Life And Times Of Alexander The Great

Essay, Research Paper

Life and Times of Alexander the Great


Alexander the great made an impact on world history that few individuals

can profess to have done. He ruled all of the known world, and one of the

largest empires ever. His men were the first westerners to encounter tales of

the Yeti. They even discovered and classified new types of flora and fauna,

such as the red mold that grew on their bread while they were in Asia, and made

it appear as if it were bleeding. He expanded the Hellenist sphere of influence

to the farthest reaches of the globe.

When the king of Greece visited the British colony of India around the

turn of the century, the colonial government had some native Indian dances

displayed for him. He was shocked when he immediately recognized the dances as

the same harvest dances that his fellow Greeks performed near Thessalonika.

This was the breadth of Alexander’s influence on hundreds of different cultures

around the world. Throughout the whole of Europe, Asia, and North Africa,

stories of this great man have been handed down from generation to generation

throughout the centuries. In many cases Alexander has even taken on a

superhuman aura, and many unbelievable legends have been based on his life.

When Julius Caesar visited Alexandria, he asked to see the body of the

greatest warrior of all time-Alexander the Great. Such was Alexander’s

reputation, able to impress even the powerful Caesar. He was, without a doubt,

one of the most remarkable men that ever walked the face of this Earth. And

this is the story of his life.

The Life and Times of Alexander the Great

The story of Alexander the Great is one of courage, genius, and great

accomplishment; but it is also somewhat of a bittersweet one, ending with his

tragic death during the prime of his life, at thirty-two.

Alexander was born to Philip II of Macedon and Olympias, his principal

wife, in 356 BCE, mpic Games. Just three years earlier, Philip had ascended to

the throne after the death of his older brother, Perdikkas1, and named the city

of Philipi after himself. Shortly thereafter, at the age of twenty, he met

Olympias at a religious ceremony on the island of Samothrace.

Olympias was of the Mystery Religions, and was initiated at an early age.

She spent her time at wild orgies during which snakes were wrapped around the

worshippers limbs. She kept this custom of sleeping with snakes throughout her

marriage to Philip. In addition, she sacrificed thousand of animals to her

particular god or goddess each year. Interestingly enough, she had a cruel

streak normally common only to the Greek men of her time. Throughout her career

she was no slower than her male rivals to kill off enemies who seemed to

threaten her.

Olympias, believing that she was descended from Achilles, and being of

royal Epeirosian blood herself, thought that she was rightly entitled to respect

from Philip as his queen. For this reason Olympias was constantly upset at

Philip’s long stays away from home. This anger was especially directed towards

his torrid affairs with the nearest nubile waif.

At the time of Alexander’s birth, Philip was involved in a campaign to

defeat the Illyrian provinces in battle and incorporate them into the Greek

empire that he was building for himself. In that month, Philip received three

messages bearing good in quick succession: his victory over the Illyrians,

Alexander’s birth, and Macedonian victory in the Olympic races.

Alexander resembled his mother more than his father. It was in memory

of Macedonia’s greatest king, Alexander I, that Alexander was named. Philip,

currently engaged in a plan for the conquest of Greece and eventually parts of

Asia, had high hopes for his firstborn son to eventually continue in his

footsteps. In the following year Alexander’s only sibling, a sister named

Cleopatra, was born.

Alexander probably had no recollection of his father having both of his

eyes, because Philip lost his eye storming an Athenian fortress. During

Alexander’s early years, he was watched over by a man named Leonidas2. Leonidas

saw to all of Alexander’s education and tutelage in many varied subjects

including: writing, geometry, reading, arithmetic, music, archery, horseback

riding, javelin, and other types of athletics.

Alexander’s nursemaid was an endearing gentleman whose name was

Lysimachos, who won Alexander’s heart at an early age by playing imagination

games with Alexander and his playmates: Ptolemy, Harpalos, Nearchos, Hephaistion,

and Erigyios.

When Alexander reached the ripe old age of thirteen, Philip decided it

was time for Alexander to receive a higher education better befitting his young

heir. Searching throughout his empire, Philip was lucky enough to find a

student of Plato who was at the time unemployed, a young genius named

Aristoteles (commonly known as Aristotle). Aristotle’s father, Nakimachos, had

been Macedonia’s court physician, so Aristotle was quite familiar with the area.

