ALEXANDER III OF MACEDON (20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC),
commonly known as ALEXANDER THE GREAT (Greek : Ἀλέξανδρος
ὁ Μέγας, Aléxandros ho Mégas
Koine Greek: ), was a king
(basileus ) of the
Ancient Greek kingdom of
Macedon and a member of
Argead dynasty . He was born in
Pella in 356 BC and succeeded his
father Philip II to the throne at the age of twenty. He spent most of
his ruling years on an unprecedented military campaign through Asia
and northeast Africa, and he had created one of the largest empires of
the ancient world by the age of thirty, stretching from
India . He was undefeated in battle and is widely
considered one of history's most successful military commanders.
During his youth,
Alexander was tutored by
Aristotle until the age of
16. After Philip's assassination in 336 BC, he succeeded his father to
the throne and inherited a strong kingdom and an experienced army.
Alexander was awarded the generalship of
Greece and used this
authority to launch his father's Panhellenic project to lead the
Greeks in the conquest of
Persia . In 334 BC, he invaded the
Achaemenid Empire (Persian Empire) and began a series of campaigns
that lasted ten years. Following the conquest of
Anatolia , Alexander
broke the power of
Persia in a series of decisive battles, most
notably the battles of Issus and Gaugamela . He subsequently overthrew
Darius III and conquered the
Achaemenid Empire in its
entirety. At that point, his empire stretched from the Adriatic Sea
Indus River .
He sought to reach the "ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea"
India in 326 BC, winning an important victory over the
Pauravas at the
Battle of the Hydaspes . He eventually turned back at
the demand of his homesick troops.
Alexander died in
Babylon in 323
BC, the city that he planned to establish as his capital, without
executing a series of planned campaigns that would have begun with an
invasion of Arabia . In the years following his death, a series of
civil wars tore his empire apart, resulting in the establishment of
several states ruled by the
Diadochi , Alexander's surviving generals
Alexander's legacy includes the cultural diffusion and syncretism
which his conquests engendered, such as
Greco-Buddhism . He founded
some twenty cities that bore his name , most notably
Egypt. Alexander's settlement of Greek colonists and the resulting
spread of Greek culture in the east resulted in a new Hellenistic
civilization , aspects of which were still evident in the traditions
Byzantine Empire in the mid-15th century AD and the presence of
Greek speakers in central and far eastern
Anatolia until the 1920s.
Alexander became legendary as a classical hero in the mold of Achilles
, and he features prominently in the history and mythic traditions of
both Greek and non-Greek cultures. He became the measure against which
military leaders compared themselves, and military academies
throughout the world still teach his tactics. He is often ranked
among the most influential people in human history.
* 1 Early life
* 1.1 Lineage and childhood
* 1.2 Adolescence and education
* 2 Philip\'s heir
* 2.1 Regency and ascent of
* 2.2 Exile and return
* 3.1 Accession
* 3.2 Consolidation of power
* 3.3 Balkan campaign
* 4 Conquest of the Persian
* 4.2 The
Levant and Syria
* 4.4 Assyria and Babylonia
* 4.6 Fall of the
Empire and the East
* 4.7 Problems and plots
Macedon in Alexander\'s absence
* 5 Indian campaign
* 5.1 Forays into the
* 5.2 Revolt of the army
* 6 Last years in
* 7 Death and succession
* 7.1 After death
* 7.2 Division of the empire
* 7.3 Will
* 8 Character
* 8.1 Generalship
* 8.2 Physical appearance
* 8.3 Personality
* 8.4 Personal relationships
* 9 Battle record
* 10 Legacy
* 10.1 Hellenistic kingdoms
* 10.2 Founding of cities
* 10.3 Hellenization
* 10.4 Influence on Rome
* 10.5 Legend
* 10.6 In ancient and modern culture
* 11 Historiography
* 12 Ancestry
* 13 See also
* 14 Annotations
* 15 References
* 16 Sources
* 16.1 Primary sources
* 16.2 Secondary sources
* 17 Further reading
* 18 External links
LINEAGE AND CHILDHOOD
Bust of a young
Alexander the Great from the Hellenistic era,
Aristotle Tutoring Alexander, by Jean Leon
Alexander was born on the sixth day of the ancient Greek month of
Hekatombaion , which probably corresponds to 20 July 356 BC,
although the exact date is disputed, in
Pella , the capital of the
Macedon . He was the son of the king of Macedon, Philip II
, and his fourth wife,
Olympias , the daughter of Neoptolemus I , king
of Epirus . Although Philip had seven or eight wives,
his principal wife for some time, likely a result of giving birth to
Alexander the Great, Thessaloniki,
Several legends surround Alexander's birth and childhood. According
to the ancient Greek biographer
Plutarch , Olympias, on the eve of the
consummation of her marriage to Philip, dreamed that her womb was
struck by a thunder bolt that caused a flame to spread "far and wide"
before dying away. 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.
Plutarch offered a variety of
interpretations of these dreams: that
Olympias was pregnant before her
marriage, indicated by the sealing of her womb; or that Alexander's
Zeus . Ancient commentators were divided about whether the
Olympias promulgated the story of Alexander's divine
parentage, variously claiming that she had told Alexander, or that she
dismissed the suggestion as impious.
On the day
Alexander was born, Philip was preparing a siege on the
Potidea on the peninsula of
Chalcidice . That same day, Philip
received news that his general
Parmenion had defeated the combined
Paeonian armies, and that his horses had won at the
Olympic Games . It was also said that on this day, the Temple of
Ephesus , one of the Seven Wonders of the World , burnt
down. This led
Hegesias of Magnesia to say that it had burnt down
Artemis was away, attending the birth of Alexander. Such
legends may have emerged when
Alexander was king, and possibly at his
own instigation, to show that he was superhuman and destined for
greatness from conception.
In his early years,
Alexander was raised by a nurse,
Lanike , sister
of Alexander's future general
Cleitus the Black . Later in his
Alexander was tutored by the strict Leonidas , a relative
of his mother, and by
Lysimachus of Acarnania .
Alexander was raised
in the manner of noble Macedonian youths, learning to read, play the
lyre , ride, fight, and hunt.
Alexander was ten years old, a trader from
Philip a horse, which he offered to sell for thirteen talents . The
horse refused to be mounted and Philip ordered it away. Alexander
however, detecting the horse's fear of its own shadow, asked to tame
the horse, which he eventually managed.
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
Macedon is too small for you", and bought the horse
Alexander named it
Bucephalas , meaning "ox-head".
Alexander as far as
India . When the animal died
(due to old age, according to Plutarch, at age thirty), Alexander
named a city after him, Bucephala .
ADOLESCENCE AND EDUCATION
Alexander was 13, Philip began to search for a tutor , and
considered such academics as
Speusippus , the latter
offering to resign to take up the post. In the end, Philip chose
Aristotle and provided the Temple of the Nymphs at Mieza as a
classroom. In return for teaching Alexander, Philip agreed to rebuild
Aristotle's hometown of
Stageira , which Philip had razed, and to
repopulate it by buying and freeing the ex-citizens who were slaves,
or pardoning those who were in exile.
Mieza was like a boarding school for
Alexander and the children of
Macedonian nobles, such as
Hephaistion , and
Many of these students would become his friends and future generals,
and are often known as the 'Companions'.
Aristotle taught Alexander
and his companions about medicine, philosophy, morals, religion,
logic, and art. Under Aristotle's tutelage,
Alexander developed a
passion for the works of
Homer , and in particular the
Aristotle gave him an annotated copy, which
Alexander later carried on
REGENCY AND ASCENT OF MACEDON
Main articles: Philip II of
Macedon and Rise of
information: History of
Macedonia (ancient kingdom)
Macedonia (ancient kingdom) Philip II of
Macedon , Alexander's father
At age 16, Alexander's education under
Aristotle ended. Philip waged
war against Byzantion , leaving
Alexander in charge as regent and heir
apparent . During Philip's absence, the Thracian
Alexander responded quickly, driving them from
their territory. He colonized it with Greeks, and founded a city named
Upon Philip's return, he dispatched
Alexander with a small force to
subdue revolts in southern
Thrace . Campaigning against the Greek city
Alexander is reported to have saved his father's life.
