of conquering by attrition or assault. The term derives from sedere, Latin for "to sit". Generally speaking, siege warfare is a form of constant, low intensity conflict characterized by one party holding a strong, static...

s, eventually forcing his opponents, the mercenary captain Memnon of Rhodes
Memnon of Rhodes
Memnon of Rhodes was the commander of the Greek mercenaries working for the Persian king Darius III when Alexander the Great of Macedonia invaded Persia in 334 BC. He commanded the mercenaries at the Battle of the Granicus River, where his troops were massacred by the victorious Macedonians...

 and the Persian satrap
Satrap
Satrap was the name given to the governors of the provinces of the ancient Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as the Sassanid Empire and the Hellenistic empires....

 of Caria, Orontobates
Orontobates
Orontobates was a Persian, who married the daughter of Pixodarus, the usurping satrap of Caria, and was sent by the king of Persia to succeed him. On the approach of Alexander III of Macedon Orontobates and Memnon of Rhodes entrenched themselves in Halicarnassus...

, to withdraw by sea. Alexander left the government of Caria to Ada
Ada of Caria
Ada of Caria was satrap of Caria in the 4th century BC.Ada was the daughter of Hecatomnus, satrap of Caria, and sister of Mausolus, Artemisia, Idrieus, and Pixodarus. She was married to her brother Idrieus, who succeeded Artemisia in 351 BC and died in 344 BC...

, who adopted Alexander.

From Halicarnassus, Alexander proceeded into mountainous Lycia
Lycia
Lycia Lycian: Trm̃mis; ) was a region in Anatolia in what are now the provinces of Antalya and Muğla on the southern coast of Turkey. It was a federation of ancient cities in the region and later a province of the Roman Empire...

 and the Pamphylia
Pamphylia
In ancient geography, Pamphylia was the region in the south of Asia Minor, between Lycia and Cilicia, extending from the Mediterranean to Mount Taurus . It was bounded on the north by Pisidia and was therefore a country of small extent, having a coast-line of only about 75 miles with a breadth of...

n plain, asserting control over all coastal cities to deny the Persians naval bases. From Pamphylia onwards the coast held no major ports and Alexander moved inland. At Termessos
Termessos
Termessos or Thermessos was a Pisidian city built at an altitude of more than 1000 meters at the south-west side of the mountain Solymos in the Taurus Mountains . It lies 30 kilometres to the north-west of Antalya...

, Alexander humbled but did not storm the Pisidia
Pisidia
Pisidia was a region of ancient Asia Minor located north of Lycia, and bordering Caria, Lydia, Phrygia and Pamphylia. It corresponds roughly to the modern-day province of Antalya in Turkey...

n city. At the ancient Phrygian capital of Gordium
Gordium
Gordium was the capital city of ancient Phrygia. It was located at the site of modern Yassıhüyük, about 70–80 km southwest of Ankara , in the immediate vicinity of Polatlı district. The site was excavated by Gustav and Alfred Körte in 1900 and then by the University of Pennsylvania Museum,...

, Alexander "undid" the hitherto unsolvable Gordian Knot
Gordian Knot
The Gordian Knot is a legend of Phrygian Gordium associated with Alexander the Great. It is often used as a metaphor for an intractable problem solved by a bold stroke :"Turn him to any cause of policy,...

, a feat said to await the future "king of Asia
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

". According to the story, Alexander proclaimed that it did not matter how the knot was undone and hacked it apart with his sword.

The Levant and Syria




After spending the winter campaigning in Asia Minor, Alexander's army crossed the Cilician Gates
Cilician Gates
The Cilician Gates or Gülek Pass is a pass through the Taurus Mountains connecting the low plains of Cilicia to the Anatolian Plateau, by way of the narrow gorge of the Gökoluk River. Its highest elevation is about 1000m....

 in 333 BC, and defeated the main Persian army under the command of Darius III at the Battle of Issus
Battle of Issus
The Battle of Issus occurred in southern Anatolia, in November 333 BC. The invading troops, led by the young Alexander of Macedonia, defeated the army personally led by Darius III of Achaemenid Persia in the second great battle for primacy in Asia...

 in November. Darius fled the battle, causing his army to collapse, and left behind his wife, his two daughters, his mother Sisygambis
Sisygambis
Sisygambis was the daughter of king Artaxerxes II Memnon, who married Arsames of Ostanes and was the mother of Darius III of Persia, whose reign was ended during the wars of Alexander the Great....

, and a fabulous treasure. He offered a peace treaty
Peace treaty
A peace treaty is an agreement between two or more hostile parties, usually countries or governments, that formally ends a state of war between the parties...

 that included the lands he had already lost, and a ransom of 10,000 talents for his family. Alexander replied that since he was now king of Asia, it was he alone who decided territorial divisions.

Alexander proceeded to take possession of Syria, and most of the coast of the Levant
Levant
The Levant or ) is the geographic region and culture zone of the "eastern Mediterranean littoral between Anatolia and Egypt" . The Levant includes most of modern Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and sometimes parts of Turkey and Iraq, and corresponds roughly to the...

. In the following year, 332 BC, he was forced to attack Tyre, which he captured after a long and difficult siege
Siege of Tyre
The Siege of Tyre was a siege of the city of Tyre, a strategic coastal base on the Mediterranean Sea, orchestrated by Alexander the Great in 332 BC during his campaigns against the Persians. The Macedonian army was unable to capture the city through conventional means because it was on an island...

. Alexander massacred the men of military age and sold the women and children into slavery
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

.

Egypt


When Alexander destroyed Tyre, most of the towns on the route to Egypt quickly capitulated, with the exception of Gaza
Gaza
Gaza , also referred to as Gaza City, is a Palestinian city in the Gaza Strip, with a population of about 450,000, making it the largest city in the Palestinian territories.Inhabited since at least the 15th century BC,...

. The stronghold at Gaza was heavily fortified and built on a hill, requiring a siege. After three unsuccessful assaults, the stronghold fell, but not before Alexander had received a serious shoulder wound. As in Tyre, men of military age were put to the sword and the women and children sold into slavery.

Jerusalem instead opened its gates in surrender, and according to Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

, Alexander was shown the book of Daniel
Book of Daniel
The Book of Daniel is a book in the Hebrew Bible. The book tells of how Daniel, and his Judean companions, were inducted into Babylon during Jewish exile, and how their positions elevated in the court of Nebuchadnezzar. The court tales span events that occur during the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar,...

's prophecy, presumably chapter 8, which described a mighty Greek king who would conquer the Persian Empire. He spared Jerusalem and pushed south into Egypt.

Alexander advanced on Egypt in later 332 BC, where he was regarded as a liberator. He was pronounced the new "master of the Universe" and son of the deity of Amun
Amun
Amun, reconstructed Egyptian Yamānu , was a god in Egyptian mythology who in the form of Amun-Ra became the focus of the most complex system of theology in Ancient Egypt...

 at the Oracle
Oracle
In Classical Antiquity, an oracle was a person or agency considered to be a source of wise counsel or prophetic predictions or precognition of the future, inspired by the gods. As such it is a form of divination....

 of Siwa Oasis
Siwa Oasis
The Siwa Oasis is an oasis in Egypt, located between the Qattara Depression and the Egyptian Sand Sea in the Libyan Desert, nearly 50 km east of the Libyan border, and 560 km from Cairo....

 in the Libyan
Ancient Libya
The Latin name Libya referred to the region west of the Nile Valley, generally corresponding to modern Northwest Africa. Climate changes affected the locations of the settlements....

 desert. Henceforth, Alexander often referred to Zeus-Ammon as his true father, and subsequent currency depicted him adorned with rams horn as a symbol of his divinity. During his stay in Egypt, he founded Alexandria-by-Egypt
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

, which would become the prosperous capital of the Ptolemaic Kingdom
Ptolemaic Kingdom
The Ptolemaic Kingdom in and around Egypt began following Alexander the Great's conquest in 332 BC and ended with the death of Cleopatra VII and the Roman conquest in 30 BC. It was founded when Ptolemy I Soter declared himself Pharaoh of Egypt, creating a powerful Hellenistic state stretching from...

 after his death.

Assyria and Babylonia




Leaving Egypt in 331 BC, Alexander marched eastward into Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 (now northern Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

) and again defeated Darius, at the Battle of Gaugamela
Battle of Gaugamela
The Battle of Gaugamela took place in 331 BC between Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia. The battle, which is also called the Battle of Arbela, resulted in a massive victory for the ancient Macedonians and led to the fall of the Achaemenid Empire.-Location:Darius chose a flat, open plain...

. Darius once more fled the field, and Alexander chased him as far as Arbela
Arbil
Arbil / Hewlêr is the fourth largest city in Iraq after Baghdad, Basra and Mosul...

. Gaugamela would be the final and decisive encounter between the two. Darius fled over the mountains to Ecbatana
Ecbatana
Ecbatana is supposed to be the capital of Astyages , which was taken by the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great in the sixth year of Nabonidus...

 (modern Hamedan), while Alexander captured Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

.

Persia



From Babylon, Alexander went to Susa
Susa
Susa was an ancient city of the Elamite, Persian and Parthian empires of Iran. It is located in the lower Zagros Mountains about east of the Tigris River, between the Karkheh and Dez Rivers....

, one of the Achaemenid
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

 capitals, and captured its legendary treasury. He sent the bulk of his army to the Persian ceremonial capital of Persepolis
Persepolis
Perspolis was the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire . Persepolis is situated northeast of the modern city of Shiraz in the Fars Province of modern Iran. In contemporary Persian, the site is known as Takht-e Jamshid...

 via the Royal Road
Royal Road
The Persian Royal Road was an ancient highway reorganized and rebuilt by the Persian king Darius the Great of the Achaemenid Empire in the 5th century BC. Darius built the road to facilitate rapid communication throughout his very large empire from Susa to Sardis...

. Alexander himself took selected troops on the direct route to the city. He had to storm the pass of the Persian Gates
Persian Gates
Persian Gates was the ancient name of the pass now known as Tang-e Meyran, connecting Yasuj with Sedeh to the east, crossing the border of the modern Kohgiluyeh va Boyer Ahmad and Fars provinces of Iran, passing south of the Kuh-e-Dinar massif, part of the Zagros Mountains...