Aristotle taught Alexander, and sometimes his friends in a rural sanctuary for

the nymphs at Mieza. Aristotle actually composed two books, “In Praise of

Colonies” and “On Kingship”, for Alexander’s education. He taught Alexander

that other peoples were vastly inferior to the Greeks, and therefore fit for

subjugation. Alexander loved Aristotle like his own father as he said himself,

“One gave him life, but the other showed him how to live it.”

During this time , Alexander was involved in a homosexual relationship

with Hephastion, a friend he loved dearly. This was a very common occurrence,

looked upon as a learning experience for the boys. Their love was a very deep

and close one, and when he died prematurely during Alexander’s teenage years,

Alexander felt a crippling grief from which he never fully recovered.

Philip was constantly conquering more territory, and though Alexander

respected him, he was also a bit jealous. He once told Ptolemy, “Father is

going to do everything; at this rate he won’t leave any conquests for you and


During Alexander’s sixteenth winter, Philip went to attack Perinthos in

Thrace, and Alexander was left as regent in Macedonia. It was now, when Philip

was away, that the Madoi tribe chose to revolt. Alexander crushed the rebellion

expertly, in a merciless fashion. He was so victorious that when he built a

walled city at the site of the battle, he took the freedom of naming it

Alexandropolis, after himself, thus beginning his illustrious career.

It was love at first sight for Philip when he saw Cleopatra, the niece

of Attalus, Philip’s general. The wedding was to take place immediately. At

the wedding feast Attalus stood up for a toast to the bride and groom. In the

course of his speech he “called upon the Macedonians to pray to the gods that of

Philip and Cleopatra there might be born a legitimate son as a successor to the


Alexander had been quiet throughout the celebration, but with these

words, he’d finally had enough. He rose and shouted, “What of me villain? Do

you take me for a bastard4?”, and with that threw his goblet of wine in

Attalus’s face.

An enraged Philip sprang from his seat and made for Alexander, but being

drunk, tripped and fell flat on his face. Alexander took the opportunity to

further mock his father by proclaiming, “Look, men! Here is the man preparing

to cross from Europe into Asia, and he can’t get from one couch to another

without falling down.”

After this incident Alexander no longer felt comfortable staying in

Macedonia, and left with his mother. After dropping her off in her home town of

Epeiros, he continued on and finally settled in Illyria, where he was welcomed

as a fellow dissident to the monarchy.

In a story reminiscent of King David and Absalom, Demarates, one of

Philip’s generals, convinced Philip to get Alexander to return. When Philip

gave the affirmative, Demarates went to return Alexander to his home. Philip

soon forgot the whole incident.

Pixodar, the ruler of Caria and a vassal of the king of Persia, wanted

to marry off his daughter to one of Philip’s sons so as to secure a peace with

Philip. Philip agreed, but didn’t want Alexander, his heir, to marry a vassal’s

daughter, so instead he chose Arrhidaios, an epileptic.

Alexander was still suspicious of Philip’s intentions (after Attalus’s

speech), and his friends convinced him that Philip was planning on making

Arrhidaios his heir in Alexander’s stead. Therefore Alexander offered to

Pixodar that he should take Arrhidaios’s place, noting that Arrhidaios was an


When Philip found out, he was mad as all Hell, but treated Alexander

maturely by reasoning with him. He argued, “Do you really think so little of

yourself to be the son-in-law of a lowly Persian vassal?!”

Alexander had at last learned his lesson and began trusting Philip.

Philip, though had finally had enough of Ptolemy and the rest of Alexander’s

friends meddling in Alexander’s business, and exiled them from Macedonia “sine


In Alexander’s twentieth year, Philip was ready to begin his conquest of

Persia and Asia Minor, but first he had to cement Epeiros’s allegiance to him by

marrying off Cleopatra (his only daughter from Olympias) to King Alexander of


At daybreak the wedding procession began. Twelve of the Greek deities

led the procession with Philip following close behind. A man posing as a guard

gained access to Philip’s entourage and stabbed Philip in the side before anyone

could stop him. This man, later identified as Pausanias, had a horse prepared

for a quick departure, but as fate would have it, he tripped over a bush, and

was transfixed with a spear before he was able to rise to his feet.

But there was no helping Philip- he was quite dead.

Alexander was a firm believer in the saying, “The king is dead,


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