Meanwhile, the city of Amphissa began to work lands that were sacred
Delphi , a sacrilege that gave Philip the opportunity
to further intervene in Greek affairs. Still occupied in Thrace, he
Alexander to muster an army for a campaign in southern Greece.
Concerned that other Greek states might intervene,
Alexander made it
look as though he was preparing to attack
Illyria instead. During this
Illyrians invaded Macedonia, only to be repelled by
Philip and his army joined his son in 338 BC, and they marched south
Thermopylae , taking it after stubborn resistance from its
Theban garrison. They went on to occupy the city of
Elatea , only a
few days' march from both
Athens and Thebes . The Athenians, led by
Demosthenes , voted to seek alliance with Thebes against Macedonia.
Athens and Philip sent embassies to win Thebes' favour, but
Athens won the contest. Philip marched on Amphissa (ostensibly acting
on the request of the
Amphictyonic League ), capturing the mercenaries
sent there by
Demosthenes and accepting the city's surrender. Philip
then returned to Elatea, sending a final offer of peace to
Thebes, who both rejected it. Statue of
Alexander in Istanbul
As Philip marched south, his opponents blocked him near
Boeotia . During the ensuing Battle of
Chaeronea , Philip commanded
the right wing and
Alexander the left, accompanied by a group of
Philip's trusted generals. According to the ancient sources, the two
sides fought bitterly for some time. Philip deliberately commanded his
troops to retreat, counting on the untested
Athenian hoplites to
follow, thus breaking their line.
Alexander was the first to break the
Theban lines, followed by Philip's generals. Having damaged the
enemy's cohesion, Philip ordered his troops to press forward and
quickly routed them. With the
Athenians lost, the
surrounded. Left to fight alone, they were defeated.
After the victory at Chaeronea, Philip and
unopposed into the Peloponnese, welcomed by all cities; however, when
Sparta , they were refused, but did not resort to war.
Corinth , Philip established a "Hellenic Alliance" (modelled on the
old anti-Persian alliance of the
Greco-Persian Wars ), which included
most Greek city-states except Sparta. Philip was then named Hegemon
(often translated as "Supreme Commander") of this league (known by
modern scholars as the
League of Corinth ), and announced his plans to
attack the Persian
EXILE AND RETURN
When Philip returned to Pella, he fell in love with and married
Cleopatra Eurydice , the niece of his general Attalus . The marriage
made Alexander's position as heir less secure, since any son of
Cleopatra Eurydice would be a fully Macedonian heir, while Alexander
was only half-Macedonian. During the wedding banquet , a drunken
Attalus publicly prayed to the gods that the union would produce a
At the wedding of Cleopatra, whom Philip fell in love with and
married, she being much too young for him, her uncle Attalus in his
drink desired the Macedonians would implore the gods to give them a
lawful successor to the kingdom by his niece. This so irritated
Alexander, that throwing one of the cups at his head, "You villain,"
said he, "what, am I then a bastard?" Then Philip, taking Attalus's
part, rose up and would have run his son through; but by good fortune
for them both, either his over-hasty rage, or the wine he had drunk,
made his foot slip, so that he fell down on the floor. At which
Alexander reproachfully insulted over him: "See there," said he, "the
man who makes preparations to pass out of Europe into Asia, overturned
in passing from one seat to another." — Plutarch, describing the
feud at Philip's wedding.
Macedon with his mother, dropping her off with her
Alexander I of Epirus in
Dodona , capital of the
Molossians . He continued to Illyria, where he sought refuge with
the Illyrian king and was treated as a guest, despite having defeated
them in battle a few years before. However, it appears Philip never
intended to disown his politically and militarily trained son.
Alexander returned to
Macedon after six months due to the
efforts of a family friend, Demaratus , who mediated between the two
In the following year, the Persian satrap (governor) of
Pixodarus , offered his eldest daughter to Alexander's half-brother,
Philip Arrhidaeus .
Olympias and several of Alexander's friends
suggested this showed Philip intended to make
Arrhidaeus his heir.
Alexander reacted by sending an actor, Thessalus of Corinth, to tell
Pixodarus that he should not offer his daughter's hand to an
illegitimate son, but instead to Alexander. When Philip heard of this,
he stopped the negotiations and scolded
Alexander for wishing to marry
the daughter of a Carian, explaining that he wanted a better bride for
him. Philip exiled four of Alexander's friends,
Erigyius , and had the Corinthians bring Thessalus to him
KING OF MACEDON
Further information: Government of
Macedonia (ancient kingdom)
Macedonia (ancient kingdom)
The Kingdom of
Macedon in 336 BC.
In summer 336 BC, while at Aegae attending the wedding of his
Cleopatra to Olympias's brother,
Alexander I of Epirus ,
Philip was assassinated by the captain of his bodyguards , Pausanias .
As Pausanias tried to escape, he tripped over a vine and was killed
by his pursuers, including two of Alexander's companions, Perdiccas
Alexander was proclaimed king on the spot by the
nobles and army at the age of 20.
CONSOLIDATION OF POWER
Alexander began his reign by eliminating potential rivals to the
throne. He had his cousin, the former Amyntas IV , executed. He also
had two Macedonian princes from the region of
Lyncestis killed, but
spared a third,
Alexander Lyncestes .
and Europa, her daughter by Philip, burned alive. When Alexander
learned about this, he was furious.
Alexander also ordered the murder
of Attalus, who was in command of the advance guard of the army in
Asia Minor and Cleopatra's uncle.
Attalus was at that time corresponding with Demosthenes, regarding
the possibility of defecting to Athens. Attalus also had severely
insulted Alexander, and following Cleopatra's murder,
have considered him too dangerous to leave alive.
Arrhidaeus, who was by all accounts mentally disabled, possibly as a
result of poisoning by Olympias.
News of Philip's death roused many states into revolt, including
Thebes, Athens, Thessaly, and the Thracian tribes north of Macedon.
When news of the revolts reached Alexander, he responded quickly.
Though advised to use diplomacy,
Alexander mustered 3,000 Macedonian
cavalry and rode south towards Thessaly. He found the Thessalian army
occupying the pass between
Mount Olympus and Mount Ossa , and ordered
his men to ride over Mount Ossa. When the Thessalians awoke the next
day, they found
Alexander in their rear and promptly surrendered,
adding their cavalry to Alexander's force. He then continued south
Alexander stopped at Thermopylae, where he was recognized as the
leader of the
Amphictyonic League before heading south to
Athens sued for peace and
Alexander pardoned the rebels. The famous
Alexander and Diogenes the Cynic occurred during
Alexander's stay in Corinth. When
Alexander asked Diogenes what he
could do for him, the philosopher disdainfully asked
stand a little to the side, as he was blocking the sunlight. This
reply apparently delighted Alexander, who is reported to have said
"But verily, if I were not Alexander, I would like to be Diogenes."
Alexander took the title of
Hegemon ("leader") and, like
Philip, was appointed commander for the coming war against Persia. He
also received news of a Thracian uprising.
Main article: Alexander\'s Balkan campaign The emblema of the
Stag Hunt Mosaic , c. 300 BC, from
Pella ; the figure on the right is
Alexander the Great due to the date of the mosaic along with
the depicted upsweep of his centrally-parted hair (anastole); the
figure on the left wielding a double-edged axe (associated with
Hephaistos ) is perhaps
Hephaestion , one of Alexander's loyal
Before crossing to Asia,
Alexander wanted to safeguard his northern
borders. In the spring of 335 BC, he advanced to suppress several
revolts. Starting from
Amphipolis , he travelled east into the country
of the "Independent Thracians"; and at Mount Haemus , the Macedonian
army attacked and defeated the Thracian forces manning the heights.
The Macedonians marched into the country of the
Triballi , and
defeated their army near the Lyginus river (a tributary of the Danube
Alexander then marched for three days to the
Danube , encountering
Getae tribe on the opposite shore. Crossing the river at night, he
surprised them and forced their army to retreat after the first
cavalry skirmish .
News then reached
Alexander that Cleitus ,
King of Illyria, and King
Glaukias of the
Taulanti were in open revolt against his authority.