 (in the modern Zagros Mountains
Zagros Mountains
The Zagros Mountains are the largest mountain range in Iran and Iraq. With a total length of 1,500 km , from northwestern Iran, and roughly correlating with Iran's western border, the Zagros range spans the whole length of the western and southwestern Iranian plateau and ends at the Strait of...

) which had been blocked by a Persian army under Ariobarzanes
Ariobarzanes (satrap of Persis)
Ariobarzanes was a Persian satrap of Persis and military commander. He is best known for commanding the Persian army at the Battle of the Persian Gate against Alexander of Macedonia in the winter of 330 BC....

 and then hurried to Persepolis before its garrison could loot the treasury. On entering Persepolis, Alexander allowed his troops to loot the city for several days. Alexander stayed in Persepolis for five months. During his stay a fire broke out in the eastern palace of Xerxes
Xerxes I of Persia
Xerxes I of Persia , Ḫšayāršā, ), also known as Xerxes the Great, was the fifth king of kings of the Achaemenid Empire.-Youth and rise to power:...

 and spread to the rest of the city. Possible causes include a drunken accident or deliberate revenge for the burning of the Acropolis of Athens
Acropolis of Athens
The Acropolis of Athens or Citadel of Athens is the best known acropolis in the world. Although there are many other acropoleis in Greece, the significance of the Acropolis of Athens is such that it is commonly known as The Acropolis without qualification...

 during the Second Persian War
Greco-Persian Wars
The Greco-Persian Wars were a series of conflicts between the Achaemenid Empire of Persia and city-states of the Hellenic world that started in 499 BC and lasted until 449 BC. The collision between the fractious political world of the Greeks and the enormous empire of the Persians began when Cyrus...

.

Fall of the Empire and the East


Alexander then chased Darius, first into Media, and then Parthia. The Persian king no longer controlled his own destiny, and was taken prisoner by Bessus
Bessus
Artaxerxes V, also known as Bessus was a prominent Persian nobleman and satrap of Bactria, and later self-proclaimed king of Persia...

, his Bactria
Bactria
Bactria and also appears in the Zend Avesta as Bukhdi. It is the ancient name of a historical region located between south of the Amu Darya and west of the Indus River...

n satrap and kinsman. As Alexander approached, Bessus had his men fatally stab the Great King and then declared himself Darius' successor as Artaxerxes V, before retreating into Central Asia to launch a guerrilla
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

 campaign against Alexander. Alexander buried Darius' remains next to his Achaemenid predecessors in a regal funeral. He claimed that, while dying, Darius had named him as his successor to the Achaemenid throne. The Achaemenid Empire is normally considered to have fallen with Darius.


Alexander viewed Bessus as a usurper and set out to defeat him. This campaign, initially against Bessus, turned into a grand tour of central Asia. Alexander founded a series of new cities, all called Alexandria, including modern Kandahar
Kandahar
Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, with a population of about 512,200 as of 2011. It is the capital of Kandahar Province, located in the south of the country at about 1,005 m above sea level...

 in Afghanistan, and Alexandria Eschate
Alexandria Eschate
Alexandria Eschate or Alexandria Eskhata was founded by Alexander the Great in August 329 BCE as his most northerly base in Central Asia...

 ("The Furthest") in modern Tajikistan
Tajikistan
Tajikistan , officially the Republic of Tajikistan , is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. Afghanistan borders it to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east....

. The campaign took Alexander through Media
Medes
The MedesThe Medes...

, Parthia
Parthia
Parthia is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire....

, Aria (West Afghanistan), Drangiana
Drangiana
Drangiana or Zarangiana was a historical region of the Achaemenid Empire. This region comprises territory around lake Hâmûn, wetlands in endorheic Sīstān basin on the Irano-Afghan-Pakistan border, and its primary watershed Helmand river in nowadays southwestern Afghanistan and the "Nok Kondi" of...

, Arachosia
Arachosia
Arachosia is the Latinized form of the Greek name of an Achaemenid and Seleucid governorate in the eastern part of their respective empires, around modern-day southern Afghanistan. The Greek term "Arachosia" corresponds to the Iranian land of Harauti which was between Kandahar in Afghanistan and...

 (South and Central Afghanistan), Bactria
Bactria
Bactria and also appears in the Zend Avesta as Bukhdi. It is the ancient name of a historical region located between south of the Amu Darya and west of the Indus River...

 (North and Central Afghanistan), and Scythia
Scythia
In antiquity, Scythian or Scyths were terms used by the Greeks to refer to certain Iranian groups of horse-riding nomadic pastoralists who dwelt on the Pontic-Caspian steppe...

.

Spitamenes
Spitamenes
Spitamenes Sogdian warlord, leader of the uprising in Sogdiana and Bactria against Alexander of Macedon 329 BC....

, who held an undefined position in the satrapy of Sogdiana, in 329 BC betrayed Bessus to Ptolemy
Ptolemy I Soter
Ptolemy I Soter I , also known as Ptolemy Lagides, c. 367 BC – c. 283 BC, was a Macedonian general under Alexander the Great, who became ruler of Egypt and founder of both the Ptolemaic Kingdom and the Ptolemaic Dynasty...

, one of Alexander's trusted companions, and Bessus was executed. However, when, at some point later, Alexander was on the Jaxartes
Syr Darya
The Syr Darya , also transliterated Syrdarya or Sirdaryo, is a river in Central Asia, sometimes known as the Jaxartes or Yaxartes from its Ancient Greek name . The Greek name is derived from Old Persian, Yakhsha Arta , a reference to the color of the river's water...

 dealing with an incursion by a horse nomad army, Spitamenes raised Sogdiana in revolt. Alexander personally defeated the Scythians at the Battle of Jaxartes
Battle of Jaxartes
The Battle of Jaxartes was a battle fought in 329 BC by Alexander the Great and his Macedonian army against the Scythians at the Syr Darya River - the modern name for the River Jaxartes...

 and immediately launched a campaign against Spitamenes, defeating him in the Battle of Gabai. After the defeat, Spitamenes was killed by his own men, who then sued for peace.

Problems and plots


During this time, Alexander took the Persian title "King of Kings" (Shahanshah) and adopted some elements of Persian dress and customs at his court, notably the custom of proskynesis
Proskynesis
Proskynesis refers to the traditional Persian act of prostrating oneself before a person of higher social rank....

, either a symbolic kissing of the hand, or prostration on the ground, that Persians showed to their social superiors. The Greeks regarded the gesture as the province of deities and believed that Alexander meant to deify himself by requiring it. This cost him the sympathies of many of his countrymen, and he eventually abandoned it. A plot against his life was revealed, and one of his officers, Philotas
Philotas
Philotas was the eldest son of Parmenion, Alexander's most experienced and talented general. When Alexander became king of Macedonia with Parmenion's support Philotas (in Greek, Φιλώτας, died October 330 BC) was the eldest son of Parmenion, Alexander's most experienced and talented general. When...

, was executed for failing to alert Alexander. The death of the son necessitated the death of the father, and thus Parmenion
Parmenion
Parmenion was a Macedonian general in the service of Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great, murdered on a suspected false charge of treason....

, who had been charged with guarding the treasury at Ecbatana
Ecbatana
Ecbatana is supposed to be the capital of Astyages , which was taken by the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great in the sixth year of Nabonidus...

, was assassinated at Alexander's command, to prevent attempts at vengeance. Most infamously, Alexander personally killed the man who had saved his life at Granicus, Cleitus the Black, during a drunken argument at Maracanda. Later, in the Central Asian campaign, a second plot against his life was revealed, this one instigated by his own royal pages
Page (servant)
A page or page boy is a traditionally young male servant, a messenger at the service of a nobleman or royal.-The medieval page:In medieval times, a page was an attendant to a knight; an apprentice squire...

. His official historian, Callisthenes
Callisthenes
Callisthenes of Olynthus was a Greek historian. He was the son of Hero and Proxenus of Atarneus, which made him the great nephew of Aristotle by his sister Arimneste. They first met when Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great...

 of Olynthus
Olynthus
Olynthus was an ancient city of Chalcidice, built mostly on two flat-topped hills 30–40m in height, in a fertile plain at the head of the Gulf of Torone, near the neck of the peninsula of Pallene, about 2.5 kilometers from the sea, and about 60 stadia Olynthus was an ancient city of...

, was implicated in the plot; however, historians have yet to reach consensus regarding this involvement. Callisthenes had fallen out of favor by leading the opposition to the attempt to introduce proskynesis.

Macedon in Alexander's absence


When Alexander set out for Asia, he left his general Antipater
Antipater
Antipater was a Macedonian general and a supporter of kings Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great. In 320 BC, he became Regent of all of Alexander's Empire. Antipater was one of the sons of a Macedonian nobleman called Iollas or Iolaus and his family were distant collateral relatives to the...

, an experienced military and political leader and part of Philip II's "Old Guard", in charge of Macedon. Alexander's sacking of Thebes ensured that Greece remained quiet during his absence. The one exception was a call to arms by Spartan king Agis III
Agis III
Agis III , son of Archidamus III, was the 20th Eurypontid king of Sparta.He succeeded his father in 338 BC, on the very day of the battle of Chaeronea...

 in 331 BC, whom Antipater defeated and killed in battle at Megalopolis
Megalopolis, Greece
Megalópoli is a town in the western part of the peripheral unit of Arcadia, southern Greece. It is located in the same site as ancient Megalopolis . "Megalopolis" is a Greek word for Great city. When it was founded, in 371 BC, it was the first urbanization in rustic and primitive Arcadia. In...

 the following year. Antipater referred the Spartans' punishment to Alexander, who chose to pardon them. There was also considerable friction between Antipater and Olympias, and each complained to Alexander about the other. In general, Greece enjoyed a period of peace and prosperity during Alexander's campaign in Asia. Alexander sent back vast sums from his conquest, which stimulated the economy and increased trade across his empire. However, Alexander's constant demands for troops and the migration of Macedonians throughout his empire depleted Macedon's manpower, greatly weakening it in the years after Alexander, and ultimately led to its subjugation by Rome.

