History of Alexander the Great
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The history of Alexander the Great begins in the northern Greek realm of Macedon. Here, Alexander had succeeded his father King Philip II to the throne at the age of 20, and spent most of his early years of rule carrying out a long military campaign from Anatolia to Egypt. And so, by age thirty, he came to create one of the largest empires in history, one that stretched to northwestern India before he turned back. He remained undefeated in battle and is widely considered to be one of history’s greatest and most audacious military commanders.
As a young man, Alexander was tutored by Aristotle. When his father Philip was assassinated in 336 BC, Alexander assumed the throne of the Kingdom of Macedon. After destroying a hotbed of opposition in the city of Thebes, Alexander made himself governor-general of Greece. He then set out to realize his father’s dream of uniting all Greeks in war on Persia.
Alexander invaded the Persian Achaemenid Empire in 334 BC and began a campaign of revenge and conquest that lasted a decade. With this, he broke Persia’s military spine in a series of decisive battles that overthrew King Darius III and conquered the Achaemenid Empire completely. Now, his own empire stretched from Greece to India. Even so, he had aspired to reach the “ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea” when he invaded India in 326 BCE. There, his objective seemed to be within reach when he defeated King Porus and his war elephants at the Battle of the Hydaspes on the banks of the Indus River. But shortly afterwards, his troops mutinied and demanded they return to Greece. After a dreadful march through the Gedrosian Desert, they reached Babylon, where Alexander planned to establish his capital. But he died there, partly because of alcohol poisoning, in 323 BCE. As a result, he never realized his planned invasion of Arabia. Since Alexander had failed to name a successor, his empire was sundered by civil war and soon after his death.
Alexander’s legacy includes the diffusion of Greek culture through the Hellenistic kingdoms spawned by his conquests, and their religious syncretism of Greco-Buddhism and Hellenistic Judaism. Here, more than twenty cities carried his name. The most famous of these was Alexandria in Egypt, a settlement of Greek colonists that spread Hellenistic civilization throughout the Roman Empire. In all, Alexander was a seen as a classical hero in the manner of his own hero Achilles, and he assumed an outsized role in the history and myth of Mediterranean and Near Eastern cultures.
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Macedonia: Power | Philip: Army • Unification | Alexander: Childhood | Rebellion: Asia Minor • Greece • Thebes • Aftermath | Campaign: Asia • Inception • Hephaestion • Attack on the Persian Empire • Sedition • Central Asia • Cultural Fusion • India • Return to Greece • Demise | Legacy
Philip: Unification of Greece
Alexander: Rebellion of Asia Minor
Alexander: Rebellion of Greece
Rebellion of Greece: Thebes
Rebellion of Greece: Aftermath
Alexander: Campaign in Asia
Campaign in Asia: Inception
Campaign in Asia: Hephaestion
Campaign in Asia: Attack on the Persian Empire
Campaign in Asia: Sedition
Campaign in Asia: Central Asia
Campaign in Asia: Cultural Fusion
Campaign in Asia: India
Campaign in Asia: Return to Greece