Kevin Chan


Alexander of Macedon, commonly referred to as Alexander the great, was one of the greatest military geniuses (Briant). Alexander inherited the throne at the age of 10, when his father was assassinated. He began his military campaign to finish what his father was unable to do, but later on decided to take even more (Smitha). With an army of approximately 30,000, he was able to conquer most of the known world. He also spread Greek culture to many of the areas he conquered and founded many cities (Jarus).

Personal Background

Aristotle_tutoring_Alexander.jpgAlexander the great was born on the twentieth of July, 356 BC in Pella, the capital of the Kingdom of Macedon. He was the son of Phillip II, the King of Macedon, and his fourth wife, Olympias (Smitha). In his early years, Alexander was tutored by Aristotle in subjects such as logic, art, medicine, morals, philosophy, and religion. Aristotle was hired by his father to teach Alexander in exchange for repairing his hometown, Stageira, and repopulating it. Under the teachers of Aristotle, Alexander grew passionate towards the works of Homer and kept a copy of the Illiad with him along his campaigns (Jarus). He studied in Meiza along with other children of Macedon nobles. Some of his friends became his future generals. Aristotle taught Alexander until he was 16 years old. Alexander studied with him for about 3 years (Jarus). He ascended to the throne at the age of 20, following the assassination of his father (Smitha). From birth, his mother constantly told Alexander that he was of divine birth. His mother said she dreamt that lightning struck her womb the day before she was married to Phillip. Olympias had believed that Zeus was Alexander's father and wanted to bring him to the throne (Smitha). She assassinated his father, Phillip II by stabbing him to death (Briant). When he inherited the throne he also inherited an experienced army and a strong kingdom. His father had plans to take over territory, but because of his death, he was unable to. Alexander had then decided to continue his expansion plans when he was generalship of Greece. He already had experience in military matters. He drove the Thracian Maedi's from their land when they revolted against Macedon. Alexander the Great died when he was 32 in early June, 323 BC (Smitha). He died in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar (Smitha). The exact cause of his death is still unclear. According to Plutarch, Alexander drank with Medius of Larissa and developed a fever which eventually led to his death. 14 days prior to his drinking, he was entertaining admiral Nearchus (Plutarch). Other theories suggest that Alexander died of poisoning . The poison mostly likely used is Veratrum album because it was one of the few poisons that were long-acting (Schep). There are also suggestions that Alexander died of natural causes such as malaria (Smitha).

Personality Traits

Alexander the Great was a well respected man. He was a legendary strategist and a great general. He was ambitious like his father (Briant).alexander-the-great.jpg Alexander often felt a need to achieve more than his father (Beard). Alexander valued the lives of his troops whereas the enemy would not leading to a lower death toll from his army (Smitha). He was also reasonable and gentlemanly (Cartledge). He was open to debates unlike his father (Plutarch). Alexander was also very respectful towards local deities. He would wear what the locals did and pray to the same gods that the locals did. This earned him a lot of respect from the people living in the areas he conquered. His countrymen did not approve of him doing this, but Alexander knew of the problems with ruling culturally distant people. By showing respect to the local deities, Alexander was able to strengthen his rule over conquered areas (Briant). However, Alexander was a drinker and was short tempered. While at a party, Alexander killed his friend after an argument they had (Briant).


