Alexander, the king of Macedonia or more commonly, Alexander the Great is thought to be the most significant military leader of the ancient world. His empire was vast and could not be compared to any other by size. Even though more than two thousand years have passed, his skills in battle are still discussed today.
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The future great and powerful king was born in 356 B. C. Alexander was being influenced by his parents very differently, as his father, King Phillip II, was teaching him about the military strategies and his mother, Olympias, was trying to set him against his father. But from a very early age, Alexander showed to have a lot of potentials and was taught by the best teachers.
Some of the key subjects were diplomacy, politics, and war. When Alexander was thirteen years old, Aristotle was made his tutor at the request of Phillip II. The subjects that were taught to Alexander by the famous thinker were medicine, literature, philosophy but most importantly, ethics and politics. It was also clear that Alexander was an intellectual person, as he showed particular interest in sciences and literature.
When he was sixteen, Phillip II left him in charge of the Macedonian military while he went to conquer Byzantium. During this time, Thracian Maedi tribe went against Macedonia, but Alexander was able to draw them out of the home territory and after taking over, named a city of Alexandroupolis.
In 336 B. C., Phillip II was assassinated during marriage ceremonies by one his bodyguards. There is some speculation as to the true reasons and people who organized the assassination, but there were several enemies who were set against Phillip and his diplomacy (Burgan, 2006).
When Alexander became the lawful king, he took care of everyone who he thought could be a threat to his ruling. Because news of Phillip’s death has been circulating, some tribes decided to take power into their own hands. Alexander acted quickly and took matters into their own hands by making them surrender.
He then organized a congress and made sure that Greeks were on his side. Thus, in year 335 B. C., he went North and defeated Triballi and Amphipolis. Because his reputation was yet to be made, the King of Illyria, Cleitus and King Glaukias did not think of him as a threat and went to battle but were defeated.
His conquest of the North was referred to as Balkan conquest, and when it successfully finished, Alexander set out to conquer the Persian Empire. When he marched out, his army consisted of approximately 50,000 soldiers, and his fame was already known in the region.
After the Battle of Granicus, several Persian cities surrendered without a battle and Alexander proceeded further. King Darius has met with Alexander in a battle that was one of the major ones for the Persian Empire. But even though Darius had a larger army, he was defeated and forced to escape even before the battle was over. After the battle, Alexander continued to pursue Darius and eventually was proclaimed the king of Asia with ownership of Syria and almost all of Levant.
In 332 B. C., he went with an attack on Tyre and the battle turned out to be a hard one. This did not stop him, and after defeating and killing all men capable of military service, he went towards Egypt. Because he was already well known in the region, many cities surrendered, and upon his arrival in Egypt, he was seen as a liberator.
Gaza was one of the cities that did not capitulate, and Alexander was forced to fight. The defenses of the city were well equipped, and the Macedonian King had to resort to siege. After three attempts to take the city and a wound to a shoulder that was rather serious, Alexander took Gaza (Abbott, 2009).
Alexander then went on to Mesopotamia, leaving Egypt. Again, he met with Darius and defeated him. After capturing Babylon, he took Susa, Persepolis and went through the Persian Gates. This was the time when Alexander became the Great King, but he wants to conquer more lands did not die down. As he was an intellectual and well-educated person, he would always have philosophers, engineers, and historians present.
This ensured for proper recoding of the events and any possible advice. It is important to note that there were two plots against his life. The first involved one of his officers not being able to notify Alexander and so, Macedonian King killed the officer and his son to prevent any vengeance. Another plot happened during his Central Asian campaign and involved people out of his royal surroundings. In years 327 and 326, B. C., Alexander went to conquer the Indian subcontinent.
There was much fighting, and Alexander was seriously wounded several times. When the King and his army reached Hyphasis River, the army refused to go any further, as they were exhausted by the wars and wanted to return home. Even though Alexander wanted to go further, he had no choice but to turn back.
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While going back, Alexander the Great has realized that many of his military leaders who were left to their own devices, misbehaved, so several executions followed. He then held a big feast between Macedonians and Persians, which was meant to unite the two nations (Freeman, 2011).
There were many more plans that Alexander the Great wanted to accomplish but his death in 323 B. C., prevented him from any more conquering. Historically, there is some controversy as to the true causes of his death, and there are descriptions of both natural causes and assassination.
By some versions he has died of either meningitis, bacterial virus or natural causes that were accelerated by his lifestyle of drinking and battles. Some historians propose that he was poisoned by the wine that he drank or the water from the river Styx. After his death, the empire that he created fell apart. In the modern days, there are differential opinions as to how to classify Alexander the Great.
There is no doubt that he was a great military leader and could organize and control his soldiers well, but the reasons for his hunger for territory and power are questioned by philosophers.
One of the most important consequences of his actions was the spread of Greek culture and contact between East and West (Heckel, 2011). Trading became much more orderly, and many cities and territories became world centers. Another important legacy is that people of different cultures and traditions had a chance to get to know each other, intermixing until the present times.
Abbott, J. (2009). Alexander the Great. New York, NY: Mundus Publishing.
Burgan, M. (2006). Alexander the Great: World Conqueror. Minneapolis, MN: Capstone.
Freeman, P. (2011). Alexander the Great. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
Heckel, W. (2011). Alexander the Great: A New History. Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons.