history of alexander the great

[130], Discovering that many of his satraps and military governors had misbehaved in his absence, Alexander executed several of them as examples on his way to Susa. Already in his lifetime the subject of fabulous stories, he later became the hero of a full-scale legend bearing only the sketchiest resemblance to his historical career. [259] Julius Caesar dedicated a Lysippean equestrian bronze statue but replaced Alexander's head with his own, while Octavian visited Alexander's tomb in Alexandria and temporarily changed his seal from a sphinx to Alexander's profile. Alexander proceeded to take possession of Syria, and most of the coast of the Levant. [142] He developed a fever, which worsened until he was unable to speak. Any other answer would cause the mermaid to turn into a raging Gorgon who would drag the ship to the bottom of the sea, all hands aboard. How far the rigour that from now onward Alexander displayed against his governors represents exemplary punishment for gross maladministration during his absence and how far the elimination of men he had come to distrust (as in the case of Philotas and Parmenio) is debatable; but the ancient sources generally favourable to him comment adversely on his severity. Meanwhile, a rumour of his death had precipitated a revolt of Theban democrats; other Greek states favoured Thebes, and the Athenians, urged on by Demosthenes, voted help. The Itinerarium Alexandri is a 4th-century Latin Itinerarium which describes Alexander the Great's campaigns. [137], Afterwards, Alexander travelled to Ecbatana to retrieve the bulk of the Persian treasure. [129] Alexander reached Susa in 324 BC, but not before losing many men to the harsh desert. He had his cousin, the former Amyntas IV, executed. [157], Alexander's body was laid in a gold anthropoid sarcophagus that was filled with honey, which was in turn placed in a gold casket. [249] Koine spread throughout the Hellenistic world, becoming the lingua franca of Hellenistic lands and eventually the ancestor of modern Greek. The exploits of the Ten Thousand, Greek soldiers of fortune, and of Agesilaus of Sparta, in successfully campaigning in Persian territory had revealed the vulnerability of the Persian empire. [177] Diodorus, Curtius and Justin offered the more plausible story that Alexander passed his signet ring to Perdiccas, a bodyguard and leader of the companion cavalry, in front of witnesses, thereby nominating him. Aelian writes of Alexander's visit to Troy where "Alexander garlanded the tomb of Achilles, and Hephaestion that of Patroclus, the latter hinting that he was a beloved of Alexander, in just the same way as Patroclus was of Achilles. [7], Alexander was born in Pella, the capital of the Kingdom of Macedon,[8] on the sixth day of the ancient Greek month of Hekatombaion, which probably corresponds to 20 July 356 BC, although the exact date is uncertain. He also received news of a Thracian uprising. [65][66], Taking over the invasion project of Philip II, 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,[59] drawn from Macedon and various Greek city-states, mercenaries, and feudally raised soldiers from Thrace, Paionia, and Illyria. He appointed Porus as satrap, and added to Porus' territory land that he did not previously own, towards the south-east, up to the Hyphasis (Beas). [114] Ambhi hastened to relieve Alexander of his apprehension and met him with valuable presents, placing himself and all his forces at his disposal. In summer 324 Alexander attempted to solve another problem, that of the wandering mercenaries, of whom there were thousands in Asia and Greece, many of them political exiles from their own cities. The issue came to a head at Opis (324), when Alexander’s decision to send home Macedonian veterans under Craterus was interpreted as a move toward transferring the seat of power to Asia. [60] The one exception was a call to arms by Spartan king Agis III in 331 BC, whom Antipater defeated and killed in the battle of Megalopolis. [176], Arrian and Plutarch claimed that Alexander was speechless by this point, implying that this was an apocryphal story. [230] Two of these pregnancies — Stateira's and Barsine's — are of dubious legitimacy. After visiting Ilium (Troy), a romantic gesture inspired by Homer, he confronted his first Persian army, led by three satraps, at the Granicus (modern Kocabaş) River, near the Sea of Marmara (May/June 334). Nevertheless, King Philip II of Macedon was one of Alexander's most influential role models, said Abernethy. Many of these areas remained in Macedonian hands or under Greek influence for the next 200–300 years. He had grown up to the idea. However, his successors explicitly rejected such policies. Representatives of the cities of Greece also came, garlanded as befitted Alexander’s divine status. [279], In Hindi and Urdu, the name "Sikandar", derived from the Persian name for Alexander, denotes a rising young talent, and the Delhi Sultanate ruler Aladdin Khajli stylized himself as "Sikandar-i-Sani" (the Second Alexander the Great). [112] Alexander sent back vast sums from his conquest, which stimulated the economy and increased trade across his empire. [186], At Issus in 333 BC, his first confrontation with