Marching west into Illyria,
Alexander defeated each in turn, forcing
the two rulers to flee with their troops. With these victories, he
secured his northern frontier.
Alexander campaigned north, the
Alexander immediately headed south. While the other
cities again hesitated, Thebes decided to fight. The Theban resistance
was ineffective, and
Alexander razed the city and divided its
territory between the other Boeotian cities. The end of Thebes cowed
Athens, leaving all of
Greece temporarily at peace.
set out on his Asian campaign, leaving
Antipater as regent.
CONQUEST OF THE PERSIAN EMPIRE
Main articles: Wars of
Alexander the Great and Chronology of the
Alexander the Great into Asia
Battle of the Granicus ,
Siege of Halicarnassus
Miletus Map of Alexander's empire and his route
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, drawn from
Macedon and various Greek city-states,
mercenaries, and feudally raised soldiers from
Paionia , and
Illyria . He showed his intent to conquer the entirety of the
Empire by throwing a spear into Asian soil and saying he
accepted Asia as a gift from the gods. This also showed Alexander's
eagerness to fight, in contrast to his father's preference for
After an initial victory against Persian forces at the Battle of the
Alexander accepted the surrender of the Persian provincial
capital and treasury of
Sardis ; he then proceeded along the Ionian
coast, granting autonomy and democracy to the cities. Miletus, held by
Achaemenid forces, required a delicate siege operation, with Persian
naval forces nearby. Further south, at
Halicarnassus , in
Alexander successfully waged his first large-scale siege , eventually
forcing his opponents, the mercenary captain
Memnon of Rhodes and the
Persian satrap of Caria,
Orontobates , to withdraw by sea. Alexander
left the government of
Caria to a member of the Hecatomnid dynasty,
Ada , who adopted Alexander.
Alexander proceeded into mountainous
the Pamphylian plain, asserting control over all coastal cities to
deny the Persians naval bases. From
Pamphylia onwards the coast held
no major ports and
Alexander moved inland. At
Termessos , Alexander
humbled but did not storm the Pisidian city. At the ancient Phrygian
Alexander "undid" the hitherto unsolvable Gordian
Knot , a feat said to await the future "king of Asia ". According to
Alexander proclaimed that it did not matter how the knot
was undone and hacked it apart with his sword.
THE LEVANT AND SYRIA
Alexander Mosaic, showing
Battle of Issus
Battle of Issus , from the
House of the Faun , Pompeii Further information:
Battle of Issus
Battle of Issus and
Siege of Tyre (332 BC)
In spring 333 BC,
Alexander crossed the Taurus into Cilicia. After a
long pause due to illness, he marched on towards Syria. Though
outmanoeuvered by Darius' significantly larger army, he marched back
to Cilicia, where he defeated Darius at Issus. Darius fled the battle,
causing his army to collapse, and left behind his wife, his two
daughters, his mother
Sisygambis , and a fabulous treasure. He
offered a peace treaty that included the lands he had already lost,
and a ransom of 10,000 talents for his family.
Alexander replied that
since he was now king of Asia, it was he alone who decided territorial
Alexander proceeded to take possession of Syria , and most of the
coast of the
Levant . In the following year, 332 BC, he was forced to
attack Tyre , which he captured after a long and difficult siege .
The men of military age were massacred and the women and children sold
into slavery .
Siege of Gaza Name of
Alexander the Great
Egyptian hieroglyphs (written from right to left), c. 330 BC,
Alexander destroyed Tyre, most of the towns on the route to
Egypt quickly capitulated. However,
Alexander met with resistance at
Gaza . The stronghold was heavily fortified and built on a hill,
requiring a siege. When "his engineers pointed out to him that because
of the height of the mound it would be impossible… this encouraged
Alexander all the more to make the attempt". After three unsuccessful
assaults, the stronghold fell, but not before
Alexander had received a
serious shoulder wound. As in Tyre, men of military age were put to
the sword and the women and children were sold into slavery.
Alexander advanced on
Egypt in later 332 BC, where he was regarded as
a liberator. He was pronounced son of the deity
Amun at the
Siwa Oasis in the Libyan desert. Henceforth,
Alexander often referred
Zeus-Ammon as his true father, and after his death, currency
depicted him adorned with rams horn as a symbol of his divinity.
During his stay in Egypt, he founded Alexandria-by-
Egypt , which would
become the prosperous capital of the
Ptolemaic Kingdom after his
ASSYRIA AND BABYLONIA
Battle of Gaugamela
Battle of Gaugamela
Egypt in 331 BC,
Alexander marched eastward into Mesopotamia
Iraq ) and again defeated Darius, at the Battle of
Gaugamela . Darius once more fled the field, and
Alexander chased him
as far as Arbela . Gaugamela would be the final and decisive encounter
between the two. Darius fled over the mountains to
Hamedan ), while
Site of the
Persian Gate ; the road was built in the 1990s
Further information: Battle of the
Alexander went to
Susa , one of the Achaemenid
capitals, and captured its treasury. He sent the bulk of his army to
the Persian ceremonial capital of
Persepolis via the Persian Royal
Alexander himself took selected troops on the direct route to
the city. He then stormed the pass of the
Persian Gates (in the modern
Zagros Mountains ) which had been blocked by a Persian army under
Ariobarzanes and then hurried to
Persepolis before its garrison could
loot the treasury.
On entering Persepolis,
Alexander allowed his troops to loot the city
for several days.
Alexander stayed in
Persepolis for five months.
During his stay a fire broke out in the eastern palace of
Xerxes I and
spread to the rest of the city. Possible causes include a drunken
accident or deliberate revenge for the burning of the Acropolis of
Athens during the Second Persian War by Xerxes. Years later upon
revisiting the city he had burnt,
Alexander regretted the burning of
Plutarch recounts an anecdote in which
and talks to a fallen statue of Xerxes as if it were a live person:
Shall I pass by and leave you lying there because of the expeditions
you led against Greece, or shall I set you up again because of your
magnanimity and your virtues in other respects?
FALL OF THE EMPIRE AND THE EAST
Silver coin of
Alexander wearing the lion scalp of
Alexander then chased Darius, first into Media, and then Parthia.
The Persian king no longer controlled his own destiny, and was taken
Bessus , his Bactrian satrap and kinsman. As Alexander
Bessus had his men fatally stab the Great
King and then
declared himself Darius' successor as Artaxerxes V, before retreating
into Central Asia to launch a guerrilla campaign against Alexander.
Alexander buried Darius' remains next to his Achaemenid predecessors
in a regal funeral. He claimed that, while dying, Darius had named
him as his successor to the Achaemenid throne. The Achaemenid Empire
is normally considered to have fallen with Darius.
Bessus as a usurper and set out to defeat him. This
campaign, initially against Bessus, turned into a grand tour of
Alexander founded a series of new cities, all called
Alexandria, including modern
Kandahar in Afghanistan, and Alexandria
Eschate ("The Furthest") in modern
Tajikistan . The campaign took
Alexander through Media ,
Parthia , Aria (West Afghanistan), Drangiana
Arachosia (South and Central Afghanistan),
Bactria (North and
Central Afghanistan), and
Spitamenes , who held an undefined position in the satrapy of
Sogdiana, in 329 BC betrayed
Ptolemy , one of Alexander's
trusted companions, and
Bessus was executed. However, when, at some
Alexander was on the Jaxartes dealing with an incursion
by a horse nomad army,
Sogdiana in revolt. Alexander
personally defeated the
Scythians at the
Battle of Jaxartes and
immediately launched a campaign against Spitamenes, defeating him in
the Battle of Gabai. After the defeat,
Spitamenes was killed by his
own men, who then sued for peace.
PROBLEMS AND PLOTS
The Killing of Cleitus , by
André Castaigne (1898–1899)
During this time,
Alexander adopted some elements of Persian dress
and customs at his court, notably the custom of proskynesis , either a
symbolic kissing of the hand, or prostration on the ground, that
Persians showed to their social superiors. The Greeks regarded the
gesture as the province of deities and believed that
to deify himself by requiring it. This cost him the sympathies of many
of his countrymen, and he eventually abandoned it.
