Alexander The Great Essay, Research Paper
Alexander III, more commonly known as Alexander the Great, was one of the greatest military leaders in world history. He was born in Pella, Macedonia, then a Greek nation. The exact date of his birth is uncertain, but was probably either July 20 or 26, 356 B.C. Alexander was considered a child from his birth until 341 B.C. His princehood lasted from 340 to 336 B.C. In 336 B.C. Philip II, his father, was assassinated, thus making Alexander king.
Alexander became a military leader in 335, and remained one until his death in 323 B.C. He reigned from 336 B.C. until 323 B.C., when he died. His military campaign in Persia lasted from 334 to 329, and in 328 he began his campaign in India and Bactria, which lasted until 326. Alexander was only 20 years old when his father died in early 336 B.C. and he took over, ruling for 12 years and eight months.
Alexander was fair skinned and fair haired. He was not very tall, but had outstanding speed and stamina. He was a dedicated soldier, but didn?t care for sports. The only sport he really liked was hunting.
Alexander was the eldest son of Philip II and Olympias. Like Alexander, Philip II was a great general. Olympias and Philip, when Philip was not away on a campaign, constantly fought. His father was away often, and so much of his childhood influences came from his mother, although his father taught him many useful things about war. Because of his mother?s heritage, Alexander could truthfully claim relation to two Trojan War heroes, Achilles and, indirectly, Hector. Philip II taught him he was descended from Hercules, which was not true. The historian Callisthenes started an untrue rumor that Alexander was the son of Zeus.
Alexander had seven wives and a male lover. In 327 B.C. he married Roxanne, his main wife, so to speak. Roxanne was a Persian, and by the time he married her, Alexander had total control of Persia and was doing his campaigns in India and Bactria. Roxanne later became pregnant with a child, but when Alexander died it had not yet been born.
When Alexander was either 13 or 14(different sources gave different ages), Alexander became the pupil of the great philosopher Aristotle. Aristotle taught Alexander grammar, literature, especially Homer, politics, the natural sciences, and rhetoric(the art of using words well and effectively). Aristotle inspired Alexander with a love for literature. He came to know and like the Greek styles of living. Greece?s ideals of civilization impressed him, and took part in sports and daily exercises to develop a strong body.
Alexander had another teacher, Leonidas, whom was hired by Philip II to train and discipline Alexander?s body. Leonidas sent Alexander on frequent all night marches and rationed his food. Alexander?s schooling with his two teachers continued until he was 16 years old.
When Alexander was 16, his father went away to a military campaign. He left Alexander temporarily in charge of his kingdom. While Philip II was away, the people of Thrace started a rebellion. Alexander found out about this rebellion, and crushed it. This rather impressed Philip II, and he let Alexander settle his first town, Alexandropolis. This city, as is probably quite self-evident, was named for Alexander. In Greek, ?polis? means city, so this means ?Alexander city?. At this age, Alexander also had an interest in medicine. He even prescribed medicine to some of his friends.
The Story of Bucephales
When Alexander was either 11 or 12 or 14(there are differing accounts), he went with his father and his father?s company while they went to buy a horse. After a while, Philip saw a horse that he wanted. He soon saw that it was very mean and wild, so he decided against buying it.
When Alexander learned of this decision, he said to his father,”What a horse they are losing, and all because they do not know how to handle it, or dare not try.”
To this Philip II responded,”Are you finding fault with your elders because you think you know more than they do, or can manage a horse better?”
“At least I can manage this one better,”Alexander replied.
Alexander then decided to show the company he could calm this horse. He approached the horse and calmed it. Once the horse seemed to be calm enough, Alexander mounted it and galloped around the field. The company applauds, and Philip II weeps for joy.
When Alexander dismounted, Philip II kissed him. He told his son,”My boy, you must find a kingdom big enough for your ambitions. Macedonia is too small for you.”
Alexander named this horse Bucephales, meaning”ox head” in Greek. He rode Bucephales throughout his youth and later in his campaigns in Persia. Finally, in the Battle of Jhelum, Bucephales suffered a wound. He later died from it.
Alexander’s Rise to Power
In early 336 B.C., Philip II was assassinated at his daughter’s wedding feast. The assassin was an aggrieved Macedonian nobleman, who was slain as he tried to escape. The official verdict on Philip’s assassination claimed the assassin had been bribed by Darius, the king of the Persian empire. However, Alexander and his mother were suspected by many because they had recently fallen from royal favor. This was not mentioned in the verdict, and it is still unknown which suspicion is correct.
When Philip II died, Alexander found his new empire in disorder. He had enemies all over, in home and abroad. Many people were dissatisfied and so they threatened rebellion.
To solve this problem, Alexander killed everyone posing a threat. This included his younger half-brother, but not his older one. Much was fixed, although perhaps not in a satisfactory way. In late summer that year, Alexander was confirmed as the Captain-General of the campaign in Persia as well as becoming the Captain-General of the League of Corinth. These two positions were good for Alexander because they provided him with many more soldiers for his campaign in Persia.
