Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great was one of the greatest military leaders in history. He vastly expanded the Greek culture through the many cities he acquired. Though he died at a young age he had many accomplishments that greatly inspired his legacy. Alexander the Great was born in 356. B. C, in Pella, which was once Macedonia’s capital. He was the son of Phillip II, whom at the time was King of Macedonia. King Phillip the second was assassinated in 336 B. C, when Alexander was forced to take over the crown. After stabilizing his role at home, he began strategizing his first attack.

First he attacked Thessaly to restore Macedonian rule there, and then in 335 B. C. he defeated the Thracians, up through the Danube River. Upon his return, he defeated and crushed the Illyrians, but rushed back afterwards to Thebes, which was in revolt. Thebes was destroyed by Alexander, sparing only temples and the house of Pindar, a well known Greek poet of the 5th Century B. C. Many more Greek states then turned to Alexander’s control. Alexander declared war on Persia in 334 B. C. , defeating a Persian army near the city of Troy.

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This resulted in the submission of all states in Asia Minor to him. Alexander then traveled south, where he defeated King Darius III, whom was the leader of the main Persian army. This battle occurred in 333 B. C. at Issus of Northeastern Syria. His next conquest occurred in Tyre in 332 B. C. Then he began his travels towards the Eastern Mediterranean. First he captured Gaza, and then traveled into capture Egypt. This gave him control over the entire eastern Mediterranean coastline, where he would establish the City of Alexandria, located at the mouth of the Nile River.

The city of Alexandria would later become the scientific, literary, and commercial center of the Greek world. After all his work in the eastern Mediterranean, he moved his forces to Babylon. Again, he defended Darius, now in 331 B. C. , forcing Babylon to surrender. The following conquest after Babylon came in Persepolis, capital of Persia, where Alexander took over the city. By 327 B. C. Alexander had gained control of lands along and beyond the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, into much of Central Asia. His final conquest was in 326 B. C. when he invaded the Punjab.

At this point, the Macedonians refused to go any farther, so Alexander spent about a year organizing all his lands, and finishing a survey of the Persian Gulf in order to prepare for his next invasions. He arrived in Babylon in 323 B. C. , and died there of a fever, severe wounds and alcohol consumption. His inspiration for his conquests was Achilles, a character from Homer’s Iliad. He was so obsessed that he kept a copy under his pillow along with a knife. At times Alexander claimed to be a dependent of Hercules, a Greek hero who was treated like a god. He aspired to be like the Greeks.

Alexander introduced a new age known as the Hellenistic Age which translates to “to imitate Greeks”. After the destruction of the Persian monarchy many opportunities were created for the Greeks such as engineers, merchants, soldiers, and administrators. His successors continued the political unity based on the principle of monarchy. Alexander the Great was one of the most well known military leaders in history. He inspired many cultural aspects for the Greeks from his many conquests. Though he died at a young age his legacy lived on through his successors.

References:
World Civilizations I, Duiker & Spielvogel; 2009 Cengage Learning Hemingway, Colette, and Seán Hemingway. “The Rise of Macedonia and the Conquests of Alexander the Great”. In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/alex/hd_alex.htm (October 2004

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