A plot against his life was revealed, and one of his officers,
Philotas , was executed for failing to alert Alexander. 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.
Alexander personally killed the man who had saved his
life at Granicus,
Cleitus the Black , during a violent drunken
Maracanda (modern day
Uzbekistan ), in
which Cleitus accused
Alexander of several judgmental mistakes and
most especially, of having forgotten the Macedonian ways in favour of
a corrupt oriental lifestyle.
Later, in the Central Asian campaign, a second plot against his life
was revealed, this one instigated by his own royal pages . His
Olynthus , was implicated in the
plot, and in the Anabasis of
Arrian states that
Callisthenes and the pages were then tortured on the rack as
punishment, and likely died soon after. It remains unclear if
Callisthenes was actually involved in the plot, for prior to his
accusation he had fallen out of favour by leading the opposition to
the attempt to introduce proskynesis.
MACEDON IN ALEXANDER\'S ABSENCE
Alexander set out for Asia, he left his general
Antipater , an
experienced military and political leader and part of Philip II's "Old
Guard", in charge of Macedon. Alexander's sacking of Thebes ensured
Greece remained quiet during his absence. 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 .
the Spartans' punishment to the League of Corinth, which then deferred
to Alexander, who chose to pardon them. There was also considerable
Antipater and Olympias, and each complained to
Alexander about the other.
Greece enjoyed a period of peace and prosperity during
Alexander's campaign in Asia.
Alexander sent back vast sums from his
conquest, which stimulated the economy and increased trade across his
empire. However, Alexander's constant demands for troops and the
migration of Macedonians throughout his empire depleted Macedon's
manpower, greatly weakening it in the years after Alexander, and
ultimately led to its subjugation by Rome.
Main article: Indian campaign of
Alexander the Great
FORAYS INTO THE INDIAN SUBCONTINENT
Phalanx Attacking the Centre in the Battle of the Hydaspes
André Castaigne (1898–1899)
After the death of
Spitamenes and his marriage to
Roxana (Raoxshna in
Old Iranian ) to cement relations with his new satrapies, Alexander
turned to the
Indian subcontinent . He invited the chieftains of the
former satrapy of
Gandhara (a region presently straddling eastern
Afghanistan and northern
Pakistan ), to come to him and submit to his
Omphis (Indian name
Ambhi ), the ruler of
Taxila , whose
kingdom extended from the
Indus to the
Hydaspes (Jhelum) , complied,
but the chieftains of some hill clans, including the
Assakenoi sections of the
Kambojas (known in Indian texts also as
Ashvayanas and Ashvakayanas), refused to submit.
Ambhi hastened to
Alexander of his apprehension and met him with valuable
presents, placing himself and all his forces at his disposal.
Alexander not only returned
Ambhi his title and the gifts but he also
presented him with a wardrobe of "Persian robes, gold and silver
ornaments, 30 horses and 1,000 talents in gold".
emboldened to divide his forces, and
Perdiccas in constructing a bridge over the
Indus where it bends at
Hund (Fox 1973), supplied their troops with provisions, and received
Alexander himself, and his whole army, in his capital city of Taxila,
with every demonstration of friendship and the most liberal
On the subsequent advance of the Macedonian king, Taxiles accompanied
him with a force of 5,000 men and took part in the battle of the
Hydaspes River . After that victory he was sent by
pursuit of Porus, to whom he was charged to offer favourable terms,
but narrowly escaped losing his life at the hands of his old enemy.
Subsequently, however, the two rivals were reconciled by the personal
mediation of Alexander; and Taxiles, after having contributed
zealously to the equipment of the fleet on the Hydaspes, was entrusted
by the king with the government of the whole territory between that
river and the Indus. A considerable accession of power was granted him
after the death of Philip , son of Machatas; and he was allowed to
retain his authority at the death of
Alexander himself (323 BC), as
well as in the subsequent partition of the provinces at Triparadisus ,
In the winter of 327/326 BC,
Alexander personally led a campaign
against these clans; the
Aspasioi of Kunar valleys , the Guraeans of
the Guraeus valley, and the
Assakenoi of the Swat and Buner valleys.
A fierce contest ensued with the
Aspasioi in which
wounded in the shoulder by a dart, but eventually the
Alexander then faced the Assakenoi, who fought in the strongholds of
Massaga, Ora and
The fort of Massaga was reduced only after days of bloody fighting,
Alexander was wounded seriously in the ankle. According to
Curtius , "Not only did
Alexander slaughter the entire population of
Massaga, but also did he reduce its buildings to rubble." A similar
slaughter followed at Ora. In the aftermath of Massaga and Ora,
numerous Assakenians fled to the fortress of
Aornos . Alexander
followed close behind and captured the strategic hill-fort after four
bloody days. Alexander's invasion of the
Alexander crossed the
Indus and fought and won an epic
Porus , who ruled a region lying between the
Hydaspes and the Acesines (
Chenab ), in what is now the
Punjab , in
Battle of the Hydaspes in 326 BC.
Alexander was impressed by
Porus' bravery, and made him an ally. 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 ). Choosing a local
helped him control these lands so distant from Greece. Alexander
founded two cities on opposite sides of the
Hydaspes river, naming one
Bucephala , in honour of his horse, who died around this time. The
other was Nicaea (Victory), thought to be located at the site of
Mong, Punjab .
REVOLT OF THE ARMY
East of Porus' kingdom, near the
Ganges River , were the Nanda Empire
Magadha and further east the
Empire (of the modern-day
Bengal region of the Indian subcontinent). Fearing the prospect of
facing other large armies and exhausted by years of campaigning,
Alexander's army mutinied at the Hyphasis River (Beas) , refusing to
march farther east. This river thus marks the easternmost extent of
As for the Macedonians, however, their struggle with
their courage and stayed their further advance into India. For having
had all they could do to repulse an enemy who mustered only twenty
thousand infantry and two thousand horse, they violently opposed
Alexander when he insisted on crossing the river Ganges also, the
width of which, as they learned, was thirty-two furlongs, its depth a
hundred fathoms, while its banks on the further side were covered with
multitudes of men-at-arms and horsemen and elephants. For they were
told that the kings of the Ganderites and Praesii were awaiting them
with eighty thousand horsemen, two hundred thousand footmen, eight
thousand chariots, and six thousand war elephants .
Alexander tried to persuade his soldiers to march farther, but his
general Coenus pleaded with him to change his opinion and return; the
men, he said, "longed to again see their parents, their wives and
children, their homeland".
Alexander eventually agreed and turned
south, marching along the
Indus . Along the way his army conquered the
Malhi (in modern-day
Multan ) and other Indian tribes and Alexander
sustained an injury during the siege.
Alexander sent much of his army to Carmania (modern southern
Craterus , and commissioned a fleet to explore the
Persian Gulf shore under his admiral
Nearchus , while he led the rest
Persia through the more difficult southern route along the
Gedrosian Desert and
Susa in 324 BC, but
not before losing many men to the harsh desert.
LAST YEARS IN PERSIA
Alexander, left, and
Hephaestion , right
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 . As a gesture of thanks, he paid off
the debts of his soldiers, and announced that he would send over-aged
and disabled veterans back to Macedon, led by Craterus. His troops
misunderstood his intention and mutinied at the town of
Opis . They
refused to be sent away and criticized his adoption of Persian customs
and dress and the introduction of Persian officers and soldiers into
Alexander at the Tomb of
Cyrus the Great , by
Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes (1796)
After three days, unable to persuade his men to back down, Alexander
gave Persians command posts in the army and conferred Macedonian
military titles upon Persian units. The Macedonians quickly begged
Alexander accepted, and held a great banquet for
several thousand of his men at which he and they ate together. In an
attempt to craft a lasting harmony between his Macedonian and Persian
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. Meanwhile, upon his return to
Alexander learned that guards of the tomb of Cyrus the Great
Pasargadae had desecrated it, and swiftly executed them. Alexander
Cyrus the Great , from an early age reading Xenophon's
Cyropaedia , which described Cyrus's heroism in battle and governance
as a king and legislator. During his visit to
ordered his architect Aristobulus to decorate the interior of the
sepulchral chamber of Cyrus' tomb.
