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  • 6/9/2004

Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great (356-323 BC), the king ofMacedonia that conquered the Persian empire and annexed it to Macedonia, is considered one of the greatest military geniuses of all times. He is the first king to be called "the Great."

Alexander is supposed to have been fair skinned, with a ruddy tinge to his face and chest.Plutarch stated that he had a pleasing scent. Like all Macedonians, Alexander liked his liquor, but his fondness for wine also caused some of his outbursts of rage. Alexander liked drama, the flute and the lyre, poetry and hunting, but what he truly wanted in his life, was a glory and valor, rather than easy living and riches. He was not fond of athletic contests, according toPlutarch.

Alexander ascended to the Macedonian throne when his father died. Once in power, he disposed quickly of all conspirators and domestic enemies by ordering their execution. Then he descended onThessaly, where partisans of independence had gained ascendancy, and restored Macedonian rule. Before the end of the summer of 336 BC he had reestablished his position in Greece and was elected by a congress of states atCorinth.

Alexander began his war against Persia in the spring of 334 BC by crossing the Hellespont (modern Dardanelles) with an army of 35,000 Macedonians and 7,600 Greeks. He threw his spear from his ship to the coast and it stuck in the ground. He stepped onto the shore, pulled his weapon from the soil, and declared that the whole of Asia would be won by the spear. His chief officers, all Macedonians, included Antigonus, Ptolemy, and Seleucus.

The Macedonian army soon encountered the Persian army under King Darius III at the crossing of the river Granicus, near the ancient city of Troy. Alexander attacked an army of Persians and Greek hoplites (a heavily armed foot soldiers of ancient Greece) who distinguished themselves on the side of the Persians against the Macedonians. Alexander"s forces defeated the enemy (totaling 40,000 men) and, according to tradition, lost only 110 men.

Alexander enteredEgypt in 331 BC. When he arrived, he was welcomed, and he ordered a city to be designed and founded in his name at the mouth of the riverNile. Alexandria would become one of the major cultural centers in the Mediterranean world in the following centuries.

In the spring of 324, Alexander held a great victory celebration at Susa. He and 80 close associates married Iranian noblewomen and he married Roxane, a Persian.

We will probably never know the truth, of Alexander"s mysterious death, even though new theories are still coming out. Alexander the Great, the Macedonian king and the great conqueror, died at the age of 33, onJune 10, 323 BC. Three days earlier, onthe 7th of June, 323 BC, the Macedonians were allowed to file past their leader for the last time before he finally succumbed to the illness. Alexander died without designating a successor. His death opened the anarchic age of the Diadochi and the Macedonian Empire will eventually cease to exist.


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