Alexander the Great
Born July 20 356 BC, died of fever on June 10, 323 BC. at 32 years old
Conqueror of the known world like a goatby Rit Nosotro First Published:: 2003
Unfortunately this otherwise excellent essay contains sections of plagiarism which were not discovered until two years after the essay was donated to hyperhistory.net. Paraphrasing in content and word order without citation is unethical because it is intellectual theft.
Around 530 BC, during the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar
of Babylon, Daniel dreamed of a great ram with two horns on his head,
one longer than the other, and no other animal could stand against it
(Daniel 8). Then a male goat with one horn on his head came from the west,
without touching the ground he came over all the earth, enraged in fury.
When he got to the ram he shattered the horns on the rams head, the goat
then flung the ram to the ground and trampled over him. The goat then
magnified himself exceedingly, but as soon as this was done the large
horn of the goat was broken and four conspicuous horns came up from the
four winds of heaven.
About 180 years later King Phillip and Queen Olympias of Macedonia had a son and they named him Alexander. Alexander is supposed to have been fair skinned, with a rosy tinge to his face and chest. Plutarch stated that he had a pleasing aroma. Like all Macedonians, Alexander liked his liquor; his liking for wine caused some outbursts of rage. Alexander liked drama, the flute and the lyre, poetry and hunting. What he truly wanted in his life was glory and valor, rather than simple living and riches. He was also not very fond of athletic contests, according to Plutarch.
To say the least, young Alexander matured early. A famous story describes Alexander skillfully receiving Persian envoys in Philip's court while Philip was out inspecting his troops. Alexander is said to have impressed the envoys more than Philip would have. This incident would have happened when Alexander was about five or six.
You may know Alexander the Great as a ruthless warrior who went around with a massive army killing people and what not. If that is instilled in your mind you need this paper more than anybody, and furthermore that is not Alexander at all. His parents wanted him to have a good education noticing the potential greatness in the boy, so they arranged for his teaching right away.
His first teacher was the harsh Leonidas, a relative of Olympias, perhaps her uncle. Leonidas was a strict disciplinarian who instilled in Alexander his Spartan nature which became famous during his Persian and Indian expeditions, where he would live simply, very much like his troops. Leonidas was replaced with Lysimachus, who carried the favor of the king by calling him Peleus, Alexander Achilles, and himself Phoenix, the name of Achilles' tutor. Lysimachus taught Alexander to play the lyre, and taught him an appreciation for the fine arts of music, poetry, and drama. Philip and Olympias wanted nothing less than the best for their son, so when he was 13, his parents hired Aristotle from Athens to be his personal tutor. The two of them spent time at Mieza, a temple about 20 miles from the palace at Pella. Under Aristotle, Alexander learned philosophy, ethics, politics, and healing, all of which became of the utmost importance for Alexander in his later life. The two later became estranged, due to their difference of opinion on the status of foreigners; Aristotle saw them as barbarians, while Alexander sought to unite the Macedonians and foreigners.
There is a great story about Alexander which may not be told in history books these days. The legend begins with Philoneicus, a Thessalian, bringing a wild horse to Philip for him to buy. None of the hands were able to handle it, and Philip grew upset at Philoneicus for bringing such an unsteady horse to him. Alexander, however, publicly defied his father and claimed that he could handle the horse. The bet between Philip and Alexander was that if Alexander could ride it, Philip would buy it, if not; Alexander would have to pay the price of the horse, which was 13 talents, an enormous sum of money for a boy of Alexander's age. (The 1994 World Almanac says that 1 talent was about 60 pounds. Sixty pounds of anything is a lot of money.) Alexander apparently noticed that the horse had been shying away from its own shadow, and so he led it gently into the sun, so that its shadow was behind it, all the while stroking it gently and whispering into its ear. Eventually the horse let Alexander mount him, and Alexander was able to show his equestrian skill to his father and all who were watching. He named the horse Bucephalus, which means Ox head, and rode it across Asia, founding a city in its honor in India after its death.
At age 17, Alexander experienced his first taste of combat when he led troops alongside his father against the united forces of Athens and Thebes, who were rising against Macedonia. The very young general fought valiantly and led his men to victory. Athens and Thebes soon became part of the Macedonian nation.
When Alexander was 19, his father Philip married another woman, named Cleopatra. He already had 6 wives but the new marriage enraged Alexander’s mother Olympias. Taking his mother’s side, Alexander fell into a heated quarrel with his father and ran away to another section of the kingdom. King Philip was soon assassinated by a member of his own court. The motive for killing the king is to this day uncertain.
Alexander never got along well with his father, although Philip was proud of Alexander for the Bucephalus incident and founding the city. Alexander had always been closer to Olympias than Philip and everybody knew it. Philip and Olympias also did not get along all that well, owe primarily to Olympias' "barbarian" heritage of Epirus, now Albania. The family essentially was split apart irrefutably when Philip (who already had six wifes) married a woman named Cleopatra, a Macedonian. At the wedding banquet, Cleopatra's father made a remark about Philip fathering a "legitimate" heir, one that was pure Macedonian. Alexander took exemption and threw his cup at the man, and some sources say Alexander killed him. Enraged, Philip stood up and charged at Alexander, only to trip and fall on his face in his drunken daze. Alexander, rather upset at the scene, is said to have shouted, "Here is the man who was making ready to cross from Europe to Asia, and who cannot even cross from one table to another without losing his balance." Alexander then moved Olympias back to Epirus, and he went to Illyria. He only returned when Demaratus of Corinth, a close friend of Philip, asked how Philip could care so much for his troops abroad and so little for his family at home. From then till the assassination of Philip, they remained a family in name only. Some think that Olympias may have even had a role in Philip's murder.
After Philip’s death, there was confusion over who was the rightful
heir. Some people supported Cleopatra’s newborn to be king instead
of Alexander. Alexander soon erased the problem by killing the infant
and all who supported him. He then claimed the throne for himself. Greek
cities like Athens and Thebes which had pledged allegiance to Philip,
were unsure if they wished to do the same for a twenty-year-old boy. Likewise,
northern barbarians that Philip had subdued were threatening to break
away from Macedonia and wreak havoc in the north. Alexander's advisors
suggested that he let Athens and Thebes go and to be gentle with the barbarians
to prevent a revolt. However, Alexander felt that the best thing to do
was to be decisive and swift. Therefore Alexander marched quickly north
and drove the rebelling barbarians beyond the Danube River and out of
Arrian linked the story of how Alexander dealt with Thebes and Athens. There were rumors in these cities that Alexander had been killed and that the time was right for them to separate themselves from Macedonia. Instead, in the fall of 335 BC, Alexander marched up to the gates of Thebes and let them know that it was not too late for them to change their minds. The Thebans responded with a small contingent of soldiers, which Alexander repelled with archers and light infantrymen. The next day, Alexander's general, Perdiccas, attacked the gates. Perdiccas broke through and into the city, and Alexander moved the rest of his force in behind to prevent the Thebans from cutting Perdiccas off from the rest. The Macedonians then stormed the city, killing almost everyone in sight, women and children included. They plundered, sacked, burned and razed Thebes, as an example to the rest of Greece. Athens then rethought its decision to abandon Alexander. He came to terms with them that maintained the status quo as under Philip. While visiting Athens to seal the pact, Alexander visited the Oracle at Delphi, despite it being a day when giving prophecy was forbidden. In his attempts to drag the priestess to the place where she gave her oracles, she screamed, "My son, you are invincible!" That was all that Alexander wanted to hear.
Before his army traveled into Persia in the spring of 334 BC for Asia,
Alexander made a pilgrimage to the ancient site of Troy and visited the
tomb of the hero of the Trojan War, Achilles. He took Achilles’
shield from the gravesite, which he kept with him during all his travels.
Alexander was driven to launch his Asian campaigns by his firm belief
that he was invincible and godlike. His family was thought to be descended
from Hercules, and Alexander often emulated him as well as his personal
hero, Achilles. Throughout his life, Alexander was encouraged by favorable
omens and miracles that his diviners interpreted for him.
Alexander's specific goals in Asia were several. Officially, he was leading a Pan-Hellenic invasion of the Persian Empire to rid the world of tyranny and oppression, and he also sought revenge on the Persians for their invasion of Greece in 490 B.C.E. Alexander, however, conquered lands outside of the Persian Empire because he had a personal longing to see the Ocean that was believed to encircle Europe and Asia at the edge of the Earth.
When he crossed the Hellespont with his army in 334 B.C.E., Alexander 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. Also significant about Alexander's crossing of the Hellespont into Asia Minor was that he landed at Troy just like Achilles had done in Homer's Iliad.