Alexander travelled to
Ecbatana to retrieve the bulk of
the Persian treasure. There, his closest friend and possible lover,
Hephaestion , died of illness or poisoning. Hephaestion's death
devastated Alexander, and he ordered the preparation of an expensive
funeral pyre in Babylon, as well as a decree for public mourning.
Back in Babylon,
Alexander planned a series of new campaigns,
beginning with an invasion of Arabia, but he would not have a chance
to realize them, as he died shortly thereafter.
DEATH AND SUCCESSION
Main article: Death of
Alexander the Great A Babylonian
astronomical diary (c. 323–322 BC) recording the death of Alexander
British Museum , London) 19th century depiction of Alexander's
funeral procession based on the description of Diodorus
On either 10 or 11 June 323 BC,
Alexander died in the palace of
Nebuchadnezzar II , in
Babylon , at age 32. There are two different
versions of Alexander's death and details of the death differ slightly
Plutarch 's account is that roughly 14 days before his
Alexander entertained admiral
Nearchus , and spent the night
and next day drinking with
Medius of Larissa . He developed a fever,
which worsened until he was unable to speak. The common soldiers,
anxious about his health, were granted the right to file past him as
he silently waved at them. In the second account, Diodorus recounts
Alexander was struck with pain after downing a large bowl of
unmixed wine in honour of
Heracles , followed by 11 days of weakness;
he did not develop a fever and died after some agony.
mentioned this as an alternative, but
Plutarch specifically denied
Given the propensity of the Macedonian aristocracy to assassination,
foul play featured in multiple accounts of his death. Diodorus,
Arrian and Justin all mentioned the theory that Alexander
was poisoned. Justin stated that
Alexander was the victim of a
Plutarch dismissed it as a fabrication, while
both Diodorus and
Arrian noted that they mentioned it only for the
sake of completeness. The accounts were nevertheless fairly
consistent in designating Antipater, recently removed as Macedonian
viceroy, and at odds with Olympias, as the head of the alleged plot.
Perhaps taking his summons to
Babylon as a death sentence, and having
seen the fate of
Parmenion and Philotas,
Alexander to be poisoned by his son Iollas, who was
Alexander's wine-pourer. There was even a suggestion that Aristotle
may have participated.
The strongest argument against the poison theory is the fact that
twelve days passed between the start of his illness and his death;
such long-acting poisons were probably not available. However, in a
2003 BBC documentary investigating the death of Alexander, Leo Schep
from the New Zealand National Poisons Centre proposed that the plant
white hellebore (
Veratrum album ), which was known in antiquity, may
have been used to poison Alexander. In a 2014 manuscript in the
Clinical Toxicology , Schep suggested Alexander's wine was
spiked with Veratrum album, and that this would produce poisoning
symptoms that match the course of events described in the Alexander
Veratrum album poisoning can have a prolonged course and it
was suggested that if
Alexander was poisoned,
Veratrum album offers
the most plausible cause. Another poisoning explanation put forward
in 2010 proposed that the circumstances of his death were compatible
with poisoning by water of the river Styx (modern-day
Arcadia, Greece) that contained calicheamicin , a dangerous compound
produced by bacteria.
Several natural causes (diseases) have been suggested, including
malaria and typhoid fever . A 1998 article in the New England Journal
of Medicine attributed his death to typhoid fever complicated by bowel
perforation and ascending paralysis . Another recent analysis
suggested pyogenic (infectious) spondylitis or meningitis . Other
illnesses fit the symptoms, including acute pancreatitis and West Nile
virus . Natural-cause theories also tend to emphasize that
Alexander's health may have been in general decline after years of
heavy drinking and severe wounds. The anguish that
Hephaestion 's death may also have contributed to his declining
See also: Tomb of
Alexander the Great Detail of
Alexander's body was laid in a gold anthropoid sarcophagus that was
filled with honey, which was in turn placed in a gold casket.
According to Aelian, a seer called Aristander foretold that the land
Alexander was laid to rest "would be happy and unvanquishable
forever". Perhaps more likely, the successors may have seen
possession of the body as a symbol of legitimacy, since burying the
prior king was a royal prerogative .
While Alexander's funeral cortege was on its way to Macedon, Ptolemy
seized it and took it temporarily to Memphis. His successor, Ptolemy
II Philadelphus , transferred the sarcophagus to Alexandria, where it
remained until at least late Antiquity .
Ptolemy IX Lathyros
Ptolemy IX Lathyros , one of
Ptolemy's final successors, replaced Alexander's sarcophagus with a
glass one so he could convert the original to coinage. The recent
discovery of an enormous tomb in northern Greece, at
dating from the time of
Alexander the Great has given rise to
speculation that its original intent was to be the burial place of
Alexander. This would fit with the intended destination of Alexander's
Julius Caesar and
Augustus all visited the tomb in
Alexandria, where Augustus, allegedly, accidentally knocked the nose
Caligula was said to have taken Alexander's breastplate from the
tomb for his own use. Around AD 200, Emperor
Septimius Severus closed
Alexander's tomb to the public. His son and successor,
Caracalla , a
great admirer, visited the tomb during his own reign. After this,
details on the fate of the tomb are hazy.
The so-called "
Sarcophagus ", discovered near
Sidon and now
Istanbul Archaeology Museum , is so named not because it was
thought to have contained Alexander's remains, but because its
Alexander and his companions fighting the Persians
and hunting. It was originally thought to have been the sarcophagus of
Abdalonymus (died 311 BC), the king of
Sidon appointed by Alexander
immediately following the battle of Issus in 331. However, more
recently, it has been suggested that it may date from earlier than
DIVISION OF THE EMPIRE
Main articles: Partition of
Diadochi Kingdoms of
Diadochi in 301 BC: the
Ptolemaic Kingdom (dark blue), the
Seleucid Empire (yellow), Kingdom of
Pergamon (orange), and Kingdom of
Macedon (green). Also shown are the
Roman Republic (light blue), the
Carthaginian Republic (purple), and the Kingdom of Epirus (red).
Alexander's death was so sudden that when reports of his death
reached Greece, they were not immediately believed.
Alexander had no
obvious or legitimate heir, his son
Alexander IV by Roxane being born
after Alexander's death. According to Diodorus, Alexander's
companions asked him on his deathbed to whom he bequeathed his
kingdom; his laconic reply was "tôi kratistôi"—"to the strongest".
Plutarch claimed that
Alexander was speechless by this
point, implying that this was an apocryphal story. 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.
Perdiccas initially did not claim power, instead suggesting that
Roxane's baby would be king, if male; with himself,
Antipater as guardians. However, the infantry, under
the command of Meleager , rejected this arrangement since they had
been excluded from the discussion. Instead, they supported Alexander's
half-brother Philip Arrhidaeus. Eventually, the two sides reconciled,
and after the birth of
Alexander IV, he and Philip III were appointed
joint kings, albeit in name only.
Dissension and rivalry soon afflicted the Macedonians, however. The
satrapies handed out by
Perdiccas at the Partition of
power bases each general used to bid for power. After the
Perdiccas in 321 BC, Macedonian unity collapsed, and
40 years of war between "The Successors" (Diadochi) ensued before the
Hellenistic world settled into four stable power blocks: Ptolemaic
Mesopotamia and Central Asia, Attalid Anatolia, and
Antigonid Macedon. In the process, both
Alexander IV and Philip III
Commemorative coin by Agathocles of
Bactria (190–180 BC) for
Alexander the Great
Diodorus stated that
Alexander had given detailed written
Craterus some time before his death.
to carry out Alexander's commands, but the successors chose not to
further implement them, on the grounds they were impractical and
Perdiccas read Alexander's will to his
Alexander's will called for military expansion into the southern and
western Mediterranean, monumental constructions, and the intermixing
of Eastern and Western populations. It included:
* Construction of a monumental tomb for his father Philip, “to
match the greatest of the pyramids of
* Erection of great temples in
Amphipolis , and a monumental temple to
* Conquest of Arabia and the entire Mediterranean Basin
* Circumnavigation of Africa
* Development of cities and the “transplant of populations from
Asia to Europe and in the opposite direction from Europe to Asia, in
order to bring the largest continent to common unity and to friendship
by means of intermarriage and family ties.”
