King of Macedonia and conqueror of the known world. Born 356 B.C.; died 323 B.C.

The son of King Philip II of Macedon and Olympias of Epiros, Alexander inherited his father's throne and then expanded Macedonian territory from Egypt to Persia to India to Greece clear up to central Asia.

Though a barbarian, he was educated by Aristotle. He believed he was the son of Zeus-Ammon and was thus a demigod. He had gobs of charisma, mismatched eyes, and a high-pitched voice, and he was considered a decent singer. He was married several times, but also maintained close, possibly sexual, relationships with men. The question of just how gay Alexander may have been remains a topic of debate amongst historians. 

After his mostly-unsuccessful campaign to India, Alexander died, weakened by a combination of wounds sustained in battle, hardships in the desert, and extremely heavy drinking -- quite honestly, Alexander drank like a fish. His empire did not last long after his death -- his generals engaged in civil wars against each other and lost it all.

Alexander is still considered one of the world's greatest military generals. Though his empire didn't last, his cultural influence endured for centuries.

Research from GURPS Who's Who, compiled by Phil Masters, "Alexander the Great" by Kenneth Hite, pp. 24-25.
Alex inherited not only his father's throne, but the best equipped, trained and organized army of that time, or indeed before or long after that time.

Legend says Alex was born on the day the Temple of Artemis burned to the ground. He inherited the throne at 21 and had conquered the known world (mostly Persia) by the time of his death 12 years later. His greatest gift was to make the conquered peoples happy so that they would not rebel later, though eventually this angered his own forces. Alex liked to found cities and name them Alexandria, the greatest of these was in Egypt and featured the Lighthouse of Alexandria.

For the curious I recommend The Generalship of Alexander the Great by J.F.C. Fuller. BTW, Fuller cites malaria as the cause of death, too.
The conquests of Alexander the Great still surely rank as one of the most awe-inspiring military campaigns of recorded history. Whether for personal glory or more altruistic motives, the fact remains that Alexander's forceful unification of the known civilized world had far-reaching consequences. The imposition of Greek culture and thought upon the peoples of Asia Minor, Egypt, and the Indian subcontinent and the subsequent synthesis of Asian ideas was a highly significant event in its impact upon civilization as a whole.

One of the most powerful effects of this cultural unification was the fundamental shift that it produced in the sense of personal identity of the individual. Up until the Hellenistic period, the structure of one's identity was centered in the group- tribe, polis, or nation- of which one was a member. This sense of belonging does not necessarily imply a lack of self-awareness, but rather a greater sense of belonging to your particular group.

With Alexander's conquests came the establishment of the Hellenistic imperial order, which to a certain extent shattered the cohesion of local societies. These smaller groups were swallowed by the Empire and, by losing their autonomy, ceased to provide a strong sense of community to their members. Thus, people at large began to identify themselves less as members of local societal groups and began to see themselves as "cosmopolitan"- as citizens of the world.

Far be it from me to question the opinions of learned scholars on the matter of Alexander's death, but please allow me to quote from one of the very few sources we have available from antiquity, the excellent "Anabasis of Alexander" from Arrian, who had access to many primary source materials:
"Not many days later Alexander offered the gods the customary sacrifices for good fortune ... and then began feasting with his friends and drinking far into the night. ... He drank and made merry with Medius, and then, after rising and bathing, went to sleep; he afterwards dined with Medius, and again drank until late in the night, and then breaking off from the carouse bathed, and after bathing ate a little and slept just where he was, as he was already in a fever." --Anabasis, VII 24.4 - 25.1

This is the fever that would, a few days later, kill him. Arrian claims to draw this account from a royal "journal" that was made by Alexander's courtiers, but this is probably spurious. Nevertheless, this account (which is strikingly similar to one given by Plutarch and seemingly based on some testimony of Medius and the Companion Nearchus) is probably the best evidence we have for Alexander's mode of death. Certainly, the fever may have been caused by something other than the near-continuous cycle of drinking and bathing, but Arrian considers these activities causal.

Not to impune prior nodes, but there are a few inconsistencies that I would like to address.