Darius, he used the same deployment, and again the central phalanx pushed through. This so irritated Alexander, that throwing one of the cups at his head, "You villain," said he, "what, am I then a bastard?" [135] 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. Macedon is too small for you", and bought the horse for him. Crossing the Oxus, he sent his general Ptolemy in pursuit of Bessus, who had meanwhile been overthrown by the Sogdian Spitamenes. Suddenly, in Babylon, while busy with plans to improve the irrigation of the Euphrates and to settle the coast of the Persian Gulf, Alexander was taken ill after a prolonged banquet and drinking bout; 10 days later, on June 13, 323, he died in his 33rd year; he had reigned for 12 years and eight months. Alexander arranged a double phalanx, with the center advancing at an angle, parting when the chariots bore down and then reforming. [274], According to Josephus, Alexander was shown the Book of Daniel when he entered Jerusalem, which described a mighty Greek king who would conquer the Persian Empire. [197][201] However, he had little interest in sports or the Olympic games (unlike his father), seeking only the Homeric ideals of honour (timê) and glory (kudos). He also displayed a deep interest in learning and encouraged the spread of Hellenistic culture. [12] According to the ancient Greek biographer Plutarch, on the eve of the consummation of her marriage to Philip, Olympias dreamed that her womb was struck by a thunderbolt that caused a flame to spread "far and wide" before dying away. The earliest of these is Diodorus Siculus (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. Alexander sent his body for burial with due honours in the royal tombs at Persepolis. He had come to envisage a joint ruling people consisting of Macedonians and Persians, and this served to augment the misunderstanding that now arose between him and his people. [58], While Alexander campaigned north, the Thebans and Athenians rebelled once again. Crossing the Hindu Kush northward over the Khawak Pass (11,650 feet [3,550 metres]), Alexander brought his army, despite food shortages, to Drapsaca (sometimes identified with modern Banu [Andarab], probably farther north at Qunduz); outflanked, Bessus fled beyond the Oxus (modern Amu Darya), and Alexander, marching west to Bactra-Zariaspa (modern Balkh [Wazirabad] in Afghanistan), appointed loyal satraps in Bactria and Aria. Philip deliberately commanded his troops to retreat, counting on the untested Athenian hoplites to follow, thus breaking their line. [103] However, when, at some point later, Alexander was on the Jaxartes dealing with an incursion by a horse nomad army, Spitamenes raised Sogdiana in revolt. [272], In pre-Islamic Middle Persian (Zoroastrian) literature, Alexander is referred to by the epithet gujastak, meaning "accursed", and is accused of destroying temples and burning the sacred texts of Zoroastrianism. [68] Alexander left the government of Caria to a member of the Hecatomnid dynasty, Ada, who adopted Alexander. [194], Some of Alexander's strongest personality traits formed in response to his parents. [12] 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. No heir had been appointed to the throne, and his generals adopted Philip II’s half-witted illegitimate son, Philip Arrhidaeus, and Alexander’s posthumous son by Roxana, Alexander IV, as kings, sharing out the satrapies among themselves, after much bargaining. [83], Leaving Egypt in 331 BCE, Alexander marched eastward into Achaemenid Assyria in Upper Mesopotamia (now northern Iraq) and defeated Darius again at the Battle of Gaugamela. But before talking about all of the things that he conquered, let's think about how he got started out and in particular, how he's able to consolidate control over the empire that his father begins. [16], When Alexander was ten years old, a trader from Thessaly brought Philip a horse, which he offered to sell for thirteen talents. [1][2] He was undefeated in battle and is widely considered one of history's most successful military commanders.[3]. If Plutarch’s figure of 120,000 men has any reality, however, it must include all kinds of auxiliary services, together with muleteers, camel drivers, medical corps, peddlers, entertainers, women, and children; the fighting strength perhaps stood at about 35,000. ), better known as Alexander the Great, is one of the most attractive historical figures to study not only ancient history but history in general. It included: Alexander earned the epithet "the Great" due to his unparalleled success as a military commander. This discontent was now fanned by the arrival of 30,000 native youths who had received a Macedonian military training and by the introduction of Asian peoples from Bactria, Sogdiana, Arachosia, and other parts of the empire into the Companion cavalry; whether Asians had previously served with the Companions is uncertain, but if so they must have formed separate squadrons. [229], Green argues that there is little evidence in ancient sources that Alexander had much carnal interest in women; he did not produce an heir until the very end of his life. He is also said to have sent an expedition to discover the causes of the flooding of the Nile. PD Shepherd