Battle of the Granicus , 334 BC The Battle of Issus
, 333 BC
Alexander earned the epithet "the Great" due to his unparalleled
success as a military commander. He never lost a battle, despite
typically being outnumbered. This was due to use of terrain, phalanx
and cavalry tactics, bold strategy, and the fierce loyalty of his
Macedonian phalanx , armed with the sarissa , a spear 6
metres (20 ft) long, had been developed and perfected by Philip II
through rigorous training, and
Alexander used its speed and
maneuverability to great effect against larger but more disparate
Alexander also recognized the potential for disunity
among his diverse army, which employed various languages and weapons.
He overcame this by being personally involved in battle, in the
manner of a Macedonian king.
In his first battle in Asia, at Granicus,
Alexander used only a small
part of his forces, perhaps 13,000 infantry with 5,000 cavalry,
against a much larger Persian force of 40,000.
Alexander placed the
phalanx at the center and cavalry and archers on the wings, so that
his line matched the length of the Persian cavalry line, about 3 km
(1.86 mi). By contrast, the Persian infantry was stationed behind its
cavalry. This ensured that
Alexander would not be outflanked, while
his phalanx, armed with long pikes, had a considerable advantage over
the Persian's scimitars and javelins . Macedonian losses were
negligible compared to those of the Persians.
At Issus in 333 BC, his first confrontation with Darius, he used the
same deployment, and again the central phalanx pushed through.
Alexander personally led the charge in the center, routing the
opposing army. 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.
Alexander arranged a
double phalanx, with the center advancing at an angle, parting when
the chariots bore down and then reforming. The advance was successful
and broke Darius' center, causing the latter to flee once again.
When faced with opponents who used unfamiliar fighting techniques,
such as in Central Asia and India,
Alexander adapted his forces to his
opponents' style. Thus, in
Sogdiana , Alexander
successfully used his javelin throwers and archers to prevent
outflanking movements, while massing his cavalry at the center. In
India, confronted by Porus' elephant corps, the Macedonians opened
their ranks to envelop the elephants and used their sarissas to strike
upwards and dislodge the elephants' handlers.
Roman copy of a herma by
Louvre Museum . Plutarch
reports that sculptures by
Lysippos were the most faithful.
Plutarch (c. 45–120 AD) describes Alexander's
¹ The outward appearance of
Alexander is best represented by the
statues of him which
Lysippus made, and it was by this artist alone
Alexander himself thought it fit that he should be modelled. ²
For those peculiarities which many of his successors and friends
afterwards tried to imitate, namely, the poise of the neck, which was
bent slightly to the left, and the melting glance of his eyes, this
artist has accurately observed. ³ Apelles, however, in painting him
as wielder of the thunder-bolt, did not reproduce his complexion, but
made it too dark and swarthy. Whereas he was of a fair colour, as they
say, and his fairness passed into ruddiness on his breast
particularly, and in his face. 4 Moreover, that a very pleasant odour
exhaled from his skin and that there was a fragrance about his mouth
and all his flesh, so that his garments were filled with it, this we
have read in the Memoirs of Aristoxenus.
Arrian (Lucius Flavius Arrianus 'Xenophon' c.
he strong, handsome commander with one eye dark as the night and one
blue as the sky.
Alexander Romance also suggests that Alexander
suffered from heterochromia iridum : that one eye was dark and the
British historian Peter Green provided a description of Alexander's
appearance, based on his review of statues and some ancient documents:
Alexander was not prepossessing. Even by Macedonian
standards he was very short, though stocky and tough. His beard was
scanty, and he stood out against his hirsute Macedonian barons by
going clean-shaven. His neck was in some way twisted, so that he
appeared to be gazing upward at an angle. His eyes (one blue, one
brown) revealed a dewy, feminine quality. He had a high complexion and
a harsh voice.
Ancient authors recorded that
Alexander was so pleased with portraits
of himself created by
Lysippos that he forbade other sculptors from
crafting his image.
Lysippos had often used the contrapposto
sculptural scheme to portray
Alexander and other characters such as
Eros . Lysippos' sculpture, famous for its
naturalism, as opposed to a stiffer, more static pose, is thought to
be the most faithful depiction.
Some of Alexander's strongest personality traits formed in response
to his parents. His mother had huge ambitions, and encouraged him to
believe it was his destiny to conquer the Persian Empire. Olympias'
influence instilled a sense of destiny in him, and
Plutarch tells us
that his ambition "kept his spirit serious and lofty in advance of his
years". However, his father Philip was Alexander's most immediate and
influential role model, as the young
Alexander watched him campaign
practically every year, winning victory after victory while ignoring
severe wounds. Alexander's relationship with his father forged the
competitive side of his personality; he had a need to out-do his
father, illustrated by his reckless behaviour in battle. While
Alexander worried that his father would leave him "no great or
brilliant achievement to be displayed to the world", he also
downplayed his father's achievements to his companions.
Alexander (left), wearing a kausia and fighting an
Asiatic lion with
Craterus (detail); late 4th century BC mosaic , Pella
According to Plutarch, among Alexander's traits were a violent temper
and rash, impulsive nature, which undoubtedly contributed to some of
his decisions. Although
Alexander was stubborn and did not respond
well to orders from his father, he was open to reasoned debate. He
had a calmer side—perceptive, logical, and calculating. He had a
great desire for knowledge, a love for philosophy, and was an avid
reader. This was no doubt in part due to Aristotle's tutelage;
Alexander was intelligent and quick to learn. His intelligent and
rational side was amply demonstrated by his ability and success as a
general. He had great self-restraint in "pleasures of the body", in
contrast with his lack of self control with alcohol.
Alexander was erudite and patronized both arts and sciences.
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 had great charisma and force of personality,
characteristics which made him a great leader. His unique abilities
were further demonstrated by the inability of any of his generals to
unite Macedonia and retain the
Empire after his death – only
Alexander had the ability to do so.
During his final years, and especially after the death of
Alexander began to exhibit signs of megalomania and
paranoia . His extraordinary achievements, coupled with his own
ineffable sense of destiny and the flattery of his companions, may
have combined to produce this effect. His delusions of grandeur are
readily visible in his will and in his desire to conquer the world,
in as much as he is by various sources described as having boundless
ambition, an epithet, the meaning of which, has descended into an
He appears to have believed himself a deity, or at least sought to
Olympias always insisted to him that he was the son of
Zeus, a theory apparently confirmed to him by the oracle of
Siwa . He began to identify himself as the son of Zeus-Ammon.
Alexander adopted elements of Persian dress and customs at court,
notably proskynesis , a practice of which Macedonians disapproved, and
were loath to perform. This behaviour cost him the sympathies of many
of his countrymen. However,
Alexander also was a pragmatic ruler who
understood the difficulties of ruling culturally disparate peoples,
many of whom lived in kingdoms where the king was divine. Thus,
rather than megalomania, his behaviour may simply have been a
practical attempt at strengthening his rule and keeping his empire
together. A mural in Pompeii, depicting the marriage of
Alexander to Barsine (Stateira) in 324 BC. The couple are apparently
dressed as Ares and Aphrodite.
Main article: Personal relationships of
Alexander the Great
Alexander married three times:
Roxana , daughter of the Sogdian
Bactria , out of love; and the Persian
Stateira II and
Parysatis II , the former a daughter of
Darius III and latter a daughter of
Artaxerxes III , for political
reasons. He apparently had two sons,
Alexander IV of
Roxana and, possibly,
Macedon from his mistress Barsine.
He lost another child when
Roxana miscarried at Babylon.
Alexander also had a close relationship with his friend, general, and
Hephaestion , the son of a Macedonian noble.
Hephaestion's death devastated Alexander. This event may have
contributed to Alexander's failing health and detached mental state
during his final months.
