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Alexander the Great

Greek: Μεγας Αλεξανδρος
Who: A Greek king of the kingdom of Macedon.
Born: 356 BC
Died: 323 BC (32 years)
Lived:Pella, Macedon

Alexander fighting the Persian king Darius III.

Alexander fighting the Persian king Darius III.

Alexander III of Macedon, popularly known to history as Alexander the Great, was an Ancient Greek king of Macedon. He was one of the most successful military commanders of all time and it is presumed that he was undefeated in battle. By the time of his death, he had conquered the Achaemenid Persian Empire and had traveled as far as India. Alexander grew up in Pella, the capital of the Kingdom of Macedon. He succeeded his father Philip II of Macedon to the throne in 336 BC, and died in Babylon in 323 BC at the age of 32. Alexander was tutored at the age of thirteen by Aristotle, Plato’s successor at the Academy of Athens. It was from Aristotle that Alexander got his undying love for the works of Homer and in particular the Iliad, which he caried an annotated copy of on his campaign.

His father, Philip, had unified most of the city-states of mainland Greece under Macedonian hegemoney in the League of Corinth, who had a long-running feud with the Achaemenid Empire of Persia. In a series of campaigns lasting 10 years, Alexander’s armies repeatedly defeated the Persians in battle, while in the process coquering the entire Persian Empire. He then, following his desire to reach the ‘ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea’, invaded India, but was eventually forced to turn back by the near-mutiny of his troopswho had longed to return back home.

Buy a Megas Alexandros T-shirt. Exclusive to Plato's Academy.

Buy a Megas Alexandros T-shirt.
Exclusive to Plato’s Academy.

Alexander died after twelve years of constant military campaiging, possibly a result of malaria, poisoning, typhoid fever, viral encephalitis or the consequences of alcoholism. His legacy and conquests lived on long after him and ushered in centuries of Greek settlement and cultural influence over distant areas. This period is known as the Hellenistic period, which featured a combination of Greek, Middle Eastern and Indian culture. Alexander himself featured prominently in the history and myth of both Greek and non-Greek culture.

Alexander’s most obvious legacy was the introduction of Macedonian rule to huge new swathes of Asia. Many of these areas would remain in Macedonian hands, or under Greek influence for the next 200-300 years. Hellenization is a term to denoth 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 and Antioch. Alexander certainly made deliberate attempts to hybridise Greek and Persian culture, culminating in his improbable scheme to homogenise the populations of Asia and Europe. However, the successors explicitly rejected such policies after his death.

Alexander the Great Quotes:

  • Your ancestors came to Macedonia and the rest of Hellas [Greece] and did us great harm, though we had done them no prior injury. I have been appointed leader of the Greeks, and wanting to punish the Persians I have come to Asia, which I took from you.
    Alexander’s letter to Persian king Darius III of Persia in response to a truce plea.
  • An army of sheep led by a lion is better than an army of lions led by a sheep.
  • How great are the dangers I face to win a good name in Athens.
  • I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well.
  • I had rather excel others in the knowledge of what is excellent, than in the extent of my power and dominion.

In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great by BBC:

Engineering an Empire – Greece – Age of Alexander the Great:

The true story of Alexander the Great:

 

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