Arrian did, indeed, cite over-drinking as Alexander's cause of death. However, it should be noted that during the period in which both Arrian and later Plutarch wrote, it was believed that an imbalance of humors caused sickness and fever, rather than virii, bacteria, and the like. Alcohol was believed to affect the humors, as was bathing. As such, it makes sense that Arrian (and later Plutarch) would attribute the cause of death to drinking and bathing. For additional information on this point, I recommend The Healing Hand, a text on medicine in the ancient world, by Guido Majno, and Doctors and Diseases in the Roman Empire by Ralph Jackson, which speaks about the Greek bases of Ancient Roman medicine.

Another point that I would like to address is the mistaken notion that Alexander had finished his conquests just before he died. At the time of his death, he was making preparations to invade what is now Saudi Arabia, an area he had passed over on his way through Persia and into India; in fact, his troops were constructing a fleet for use in the Persian Gulf at the time of his death. It is also known that Alexander was aware of the Western world, having received embassies from Carthage, Gaul, Libya, and Spain in 324 BCE, so it is not unreasonable to believe that he may have considered further conquest to the west. Given this, it is easy to conclude that the episode of Alexander's weeping for lack of another world to conquer is a load of crap, though poetically asthetic.

Additional sources on Alexander the Great:

Ancient Sources

Modern Sources

  • Fuller, J.F.C.; The Generalship of Alexander the Great
  • Fox, R. Lane; Alexander the Great
  • Green, P.; Alexander the Great
  • Hammond, N.; Alexander the Great: King, Commander, and Statesman
  • Marsden, E.; The Campaign of Gaugamela
  • Pearson, L.; The Lost Histories of Alexander the Great
  • Tarn, W.; Alexander the Great
  • Wilcken, U.; Alexander the Great

(al' ig zan' duhr) GREEK: ALEXANDROS
"defender of man"

A youth not quite 20 when he came to power in his homeland of Macedonia in 336 B.C., Alexander reshaped his world before he died 13 years later. His life story is told in brief in 1 Maccabees 1:1-7. Alexander's father, King Philip II of Macedonia, trained Alexander to govern, bringing the philosopher Aristotle from Athens to tutor the prince from the age of 13 to 16. At 16 Alexander served as regent and led troops in battle. Two years later he was one of Philip's commanders in the decisive battle that gave the Macedonian ruler control of Greece. King Philip was planning to invade the vast empire of Persia, which for a century had harassed Greece and controlled the Greek cities in Asia Minor, when he was assassinated in 336.

Taking over his father's plan of conquest, Alexander crossed the Hellespont in 334 with some 35,000 Macedonian and Greek soldiers and defeated a Persian army at the river Granicus. He then swept through western Asia Minor to liberate the Greek cities of Pergamum, Sardis, Ephesus, and others. In battle Alexander deployed the most effective army of his day. Its power lay in the use of a concentrated cavalry charge to break enemy lines, to be followed by an almost invincible infantry phalanx, thousands of close-ordered fighting men each with a 13-foot spear that made the formation bristle like a porcupine.

In 333 Alexander met the full Persian army under King Darius III at Issus near the north-eastern shore of the Mediterranean. The defeated Persian king fled, but his family was captured. A year later Alexander took the island fortress of Tyre after a long siege and marched south through Palestine. Later legends cited by the Jewish historian Josephus tell how Alexander went up to Jerusalem and was met by the high priest Jaddua arrayed in his crown bearing the name of God. Alexander bowed before the name of God and explained that back in Macedonia he had seen a vision of the high priest who had assured him of victory.

Late in 332 Alexander occupied Egypt. There he was crowned as Pharaoh and acclaimed by an oracle as a son of the god Amon-Ra. On the Nile delta he founded the city of Alexandria - the first of many with that name - a city that was to become one of the leading intellectual and political centers of the ancient world. Moving east toward the heart of Persia in 331, he crossed the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and decisively defeated Darius at Gaugamela. The Persian king again fled but was murdered by his own cousin.

Alexander fought triumphantly across what is now Iran to the borders of India. But his eastward progress was stopped by the refusal of the army to go further, and Alexander arrived back in Persian Susa in 324. His army had gradually changed from being a Macedonian national force to a personal army owing allegiance to him alone, and the conqueror's success helped to establish the idea of ruler worship in the Mediterranean area. At his request, Greek cities voted him honors as a divinity, evidently to reinforce his political authority. Before he could enjoy his divinity, however, Alexander died of a fever at the age of 33. In the absence of any clear successor, the Middle East was thrown into 40 years of wars among Alexander's generals for control of his legacy. Without naming Alexander, a vision recorded in the book of Daniel foretells his career: "A mighty king shall arise, who shall rule with great dominion and do according to his will. And when he has arison, his kingdom shall be broken and divided toward the four winds of heaven" (Dan. 11:3-4).