Invasion of the Indian subcontinent



After the death of Spitamenes
Spitamenes
Spitamenes Sogdian warlord, leader of the uprising in Sogdiana and Bactria against Alexander of Macedon 329 BC....

 and his marriage to Roxana (Roshanak in Bactrian
Bactrian language
The Bactrian language is an extinct Eastern Iranian language which was spoken in the Central Asian region of Bactria. Linguistically, it is classified as belonging to the middle period of the East Iranian branch...

) to cement relations with his new satrapies, Alexander turned to the Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent, Indo-Pak Subcontinent or South Asian Subcontinent is a region of the Asian continent on the Indian tectonic plate from the Hindu Kush or Hindu Koh, Himalayas and including the Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges, forming a land mass which extends...

. He invited the chieftains
Tribal chief
A tribal chief is the leader of a tribal society or chiefdom. Tribal societies with social stratification under a single leader emerged in the Neolithic period out of earlier tribal structures with little stratification, and they remained prevalent throughout the Iron Age.In the case of ...

 of the former satrapy of Gandhara
Gandhara
Gandhāra , is the name of an ancient kingdom , located in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Gandhara was located mainly in the vale of Peshawar, the Potohar plateau and on the Kabul River...

, in the north of what is now Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

, to come to him and submit to his authority. Omphis, ruler of Taxila
Taxila
Taxila is a Tehsil in the Rawalpindi District of Punjab province of Pakistan. It is an important archaeological site.Taxila is situated about northwest of Islamabad Capital Territory and Rawalpindi in Panjab; just off the Grand Trunk Road...

, whose kingdom extended from the Indus to the Hydaspes
Jhelum River
Jehlum River or Jhelum River , ) is a river that flows in India and Pakistan. It is the largest and most western of the five rivers of Punjab, and passes through Jhelum District...

, complied, but the chieftains of some hill clans, including the Aspasioi and Assakenoi sections of the Kambojas
Kambojas
The Kambojas were a kshatriya tribe of Iron Age India, frequently mentioned in Sanskrit and Pali literature.They were an Indo-Iranian tribe situated at the boundary of the Indo-Aryans and the Iranians, and appear to have moved from the Iranian into the Indo-Aryan sphere over time.The Kambojas...

 (known in Indian texts also as Ashvayanas and Ashvakayanas), refused to submit.

In the winter of 327/326 BC, Alexander personally led a campaign against these clans; the Aspasioi of Kunar
Kunar Valley
Kunar Valley or Chitral Valley is a valley in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In Afghanistan the length of the valley is almost entirely narrow with steep and rugged mountains on both sides. The center of the valley is occupied by the Kunar River flowing south where it joins the Kabul River...

 valley
Valley
In geology, a valley or dale is a depression with predominant extent in one direction. A very deep river valley may be called a canyon or gorge.The terms U-shaped and V-shaped are descriptive terms of geography to characterize the form of valleys...

s, the Guraeans of the Guraeus valley, and the Assakenoi of the Swat
Swat (Pakistan)
Swat is a valley and an administrative district in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, located close to the Afghan-Pakistan border. It is the upper valley of the Swat River, which rises in the Hindu Kush range. The capital of Swat is Saidu Sharif, but the main town in the Swat valley is Mingora...

 and Buner valleys. A fierce contest ensued with the Aspasioi in which Alexander was wounded in the shoulder by a dart, but eventually the Aspasioi lost. Alexander then faced the Assakenoi, who fought in the strongholds of Massaga, Ora and Aornos
Aornos
Aornos was the site of Alexander the Great's last siege, "the climax to Alexander's career as the greatest besieger in history" according to Alexander's biographer Robin Lane Fox. The siege took place in the winter of 327–326 BCE...

. The fort of Massaga was reduced only after days of bloody fighting, in which Alexander was wounded seriously in the ankle. According to Curtius
Quintus Curtius Rufus
Quintus Curtius Rufus was a Roman historian, writing probably during the reign of the Emperor Claudius or Vespasian. His only surviving work, Historiae Alexandri Magni, is a biography of Alexander the Great in Latin in ten books, of which the first two are lost, and the remaining eight are...

, "Not only did Alexander slaughter the entire population of Massaga, but also did he reduce its buildings to rubble". A similar slaughter followed at Ora. In the aftermath of Massaga and Ora, numerous Assakenians fled to the fortress of Aornos
Aornos
Aornos was the site of Alexander the Great's last siege, "the climax to Alexander's career as the greatest besieger in history" according to Alexander's biographer Robin Lane Fox. The siege took place in the winter of 327–326 BCE...

. Alexander followed close behind and captured the strategic hill-fort after four bloody days.
After Aornos, Alexander crossed the Indus and fought and won an epic battle against King Porus, who ruled a region in the Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

, in the Battle of the Hydaspes in 326 BC. Alexander was impressed by Porus's bravery, and made him an ally. He appointed Porus as satrap, and added to Porus' territory land that he did not previously own. Choosing a local helped him control these lands so distant from Greece. Alexander founded two cities on opposite sides of the Hydaspes river, naming one Bucephala
Alexandria Bucephalous
Alexandria Bucephalous, or Alexandria Bucephalus or Alexandria Bucephala or Bucephala or Bucephalia, was a city founded by Alexander the Great in memory of his beloved horse Bucephalus. Founded in May 326 BC, the town was located on the Hydaspes , east of the Indus River. Bucephalus had died after...

, in honor of his horse, who died around this time. The other was Nicaea
Nicaea (Punjab)
Nicaea was a city in what is now the present-day Mong, one of the two cities founded by Alexander the Great on opposite sides of the Hydaspes river. The second city founded by Alexander on the Hydaspes was Bucephala....

 (Victory) located at the site of modern day Mong
Mong, Punjab
Mong or Mung is a town and Union Council of Mandi Bahauddin District in the Punjab province of Pakistan. It is located at at an altitude of 217 metres ....

.

Revolt of the army



East of Porus' kingdom, near the Ganges River
Ganges River
The Ganges or Ganga, , is a trans-boundary river of India and Bangladesh. The river rises in the western Himalayas in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, and flows south and east through the Gangetic Plain of North India into Bangladesh, where it empties into the Bay of Bengal. By discharge it...

, were the Nanda Empire
Nanda Dynasty
The Nanda Empire originated from the region of Magadha in Ancient India during the 5th and 4th centuries BC. At its greatest extent, the Nanda Empire extended from Bengal in the east, to Punjab in the west and as far south as the Vindhya Range...

 of Magadha
Magadha
Magadha formed one of the sixteen Mahājanapadas or kingdoms in ancient India. The core of the kingdom was the area of Bihar south of the Ganga; its first capital was Rajagriha then Pataliputra...

 and further east the Gangaridai Empire
Gangaridai
Gangaridai was an ancient state found around 300 BC where the Bengal region lies today . It was described by the Greek traveller Megasthenes in his work Indica...

 of Bengal
Bengal
Bengal is a historical and geographical region in the northeast region of the Indian Subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Today, it is mainly divided between the sovereign land of People's Republic of Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, although some regions of the previous...

. Fearing the prospect of facing other large armies and exhausted by years of campaigning, Alexander's army mutinied at the Hyphasis River
Beas River
The Beas River is a river in the northern part of India. The river rises in the Himalayas in central Himachal Pradesh, India, and flows for some 470 km to the Sutlej River in the Indian state of Punjab....

, refusing to march further east. This river thus marks the easternmost extent of Alexander's conquests.
Alexander tried to persuade his soldiers to march further but his general Coenus pleaded with him to change his opinion and return; the men, he said, "longed to again see their parents, their wives and children, their homeland". Alexander eventually agreed and turned south, marching along the Indus
Indus River
The Indus River is a major river which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through China and India.Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and...

. Along the way his army conquered the Malli
Malli
Mallı is a village in the Goychay Rayon of Azerbaijan. The villages forms part of the municipality of Mallı-Şıxlı....

 clans (in modern day Multan
Multan
Multan , is a city in the Punjab Province of Pakistan and capital of Multan District. It is located in the southern part of the province on the east bank of the Chenab River, more or less in the geographic centre of the country and about from Islamabad, from Lahore and from Karachi...

), and other Indian tribes.

Alexander sent much of his army to Carmania (modern southern Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

) with general Craterus
Craterus
Craterus was a Macedonian general under Alexander the Great and one of the Diadochi.He was the son of a Macedonian nobleman named Alexander from Orestis and brother of admiral Amphoterus. Craterus commanded the phalanx and all infantry on the left wing in Battle of Issus...

, and commissioned a fleet to explore the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

 shore under his admiral Nearchus
Nearchus
Nearchus was one of the officers, a navarch, in the army of Alexander the Great. His celebrated voyage from India to Susa after Alexander's expedition in India is preserved in Arrian's account, the Indica....

, while he led the rest back to Persia through the more difficult southern route along the Gedrosian Desert
Gedrosia
Gedrosia from Pashto Gwadar-khua is the hellenized name of an area that corresponds to today's Balochistan. Eastern Balochistan is southwestern province of Pakistan and parts of southwestern and south-central Afghanistan and western Balochistan is divided between Iranian provinces of Hormozgan and...

 and Makran
Makran
The present day Makran is a semi-desert coastal strip in the south of Sindh, Balochistan, in Iran and Pakistan, along the coast of the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman. The present day Makran derived its name from Maka, a satrap of Achaemenid Empire....

 (now part of southern Iran and Pakistan). Alexander reached Susa in 324 BC, but not before losing many men to the harsh desert.

Last years in Persia



Discovering that many of his satrap
Satrap
Satrap was the name given to the governors of the provinces of the ancient Median and Achaemenid Empires and in several of their successors, such as the Sassanid Empire and the Hellenistic empires....

s and military governors had misbehaved in his absence, Alexander executed several of them as examples on his way to Susa
Susa
Susa was an ancient city of the Elamite, Persian and Parthian empires of Iran. It is located in the lower Zagros Mountains about east of the Tigris River, between the Karkheh and Dez Rivers....

. As a gesture of thanks, he paid off the debts of his soldiers, and announced that he would send over-aged and disabled veterans back to Macedon, led by Craterus. His troops misunderstood his intention and mutinied at the town of Opis
Opis
Opis was an ancient Babylonian city on the Tigris, not far from modern Baghdad. The precise location of Opis has not been established, but from the Akkadian and Greek texts, it was located on the east bank of the Tigris, near the Diyala River.-History:Opis is mentioned for the first time at the...