Alexander's sexuality has been the subject of speculation and
controversy. No ancient sources stated that
Alexander had homosexual
relationships, or that Alexander's relationship with
sexual. Aelian, however, writes of Alexander's visit to
Alexander garlanded the tomb of
Hephaestion that of
Patroclus , the latter riddling that he was a beloved of Alexander, in
just the same way as
Patroclus was of Achilles." Noting that the word
eromenos (ancient Greek for beloved) does not necessarily bear sexual
Alexander may have been bisexual , which in his time was not
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. However, he was relatively young
when he died, and Ogden suggests that Alexander's matrimonial record
is more impressive than his father's at the same age. Apart from
Alexander had many more female companions. Alexander
accumulated a harem in the style of Persian kings, but he used it
rather sparingly, showing great self-control in "pleasures of the
Plutarch described how
Alexander was infatuated
Roxana while complimenting him on not forcing himself on her.
Green suggested that, in the context of the period,
quite strong friendships with women, including Ada of
Caria , who
adopted him, and even Darius' mother
Sisygambis , who supposedly died
from grief upon hearing of Alexander's death.
338-08-02 2 AUGUST 338 BC
Chaeronea Battle of
335 335 BC
Mount Haemus Battle of Mount Haemus
335-12 DECEMBER 335 BC
Siege of Pelium
335-12 DECEMBER 335 BC
Battle of Thebes
334-05 MAY 334 BC
Battle of the Granicus
334 334 BC
Achaemenid Empire , Milesians
334 334 BC
333-11-05 5 NOVEMBER 333 BC
Battle of Issus
Battle of Issus
332 JANUARY–JULY 332 BC
Siege of Tyre
Achaemenid Empire ,
332-10 OCTOBER 332 BC
Siege of Gaza
331-10-01 1 OCTOBER 331 BC
Battle of Gaugamela
Battle of Gaugamela
331-12 DECEMBER 331 BC
Battle of the Uxian Defile
330-01-20 20 JANUARY 330 BC
Persian Gate Battle of the
329 329 BC
Siege of Cyropolis
329-10 OCTOBER 329 BC
Battle of Jaxartes
327 327 BC
Siege of the
327 MAY 327 – MARCH 326 BC
326-04 APRIL 326 BC
326-05 MAY 326 BC
Battle of the Hydaspes
325 NOVEMBER 326 – FEBRUARY 325 BC
The Hellenistic world view after Alexander: ancient world map of
Eratosthenes (276–194 BC), incorporating information from the
Alexander and his successors.
Alexander's legacy extended beyond his military conquests. His
campaigns greatly increased contacts and trade between East and West,
and vast areas to the east were significantly exposed to Greek
civilization and influence. Some of the cities he founded became
major cultural centers, many surviving into the 21st century. His
chroniclers recorded valuable information about the areas through
which he marched, while the Greeks themselves got a sense of belonging
to a world beyond the Mediterranean.
Alexander's most immediate legacy was the introduction of Macedonian
rule to huge new swathes of Asia. At the time of his death,
Alexander's empire covered some 5,200,000 km2 (2,000,000 sq mi), and
was the largest state of its time. Many of these areas remained in
Macedonian hands or under Greek influence for the next 200–300
years. The successor states that emerged were, at least initially,
dominant forces, and these 300 years are often referred to as the
Hellenistic period . Plan of
Alexandria c. 30 BC
The eastern borders of Alexander's empire began to collapse even
during his lifetime. However, the power vacuum he left in the
northwest of the
Indian subcontinent directly gave rise to one of the
most powerful Indian dynasties in history, the
Maurya Empire . Taking
advantage of this power vacuum,
Chandragupta Maurya (referred to in
Greek sources as "Sandrokottos"), of relatively humble origin, took
control of the
Punjab , and with that power base proceeded to conquer
Nanda Empire .
FOUNDING OF CITIES
Over the course of his conquests,
Alexander founded some twenty
cities that bore his name , most of them east of the
Tigris . The
first, and greatest, was
Alexandria in Egypt, which would become one
of the leading Mediterranean cities. The cities' locations reflected
trade routes as well as defensive positions. At first, the cities must
have been inhospitable, little more than defensive garrisons.
Following Alexander's death, many Greeks who had settled there tried
to return to Greece. However, a century or so after Alexander's
death, many of the Alexandrias were thriving, with elaborate public
buildings and substantial populations that included both Greek and
Hellenistic civilization Alexander's empire was
the largest state of its time, covering approximately 5.2 million
Hellenization was coined by the German historian Johann Gustav
Droysen to denote 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,
Seleucia (south of modern
Alexander sought to insert Greek
elements into Persian culture and attempted to hybridize Greek and
Persian culture. This culminated in his aspiration to homogenize the
populations of Asia and Europe. However, his successors explicitly
rejected such policies. Nevertheless, Hellenization occurred
throughout the region, accompanied by a distinct and opposite
'Orientalization' of the successor states.
The core of the Hellenistic culture promulgated by the conquests was
Athenian . The close association of men from across
Greece in Alexander's army directly led to the emergence of the
largely Attic -based "koine ", or "common" Greek dialect. Koine
spread throughout the Hellenistic world, becoming the lingua franca of
Hellenistic lands and eventually the ancestor of modern Greek .
Furthermore, town planning , education, local government, and art
current in the
Hellenistic period were all based on Classical Greek
ideals, evolving into distinct new forms commonly grouped as
Hellenistic. Aspects of Hellenistic culture were still evident in the
traditions of the
Byzantine Empire in the mid-15th century. The
Buddha , in Greco-
Buddhist style , 1st–2nd century AD,
Tokyo National Museum
Tokyo National Museum .
Some of the most pronounced effects of Hellenization can be seen in
Afghanistan and India, in the region of the relatively late-rising
Greco-Bactrian Kingdom (250–125 BC) (in modern
Pakistan , and
Tajikistan ) and the
Indo-Greek Kingdom (180 BC – 10
CE) in modern
Afghanistan and India. There on the newly formed Silk
Road Greek culture apparently hybridized with Indian, and especially
Buddhist culture. The resulting syncretism known as Greco-Buddhism
heavily influenced the development of Buddhism and created a culture
Greco-Buddhist art . These Greco-
Buddhist kingdoms sent some of the
Buddhist missionaries to
Sri Lanka , and the
Buddhist monasticism ). Some of the first and
most influential figurative portrayals of the Buddha appeared at this
time, perhaps modeled on Greek statues of
Apollo in the Greco-Buddhist
Buddhist traditions may have been influenced by the
ancient Greek religion : the concept of
Boddhisatvas is reminiscent of
Greek divine heroes, and some
Mahayana ceremonial practices (burning
incense , gifts of flowers, and food placed on altars) are similar to
those practiced by the ancient Greeks; however, similar practices were
also observed amongst the native Indic culture. One Greek king,
Menander I , probably became Buddhist, and was immortalized in
Buddhist literature as 'Milinda'. The process of Hellenization also
spurred trade between the east and west. For example, Greek
astronomical instruments dating to the 3rd century BC were found in
Greco-Bactrian city of
Ai Khanoum in modern-day
while the Greek concept of a spherical earth surrounded by the spheres
of planets eventually supplanted the long-standing Indian cosmological
belief of a disc consisting of four continents grouped around a
central mountain (Mount Meru) like the petals of a flower. The
Yavanajataka (lit. Greek astronomical treatise) and Paulisa Siddhanta
texts depict the influence of Greek astronomical ideas on Indian
Following the conquests of
Alexander the Great in the east,
Hellenistic influence on Indian art was far-ranging. In the area of
architecture , a few examples of the
Ionic order can be found as far
Pakistan with the
Jandial temple near
Taxila . Several examples of
capitals displaying Ionic influences can been seen as far as
especially with the
Pataliputra capital , dated to the 3rd century BC.
Corinthian order is also heavily represented in the art of
Gandhara , especially through Indo-Corinthian capitals .
INFLUENCE ON ROME
This medallion was produced in
Imperial Rome , demonstrating the
influence of Alexander's memory.
Walters Art Museum
Walters Art Museum ,
Alexander and his exploits were admired by many Romans, especially
generals, who wanted to associate themselves with his achievements.
Polybius began his Histories by reminding Romans of Alexander's
achievements, and thereafter Roman leaders saw him as a role model.
