Alexander, the Great

Alexander, the Great


Biography of Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great or Alexander III of Macedonia (356-323 BC) was king of Macedonia – an empire that stretched from northern Greece to Egypt and the Far East, becoming one of the most powerful empires of antiquity .

Alexander the Great was born in Pela, the capital of Macedonia, north of present-day Greece, probably on July 20, 356 BC. C. Son of Philip II, king of Macedonia and Olympia, descended from a noble family in the kingdom of Epirus (present-day Albania).

Alexandre was a student of the best masters of the time. At the age of 13, he taught the Greek philosopher Aristotle. He studied rhetoric, politics, physical and natural sciences, medicine, philosophy and geography.

King of Macedonia – Alexander III

Alexander the Great stood out for his intelligence and for his ease with horse taming, in such a way that in a few hours he dominated the “Bucéfalo”, which would become his inseparable mount. The art of war he had learned from his father, Felipe II, an experienced and courageous military man.

When its father was assassinated in 336 a. C., Alexander became king of the Macedonians, assuming two high positions: the head of the “League of Corinth” (union of several Greek communities) and commander of the best prepared army of the time. For his achievements he became known as Alexander the Great or Alexander the Great.

Pacification of Greece

Alexander III ascended the throne at the age of twenty, and the Macedonian Expansion was his main objective. He did not hesitate to liquidate everyone who plotted against his crown.

Some Greek cities had rebelled and were trying to undo the Corinthian League. Thebes was the center of the revolt, he had even proclaimed the independence of Greece. The war was declared and Thebes was devastated. Only the playwright Píndaro’s house was spared, as proof of Alexandre’s respect for the arts.

Conquest of the Persian Empire

After Greece was pacified, Alexander III began the conquest of the Persian empire, which was an obstacle in the routes of silk, spices and all Greek trade abroad.

In 334 a. C, Alexander III crossed the Helesponto – a strip of sea between European Greece and Asian Greece, heading towards Asia Minor, where he faced the Persians for the first time and achieved important victories, arriving in Górdia, where he cut with the sword “ Gordian knot ”, which according to prophecy assured him the domination of Asia.

Alexander the Great (Mosaic, National Museum of Naples)

Macedonian Army

When Alexander the Great arrived in Asia Minor, he had nine thousand spearmen distributed in six battalions, forming the “phalanges” – whose main weapon was the zarissa – a long spear, in addition to the cavalry that constituted the base of the attack.

Frightened by the warlike might of the Macedonian leader, Dario III proposed the peaceful sharing of the empire. Alexandre refused and continued his conquests along the Mediterranean coast.

In 332 a. C. Alexander III occupied Egypt, where he was treated by the priests as a son of God. He founded the city of “ Alexandria ” which became the administrative center of the Macedonian empire. In 331 a. The Persian king, Darius III is finally defeated and Alexander enters Babylon.

After the death of Dario in 330 a. Alexander was acclaimed “king of Asia and successor to the Persian dynasty.” Everywhere the Emperor gained trust and respect from the conquered peoples. In 328 BC, he married Roxana, daughter of the Bactrian satrap, with whom had a son.

Arrival in India and Return

Alexander the Great continued his imperialist project towards the East. In 327 a. C. went to India, mythical country for the Greeks, in which it founded military colonies and the cities of Nicaea and Bucéfala, this one erected in memory of its horse, on the banks of the river Hidaspe.

Upon reaching the Bias River, his troops refused to continue. Alexandre decided to return and on the way back, in 324 a. C. arrives at Susa, where it takes two new wives, Estatira, daughter of Dario III and Parisátide II, a young Persian of local nobility. In 323 a. C., Alexander the Great arrives in Babylon, where he catches a fever that, in ten days, takes his life.

Hellenistic Culture

Alexander the Great had built a gigantic empire and used to respect defeated peoples, which created conditions for cultural integration within the vast empire he conquered.

With this, the “Hellenistic culture” emerged, a fusion of the Hellenic (Greek) culture with the Eastern culture. Alexander founded several cities during his conquests and many of them received the name of Alexandria, especially the one founded in Egypt, which became one of the radiating poles of the Hellenistic civilization.