Atlas. [98] Alexander buried Darius' remains next to his Achaemenid predecessors in a regal funeral. In the spring of 335 BC, he advanced to suppress several revolts. [280] In medieval India, Turkic and Afghan sovereigns from the Iranian-cultured region of Central Asia brought positive cultural connotations of Alexander to the Indian subcontinent, resulting in the efflorescence of Sikandernameh (Alexander Romances) written by Indo-Persian poets such as Amir Khusrow and the prominence of Alexander the Great as a popular subject in Mughal-era Persian miniatures. A decree brought by Nicanor to Europe and proclaimed at Olympia (September 324) required the Greek cities of the Greek League to receive back all exiles and their families (except the Thebans), a measure that implied some modification of the oligarchic regimes maintained in the Greek cities by Alexander’s governor Antipater. This culminated in his aspiration to homogenize the populations of Asia and Europe. How much Alexander knew of India beyond the Hyphasis (probably the modern Beas) is uncertain; there is no conclusive proof that he had heard of the Ganges. As in Tyre, men of military age were put to the sword and the women and children were sold into slavery. Alexander immediately headed south. Alexander’s march through Gedrosia proved disastrous; waterless desert and shortage of food and fuel caused great suffering, and many, especially women and children, perished in a sudden monsoon flood while encamped in a wadi. On entering Persepolis, Alexander allowed his troops to loot the city for several days. Detail of Alexander and Bucephalus, (1859-61) by Edgar Degas, in National Gallery of Art, Washington. [261], Emperor Julian in his satire called "The Caesars", describes a contest between the previous Roman emperors, with Alexander the Great called in as an extra contestant, in the presence of the assembled gods.[262]. Left in charge of Macedonia in 340 during Philip’s attack on Byzantium, Alexander defeated the Maedi, a Thracian people. According to Curtius, "Not only did Alexander slaughter the entire population of Massaga, but also did he reduce its buildings to rubble. When did Alexander the … His troops were extremely loyal, believing in him throughout all hardships. [218][219] He apparently had two sons, Alexander IV of Macedon by Roxana and, possibly, Heracles of Macedon from his mistress Barsine. [70] At the ancient Phrygian capital of Gordium, Alexander "undid" the hitherto unsolvable Gordian Knot, a feat said to await the future "king of Asia". Alexander the Great Alexander the Great: His Life and His Mysterious Death Ancient Greece Anthony Everitt Babylon Dionysus Hanging Gardens Mesopotamia Persian Empire Random House More Story 5 Audiobooks to Help With Those End-of-Summer Blues Every book is a journey, promised one of those 1980s reading posters in our elementary school library. The correct answer is "He is alive and well and rules the world!" The Athenians, led by Demosthenes, voted to seek alliance with Thebes against Macedonia. [259] The emperor Trajan also admired Alexander, as did Nero and Caracalla. After Philip's assassination in 336 BC, he succeeded his father to the throne and inherited a strong kingdom and an experienced army. Alexander the Great is one of the most extraordinary individuals in history. [191], Ancient authors recorded that Alexander was so pleased with portraits of himself created by Lysippos that he forbade other sculptors from crafting his image. In the first authoritative biography of Alexander the Great written for a general audience in a generation, classicist and historian Philip Freeman tells the remarkable life of the great conqueror. The Companion cavalry was reorganized in two sections, each containing four squadrons (now known as hipparchies); one group was commanded by Alexander’s oldest friend, Hephaestion, the other by Cleitus, an older man. There was much speculation about the cause of death, and the most popular theories claim that he either contracted malaria or typhoid fever or that he was poisoned. When news of the revolts reached Alexander, he responded quickly. He murdered Cleitus, one of his most-trusted commanders, in a drunken quarrel, but his excessive display of remorse led the army to pass a decree convicting Cleitus posthumously of treason. The death of the son necessitated the death of the father, and thus Parmenion, who had been charged with guarding the treasury at Ecbatana, was assassinated at Alexander's command, to prevent attempts at vengeance. The Thessalians and Greek allies were sent home; henceforward he was waging a purely personal war. The achievements of Alexander the Great can not be ignored because he not only altered the course of history but also the course of everyday life. [17] Alexander named it Bucephalas, meaning "ox-head". Alexander the Great is well known as one of the most successful warriors of all time. Attalus also had severely insulted Alexander, and following Cleopatra's murder, Alexander may have considered him too dangerous to leave alive. [167][168], Pompey, Julius Caesar and Augustus all visited the tomb in Alexandria, where Augustus, allegedly, accidentally knocked the nose off. Later the incident was to contribute to the story that