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 entury, 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 arriage 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 2 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, orseback 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 3 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 me. 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 4 born a legitimate son as a successor to the kingdom3. ” 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 epileptic. 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- 5 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 die”. In Alexander’s twentieth year, Philip was ready to begin his conquest of Persia and Asia Minor, but first he had to ement Epeiros’s allegiance to him by marrying off Cleopatra (his only daughter from Olympias) to King Alexander of Epeiros.
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.