. They refused to be sent away and criticized his adoption of Persian customs and dress and the introduction of Persian officers and soldiers into Macedonian units. After three days, unable to persuade his men to back down, Alexander gave Persians command posts in the army and conferred Macedonian military titles upon Persian units. The Macedonians quickly begged forgiveness, which Alexander accepted, and held a great banquet for several thousand of his men at which he and they ate together. In an attempt to craft a lasting harmony between his Macedonian and Persian subjects, Alexander held a mass marriage of his senior officers to Persian and other noblewomen at Susa, but few of those marriages seem to have lasted much beyond a year. Meanwhile, upon his return, Alexander learned that guards of the tomb of Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 had desecrated it, and swiftly executed them.

After Alexander traveled to Ecbatana to retrieve the bulk of the Persian treasure, his closest friend and possible lover, Hephaestion
Hephaestion
Hephaestion , son of Amyntor, was a Macedonian nobleman and a general in the army of Alexander the Great...

, died of illness or poisoning. Hephaestion's death devastated Aelxander, and he ordered the preparation of an expensive funeral pyre
Funeral Pyre
"Funeral Pyre" is The Jam's thirteenth single released on 6 June 1981. Backed by the B-side "Disguises", a cover of a Who track, it reached #4 in the UK Singles chart....

 in Babylon, as well as a decree for public mourning. Back in Babylon, Alexander planned a series of new campaigns, beginning with an invasion of Arabia, but he would not have a chance to realize them, as he died shortly thereafter.

Death and succession



On either 10 or 11 June 323 BC, Alexander died in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II, in Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

, at age 32. Details of the death differ slightly – Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

's account is that roughly 14 days before his death, Alexander entertained admiral Nearchus
Nearchus
Nearchus was one of the officers, a navarch, in the army of Alexander the Great. His celebrated voyage from India to Susa after Alexander's expedition in India is preserved in Arrian's account, the Indica....

, and spent the night and next day drinking with Medius of Larissa
Medius of Larissa
Medius , son of Oxythemis, was a native of Larissa in Thessaly and a friend of Alexander the Great. He is mentioned as commanding a trireme during the descent of the Indus river, but with this exception his name does not occur in the military operations of the king...

. He developed a fever, which worsened until he was unable to speak. The common soldiers, anxious about his health, were granted the right to file past him as he silently waved at them. Diodorus recounts that Alexander was struck with pain after downing a large bowl of unmixed wine in honour of Hercules
Hercules
Hercules is the Roman name for Greek demigod Heracles, son of Zeus , and the mortal Alcmene...

, and died after some agony. Arrian also mentioned this as an alternative, but Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

 specifically denied this claim.

Given the propensity of the Macedonian aristocracy to assassination, foul play featured in multiple accounts of his death. Diodorus, Plutarch, Arrian and Justin all mentioned the theory that Alexander was poisoned. Plutarch dismissed it as a fabrication, while both Diodorus and Arrian noted that they mentioned it only for the sake of completeness.

The accounts were nevertheless fairly consistent in designating Antipater, recently removed as Macedonian viceroy, and at odds with Olympias, as the head of the alleged plot. Perhaps taking his summons to Babylon as a death sentence, and having seen the fate of Parmenion and Philotas, Antipater purportedly arranged for Alexander to be poisoned by his son Iollas, who was Alexander's wine-pourer. There was even a suggestion that Aristotle may have participated. The strongest argument against the poison theory is the fact that twelve days passed between the start of his illness and his death; such long-acting poisons were probably not available. In 2010, however, a new theory proposed that the circumstances of his death were compatible with poisoning by water of the river Styx (Mavroneri
Mavroneri
Mavronéri is a river identified with the River Styx of Greek mythology according to Hesiod’s description in Theogony. It is located near Nonakris in the Aroania Mountains of Arcadia on the Peloponnesian peninsula. Some scientists have speculated that the waters of the Mavronéri were used to poison...

) that contained calicheamicin
Calicheamicin
The calicheamicins are a class of enediyne antibiotics derived from the bacterium Micromonospora echinospora, with calicheamicin γ1 being the most notable. It was isolated originally from a rock collected by a Scripps Research Institute chemist while hiking in Waco, Texas. It is extremely toxic to...

, a dangerous compound produced by bacteria
Bacteria
Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

.

Several natural causes (diseases) have been suggested, including malaria
Malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

 and typhoid fever
Typhoid fever
Typhoid fever, also known as Typhoid, is a common worldwide bacterial disease, transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person, which contain the bacterium Salmonella enterica, serovar Typhi...

. A 1998 article in the New England Journal of Medicine
New England Journal of Medicine
The New England Journal of Medicine is an English-language peer-reviewed medical journal published by the Massachusetts Medical Society. It describes itself as the oldest continuously published medical journal in the world.-History:...

attributed his death to typhoid fever complicated by bowel perforation and ascending paralysis
Paralysis
Paralysis is loss of muscle function for one or more muscles. Paralysis can be accompanied by a loss of feeling in the affected area if there is sensory damage as well as motor. A study conducted by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, suggests that about 1 in 50 people have been diagnosed...

. Another recent analysis suggested pyrogenic spondylitis or meningitis
Meningitis
Meningitis is inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, known collectively as the meninges. The inflammation may be caused by infection with viruses, bacteria, or other microorganisms, and less commonly by certain drugs...

. Other illnesses fit the symptoms, including acute pancreatitis
Acute pancreatitis
Acute pancreatitis or acute pancreatic necrosis is a sudden inflammation of the pancreas. It can have severe complications and high mortality despite treatment...

 and West Nile virus
West Nile virus
West Nile virus is a virus of the family Flaviviridae. Part of the Japanese encephalitis antigenic complex of viruses, it is found in both tropical and temperate regions. It mainly infects birds, but is known to infect humans, horses, dogs, cats, bats, chipmunks, skunks, squirrels, domestic...

. Natural-cause theories also tend to emphasise that Alexander's health may have been in general decline after years of heavy drinking and severe wounds. The anguish that Alexander felt after Hephaestion
Hephaestion
Hephaestion , son of Amyntor, was a Macedonian nobleman and a general in the army of Alexander the Great...

's death may also have contributed to his declining health. Another possible cause is an overdose of medication containing hellebore
Hellebore
Commonly known as hellebores, members of the genus Helleborus comprise approximately 20 species of herbaceous perennial flowering plants in the family Ranunculaceae, within which it gave its name to the tribe of Helleboreae...

, which is deadly in large doses.

After death



Alexander's body was laid in a gold anthropoid sarcophagus
Sarcophagus
A sarcophagus is a funeral receptacle for a corpse, most commonly carved or cut from stone. The word "sarcophagus" comes from the Greek σαρξ sarx meaning "flesh", and φαγειν phagein meaning "to eat", hence sarkophagus means "flesh-eating"; from the phrase lithos sarkophagos...

, which was in turn placed in a gold casket. According to Aelian, a seer called Aristander foretold that the land where Alexander was laid to rest "would be happy and unvanquishable forever". Perhaps more likely, the successors may have seen possession of the body as a symbol of legitimacy, since burying the prior king was a royal prerogative
Royal Prerogative
The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege, and immunity, recognized in common law and, sometimes, in civil law jurisdictions possessing a monarchy as belonging to the sovereign alone. It is the means by which some of the executive powers of government, possessed by and...

. While Alxander's funeral cortege was on its way to Macedon, Ptolemy stole it and took it to Memphis. His successor, Ptolemy II Philadelphus
Ptolemy II Philadelphus
Ptolemy II Philadelphus was the king of Ptolemaic Egypt from 283 BCE to 246 BCE. He was the son of the founder of the Ptolemaic kingdom Ptolemy I Soter and Berenice, and was educated by Philitas of Cos...

, transferred the sarcophagus to Alexandria, where it remained until at least late Antiquity
Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

. Ptolemy IX Lathyros
Ptolemy IX Lathyros
Ptolemy IX Soter II or Lathyros was king of Egypt three times, from 116 BC to 110 BC, 109 BC to 107 BC and 88 BC to 81 BC, with intervening periods ruled by his brother, Ptolemy X Alexander....

, one of Ptolemy's final successors, replaced Alexander's sarcophagus with a glass one so he could convert the original to coinage. Pompey
Pompey
Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, also known as Pompey or Pompey the Great , was a military and political leader of the late Roman Republic...

, Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 and Augustus
Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

 all visited the tomb in Alexandria. The latter allegedly accidentally knocked the nose off the body. Caligula
Caligula
Caligula , also known as Gaius, was Roman Emperor from 37 AD to 41 AD. Caligula was a member of the house of rulers conventionally known as the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Caligula's father Germanicus, the nephew and adopted son of Emperor Tiberius, was a very successful general and one of Rome's most...

 was said to have taken Alexander's breastplate from the tomb for his own use. In c. AD 200, Emperor Septimius Severus
Septimius Severus
Septimius Severus , also known as Severus, was Roman Emperor from 193 to 211. Severus was born in Leptis Magna in the province of Africa. As a young man he advanced through the customary succession of offices under the reigns of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. Severus seized power after the death of...

 closed Alexander's tomb to the public. His son and successor, Caracalla
Caracalla
Caracalla , was Roman emperor from 198 to 217. The eldest son of Septimius Severus, he ruled jointly with his younger brother Geta until he murdered the latter in 211...

, a great admirer, visited the tomb during his own reign. After this, details on the fate of the tomb are hazy.

The so-called "Alexander Sarcophagus
Alexander Sarcophagus
The Alexander Sarcophagus is a late 4th century BC stone sarcophagus adorned with bas-relief carvings of Alexander the Great. The work is remarkably well preserved and has been celebrated for its high aesthetic achievement...

", discovered near Sidon
Sidon
Sidon or Saïda is the third-largest city in Lebanon. It is located in the South Governorate of Lebanon, on the Mediterranean coast, about 40 km north of Tyre and 40 km south of the capital Beirut. In Genesis, Sidon is the son of Canaan the grandson of Noah...

 and now in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum
Istanbul Archaeology Museum
The Istanbul Archaeology Museums is a group of three archeological museums located in the Eminönü district of Istanbul, Turkey, near Gülhane Park and Topkapı Palace.The Istanbul Archaeology Museums consists of three museums....