{E2 Dictionary of Biblical People}

The myth surrounding the birth of Alexander the Great goes something like this:

Philip of Macedon was descended from Herakles, who was the son of Zeus, but when he married his wife Olympias, he never had the chance to pass on his branch of the divine seed, because Zeus passed over him and directly impregnated Olympias with a "bolt of thunder". Philip then had some freaky prophetic dreams regarding the child of Olympias, and the dreams were interpreted by the priests of Apollo, who told him that Zeus would be the real father of his son. Before this interpretation, Philip attempted to sleep with his wife and was driven off by a divine serpent.

Compare also births of Augustus Caesar and Jesus Christ.

Alexander the Great 356-323BC
Aristotle served as chief tutor for several years, 343-340BC.
Father, Philip II of Macedon, killed in 336BC, after conquering
most of Greek states.

335BC- crushed Thebes; conquered region known today as Rumania
334BC- battles of Issus, Alexander destroys Persian army
333BC- capture of Tyre & Gaza
333BC- conquest of Egypt
331BC- battle of Gaugamala destroys Persians & Paris III
328BC- Alexander is made king & Pharoah
327BC- Alexander invades Afghanistan & India
325BC- Reaches Indian Ocean
323BC- dies in Babylon

Everywhere Alexander went he spread Greek culture, art, science, etc. Established 70 cities named Alexandria spreading into India/Afghanistan . For more than 3 centuries, Alexander's influence endured. After death land was divided into 3 areas among different generals.
Ptolemy was ruler of Egypt. Cleopatra was descendant of Ptolemy, and last Greek ruler in Egypt.
Alexander the Great and the battle of Gaugamela

Of all the people in history that I would like to meet, old Alex the great would be numero uno.

The main reason for this would be his charisma, personal bravery and toughness, and also because he seemed to be ahead of his time with his proposed concord of the east and the west.

Now I am no expert in these things (as you can tell) but it seems to me that a lot of the ancient rulers were fond of just killing everyone that they conquered, Alexander the great, I feel, was not this way, he was intelligent, and possessed a wisdom beyond his years.

What he did in his short life is indeed incredible, and it is unsurpassed in its scope and speed. He lead the army from the front, and at Issus and Guagamela went for the king himself, a wise, if extremely dangerous move. It worked because the Persian army was prone to decapitation. The way he defeated the 200,000 strong Persian Army was in part this personal courage to lead from the front and his sublime tactical knowledge and the ability to adapt and innovate.

When advancing into battle the Persian army under Darius easily overlapped Alexander’s 40,000 strong line. To counter this he formed his flanking units, which were mixed infantry and cavalry into protective 'flaps' which attached to each end of his line at a roughly 90 degree angle.

behind the front line in the middle he place a second line of sarissa troops that had orders to about face if the Persians came around the flanks into the rear.

Thus the entire army could form into a rectangle in a short space of time for all around protection. This was not needed.

Advancing in a right incline toward the Persian centre right, Alexander succeeded in drawing off Persian units form the enemy line where Darius himself was stationed. These troops under Bessus Darius' soon to be betrayer and murderer where then engaged by Alexander’s elite Cavalry the royal lancers and Thessalian heavy horse. Charging in 'dragons teeth' wedges these squadrons ripped through the Persian Horse men toward the gap created by Alexander’s feint.

Alexander himself leading one of these wedges charged Darius' chariot and let fly with a javelin that apparently killed the Persian King's chariot driver. Darius fled, and as news of his flight circulated the dust-choked battleground the Persian army, also, took flight and the battle was effectively over. Some say his extreme bravery was a result of his competition with the Homeric heroes of the Iliad in particular Achilles

He had a copy of Iliad that he kept under his bed and it seems he had studied on Achilles' sulking and selfish ways and sought to go him one better by leading by example and not just chasing individual glory as Achilles did.

He certainly was respected by his men, many of whom were twice his age, he never asked anyone to do anything that he wouldn't do himself.

He was the tip of the spear of the tip of the spear. All his wounds were in the front.

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