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Greek Mythology > People, Places, & Things > Alexander the Great
A to Aegyptus Aello to Agesilaus I Agesilaus II to Akhaia Akhaian to Alkman Alkmene to Anaetius Anakeion to Apaturia Apeliotes to Argos Argus to Arkhidike Arkhilokhos to Astyanax Astydameia to Azov
Alexander was the son of king Philip II and Olympias; when Philip married his second wife, Kleopatra (Cleopatra), Alexander’s direct ascension to the throne was jeopardized; it is assumed that Alexander and Olympias were responsible for the deaths of Kleopatra, her son and her father.
Alexander was a student of Aristotle and fought in his first military campaign at the age of eighteen; after his father’s death, Alexander quickly subdued all opposition in Makedonia and then moved to bring all of Greece under his dominion.
Alexander next moved into Persia and, although the Persians had superior numbers, he out maneuvered the badly led Persian forces and, on the narrow plain of Issus, gave the Persian king, Darius III, his first humiliating defeat.
Alexander’s entry into Persia was tied to the legend of the Gordian Knot; the Gordian Knot was simply a piece of rope that had been tied in such a way that no man could untie it; the legend stated that whosoever could untie the complicated Gordian Knot would rule Persia; Alexander examined the knot and, instead of trying to untie it, drew his sword and simply cut it open; the story may be as much myth as fact but the implications were clear, i.e. whatever Alexander could not conquer by skill, would fall under his sword.
Although Persia was still not completely under his control, Alexander moved to conquer Egypt and Syria; the city of Tyre was the most difficult conquest in Syria but in 332 BCE, after a six month siege, the city fell; the Nile River delta was conquered in 331 BCE and Alexander laid the foundations for the Greek commercial city of Alexandria.
Alexander then turned his full attention to the complete subjugation of Persia; the king of Persia, Darius III, made a stand near the city of Gaugamela and, once again, fled in utter defeat.
After occupying and plundering Babylon, Alexander pursued Darius into eastern Persia and, in 331 BCE, found the dead body of Darius which had been left by the Persian generals as a symbol of complete surrender.
For the next two years (330-327) Alexander marched eastward towards India conquering and subduing each country he passed through; he finally arrived in India and proceeded to systematically defeat and subjugate each tribe and district; his intentions to march farther eastward were doused by the growing impatience of his troops to return home; Alexander relented and, in 325 BCE, turned his army westward towards Greece.
When Alexander arrived back in the city of Babylon, he tried to consolidate his power and actively tried to mix the Greeks with the Persians through marriage and shared authority; to demonstrate his intentions, he married Darius’ sister, Statira.
Alexander had many unfinished plans for the commercialization of Persia and India but, in 323 BCE, he died in Babylon of fever.
Dead at 32 years of age, Alexander had built the largest consolidated empire on the face of the earth.
When Alexander ventured into the East he was conquering territory that had a history of overlords and rulers; the people he subdued had grown accustomed to paying tribute (taxes) and submitting to foreign domination; they simply accepted the Greeks as their new masters; when the Romans, 500 years later, tried to impose their empire on the “uncivilized” tribes of Germany, they met constant resistance because the Germans (and other European tribes) had no history of foreign domination and could not accept the authority of Rome or anyone else; if Alexander had gone West instead of East he would have suffered a fate similar to what the Romans endured and probably would not have had “the Great” added to his name.
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