, is so named not because it was thought to have contained Alexander's remains, but because its bas-reliefs depict Alexander and his companions fighting the Persians and hunting. It was originally thought to have been the sarcophagus of Abdalonymus
Abdalonymus
Abdalonymus or, variously, Abdolonymus, Abdolonimus, and Abdalonimus was a gardener, but of royal descent, who was made king of Sidon by Alexander the Great in 332 BC.-Life:...

 (died 311 BC), the king of Sidon appointed by Alexander immediately following the battle of Issus
Battle of Issus
The Battle of Issus occurred in southern Anatolia, in November 333 BC. The invading troops, led by the young Alexander of Macedonia, defeated the army personally led by Darius III of Achaemenid Persia in the second great battle for primacy in Asia...

 in 331. However, more recently, it has been suggested that it may date from earlier than Abdalonymus' death.

Division of the empire




Alexander's death was so sudden that when reports of his death reached Greece, they were not immediately believed. Alexander had no obvious or legitimate heir, his son Alexander IV by Roxane being born after Alexander's death. According to Diodorus, Alexander's companions asked him on his deathbed to whom he bequeathed his kingdom; his laconic reply was "tôi kratistôi"—"to the strongest". Arrian and Plutarch claimed that Alexander was speechless by this point, implying that this was an apocryphal story. Diodorus, Curtius and Justin offered the more plausible story that Alexander passed his signet ring
Seal (device)
A seal can be a figure impressed in wax, clay, or some other medium, or embossed on paper, with the purpose of authenticating a document ; but the term can also mean the device for making such impressions, being essentially a mould with the mirror image of the design carved in sunken- relief or...

 to Perdiccas
Perdiccas
Perdiccas was one of Alexander the Great's generals. After Alexander's death in 323 BC he became regent of all Alexander's empire.Arrian tells us he was son of Orontes, a descendant of the independent princes of the Macedonian province of Orestis...

, a bodyguard and leader of the companion cavalry, in front of witnesses, thereby nominating him.

Perdiccas initially did not claim power, instead suggesting that Roxane's baby would be king, if male; with himself, Craterus
Craterus
Craterus was a Macedonian general under Alexander the Great and one of the Diadochi.He was the son of a Macedonian nobleman named Alexander from Orestis and brother of admiral Amphoterus. Craterus commanded the phalanx and all infantry on the left wing in Battle of Issus...

, Leonnatus, and Antipater as guardians. However, the infantry, under the command of Meleager
Meleager (general)
Meleager was a Macedonian officer of distinction in the service of Alexander the Great.Meleager, son of Neoptolemus, is first mentioned in the war against the Getae . At the Granicus in the following year , he commanded one of the divisions of the phalanx, a post which he afterward held...

, rejected this arrangement since they had been excluded from the discussion. Instead, they supported Alexander's half-brother Philip Arrhidaeus. Eventually, the two sides reconciled, and after the birth of Alexander IV, he and Philip III were appointed joint kings, albeit in name only.

Dissension and rivalry soon afflicted the Macedonians, however. The satrapies handed out by Perdiccas at the Partition of Babylon
Partition of Babylon
The Partition of Babylon designates the attribution of the territories of Alexander the Great between his generals after his death in 323 BC.-Background:...

 became power bases each general used to bid for power. After the assassination of Perdiccas in 321 BC, Macedonian unity collapsed, and 40 years of war between "The Successors" (Diadochi) ensued before the Hellenistic world settled into four stable power blocks: the Ptolemaic Kingdom
Ptolemaic Kingdom
The Ptolemaic Kingdom in and around Egypt began following Alexander the Great's conquest in 332 BC and ended with the death of Cleopatra VII and the Roman conquest in 30 BC. It was founded when Ptolemy I Soter declared himself Pharaoh of Egypt, creating a powerful Hellenistic state stretching from...

 of Egypt, the Seleucid Empire
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

 in the east, the Kingdom of Pergamon
Pergamon
Pergamon , or Pergamum, was an ancient Greek city in modern-day Turkey, in Mysia, today located from the Aegean Sea on a promontory on the north side of the river Caicus , that became the capital of the Kingdom of Pergamon during the Hellenistic period, under the Attalid dynasty, 281–133 BC...

 in Asia Minor, and Macedon. In the process, both Alexander IV and Philip III were murdered.

Testament


Diodorus
Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who flourished between 60 and 30 BC. According to Diodorus' own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily . With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus' life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work, Bibliotheca...

 stated that Alexander had given detailed written instructions to Craterus some time before his death. Craterus started to carry out Alexander's commands, but the successors chose not to further implement them, on the grounds they were impractical and extravagant. Nevertheless, Perdiccas read Alexander's will to his troops. The testament called for military expansion into the southern and western Mediterranean, monumental constructions, and the intermixing of Eastern and Western populations. It included:
  • Construction of a monumental tomb for his father Philip, "to match the greatest of the pyramid
    Pyramid
    A pyramid is a structure whose outer surfaces are triangular and converge at a single point. The base of a pyramid can be trilateral, quadrilateral, or any polygon shape, meaning that a pyramid has at least three triangular surfaces...

    s of Egypt"
  • Erection of great temples in Delos
    Delos
    The island of Delos , isolated in the centre of the roughly circular ring of islands called the Cyclades, near Mykonos, is one of the most important mythological, historical and archaeological sites in Greece...

    , Delphi
    Delphi
    Delphi is both an archaeological site and a modern town in Greece on the south-western spur of Mount Parnassus in the valley of Phocis.In Greek mythology, Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world, and a major site for the worship of the god...

    , Dodona
    Dodona
    Dodona in Epirus in northwestern Greece, was an oracle devoted to a Mother Goddess identified at other sites with Rhea or Gaia, but here called Dione, who was joined and partly supplanted in historical times by the Greek god Zeus.The shrine of Dodona was regarded as the oldest Hellenic oracle,...

    , Dium, Amphipolis
    Amphipolis
    Amphipolis was an ancient Greek city in the region once inhabited by the Edoni people in the present-day region of Central Macedonia. It was built on a raised plateau overlooking the east bank of the river Strymon where it emerged from Lake Cercinitis, about 3 m. from the Aegean Sea. Founded in...

    , and a monumental temple to Athena
    Athena
    In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

     at Troy
    Troy
    Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

  • Conquest of Arabia and the entire Mediterranean Basin
  • Circumnavigation of Africa
  • Development of cities and the "transplant of populations from Asia to Europe and in the opposite direction from Europe to Asia, in order to bring the largest continent to common unity and to friendship by means of intermarriage and family ties."

Generalship




Alexander earned the epithet "the Great" due to his unparalleled success as a military commander. He never lost a battle, despite typically being outnumbered. This was due to use of terrain, phalanx
Phalanx
Phalanx, from Ancient Greek , may refer to:-Military:* Phalanx formation, in ancient Greek warfare* Phalanx CIWS, a U.S. Navy defense system to protect against an anti-ship missile-Politics:...

 and cavalry tactics, bold strategy, and the fierce loyalty of his troops. The Macedonian phalanx
Macedonian phalanx
The Macedonian phalanx is an infantry formation developed by Philip II and used by his son Alexander the Great to conquer the Persian Empire and other armies...

, armed with the sarissa
Sarissa
The sarissa or sarisa was a 4 to 7 meter long spear used in the ancient Greek and Hellenistic warfare. It was introduced by Philip II of Macedon and was used in the traditional Greek phalanx formation as a replacement for the earlier dory, which was considerably shorter. The phalanxes of Philip...

, a spear 6 metres (19.7 ft) long, had been developed and perfected by Philip II through rigorous training, and Alexander used its speed and maneuverability to great effect against larger but more disparate Persian forces. Alexander also recognized the potential for disunity among his diverse army, which employed various languages and weapons. He overcame this by being personally involved in battle, in the manner of a Macedonian king.

In his first battle in Asia, at Granicus, Alexander used only a small part of his forces, perhaps 13,000 infantry with 5,000 cavalry, against a much larger Persian force of 40,000. Alexander placed the phalanx at the center and cavalry and archers on the wings, so that his line matched the length of the Persian cavalry line, about 3 km (1.86 mi). By contrast, the Persian infantry was stationed behind its cavalry. This ensured that Alexander would not be outflanked, while his phalanx, armed with long pikes, had a considerable advantage over the Persian's scimitars and javelins. Macedonian losses were negligible compared to those of the Persians.

At Issus in 333 BC, his first confrontation with Darius, he used the same deployment, and again the central phalanx pushed through. Alexander personally led the charge in the center, routing the opposing army. At the decisive encounter with Darius at Gaugamela, Darius equipped his chariots with scythes on the wheels to break up the phalanx and equipped his cavalry with pikes. Alexander arranged a double phalanx, with the center advancing at an angle, parting when the chariots bore down and then reforming. The advance was successful and broke Darius' center, causing the latter to flee once again.

When faced with opponents who used unfamiliar fighting techniques, such as in Central Asia and India, Alexander adapted his forces to his opponents' style. Thus, in Bactria
Bactria
Bactria and also appears in the Zend Avesta as Bukhdi. It is the ancient name of a historical region located between south of the Amu Darya and west of the Indus River...

 and Sogdiana
Sogdiana
Sogdiana or Sogdia was the ancient civilization of an Iranian people and a province of the Achaemenid Empire, eighteenth in the list on the Behistun Inscription of Darius the Great . Sogdiana is "listed" as the second of the "good lands and countries" that Ahura Mazda created...

, Alexander successfully used his javelin throwers and archers to prevent outflanking movements, while massing his cavalry at the center. In India, confronted by Porus' elephant corps, the Macedonians opened their ranks to envelop the elephants and used their sarissas to strike upwards and dislodge the elephants' handlers.

Physical appearance


Greek biographer Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

 (ca. 45–120 AD) describes Alexander appearance as:

Greek historian Arrian
Arrian
Lucius Flavius Arrianus 'Xenophon , known in English as Arrian , and Arrian of Nicomedia, was a Roman historian, public servant, a military commander and a philosopher of the 2nd-century Roman period...