General Information on Alexander’s Army and Conquests
Athens versus Philip II in Elatea
Late one September evening, before the Battle of Chaeronea, an Athenian assembly heard that Philip II had occupied Elatea. They were rather nervous, and not without reason. Elatea was a key point on the road to Thebes and Attica, two of Athen’s allies. Because of this information, the Athenian army marched into Boeotia, which neighbored Elatea. Athen’s and Boeotia, two new allies, fortified the north-west passage into central Greece. 10,000 mercenaries were dispatched to cover the road to Amphissia. Despite its efforts, Athens was still defeated.
Basic Information on Alexander’s Army
Alexander had army men from every province under his control or allied with him. One of his generals was Ptolemy, who was one of the best generals in Alexander’s campaigns in Asia and India. He was believed to have been related to the royal family. Alexander was an expert at organizing his units for complex battle maneuvers, hiding his true numbers and true make-up of his army, and managing his army.
Alexander’s position as a military leader changed throughout his conquests. He started out as a crusader, trying to have revenge for the destruction of Greece’s precious buildings. He ended up with the goal of expanding his empire and the knowledge and practice of Hellenic culture throughout it.
Alexander’s army started out with army men from Macedonians, Thessalians, Thracians, Athenians, and those from just about every other Greek city-states. He already had these provinces in his realm, and this was what he brought into Persia. Unlike most rulers, Alexander joined his men in battle and led in attacks. Since he was the Captain-General of the League of Corinth he had many more soldiers than he would have had otherwise.
Some of Alexander’s Conquests in Short
In Autumn 337 B.C. there was a meeting of the League of Corinth. There Alexander’s crusade against Persia was ratified. This made Alexander’s campaign in Persia much easier than if the League had chosen otherwise.
When Alexander was 21 he marched into Thebes. He made the journey of about 240 miles in 13 days. There he defeated the Thracians in his first major battle. During this battle, 6,000 Thracians defending Thebes died. The remaining 30,000 were sold into slavery.
In early spring 335 B.C. Alexander went north to deal with political problems in Thrace and Illyria. That year he also crushed the revolt of Thebes. The next year, 334 B.C., he put under siege and later captured Miletus. He then put Halicarnassus under siege, which is put in more detail later. Next, Alexander got through Lycia and Pamphylia. That year he also attacked and conquered the Greek occupied
In 333 B.C., first he and his army, marching in columns, went north to Celaenae and then marched to Ancyra. He then moved south to the Cilician Gates. While he was doing this, Darius went westward from Babylon. Then Alexander reaches Taurus, where there is a halt because he then fell ill. Once his ailment was cured, Alexander advanced with his army southward through Phoenicia. In this year, Memnon died, the Persian forces in Babylon were mustered, and Alexander reached Gordium where he sliced the Gordian Knot. This is put in more detail later.
In January 332 B.C., Byblos and Sidon submitted themselves to Alexander’s rule. In September or October that same year, he reached Thapsacus on the Euphrates. During this, Darius moved his main forces from Babylon. On September 18, 331 B.C., he crossed the Tigris.
In early June 330 B.C. Alexander set out for Ecbatana. Darius then renewed his march toward Bactria that had been halted temporarily. Soon after Darius did this, Alexander reached Ecbatana and dismissed the Greek allies and left Parmenio behind. He made Harpalus Treasurer of Ecbatana. Then he began his march to Hyrcania, and marched through Arachosia to Parpamisidae.
In 330 B.C., Alexander also renewed his pursuit of Darius via the Caspian Gates. In July, he found Darius murdered near Hecatomplyus, where he was apparently murdered by his own men. When he found out about this, Bessus declared himself king of the Persian Empire, or “Great King”.
In 329 B.C., Alexander crossed the Hindu Kush via the Khawak Pass. During April and May that year, he advanced to Bactria. That year, Bessus retreated across the Oxus. He then reached and crossed it in June, and from there he advanced to Maracande. This was also the year in which Alexander finished conquering Persia. When he had accomplished this, Alexander has been reported to have said,”So this is what it is like to be an emperor.”
In 328 B.C., Alexander had his campaign against Spitamenes. Then Cletus the Black was murdered. Later that year, he defeated and killed Spitamenes. The following year, he reached Nysa and captured the Soghdian rock. This year Alexander’s conquests of India ended. The year after that, 326 B.C., Alexander was badly wounded during his campaign against the Brahman cities(high-caste Indian cities). That year he also conquered most of the remaining part of Pakistan, India, and Iran. The end of his conquests were coming near.
In 325 B.C. Alexander’s army suffered the loss of 3,000 mercenaries. In Bactria, the people revolted against him and it was necessary for Alexander to intervene unless he wanted to loose Bactria. After that, Alexander returned to Persepolis and then moved to Susa, where there was a long halt. He renewed his march in September, going through the Gedrostan Desert. In January 324 B.C., Nearchus and his fleet went to Susa. They then moved to Ecbatana.