During his time, Alexander faced many obstacles. He dealt with revolts, exile, and Darius III with his massive army (Cartledge). King Phillip, Alexander's father, fell in love with Cleopatra Eurydice, his general's niece, and eventually married her (Roisman). Marriage between the two meant that if they had a child, it would be a full Macedonian heir (McCarty). Alexander, being only half Macedonian, now had a less secure position as the heir (McCarty). He later fled to the capital of Molossians with his mother and left her in the care of her brother, King Alexander I. However, Phillip did not intend to disown his well trained son (Roisman). Alexander returned to Macedon six months after (Bose). Before beginning his military campaigns, Alexander decided to safeguard his borders in the north (Cartledge). He first dealt with the Thracians, then he traveled to Triblli and defeated their army. Soon after he ventured to Danube and defeated the Getae tribe. Alexander then received news that the King Cleitus of Illyria and King Glaukias of Taulanti were revolting against him. He then marched into Illyria and forced the two kings into retreat (Arrian). As Alexander traveled north, Thebans and Athenianns rebelled again. Their rebellion was ineffective and was quickly suppressed by Alexander (Roisman). Alexander first encountered King Darius III while he travel to Persia in an attempt to conquer it. During the Battle of Issus, Darius III had an army that was over double the size of Alexander's, but still he was defeated. Darius then fled as his troops were defeated (Arrian). Darius then raised yet another large army and faced Alexander again during the Battle of Gaugamela (Prevas). Again, he abandoned his troops while they were being attacked (Wilcken). Soon after, Darius made an attempt to raise a third army but was murdered before he was able to do so (Prevas).

Historical Significance

Alexander the Great managed to conquer most of the known world. He began his campaign with a small army and took on enemies twice the size. During his conquest, Alexander remained undefeated. Not only did Alexander achieve one of the most successful military campaigns in history, he also had many other great accomplishments as well. Through his conquests, Alexander spread Greek culture, language, and population into the defeated Persian Empire (Green). He did this without using force. Alexander sought to infuse Greek and Persian culture and create a hybrid. This hybrid culture was later known as Hellenistic. His generals, however, rejected the idea. Nevertheless, Hellenization occurred through Asia and Europe (Keay). This period was known as the Hellenistic Period. The Hellenistic period lasted for about 300 years before its collapse (Curtis).Alexander was also a major influence on Rome. He was admired by the Romans and was seen as a role model. Many famous Romans were influenced by Alexander. Pompey the Great, adopted the Magnus and Alexander's haircut. He also searched for and wore Alexander's cloak as a sign of greatness. Julius Caesar dedicated a statue to him. Emperor Trajan, Nero, and Caracalla also admired Alexander (Roisman). Alexander was also responsible for founding many cities. During his conquest, Alexander founded around twenty cities with most being named Alexandria. These cities were usually located near the Tigris river (Morkot). The most famous of these cities was Alexandria of Egypt. It was the first and the greatest. Alexandria soon became one of the leading cities of the Mediterranean (Smitha).

Works Cited

Beard, Mary." Alexander: How Great? " New York. Review of Books.11 Oct. 2011. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.
Briant, Pierre. " Alexander the Great " Encyclopaedia Iranica. 15 Dec. Web. 19 Sep. 2014.
Cartledge, Paul. " Alexander the Great: Hunting for a New Past " BBC. 17 Feb. 2011. Web. 7 Nov. 2014.
Jarus Owen. " Alexander the Great: Facts, Biography & Accomplishments " Livescience. 27 Sep. 2013. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.
Kosmetatou, Elizabeth. " The Aftermath: The Burial of Alexander the Great " 9 Oct 2014. Web. 11 Dec 2014.
Smitha, Frank E. " Alexander the Great " Macro History and World timeline. Web. 2 Oct. 2014.
Morkot, Robert." The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Greece. " Penguin. Web 20 Nov. 2014.
Keay John. " India: A History. " Grove Press. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.
Roisman, Joseph. " A Companion to Ancient Macedonia." John Wiley & Sons. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.
McCarty, Nick." Alexander the Great " Penguin. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.
Green, Peter. " Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic Age. " Pheonix. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.
Plutarch. The Parallel Lives.
Wilcken, Ulrich. Alexander the Great. New York: WW Norton & Co. 1997.
Prevas, John. Envy of the Gods: Alexander the Great's Ill-Fated Journey Across Asia. 2004.
Bose Partha. Alexander the Great's Art of Strategy. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin. 2003.
Arrian. Campaigns of Alexander.
Schep, LJ. " Was the death of Alexander the Great due to poisoning? Was it Veratrum album? " Wheatley P. Jan. 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.