 (Lucius Flavius Arrianus 'Xenophon' ca. 86 – 160) described Alexander as:
British historian Peter Green
Peter Green (historian)
Peter Green is a British classical scholar noted for his works on Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age of ancient history, generally regarded as spanning the era from the death of Alexander in 323 BC up to either the date of the Battle of Actium or the death of Augustus in 14 AD...

 provided a description of Alexander's appearance, based on his review of statues and some ancient documents:
Ancient authors recorded that Alexander was so pleased with portraits of himself created by Lysippos
Lysippos
Lysippos was a Greek sculptor of the 4th century BC. Together with Scopas and Praxiteles, he is considered one of the three greatest sculptors of the Classical Greek era, bringing transition into the Hellenistic period. Problems confront the study of Lysippos because of the difficulty of...

 that he forbade other sculptors from crafting his image. Lysippos
Lysippos
Lysippos was a Greek sculptor of the 4th century BC. Together with Scopas and Praxiteles, he is considered one of the three greatest sculptors of the Classical Greek era, bringing transition into the Hellenistic period. Problems confront the study of Lysippos because of the difficulty of...

 had often used the Contrapposto
Contrapposto
Contrapposto is an Italian term that means counterpose. It is used in the visual arts to describe a human figure standing with most of its weight on one foot so that its shoulders and arms twist off-axis from the hips and legs. This gives the figure a more dynamic, or alternatively relaxed...

 sculptural scheme to portray Alexander and other characters such as Apoxyomenos
Apoxyomenos
Apoxyomenos is one of the conventional subjects of ancient Greek votive sculpture; it represents an athlete, caught in the familiar act of scraping sweat and dust from his body with the small curved instrument that the Romans called a strigil....

, Hermes
Hermes
Hermes is the great messenger of the gods in Greek mythology and a guide to the Underworld. Hermes was born on Mount Kyllini in Arcadia. An Olympian god, he is also the patron of boundaries and of the travelers who cross them, of shepherds and cowherds, of the cunning of thieves, of orators and...

 and Eros
Eros
Eros , in Greek mythology, was the Greek god of love. His Roman counterpart was Cupid . Some myths make him a primordial god, while in other myths, he is the son of Aphrodite....

. Lysippos' sculpture, famous for its naturalism, as opposed to a stiffer, more static pose, is thought to be the most faithful depiction.

Personality



Some of Alexander's strongest personality traits formed in response to his parents. His mother had huge ambitions, and encouraged him to believe it was his destiny to conquer the Persian Empire. Olympias' influence instilled a sense of destiny in him, and Plutarch tells us that his ambition "kept his spirit serious and lofty in advance of his years". However, his father Philip was Alexander's most immediate and influential role model, as the young Alexander watched him campaign practically every year, winning victory after victory while ignoring severe wounds. Alexander's relationship with his father forged the competitive side of his personality; he had a need to out-do his father, illustrated by his reckless behavior in battle. While Alexander worried that his father would leave him "no great or brilliant achievement to be displayed to the world", he also downplayed his father's achievements to his companions.

According to Plutarch, among Alexander's traits were a violent temper and rash, impulsive nature, which undoubtedly contributed to some of his decisions. Although Alexander was stubborn and did not respond well to orders from his father, he was open to reasoned debate. He had a calmer side—perceptive, logical, and calculating. He had a great desire for knowledge, a love for philosophy, and was an avid reader. This was no doubt in part due to Aristotle's tutelage; Alexander was intelligent and quick to learn. His intelligent and rational side was amply demonstrated by his ability and success as a general. He had great self-restraint in "pleasures of the body", in contrast with his lack of self control
Self control
Self control is the ability to control one's emotions, behavior and desires in order to obtain some reward later. In psychology it is sometimes called self-regulation...

 with alcohol.

Alexander was erudite and patronized both arts and sciences. However, he had little interest in sports or the Olympic games (unlike his father), seeking only the Homeric ideals of honor (timê) and glory (kudos). He had great charisma
Charisma
The term charisma has two senses: 1) compelling attractiveness or charm that can inspire devotion in others, 2) a divinely conferred power or talent. For some theological usages the term is rendered charism, with a meaning the same as sense 2...

 and force of personality, characteristics which made him a great leader. His unique abilities were further demonstrated by the inability of any of his generals to unite Macedonia and retain the Empire after his death – only Alexander had the ability to do so.

During his final years, and especially after the death of Hephaestion, Alexander began to exhibit signs of megalomania
Megalomania
Megalomania is a psycho-pathological condition characterized by delusional fantasies of power, relevance, or omnipotence. 'Megalomania is characterized by an inflated sense of self-esteem and overestimation by persons of their powers and beliefs'...

 and paranoia
Paranoia
Paranoia [] is a thought process believed to be heavily influenced by anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion. Paranoid thinking typically includes persecutory beliefs, or beliefs of conspiracy concerning a perceived threat towards oneself...

. His extraordinary achievements, coupled with his own ineffable sense of destiny and the flattery of his companions, may have combined to produce this effect. His delusions of grandeur
Delusions of Grandeur
Delusions of Grandeur is an album by Fleming and John that was released in 1995.-Track listing:# "I'm Not Afraid" — 3:13# "Break The Circles" — 3:01# "Delusions Of Grandeur" — 3:45# "Love Songs" — 4:33# "Letters In My Head" — 3:56...

 are readily visible in his testament and in his desire to conquer the world.

He appears to have believed himself a deity, or at least sought to deify himself. Olympias always insisted to him that he was the son of Zeus, a theory apparently confirmed to him by the oracle of Amun at Siwa
Siwa Oasis
The Siwa Oasis is an oasis in Egypt, located between the Qattara Depression and the Egyptian Sand Sea in the Libyan Desert, nearly 50 km east of the Libyan border, and 560 km from Cairo....

. He began to identify himself as the son of Zeus-Ammon. Alexander adopted elements of Persian dress and customs at court, notably proskynesis
Proskynesis
Proskynesis refers to the traditional Persian act of prostrating oneself before a person of higher social rank....

, a practice that Macedonians disapproved, and were loath to perform. This behavior cost him the sympathies of many of his countrymen. Howevever, Alexander also was a pragmatic ruler who understood the difficulties of ruling culturally disparate peoples, many of whom lived in kingdoms where the king was divine. Thus, rather than megalomania, his behavior may simply have been a practical attempt at strengthening his rule and keeping his empire together.

Personal relationships




The central personal relationship of Alexander's life was with his friend, general, and bodyguard Hephaestion
Hephaestion
Hephaestion , son of Amyntor, was a Macedonian nobleman and a general in the army of Alexander the Great...

, the son of a Macedonian noble. Hephaestion's death devastated Alexander. This event may have contributed to Alexander's failing health and detached mental state
Mental health
Mental health describes either a level of cognitive or emotional well-being or an absence of a mental disorder. From perspectives of the discipline of positive psychology or holism mental health may include an individual's ability to enjoy life and procure a balance between life activities and...

 during his final months.

Alexander married twice: Roxana
Roxana
Roxana sometimes Roxane, was a Bactrian noble and a wife of Alexander the Great. She was born earlier than the year 343 BC, though the precise date remains uncertain....

, daughter of the Bactria
Bactria
Bactria and also appears in the Zend Avesta as Bukhdi. It is the ancient name of a historical region located between south of the Amu Darya and west of the Indus River...

n nobleman Oxyartes
Oxyartes
Oxyartes was a Bactrian, father of Roxana, the wife of Alexander of Macedon. He is first mentioned as one of the chiefs who accompanied Bessus on his retreat across the Oxus river into Sogdiana...

, out of love; and Stateira II
Stateira II
Stateira II , possibly also known as Barsine, was the daughter of Stateira I and Darius III of Persia. After her father's defeat at the Battle of Issus, Stateira and her sisters became captives of Alexander of Macedon. They were treated well, and she became Alexander's second wife at the Susa...

, a Persian princess and daughter of Darius III of Persia, for political reasons. He apparently had two sons, Alexander IV of Macedon of Roxana and, possibly, Heracles of Macedon from his mistress Barsine. He lost another child when Roxana miscarried at Babylon.

Alexander's sexuality has been the subject of speculation and controversy. No ancient sources stated that Alexander had homosexual relationships, or that Alexander's relationship with Hephaestion was sexual. Aelian, however, writes of Alexander's visit to Troy
Troy
Troy was a city, both factual and legendary, located in northwest Anatolia in what is now Turkey, southeast of the Dardanelles and beside Mount Ida...

 where "Alexander garlanded the tomb of Achilles and Hephaestion that of Patroclus
Patroclus
In Greek mythology, as recorded in the Iliad by Homer, Patroclus, or Patroklos , was the son of Menoetius, grandson of Actor, King of Opus, and was Achilles' beloved comrade and brother-in-arms....

, the latter riddling that he was a beloved of Alexander, in just the same way as Patroclus was of Achilles". Noting that the word eromenos (ancient Greek for beloved) does not necessarily bear sexual meaning, Alexander may have been bisexual, which in his time was not controversial.

Green argues that there is little evidence in ancient sources that Alexander had much interest in women; he did not produce an heir until the very end of his life. However, he was relatively young when he died, and Ogden suggests that Alexander's matrimonial record is more impressive than his father's at the same age. Apart from wives, Alexander had many more female companions. Alexander accumulated a harem in the style of Persian kings, but he used it rather sparingly; showing great self-control in "pleasures of the body". Nevertheless, Plutarch described how Alexander was infatuated by Roxana while complimenting him on not forcing himself on her. Green suggested that, in the context of the period, Alexander formed quite strong friendships with women, including Ada of Caria
Ada of Caria
Ada of Caria was satrap of Caria in the 4th century BC.Ada was the daughter of Hecatomnus, satrap of Caria, and sister of Mausolus, Artemisia, Idrieus, and Pixodarus. She was married to her brother Idrieus, who succeeded Artemisia in 351 BC and died in 344 BC...

, who adopted him, and even Darius's mother Sisygambis
Sisygambis
Sisygambis was the daughter of king Artaxerxes II Memnon, who married Arsames of Ostanes and was the mother of Darius III of Persia, whose reign was ended during the wars of Alexander the Great....

, who supposedly died from grief upon hearing of Alexander's death.