Pompey the Great adopted the epithet "Magnus" and even Alexander's
anastole-type haircut, and searched the conquered lands of the east
for Alexander's 260-year-old cloak, which he then wore as a sign of
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. The emperor
admired Alexander, as did
Caracalla . The Macriani, a Roman
family that in the person of
Macrinus briefly ascended to the imperial
throne, kept images of
Alexander on their persons, either on jewelry,
or embroidered into their clothes. The
Demetrius (reigned c. 200–180 BC), wearing an elephant scalp, took
over Alexander's legacy in the east by again invading
India , and
Indo-Greek kingdom (180 BC–10 AD). The
Alexander depicted in medieval European style in the
15th century romance The History of Alexander\'s Battles
On the other hand, some Roman writers, particularly Republican
Alexander as a cautionary tale of how autocratic
tendencies can be kept in check by republican values.
used by these writers as an example of ruler values such as amicita
(friendship) and clementia (clemency), but also iracundia (anger) and
cupiditas gloriae (over-desire for glory).
Alexander the Great in legend
Legendary accounts surround the life of
Alexander the Great, many
deriving from his own lifetime, probably encouraged by Alexander
himself. His court historian
Callisthenes portrayed the sea in
Cilicia as drawing back from him in proskynesis. Writing shortly after
Alexander's death, another participant,
Onesicritus , invented a tryst
Thalestris , queen of the mythical
Onesicritus read this passage to his patron, Alexander's general
Lysimachus reportedly quipped, "I wonder where I was at
In the first centuries after Alexander's death, probably in
Alexandria, a quantity of the legendary material coalesced into a text
known as the
Alexander Romance , later falsely ascribed to
Callisthenes and therefore known as Pseudo-Callisthenes. This text
underwent numerous expansions and revisions throughout Antiquity and
Middle Ages , containing many dubious stories, and was
translated into numerous languages.
IN ANCIENT AND MODERN CULTURE
Main articles: Cultural depictions of
Alexander the Great and
Alexander the Great in the
Alexander the Great depicted in
a 14th-century Byzantine manuscript
Alexander the Great
depicted in a 15th-century
Persian miniature painting
Alexander the Great's accomplishments and legacy have been depicted
in many cultures.
Alexander has figured in both high and popular
culture beginning in his own era to the present day. The Alexander
Romance, in particular, has had a significant impact on portrayals of
Alexander in later cultures, from Persian to medieval European to
Alexander features prominently in modern Greek folklore, more so than
any other ancient figure. The colloquial form of his name in modern
Greek ("O Megalexandros") is a household name, and he is the only
ancient hero to appear in the
Karagiozis shadow play. One well-known
fable among Greek seamen involves a solitary mermaid who would grasp a
ship's prow during a storm and ask the captain "Is
alive?" The correct answer is "He is alive and well and rules the
world!" causing the mermaid to vanish and the sea to calm. 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.
In pre-Islamic Middle Persian (
Zoroastrian ) literature,
referred to by the epithet gujastak, meaning "accursed", and is
accused of destroying temples and burning the sacred texts of
Zoroastrianism. In Sunni Islamic Persia, under the influence of the
Alexander Romance (in Persian : اسکندرنامه
Iskandarnamah ), a more positive portrayal of
Book of Kings") includes
Alexander in a
line of legitimate Persian shahs , a mythical figure who explored the
far reaches of the world in search of the
Fountain of Youth . Later
Persian writers associate him with philosophy, portraying him at a
symposium with figures such as
Plato and Aristotle, in
search of immortality. The figure of
Dhul-Qarnayn (literally "the
Two-Horned One") mentioned in the
Quran is believed by some scholars
to represent Alexander, due to parallels with the
In this tradition, he was a heroic figure who built a wall to defend
against the nations of
Gog and Magog . He then travelled the known
world in search of the Water of Life and Immortality, eventually
becoming a prophet.
The Syriac version of the
Alexander Romance portrays him as an ideal
Christian world conqueror who prayed to "the one true God". In Egypt,
Alexander was portrayed as the son of
Nectanebo II , the last pharaoh
before the Persian conquest. His defeat of Darius was depicted as
Egypt's salvation, "proving"
Egypt was still ruled by an Egyptian.
Alexander was shown the
Book of Daniel when
he entered Jerusalem, which described a mighty Greek king who would
conquer the Persian Empire. This is cited as a reason for sparing
Urdu , the name "Sikandar", derived from Persian,
denotes a rising young talent. In medieval Europe he was made a
member of the
Nine Worthies , a group of heroes who encapsulated all
the ideal qualities of chivalry .
Aubrey Thomas de Vere wrote
Alexander the Great, a
Dramatic Poem . Statue of
Alexander the Great in Thessaloniki,
Alexander the Great in historiography
Apart from a few inscriptions and fragments, texts written by people
who actually knew
Alexander or who gathered information from men who
Alexander were all lost. Contemporaries who wrote
accounts of his life included Alexander's campaign historian
Callisthenes; Alexander's generals
Nearchus ; Aristobulus
, a junior officer on the campaigns; and Onesicritus, Alexander's
chief helmsman. Their works are lost, but later works based on these
original sources have survived. 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
Plutarch (1st to 2nd century AD), and finally Justin ,
whose work dated as late as the 4th century. Of these,
generally considered the most reliable, given that he used
Aristobulus as his sources, closely followed by Diodorus.
ANCESTORS OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT
4. Amyntas III of
2. Philip II of
5. Eurydice I of
1. ALEXANDER THE GREAT
Alcetas I of Epirus
Neoptolemus I of Epirus
* History portal
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Library resources about
ALEXANDER THE GREAT
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Alexander the Great in the Qur\'an
Ancient Macedonian army
Chronology of European exploration of Asia
* Diogenes and
* Ptolemaic cult of
Alexander the Great
List of people known as The Great
* The Mahabharata Quest: The
Macedon was an
Ancient Greek polity. The Macedonians were a
Hellenic (Greek) tribe. Historiography and scholarship agree that
Alexander the Great was Greek.
* ^ By the time of his death, he had conquered the entire Achaemenid
Empire , adding it to Macedon's European territories;
according to some modern writers, this was most of the world then
known to the ancient Greeks (the 'Ecumene '). An approximate view of
the world known to
Alexander can be seen in
Hecataeus of Miletus
Hecataeus of Miletus 's
map; see Hecataeus world map .
* ^ For instance,
Hannibal supposedly ranked
Alexander as the
Julius Caesar wept on seeing a statue of Alexander,
since he had achieved so little by the same age;
posed as the 'new Alexander'; the young
Napoleon Bonaparte also
encouraged comparisons with Alexander.
* ^ The name Ἀλέξανδρος derives from the Greek verb
ἀλέξω (alexō) "ward off, avert, defend" and ἀνδρ-
(andr-), the stem of ἀνήρ (anēr) "man", and means "protector
* ^ There have been, since the time, many suspicions that Pausanias
was actually hired to murder Philip. Suspicion has fallen upon
Olympias and even the newly crowned Persian Emperor, Darius
III. All three of these people had motive to have Philip murdered.
* ^ However,
Arrian , who used
Ptolemy as a source, said that
Alexander crossed with more than 5,000 horse and 30,000 foot; Diodorus
quoted the same totals, but listed 5,100 horse and 32,000 foot.
Diodorus also referred to an advance force already present in Asia,
Polyaenus , in his Stratagems of War (5.44.4), said numbered
* Bloom, Jonathan M.; Blair, Sheila S. (2009) The Grove Encyclopedia
of Islamic Art and Architecture: Mosul to Zirid, Volume 3. (Oxford
University Press Incorporated, 2009), 385; "; As the easternmost
outpost of the empire of
Alexander the Great, the city was renamed
Alexandria Eschate ("furthest Alexandria") in 329 BCE."
* Golden, Peter B. Central Asia in World History (Oxford University
Press, 2011), 25;"(...) his campaigns in Central Asia brought
Bactria under Graeco-Macedonian rule. As
Alexander founded or renamed a number of cities, such as
Alexandria Eschate ("Outernmost Alexandria,", near modern Khojent in
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Alexander born in Pella. The exact date is
not known, but probably either 20 or 26 July.
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* ^ A B Roisman & Worthington 2010 , Chapter 6, p. 115
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* ^ A B C Fermor 2006 , p. 215
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