Alexander conquered many countries. Some of the cities he had to conquer (they did not submit themselves to Alexander’s rule peacefully and/or were not acquired by Alexander because another city was) in the Asia Minor were(in order):Halicarnassus, Syria, Tyre, Gaza, Egypt, Guagamela, Babylon, Susa, Persepolis, Media, Arachosia, Bactria, and Sogdiana.
Alexander had a huge empire. In the Mediterranean, Alexander had parts if not all of Bulgaria, Greece, and Macedonia. In the Middle East, he had parts or all of Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Israel, and Lebanon. In Asia Minor, Alexander held parts or all of Turkey, Afghanistan, and Armenia. In Asia, he ruled parts or all of India and Pakistan. He also ruled small parts of Albania, Libya, and Russia.
Darius made three peace deals with Alexander throughout Alexander’s campaign in Persia. The first was in 333 B.C., the second in June 332 B.C., and the third in 331 B.C. The third was offered shortly after Alexander had conquered Tyre. In this offer, Darius offered Alexander a daughter in marriage, 10,000 talents worth of gold, and all of his territory west of the Euphrates. Today, 10,000 talents of gold is worth about three-hundred million dollars. The amount of territory Alexander was offered was about one-third of Darius’ empire. It required, however, that Alexander leave Persia at peace and ally with Darius. Alexander’s general Paremonian advised Alexander to agree to this. Alexander, however, was in no mood to cancel his campaign in Persia. To Paremonian’s suggestion he replied,”I would accept them, but only if I were Paremonian.”
The Battle of Chaeronea
Background on the Battle
The battle of Chaeronea was the first major battle Alexander fought in. It took place on August 4, 338 B.C., during Philip II’s rule. Philip and his army was fighting against the allied Thebes, Athens, Megara, Corinth, and Achaia, in the city of Piraeus. The most important of the five Allies were Athens and Thebes. The Allies made sure that their mercenaries and part of the regular army blocked both possible lines of attack.
The allied right flank was comprised of mainly Thebans. They were 12,000 strong. They were led by the Sacred Band, the Theban king’s best soldiers, at 300 strong. The left side was made up of mostly Athenians, who were, at that time, 10,000 strong. Everyone else was in the center.
Philip II commanded the Macedonian right flank. The right flank slightly outflanked the Allies’ right.Their left flank, which had heavy cavalry, was commanded by Alexander, at this time only 18 years old. This was an extraordinary responsibility for someone his age because he was the one that had to deliver the knock-out blow that would determine whether the Macedonians won this battle or lost it. Philip’s center and left were back at an angle from the Allied line.
What Happened in the Battle
At the beginning of the battle, Philip and his guards brigade engaged the Athenians, while the rest of the Macedonian army advanced. At this time, the Athenians launched a wildly enthusiastic charge. Their general lost his head, not literally yet, and said,”Come on, let’s drive them back to Macedonia!” Such amount of enthusiasm usually makes the warriors reckless, and it is difficult to win the battle with it.
The Greek center soon began to spread out perilously, and there became many gaps between the army men. Upon seeing this, the Macedonians backed up onto the bank of a small stream, which made a gap between the center and right open.
Then Alexander, at the head of Macedonia’s best cavalry, drove a wedge into the heart of the Theban ranks. While he did this, a second brigade attacked the Sacred Band. The attack did its job, and soon the Thebans were surrounded.
During this, Philip remained on the right. He halted his retreat up the river bank and launched a down-hill counter-charge. His phalanx finished what Alexander’s cavalry had started by pouring through the broken lines, and engaged the allied Greek center at the front and flank simultaneously. The two sides had a severe struggle, after which the entire army of the Allies broke and fled except for the Sacred Band, who planned to and did fight until the end. But Philip II came out of the battle victorious.
After the Battle
After Philip’s victory, 46 members of the 300 strong Sacred Band were taken alive. The other 254 died. The dead were buried around where they had died, in seven soldierly rows, near where Zion of Chaeronea was soon to be put.
When he had won the battle, Philip called off the cavalry pursuit of the Allies. He then raised a victory trophy and made sacrifices to the gods. A number of men were decorated for conspicuous gallantry.
Even after Philip II’s victory, the Athenian armed slaves and residents were ready to defend their city to their death. Philip remained victorious, though. The Athenian naval fleet remained intact, but offered little resistance after learning of Philip’s victory.
Philip gained things other than territory from his victory in Piraeus. He controlled the Athenian naval fleet if the need for it ever arose. He also got the harbor and arsenals of Piraeus.
To some in his newly acquired territory, Philip II was reasonably kind to. He let Piraeus’ inhabitants maintain supplies and communication by sea indefinitely if they decided to. He also let the Thebans raise a great monument near where the Sacred Band’s soldiers were buried in memory of them called the Zion of Chaeronea. Philip let them do this because, being a soldier himself, he appreciated truly valorous opponents. He refrained from imposing garrisons on most of the leading Greek cities. Philip would give up the Athenian dead. He had 2,000 Athenian prisoners, who would all be released without ransom. He guaranteed not to send troops into Attica or warships to Piraeus. Athens would remain the governmental nucleus of the Aegan islands, included Delos and Samos.