History of Alexander the Great

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: ArmyUnification | Alexander: Childhood | Rebellion: Asia MinorGreeceThebesAftermath | Campaign: AsiaInceptionHephaestionAttack on the Persian EmpireSeditionCentral AsiaCultural FusionIndiaReturn to GreeceDemise | Legacy

Macedonia: Power

Power: Philip

Philip: Army

Philip: Unification of Greece

Power: Alexander

Alexander: Childhood

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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

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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

Alexander: Demise

Alexander: Legacy

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