Alexander the Great

Aug 3, 2018 in History

Alexander the Great is considered one of the most powerful military person in the history. He was the king of Macedonia and the vanquisher of the Persian Empire. He was emitting motivation and stimulus for succeeding conquerors such as Napoleon, Caesar, the Romans Pompey and Hannibal the Carthaginian. Alexander the Great was born in the ancient metropolis of Macedonia, Pella, in 356 BC. He was the descendant of Philip II, the King of Macedonia, and Olympias, the princess of Epirus.

In the early childhood Alexander liked to observe his father reconstructing Macedonia into a large military power; how he was winning one battle after another across the Balkans. When Alexander was 13 his father employed Aristotle, the great Greek theoretician, to be a personal teacher for his son. Throughout the following three years Aristotle was teaching Alexander literature, rhetoric, science, philosophy and medicine. All these subjects became useful in further years of his life (Abbott, 134).

In 340 BC, 16 years old Alexander became the regent of Macedonia. It was the time when his father together with a huge Macedonian army captured Thrace. At the time of father’s absence Alexander evinced himself as a powerful young leader suitable for any kind of troubles regardless his immature age. Being the regent of Macedonia Alexander had even a chance to save his father from death. When capturing Thrace, Philip II met some unexpected difficulties. One tribe, called Maedi, rebelled and became a danger for the country. Then Alexander took a serious and decisive step – he convened an army and sent it to conquer the Maedi. Fortunately, he succeeded. He invaded the fortress of Maedi and renamed it after himself to Alexandropolis. Two years after his remarkable victory Philip let his son command among the senior generals during the Greek invasion. Second time in a raw Alexander showed his bravery and ability to control the situation. During the battle of Chaeronea he demolished the Greek power and was recognized as the reason for winning the battle (Abbott, 135).

Soon after the victory at the Chaeronea battle Alexander’s family split up. This happened when his father married Cleopatra. At the wedding feast general Attalus, Cleopatra’s uncle, said Alexander had not pure Macedonian blood and was not “legitimate” inheritor of Macedonia. Alexander got extremely angry for being called “a bastard child” and threw his cup in the general Attalus’s face. After a big fight with his father Alexander took his mother and went to Epirus.

In 336 BC, Philip was assassinated by a Macedonian young man Pausanias. The mysterious purpose of that murder puzzled ancient and modern historians for many years. There was an idea that Pausanias committed the murder because of personal offence when the King did not support Pausanias when he wanted Attalus to be punished. Alexander’s father was dead and his dreams of defeating the Persian Empire had not been realized. That is why Alexander was responsible for finishing his father’s deeds (Dijvers, 233).

After his father’s death, sitting on the Macedonian throne Alexander got rid of his enemies by means of execution. Philip’s death resulted into several rebellions among the defeated nations, such as Thracians, Illyrians and Greeks. Having found out about the King’s death those nations were seeking for independence. Alexander acted very fast and wisely and reestablished the rules of Macedonia throughout Greece. Therefore, by the end of summer 336 BC the nations were forced to accept his power.

One of the most pivotal and remarkable battles of Alexander was the Battle of the Granicus which took place in May 334 BC. It was first and only battle where he hardly avoided failure and death. It is a very notable battle due to the fact that it was in his early years. Alexander’s army in the battle numbered approximately 25000 of Macedonians, 7000 of Illyrians and Thracians and also 76000 of Greeks, however, the Commanders in Chief were Macedonians. As soon as the ship came to the coast of Asia Alexander tossed his lance deep into the ground, walked to the shore, took the lance out of the ground and proclaimed that the entire Asia would be captured by Macedonian troop. The principal intercessor of Alexander was Parmenio, Philip’s general. Minor intercessors were Craterus, Coenus, Parmenio’s son Philotas, Antigonus and Perdiccas. Later the troop came across the army of King Dariis III. 20000 of Greeks and 20000 of Persians were lying in wait for Alexander at the passage of the river Granicus, close to Troy. Almost the whole Greek troop was destroyed. More than 18000 of them lay down at the banks of Granicus and the rest of the army was sent to work in Macedonia. Surprisingly enough, the losses of Macedonia was only 120 people. Unfortunately a lot of details of the battle are not clear till nowadays, however, one aspect still astonishes everyone – the fact that Alexander began the battle with a feint attack (Dijvers, 240).

