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Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great was born in 356 B.C.; Pella, Macedonia, to King Philip II of Macedonia and Olympias, daughter of King Neoptolemus of Epirus. Alexander was educated during his early teenage years by the Greek famous philosopher Aristotle

In 340, at age sixteen, Alexander's formal training ended with his appointment to administer Macedonia while Philip was absent on a campaign. Young Alexander won his first battle against a force of Thracians and in 338 distinguished himself as commander of the left wing during Philip's crushing victory over the combined Greek army at Chaeronea. However, due to break with his father Alexander, he had to flee to Epirus. Philip's assassination in 336, along with the army's support of Alexander, eliminated all doubt of his kingship and he became the king at the age of twenty (McCarty, p. 30-31).

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Alexander proceeded to fulfill Philip's planned attack on Persia and thereby to free Greeks living under Persian rule in Asia Minor (Turkey). Soon, however, he determined to place himself on the throne of Persia. Alexander crossed the Hellespont (Dardanelles) into Asia Minor with his superb army of thirty-five thousand Macedonians and Greeks in the spring of 334. Alexander's tactical skills triumphed when he crushed a Persian army at the river Granicus. Alexander neutralized the Persian fleet by taking the enemy's seaports by land. To establish himself as a liberator, he dealt harshly only with cities which opposed him, and installed Greek-style democracies in those which yielded without a fight. The conquest of Asia Minor was completed in the autumn of 333 when Alexander crushed Darius' army at Issus on the Syrian frontier, then advanced down the coast. He besieged Tyre for seven months, finally assaulting the city in July, 332. Tyre suffered the same fate as Thebes (Gunther, p.84)

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. Then Egypt welcomed him as a deliverer. Returning to Syria, he advanced into Mesopotamia, and routed the Grand Army of Darius at Arbela in mid-331. One year later, Darius was killed by a rival and the same year that Alexander burned down the Persian royal palace at Persepolis.

Alexander's vision of empire was a union of Macedonians and Persians under his kingship. He began to wear Persian dress and married the Persian princess in 328, and persuaded Macedonian troops to follow his example, ordering to execute some of the critics. Nevertheless, the army remained loyal and followed Alexander into India to his last great victory – over local rulers at the Hydaspes River in June, 326. After this, his troops, tired and homesick, refused to go on, and he had to end his offensive. His engineers built a fleet which ferried the army to Persia. Heavy fighting, severe desert terrain, and unfavorable weather inflicted much suffering and heavy losses on his forces.

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By the time he reached Susa, administrative capital of the Persian Empire, in 324, Alexander had created a sprawling empire. He had established numerous cities bearing his name and had infused Asia with the dynamic Hellenic culture which would influence the region for centuries to come. Alexander, ever more megalomaniacal, pronounced himself a god and had more of his subordinates put to death, usually during drunken sprees. These were so frequent in his last seven years that there is every reason to believe he had become a chronic alcoholic. As a result of health problems caused by harsh life and alcohol, in 323 he became ill and died at the age of thirty-three. His empire was quickly divided among his successor generals, who eliminated his wives and two children.

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