10 Real Facts About Alexander, the Great



In 334 BC, he leads an army of 14,000 Macedonians and 7,000 Greek allies in the invasion of Phrygia (in present-day Turkey). In Gordium, the capital of the region, Alexander would have been challenged to untie the “Gordian knot”, which, according to local tradition, would only be undone by the man who would govern Asia. He would have solved the issue by cutting the knot with the sword .


  1. A year later, Alexander obtained a decisive victory against the Persians in the city of Issus. The Persian king Darius III hurries away, leaving the royal family in the hands of the conqueror. With the victory, Alexander can advance along the Mediterranean coast towards the south, invading Syria and Phenicia.


  1. In 332 BC, the empire extended to Egypt, which was previously under Persian rule. In addition to reorganizing the administration of the region and founding the city of Alexandria, he travels to the oasis of Siwa, where an oracle salutes him as a pharaoh, giving him the divine right to rule Egypt.


  1. After conquering Egypt, he returns to the Middle East region and leaves for victories in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) and in the very territory of Persia (Iran). It also occupies the Babylonian region and chooses the city of Susa, capital of this province, as the place from which the empire will rule.


  1. Alexandre continues to conquer Asian territories, which today correspond to countries like Uzbekistan and Pakistan. In 326 BC, already within India’s current borders, soldiers refuse to move forward and Alexander allows part of them to return to Persia. The empire had reached its peak. On June 13, 323 BC, Alexander died in Susa, victim of a serious intestinal disorder.


Achievements of Alexander the Great

Ancient reports say that when Alexander was at war with the Persians, he often used Persian invasions of Greece in the fifth century BC as an excuse for his actions. However, ironically, Alexander often fought Greek mercenaries while campaigning against Darius III, king of Persia.

Even more ironically, Sparta, a city that had lost its king and 300 warriors in the Battle of Thermopylae during an attempted Persian invasion, also opposed Alexander, going so far as to seek Persian help in his efforts to overthrow him .

Despite opposition from the Spartans, Alexander was successful against Persia. The first major battle he won was the ” Battle of Granicus “, fought in 334 BC in present-day western Turkey.

Alexander defeated a force of 20,000 Persian horsemen and an equal number of foot soldiers. He then advanced along the west coast of Turkey, taking cities and trying to deprive the Persian navy of bases.

The second key battle he won, and perhaps the most important, was the Battle of Issus , fought in 333 BC near the ancient city of Issus, in southern Turkey, near present-day Syria. In that battle, the Persians were led by Darius III himself.

In Egypt

Alexander moved south along the eastern Mediterranean, a strategy designed, again, to deprive the Persians of their naval bases. Many cities surrendered while some, like Tire, who was on an island, fought and forced Alexander to lay siege.

In 332 BC, after Gaza was taken by the siege, Alexander entered Egypt, a country that had experienced periods of Persian rule for two centuries. On his north coast, he founded Alexandria, the most successful city he has ever built.

He also traveled to Libya to see the Ammonian oracle. Traveling through the unmarked desert, his group went to the temple and it is said that Alexander consulted the oracle in particular.

Alexander’s legacy

Perhaps Alexander’s most significant legacy was the scope and extent of the proliferation of Greek culture. The reign of Alexander the Great marked the beginning of a new era in history known as the Hellenistic era. Greek culture had a powerful influence on the areas that Alexander conquered.

Many of the cities that Alexander founded were called Alexandria, including the Egyptian city that now houses more than 4.5 million people. The many Alexandrias were located on trade routes, which increased the flow of goods between East and West.

There was a common currency and a common (Greek) language uniting the many peoples of the empire. All religions were tolerated. It was a golden age that lasted from Alexander’s death in 323 BC to 31 BC, the date of Rome’s conquest of the last Hellenistic kingdom.

Alexander the Great quotes

  • “Overcome fear and you will conquer death.”
  • “I would not fear a group of lions led by a sheep, but I would always fear a flock of sheep led by a lion.”
  • “Neither heaven admits two suns, nor earth two masters.”
  • “My father gave me this body that is ephemeral; but my master gave me a life that is immortal. ”
  • “Luck favors the fearless.”

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