Battle of Issus in 333 BC. As falls came the Macedonian troop came across the army of Persia under the supervision of King Darius III in the northwestern part of Syria at a mountain pass at Issus. This time Darius had a bigger support namely from the Greeks, the number of which was 30000. Coming closer to the Greeks Alexander the Great told his army that those on the other side were people who initiated war with Greece, people who destroyed their homes, cathedrals and the whole cities. The troop of Darius was much bigger than Alexander’s, however, Alexander got the remarkable victory. Thousands of Asians, Greeks and Persians were murdered at the time when their supervisor Darius run away leaving his children, wife and mother alone. Due to their loyalty Alexander acted very generous and respectful towards them (Stoneman, 89).

Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC. As soon as Alexander got the support from Europe, he gathered his army and directed to Babylon. He succeeded in defeating the lands between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris after what he found his troops at the plains of Gaugamela (near the present Iraq) with approximately a million of people who inhabited there. Alexander’s soldiers noticed the lights at the Persian campfires and offered him to attack at night. However, he rejected their proposition, since he wanted to conquer Darius in an equal battle. The following morning, the two troops met on the battleground. The Persian army included Bactrians, Sogdians, Albanians, Indians, Medians and also those Greeks who survived from the previous battle. As soon as the battle started, the Persian army divided into two parts and attacked the two wings of Macedonians. The Parmenio’s wing started to fall back, however, the mounted troops of Alexander directed straight at Darius. Darius run away to Acbatana in Media and Alexander the Great captured Babylon, Persepolis and Susa. After that he was also declared as a king of Asia. In four months, Alexander destroyed the royal palace in Persepolis, putting the end to the ancient Persian Empire (Lonsdale, 98).

The Battle of Hydaspes in 326 BC. This battle took place on the east bank of the river Hydaspes (near present Pakistan). The aim of the battle was to defeat King Porus. As soon as Porus found the location of Alexander’s army he started to attack. Alexander began to send his horse archers in order to attack the left wing of the Indian mounted troops. After that he attacked the weakened Indian wing. The losses of Indians were approximately 23000 when the Alexander’s were only 1100. The two sons of Porus were murdered in that battle. Although Porus was defeated he became the most prominent and successful rival of Alexander (Lonsdale, 100).

The interesting fact about Alexander was the atmosphere before the battles and his attitude towards the army. Being in front of his troop, riding Bucephalus, a disobedient stallion, which has been with him in all of the most significant battles till the end of his life, Alexander was calling his soldiers one by one and they informed their leader about their location in the line. Those soldiers who had won many battles got incitement from Alexander, namely, he told them about their invariable values. He also told them that they were the world’s rescues and they were able to subjugate every nation on Earth (Lonsdale, 105).

There exists one legend about Alexander which says that in 333 BC, when he was in Gordium, Turkey, he unfastened the Gordian Knot. According to the legend, that knot was tied by the fabulously prosperous King Midas. The predictions concerning the Gordian Knot were that those who unfasten the knot would take over the control of Asia. However, there was no mentioning about Alexander ruling the Asia. That is why it is believed that Alexander did not unfasten the knot, but cut it with the sword.

In 323 BC, Alexander the Great came back to Babylon where he abruptly got ill and died. The reason of his death remains unknown. Major part of scientists claims that he caught some disease; another part believes that he was poisoned. However, the history tells that not long before the Arabian campaign Alexander suffered from a high fever after visiting a party of his friend Medius of Larisa. After he drank from the glass, he started screaming. The fever was getting stronger with each day until he was unable to walk and talk. Alexander the Great, the King of Macedonia and a great vanquisher of Persian Empire, passed away at the age of 33.

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