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Alexander the Great, also known as Alexander III, was born in 356 BCE in Pella, Macedonia. He was the son of Philip II and Olympias. At a young age he found interest in philosophy, medicine, and science, which he learned from Aristotle. After his father’s assassination Alexander the Great became king, and his first order of business was to make sure to eliminate any threats by defeating those who would rise up against him. After eliminating these threats he moved forward with his Father’s plan to invade Persian. Due to this Alexander the Great is perceived as the greatest conqueror, in 12 years he successfully conquered the ancient world. Alexander the Great invaded the Persian Empire, he vanquished tribes in Central Asia and Afghanistan, and he successfully invaded India.
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Alexander the Great began by invading Persia. He knew in order to maintain his father’s army and soldiers he was going to need Persia’s wealth. Upon successfully invading the Persian territory, it became apparent how vulnerable the Persian Empire was. The Persian made their best effort to try and mislead Alexander the Great by tempting him across the river where on the other side they would kill him. The Persians almost succeeded, but when they failed Alexander the Great went on to complete his victory. After his victory, most cities quickly allowed the Macedonians in, once they entered the cities they defeated the tyrants and then put democracy into place. He then staked claim to succeed the Persian King. The Persian King was not going to give in easily and resisted. Alexander the Great saw this as a threat and decided to bring war to the lands by overtaking the outer cities. The battle of Issus took place between Alexander the Greats army and the new King of Persian, Darius III. Alexander’s army was severely outnumbered but not out-skilled. Due to him being ruthless, fearless and an excellent military leader, Alexander won the battle of Issus. Alexander the Great is known to have never of lost a fight. After the battle of Issus, he moved forward to invade and conquer other cities, after rejecting a peace plea from Darius. Next, he set his sights on the island of Tyre. However, he knew he was going to face some difficulties due to the city being surrounded by water, and Alexander the Great lacking a navy. He made many attempts to gain entry but was always foiled once they reached striking distance of the Tyrians. Finally, Alexander the Great put together a large fleet of ships and breached the walls of the city. To show his ruthlessness he executed thousands for simply defying him, the rest became slaves. After he conquered Persia, he set his eyes on Egypt.
Upon his journey to Egypt, Alexander the Great had become incapacitated in Gaza for two months due to sustaining a serious injury to his shoulder. In the end of the year 332 Alexander finally reached Egypt. Unlike Persia, Egypt welcomed Alexander and the Persian soldiers quickly surrendered. Alexander quickly took steps to become Pharaoh, such as producing a sacrifice to Apis, the sacred Egyptian bull. After spending months organizing Egypt, Alexander founded the city of Alexandria. Alexander had finally completed his control over the entire eastern Mediterranean coast. Alexander then took an indirect route to Babylon. He was met by soldiers from Tigris to wage war. After the battle between Alexander and the soldiers from Tigris, Alexander now occupied Babylon. He encouraged the local priesthood to stay intact much like he did in Egypt. After occupying the city of Babylon, Alexander moved through the mountains and began to march north where he then occupied the capital of Media. From Media Alexander set out to continue his pursuit of Darius, upon his pursuit he found that Darius had been assassinated. He honored his rival and sent his body to have a proper burial. The death of Darius eliminated the hurdle for Alexander’s claim to be Great King. Alexander then pursued other cities, along the way met and married Roxana. With this union the remainder of his opponents were either won over or destroyed. From Egypt, Alexander moved toward India.
Alexander invaded Punjab, India. At the time of his invasion Punjab was under the rule of King Porus. King Porus was considered the overlord, he had multiple princes under him. Unknown to King Porus, many of these princes were planning to take down King Porus, and because of this Alexander was welcomed in. Although King Porus had armies conspiring against him, he put together a large army and prepared to battle Alexander. Both sides appeared to be stuck on opposite sides of the river, but Alexander and his army waded through the waters over the night and a large battle ensued. Within this battle, Alexander and his men were introduced to elephants in battle. However, Alexander’s men proved to more skilled than the Indian army. Alexander conquered King Porus. Although they were adversaries in battle, after Alexander had defeated King Porus, he treated him with respect and because of this they became friends. Alexander continued to travel through India fighting battles and conquering cities. Alexander’s plan to move forward led him and his army to the city of Lahore. He had plans to conquer Ganges, but as he went to push forward his men were wary about moving forward, so reluctantly Alexander decided to go back. Due to their lack of knowledge of India, Alexander and his army ended up back in Macedonia instead of Egypt.
Alexander’s conquest had impacted eastern and western culture as well. Along with his successful conquests Hellenism spread from the Mediterranean to Asia. Due to covering large amounts of land and occupying multiple cities allowed for new routes that increased trade. It also brought changes in religion from eastern to western. If not for Alexander Greek culture could have remained just in Greece. Due to bringing the Greek culture also introduced some ideas regarding politics and government. Creating new colonies brought the Greek language with it therefore spreading the language throughout Asia. Even though the language changed due to being mixed with local languages, the Greek language was maintained in literature and poetry. The people struggled with change of the new politics and culture. It was seen in their art, instead of statues resembling Gods they began to resemble actual people. The people were used to partaking in the political aspect but were finding that they were now being governed. This led some people to join, “mystery religions” such as a cult, which promised immortality.
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Alexander the Great left behind legacies as he conquered different cities. One of his legacies was his namesake, the city of Alexandria which is Egypt’s capital. Alexandria quickly became the center of trade between Asia and the Mediterranean. It also was where Hellenistic science flourished. Alexandria was ruled by Ptolemy who established a bureaucracy which in turn helped to regulate the economy. Another legacy was the kingdom that was created by another one of his successors, Seleucus. This kingdom was much more diverse but also built more cities then the other kingdoms. This kingdom prospered as new trade routes became available. Back in Macedonia, war continued until 277 when the throne was taken over. Even though they had a seemingly democratic system, the king still ultimately has the final say. This left the people yearning to return to self-rule.
Alexander had plans to continue to expand his empire, but unfortunately he didn’t live long enough to bring his vision to reality. He died suddenly in the year 323, the cause of his death has been speculated even to this day, anything from poison, meningitis, malaria or bacterial infection. All that is known is Alexander suffered from a fever for about 10 days before he succumbed to his illness. Before he passed, he was asked who would be his successor, he simply answered, “the strongest”. With that being his answer, after passing his empire was divided four ways between his generals. Soon after Alexander’s death, his empire essentially fell apart as each of his successors took over different portions of the empire. To this day Alexander the Great is considered one of the most successful conquerors. In such a short amount of time he conquered and created the largest empire in the ancient world.
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