he was the son of Zeus and, thus, to his “deification.” In spring 331 he returned to Tyre, appointed a Macedonian satrap for Syria, and prepared to advance into Mesopotamia. [34][35], When Philip returned to Pella, he fell in love with and married Cleopatra Eurydice in 338 BC,[36] the niece of his general Attalus. His post of chiliarch (grand vizier) was left unfilled. In the battle that followed, Alexander won a decisive victory. When the Thebans refused to surrender, he made an entry and razed their city to the ground, sparing only temples and Pindar’s house; 6,000 were killed and all survivors sold into slavery. His father was often away, conquering neighboring territories and putting down revolts. Alexander the Great Mosaic When Alexander III inherited the throne of the Kingdom of Macedon upon the assassination of his father Philip II of Macedon there were already plans underway to begin a military incursion to first conquer the rest of Hellenistic Greece and then mount a resistance against the Achaemenid Empire . [212] Thus, rather than megalomania, his behaviour may simply have been a practical attempt at strengthening his rule and keeping his empire together. [e] As Pausanias tried to escape, he tripped over a vine and was killed by his pursuers, including two of Alexander's companions, Perdiccas and Leonnatus. Rathbone Professor Emeritus of Ancient History and Classical Archaeology, University of Liverpool. [192] Lysippos had often used the contrapposto sculptural scheme to portray Alexander and other characters such as Apoxyomenos, Hermes and Eros. [b] At that point, his empire stretched from the Adriatic Sea to the Beas River. But in pitched battle the striking force was the cavalry, and the core of the army, should the issue still remain undecided after the cavalry charge, was the infantry phalanx, 9,000 strong, armed with 13-foot spears and shields, and the 3,000 men of the royal battalions, the hypaspists. Sometime 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. [181] Nevertheless, Perdiccas read Alexander's will to his troops.[60]. Leaving Porus, he then proceeded down the river and into the Indus, with half his forces on shipboard and half marching in three columns down the two banks. [84] Darius once more fled the field, and Alexander chased him as far as Arbela. By N. G. L. Hammond, F. W. Walbank, p. xl, Historical Dictionary of Ancient Greek Warfare, J, Woronoff & I. Spence, CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (, Peter Turchin, Thomas D. Hall and Jonathan M. Adams, ", Government of Macedonia (ancient kingdom), encounter between Alexander and Diogenes the Cynic, Chronology of the expedition of Alexander the Great into Asia, Personal relationships of Alexander the Great, List of cities founded by Alexander the Great, Cultural depictions of Alexander the Great, Chronology of European exploration of Asia, List of biblical figures identified in extra-biblical sources, "Guardian on Time Magazine's 100 personalities of all time", Harpokration, Lexicon of the Ten Orators, § m6, Advice to Young Men on Greek Literature, Basil of Caesarea, § 8, The Anabasis of Alexander/Book II/Chapter XIV/Darius's Letter, and Alexander's Reply – Arrian, contemporary Babylonian account of the battle of Gaugamela, Philostratus the Elder, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, § 2.12, "NZ scientist's detective work may reveal how Alexander died", "Was the death of Alexander the Great due to poisoning? From age 13 to 16 he was taught by Aristotle, who inspired him with an interest in philosophy, medicine, and scientific investigation, but he was later to advance beyond his teacher’s narrow precept that non-Greeks should be treated as slaves. [220][221], Alexander also had a close relationship with his friend, general, and bodyguard Hephaestion, the son of a Macedonian noble. [187] 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. [161][163] His successor, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, transferred the sarcophagus to Alexandria, where it remained until at least late Antiquity. [210] Alexander adopted elements of Persian dress and customs at court, notably proskynesis, a practice of which Macedonians disapproved, and were loath to perform. Alexander eventually agreed and turned south, marching along the Indus. The army was accompanied by surveyors, engineers, architects, scientists, court officials, and historians; from the outset Alexander seems to have envisaged an unlimited operation. He never lost a battle, despite typically being outnumbered. [16], Alexander's most immediate legacy was the introduction of Macedonian rule to huge new swathes of Asia. Both in Egypt and elsewhere in the Greek cities he received divine honours. During this turmoil, the Illyrians invaded Macedonia, only to be repelled by Alexander. At Gordium in Phrygia, tradition records his cutting of the Gordian knot, which could only be loosed by the man who was to rule Asia; but this story may be apocryphal or at least distorted. British historian Peter Green provided a description of Alexander's appearance, based on his review of statues and some ancient documents: Physically, Alexander was not prepossessing. 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