Legacy



Alexander's legacy extended beyond his military conquests. His campaigns greatly increased contacts and trade between East and West, and vast areas to the east were significantly exposed to Greek civilization and influence. Some of the cities he founded became major cultural centers, many surviving into the twenty-first century. His chroniclers recorded valuable information about the areas through which he marched, while the Greeks themselves got a sense of belonging to a world beyond the Mediterranean.

Hellenistic kingdoms



Alexander's most immediate legacy was the introduction of Macedonian rule to huge new swathes of Asia. At the time of his death, Alexander's empire covered some 5200000 km² (2,007,731.2 sq mi), and was the largest state of its time. Many of these areas remained in Macedonian hands or under Greek influence for the next 200–300 years. The successor states that emerged were, at least initially, dominant forces, and these 300 years are often referred to as the Hellenistic period
Hellenistic period
The Hellenistic period or Hellenistic era describes the time which followed the conquests of Alexander the Great. It was so named by the historian J. G. Droysen. During this time, Greek cultural influence and power was at its zenith in Europe and Asia...

.

The eastern borders of Alexander's empire began to collapse even during his lifetime. However, the power vacuum he left in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent directly gave rise to one of the most powerful Indian dynasties in history. Taking advantage of this, Chandragupta Maurya
Chandragupta Maurya
Chandragupta Maurya , was the founder of the Maurya Empire. Chandragupta succeeded in conquering most of the Indian subcontinent. Chandragupta is considered the first unifier of India and its first genuine emperor...

 (referred to in Greek sources as "Sandrokottos"), of relatively humble origin, took control of the Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

, and with that power base proceeded to conquer the Nanda Empire.

Founding of cities


Over the course of his conquests, Alexander founded some twenty cities that bore his name
Alexandria (disambiguation)
Alexandria is a city in Egypt.Alexandria may also refer to- Alexandrias founded or renamed by Alexander the Great :* Iskandariya, Iraq* Alexandria Asiana, Iran* Alexandria Ariana, Afghanistan* Alexandria Bucephalous, Pakistan, on the Jhelum...

, most of them east of the Tigris
Tigris
The Tigris River is the eastern member of the two great rivers that define Mesopotamia, the other being the Euphrates. The river flows south from the mountains of southeastern Turkey through Iraq.-Geography:...

. The first, and greatest, was Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

 in Egypt, which would become one of the leading Mediterranean cities. The cities locations' reflected trade routes as well as defensive positions. At first the cities must have been inhospitable, little more than defensive garrisons. Following Alexander's death, many Greeks who had settled there tried to return to Greece. However, a century or so after Alexander's death, many of the Alexandrias were thriving, with elaborate public buildings and substantial populations that included both Greek and local peoples.

Hellenization


Hellenization was coined by the German historian Johann Gustav Droysen
Johann Gustav Droysen
Johann Gustav Droysen was a German historian. His history of Alexander the Great was the first work representing a new school of German historical thought that idealized power held by so-called "great" men...

 to denote the spread of Greek language, culture, and population into the former Persian empire after Alexander's conquest. That this export took place is undoubted, and can be seen in the great Hellenistic cities of, for instance, Alexandria
Alexandria
Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...

, Antioch
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

 and Seleucia
Seleucia
Seleucia was the first capital of the Seleucid Empire, and one of the great cities of antiquity standing in Mesopotamia, on the Tigris River.Seleucia may refer to:...

 (south of modern Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

). Alexander sought to insert Greek elements into Persian culture
Culture of Iran
To best understand Iran, Afghanistan, their related societies and their people, one must first attempt to acquire an understanding of their culture. It is in the study of this area where the Persian identity optimally expresses itself...

 and attempted to hybridize Greek and Persian culture. This culminated in his aspiration to homogenize the populations of Asia and Europe. However, his successors explicitly rejected such policies. Nevertheless, Hellenization occurred throughout the region, accompanied by a distinct and opposite 'Orientalization' of the Successor states.

The core of Hellenistic culture was essentially Athenian. The close association of men from across Greece in Alexander's army directly led to the emergence of the largely Attic
Attic
An attic is a space found directly below the pitched roof of a house or other building . Attic is generally the American/Canadian reference to it...

-based "koine", or "common" Greek dialect. Koine spread throughout the Hellenistic world, becoming the lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

 of Hellenistic lands and eventually the ancestor of modern Greek
Modern Greek
Modern Greek refers to the varieties of the Greek language spoken in the modern era. The beginning of the "modern" period of the language is often symbolically assigned to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, even though that date marks no clear linguistic boundary and many characteristic...

. Furthermore, town planning
Urban planning
Urban planning incorporates areas such as economics, design, ecology, sociology, geography, law, political science, and statistics to guide and ensure the orderly development of settlements and communities....

, education, local government, and art current in the Hellenistic period were all based on Classical Greek ideals, evolving into distinct new forms commonly grouped as Hellenistic. Aspects of Hellenistic culture were still evident in the traditions of the Byzantine Empire in the mid-15th century.


Some of the most unusual effects of Hellenization can be seen in India, in the region of the relatively late-arising Indo-Greek kingdoms. There, isolated from Europe, Greek culture apparently hybridized with Indian, and especially Buddhist, influences. The first realistic portrayals of the Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

 appeared at this time; they were modeled on Greek statues of Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

. Several Buddhist traditions may have been influenced by the ancient Greek religion
Ancient Greek religion
Greek religion encompasses the collection of beliefs and rituals practiced in ancient Greece in the form of both popular public religion and cult practices. These different groups varied enough for it to be possible to speak of Greek religions or "cults" in the plural, though most of them shared...

: the concept of Boddhisatvas was reminiscent of Greek divine heroes, and some Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 ceremonial practices
Offering (Buddhism)
In Buddhism, symbolic offerings are made to the Triple Gem, giving rise to contemplative gratitude and inspiration. Typical material offerings involve simple objects such as a lit candle or oil lamp, burning incense, flowers, food, fruit, water or drinks....

 (burning incense
Incense
Incense is composed of aromatic biotic materials, which release fragrant smoke when burned. The term "incense" refers to the substance itself, rather than to the odor that it produces. It is used in religious ceremonies, ritual purification, aromatherapy, meditation, for creating a mood, and for...

, gifts of flowers, and food placed on altars) are similar to those practiced by the ancient Greeks. Zen Buddhism draws in part on the ideas of Greek stoics, such as Zeno
Zeno of Citium
Zeno of Citium was a Greek philosopher from Citium . Zeno was the founder of the Stoic school of philosophy, which he taught in Athens from about 300 BC. Based on the moral ideas of the Cynics, Stoicism laid great emphasis on goodness and peace of mind gained from living a life of virtue in...

. One Greek king, Menander I
Menander I
Menander I Soter "The Saviour" was one of the rulers of the Indo-Greek Kingdom from either 165 or 155 BC to 130 BC ....

, probably became Buddhist, and was immortalized in Buddhist literature
Buddhist texts
Buddhist texts can be categorized in a number of ways. The Western terms "scripture" and "canonical" are applied to Buddhism in inconsistent ways by Western scholars: for example, one authority refers to "scriptures and other canonical texts", while another says that scriptures can be categorized...

 as 'Milinda'. The process of Hellenization extended to the sciences, where ideas from Greek astronomy
Greek astronomy
Greek astronomy is astronomy written in the Greek language in classical antiquity. Greek astronomy is understood to include the ancient Greek, Hellenistic, Greco-Roman, and Late Antiquity eras. It is not limited geographically to Greece or to ethnic Greeks, as the Greek language had become the...

 filtered eastward and had profoundly influenced Indian astronomy by the early centuries AD. For example, Greek astronomical instruments dating to the 3rd century BC were found in the Greco-Bactrian city of Ai Khanoum in modern-day Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, while the Greek concept of a spherical earth
Spherical Earth
The concept of a spherical Earth dates back to ancient Greek philosophy from around the 6th century BC, but remained a matter of philosophical speculation until the 3rd century BC when Hellenistic astronomy established the spherical shape of the earth as a physical given...

 surrounded by the spheres of planets was adopted in India and eventually supplanted the long-standing Indian cosmological belief into a flat and circular earth.

Influence on Rome


Alexander and his exploits were admired by many Romans, especially generals, who wanted to associate themselves with his achievements. Polybius
Polybius
Polybius , Greek ) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic Period noted for his work, The Histories, which covered the period of 220–146 BC in detail. The work describes in part the rise of the Roman Republic and its gradual domination over Greece...

 began his Histories
The Histories (Polybius)
Polybius’ Histories were originally written in 40 volumes, only the first five of which are existent in their entirety. The bulk of the work is passed down to us through collections of excerpts kept in libraries in Byzantium, for the most part....

by reminding Romans of Alexander's achievements, and thereafter Roman leaders saw him as a role model. Pompey the Great adopted the epithet "Magnus" and even Alexander's anatole-type haircut, and searched the conquered lands of the east for Alexander's 260-year-old cloak, which he then wore as a sign of greatness. Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

 dedicated an Lysippean equestrian bronze
Bronze
Bronze is a metal alloy consisting primarily of copper, usually with tin as the main additive. It is hard and brittle, and it was particularly significant in antiquity, so much so that the Bronze Age was named after the metal...

 statue but replaced Alexander's head with his own, while Octavian visited Alexander's tomb in Alxenadria and temporarily changed his seal from a sphinx
Sphinx
A sphinx is a mythical creature with a lion's body and a human head or a cat head.The sphinx, in Greek tradition, has the haunches of a lion, the wings of a great bird, and the face of a woman. She is mythicised as treacherous and merciless...

 to Alexander's profile. The emperor Trajan
Trajan
Trajan , was Roman Emperor from 98 to 117 AD. Born into a non-patrician family in the province of Hispania Baetica, in Spain Trajan rose to prominence during the reign of emperor Domitian. Serving as a legatus legionis in Hispania Tarraconensis, in Spain, in 89 Trajan supported the emperor against...

 also admired Alexander, as did Nero
Nero
Nero , was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death....

 and Caracalla
Caracalla
Caracalla , was Roman emperor from 198 to 217. The eldest son of Septimius Severus, he ruled jointly with his younger brother Geta until he murdered the latter in 211...