The Macedonian army soon encountered the Persian army under King Darius at the crossing of the river Granicus, near the Aegean coast. Alexander courageously plunged his cavalry into the swiftly flowing river and fought his way up the steep riverbank to meet the Persians, who were defeated in fierce hand-to-hand combat.
Alexander proceeded to march south through Ionia and free the Greek cities there from Persian rule, and thus, he confirmed his status as the great liberator of civilized men. Then he turned northward to Gordion, home of the famous Gordian Knot. The legend behind the ancient knot was that the man who could untie it was destined to rule the entire world. Alexander simply slashed the knot with his sword and unraveled it. He had approached the knot as he would appraoch Egypt. The Egyptians made him their new pharaoh and hailed him as an immortal. Here, Alexander designed and built a city, which he named after himself. Alexandria soon became one of the most prosperous cities in Egypt.
In November of 333 BC, Alexander met Darius in battle for the second time at a mountain pass at Issus. This time there was a great disadvantage to Alexander in numbers. The Persians outnumbered the Macedonians by an estimated number of three to one. Alexander was not sure of this battle, but some how Alexander got into his hands on a part of the Bible, Daniel chapter eight to be exact, and this is how he interpreted what he read. The Ram with the two horns which was in the King’s dream represents the Kings of Media and Persia. The shaggy goat represents the kingdom of Greece, and the large horn between the goat’s eyes represents the kingdom’s first King, Alexander the Great. With that Alexander charged right into battle. Macedonia was victorious, but Darius escaped, so in 331 BC Alexander left Egypt after quickly conquering the Aegean coast. In 330 BC Alexander finally found Darius assassinated by his own men. Alexander gave Darius a royal funeral and marched into India in 327 BC.
Alexander cared for his men well. He would ride in the front lines during a battle and fight alongside them. Also, after every battle, he would personally give each of the leaders a large sum of money for the men. Although the men despaired at many points during their travels, they were inspired by the king’s leadership and military strategy. He often employed the use of a phalanx, an army of foot soldiers carrying shields and long spears. The phalanx proved very effective in open field battles. When besieging a city, he built siege engines (catapults and battering rams) in order to defeat the enemy more quickly. During every scenario, Alexander managed to outwit his opponent and this led to his success.
The soldiers were happy with their present conquests and wished to return home. However, Alexander had no intention of returning home just yet and led his army east into India, where he added more land to his rule.
On the outskirts of India, Alexander came into contact with a tribe of barbarians, whom he quickly overcame. He dealt mercifully with the tribe, which was common for him after his victories. He ended up marrying the chieftan’s daughter, Roxanne. It is questionable whether he married her for love or political reasons.
By 324, his men, homesick for Macedonia, finally persuaded Alexander
to return home. As they made their way back, the army stopped in Babylon
to celebrate their glorious victories. During the festivities, Hephaistion,
a close friend of Alexander, took a sudden fever and died. Alexander was
devastated. He went into a long period of mourning, lasting for several
months. Soon, the king himself was either posioned or struck down with
a severe case of malaria. After just 11 years to conquer the known world,
in 323 BC at the age of 33, Alexander the Great died. His body was put
in an extravagant temple, which was then placed on wheels and led in an
honorable funeral procession to Alexandria in Egypt. At first, it was
planned that his body would be taken to his home in Macedonia. However,
because he had not returned to Macedonia since he had crossed the Hellespont
and attacked Persia eleven years before and because it seemed during his
life that he had never had any desire to return home, it was decided that
he should rest elsewhere. So, he was buried in Alexandria in Egypt and
his remains still lie there today.
Daniel’s prophesy goes on without Alexander. When Alexander died 4 conspicuous horns came up from the four winds of heaven. These are the 4 generals of Alexander which established cities of their own. The only city important is the small horn, which grows bigger than any of the other horns and one day a powerful deceitful ruler will come from it. His power will be mighty but it is not his power. He will finally fall without human help. Many believe this horn is Rome, and this ruler is the Anti-Christ.
Alexander was great was a cunning leader of men. Military chiefs study his maneuvers and theologians study his appearance in the book of Daniel. One sure moral of the story is “Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before stumbling.”-Proverbs 16:18
1. Stewart, Gail B. The Importance of Alexander the Great. San Diego, California. Lucent Books, Inc. 1994
2. Conquerors, Alexander the Great. TLC, The Learning Channel.
Discover Communications, Inc. 1996.
3. Hackneys November 18, 2002