. The Macriani, a Roman family that in the person of Macrinus
Macrinus
Macrinus , was Roman Emperor from 217 to 218. Macrinus was of "Moorish" descent and the first emperor to become so without membership in the senatorial class.-Background and career:...

 briefly ascended to the imperial throne, kept images of Alexander on their persons, either on jewelry, or embroidered into their clothes.

On the other hand, some Roman writers, particularly Republican figures, used Alexander as a cautionary tale of how autocratic tendencies can be kept in check by republican
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 values. Alexander was used by these writers as an example of ruler values such as amicita (friendship) and clementia (clemency), but also iracundia (anger) and cupiditas gloriae (over-desire for glory).

Legend



Legendary accounts surround the life of Alexander the Great, many deriving from his own lifetime, probably encouraged by Alexander himself. His court historian Callisthenes portrayed the sea in Cilicia
Cilicia
In antiquity, Cilicia was the south coastal region of Asia Minor, south of the central Anatolian plateau. It existed as a political entity from Hittite times into the Byzantine empire...

 as drawing back from him in proskynesis. Writing shortly after Alexander's death, another participant, Onesicritus
Onesicritus
Onesicritus , a Greek historical writer, who accompanied Alexander on his campaigns in Asia. He claimed to have been the commander of Alexander's fleet but was actually only a helmsman; Arrian and Nearchus often criticize him for this. When he returned home, he wrote a history of Alexander's...

, invented a tryst
Courtship
Courtship is the period in a couple's relationship which precedes their engagement and marriage, or establishment of an agreed relationship of a more enduring kind. In courtship, a couple get to know each other and decide if there will be an engagement or other such agreement...

 between Alexander and Thalestris
Thalestris
According to the mythological Greek Alexander Romance, Queen Thalestris of the Amazons brought 300 women to Alexander the Great, hoping to breed a race of children as strong and intelligent as he...

, queen of the mythical Amazons
Amazons
The Amazons are a nation of all-female warriors in Greek mythology and Classical antiquity. Herodotus placed them in a region bordering Scythia in Sarmatia...

. When Onesicritus read this passage to his patron, Alexander's general and later King Lysimachus
Lysimachus
Lysimachus was a Macedonian officer and diadochus of Alexander the Great, who became a basileus in 306 BC, ruling Thrace, Asia Minor and Macedon.-Early Life & Career:...

 reportedly quipped, "I wonder where I was at the time."

In the first centuries after Alexander's death, probably in Alexandria, a quantity of the legendary material coalesced into a text known as the Alexander Romance
Alexander Romance
Alexander romance is any of several collections of legends concerning the mythical exploits of Alexander the Great. The earliest version is in Greek, dating to the 3rd century. Several late manuscripts attribute the work to Alexander's court historian Callisthenes, but the historical figure died...

, later falsely ascribed to Callisthenes and therefore known as Pseudo-Callisthenes. This text underwent numerous expansions and revisions throughout Antiquity and the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, containing many dubious stories, and was translated into numerous languages.

In ancient and modern culture


Alexander the Great's accomplishments and legacy have been depicted in many cultures. Alexander has figured in both high and popular culture beginning in his own era to the present day. The Alexander Romance, in particular, has had a significant impact on portrayals of Alexander in later cultures, from Persian to medieval European to modern Greek.

Alexander features prominently in modern Greek folklore, more so than any other ancient figure. The colloquial form of his name in modern Greek ("O Megalexandros") is a household name, and he is the only ancient hero to appear in the Karagiozis
Karagiozis
Karagiozis or Karaghiozis is a shadow puppet and fictional character of Greek and Turkish folklore...

 shadow play. One well-known fable among Greek seamen involves a solitary mermaid
Mermaid
A mermaid is a mythological aquatic creature with a female human head, arms, and torso and the tail of a fish. A male version of a mermaid is known as a "merman" and in general both males and females are known as "merfolk"...

 who would grasp a ship's prow during a storm and ask the captain "Is King Alexander alive?". The correct answer is "He is alive and well and rules the world!", causing the mermaid to vanish and the sea to calm. Any other answer would cause the mermaid to turn into a raging Gorgon
Gorgon
In Greek mythology, the Gorgon was a terrifying female creature. The name derives from the Greek word gorgós, which means "dreadful." While descriptions of Gorgons vary across Greek literature, the term commonly refers to any of three sisters who had hair of living, venomous snakes, and a...

 who would drag the ship to the bottom of the sea, all hands aboard.

In pre-Islamic Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

 (Zoroastrian) literature, Alexander is referred to by the epithet "gojastak", meaning "accursed", and is accused of destroying temples and burning the sacred texts of Zoroastrianism. In Islamic Iran, under the influence of the Alexander Romance, a more positive portrayal of Alexander emerges. Firdausi's Shahnameh
Shahnameh
The Shahnameh or Shah-nama is a long epic poem written by the Persian poet Ferdowsi between c.977 and 1010 AD and is the national epic of Iran and related societies...

 ("The Book of Kings") includes Alexander in a line of legitimate Iranian shah
Shah
Shāh is the title of the ruler of certain Southwest Asian and Central Asian countries, especially Persia , and derives from the Persian word shah, meaning "king".-History:...

s, a mythical figure who explored the far reaches of the world in search of the fountain of youth
Fountain of Youth
The Fountain of Youth is a legendary spring that reputedly restores the youth of anyone who drinks of its waters. Tales of such a fountain have been recounted across the world for thousands of years, appearing in writings by Herodotus, the Alexander romance, and the stories of Prester John...

. Later Persian writers associate him with philosophy, portraying him at a symposium with figures such as Socrates
Socrates
Socrates was a classical Greek Athenian philosopher. Credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, he is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of later classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon, and the plays of his contemporary ...

, Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 and Aristotle, in search of immortality.

The Syriac version of the Alexander Romance portrays him as an ideal Christian world conqueror who prayed to "the one true God". In Egypt, Alexander was portrayed as the son of Nectanebo II
Nectanebo II
Nectanebo II was the third and last pharaoh of the Thirtieth dynasty, as well as the last native ruler of Ancient Egypt. Under Nectanebo II Egypt prospered...

, the last pharaoh
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

 before the Persian conquest. His defeat of Darius was depicted as Egypt's salvation, "proving" Egypt was still ruled by an Egyptian.

The figure of Dhul-Qarnayn
Dhul-Qarnayn
Dhul-Qarnayn , literally "He of the Two Horns" or "He of the two centuries" is a figure mentioned in the Qur'an, the sacred scripture of Islam, where he is described as a great and righteous ruler who built a long wall that keeps Gog and Magog from attacking the people who he met on his journey...

 (literally "the Two-Horned One") mentioned in the Quran is believed by modern scholars to represent Alexander, due to parallels with the Alexander Romance. In this tradition, he was a heroic figure who built a wall to defend against the nations of Gog and Magog
Gog and Magog
Gog and Magog are names that appear primarily in various Jewish, Christian and Muslim scriptures, as well as numerous subsequent references in other works. Their context can be either genealogical or eschatological and apocalyptic, as in Ezekiel and Revelation...

. He then traveled the known world in search for the Water of Life and Immortality, eventually becoming a prophet.

In India and Pakistan, more specifically the Punjab
Punjab region
The Punjab , also spelled Panjab |water]]s"), is a geographical region straddling the border between Pakistan and India which includes Punjab province in Pakistan and the states of the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and some northern parts of the National Capital Territory of Delhi...

, the name "Sikandar", derived from Persian, denotes a rising young talent. In the medieval Europe
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 he was created a member of the Nine Worthies
Nine Worthies
The Nine Worthies are nine historical, scriptural and legendary personages who personify the ideals of chivalry as were established in the Middle Ages. All are commonly referred to as 'Princes' in their own right, despite whatever true titles each man may have held...

, a group of heroes who encapsulated all the ideal qualities of chivalry
Chivalry
Chivalry is a term related to the medieval institution of knighthood which has an aristocratic military origin of individual training and service to others. Chivalry was also the term used to refer to a group of mounted men-at-arms as well as to martial valour...

.

Historiography



Apart from a few inscriptions and fragments, texts written by people who actually knew Alexander or who gathered information from men who served with Alexander were all lost. Contemporaries who wrote accounts of his life included Alexander's campaign historian Callisthenes; Alexander's generals Ptolemy and Nearchus
Nearchus
Nearchus was one of the officers, a navarch, in the army of Alexander the Great. His celebrated voyage from India to Susa after Alexander's expedition in India is preserved in Arrian's account, the Indica....

; Aristobulus
Aristobulus of Cassandreia
For other use, see AristobulusAristobulus of Cassandreia , Greek historian, son of Aristobulus, probably a Phocian settled inCassandreia, accompanied Alexander the Great on his campaigns...

, a junior officer on the campaigns; and Onesicritus, Alexander's chief helmsman. Their works are lost, but later works based on these original sources
Primary source
Primary source is a term used in a number of disciplines to describe source material that is closest to the person, information, period, or idea being studied....

 have survived. The earliest of these is Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who flourished between 60 and 30 BC. According to Diodorus' own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily . With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus' life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work, Bibliotheca...

 (1st century BC), followed by Quintus Curtius Rufus (mid to late 1st century AD), Arrian (1st to 2nd century AD), the biographer Plutarch (1st to 2nd century AD), and finally Justin, whose work dated as late as the 4th century AD. Of these, Arrian is generally considered the most reliable, given that he used Ptolemy and Aristobulus as his sources, closely followed by Diodorus.

Ancestry





See also

  • Alexander the Great in the Qur'an
  • Bucephalus
    Bucephalus
    Bucephalus or Bucephalas was Alexander the Great's horse and one of the most famous actual horses of antiquity. Ancient accounts state that Bucephalus died after the Battle of the Hydaspes in 326 BC, in what is now modern Pakistan, and is buried in Jalalpur Sharif outside of Jhelum, Pakistan...

  • Chronology of European exploration of Asia
    Chronology of European exploration of Asia
    This article attempts to list every significant event in the history of the European exploration of Asia. It proposes a chronological inventory of these events including every people involved and the places they helped to demystify ....

  • List of people known as The Great

Primary sources

C.H. Oldfather, translator Rev. John Selby Watson, translator

External links