Alexander the Great

king of Macedonia and conqueror of Achaemenid Persia (356–323 BC)

Alexander the Great was Alexander III of Macedon (Greek: Αλέξανδρος, Aléxandros; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC). He was king of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon from 336 BC until his death in 323 BC.

Alexander III
Alexander in the Alexander Mosaic
King of Macedonia
Reign336–323 BC
PredecessorPhilip II
Reign336 BC
PredecessorPhilip II
Pharaoh of Egypt
Reign332–323 BC
PredecessorDarius III
  • Alexander IV
  • Philip III
King of Persia
Reign330–323 BC
PredecessorDarius III
  • Alexander IV
  • Philip III
Lord of Asia
Reign331–323 BC
PredecessorNew office
  • Alexander IV
  • Philip III
Born20 or 21 July 356 BC
Pella, Macedon, Ancient Greece
Died10 or 11 June 323 BC (aged 32)
Babylon, Mesopotamia
Full name
Alexander III of Macedon
  • Μέγας Ἀλέξανδρος[d]
    Mégas Aléxandros
    lit.'Great Alexander'
  • Ἀλέξανδρος ὁ Μέγας
    Aléxandros ho Mégas
    lit.'Alexander the Great'
FatherPhilip II of Macedon
MotherOlympias of Epirus
ReligionAncient Greek religion

By the age of thirty, he had created one of the largest empires in history, stretching from Greece to the Indus river of Pakistan.[1] He was one of the greatest military leaders of all time. He was born in 356 BC in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedonia.

Alexander was the son of Philip II, King of Macedonia, and Olympias, the princess of neighboring Epirus. Alexander spent his childhood watching his father turn Macedonia into a great military power, and watching him win victory on the battlefields in the Balkans.

Alexander spoke Greek. He spread the Greek culture through out Asia.[2]

When he was 13, Philip hired the Greek philosopher Aristotle to be Alexander’s personal tutor.[3] During the next three years, Aristotle gave Alexander a training in rhetoric and literature, and stimulated his interest in science, medicine, and philosophy. All of these are important for a ruler, which Alexander later became.

Alexander's war


In 340 BC, Philip assembled a large Greek army and invaded Thrace. He left 16 year old Alexander with the power to rule Greece in his absence as regent. But as the Macedonian army advanced deep into Thrace, the Thracian tribe of Maedi bordering north-eastern Macedonia rebelled and posed a danger to the country. Alexander assembled an army, led it against the rebels, and with swift action defeated the Maedi, captured their stronghold, and renamed it Alexandroupolis.

Alexander became king of Macedonia in 336 BC after his father was assassinated. He became strategos (general or supreme commander). He used this authority to launch his father's military expansion plans. In 334 BC, he invaded Persian-ruled Asia Minor. He began series of campaigns that lasted ten years. Alexander broke the power of Persia in a series of decisive battles, most notably the battles of Issus and Gaugamela. He overthrew the Persian King Darius III and conquered the entire Persian Empire. He married the king's daughter to symbolize the unity of his new empire. At that point, Alexander's empire stretched from the Adriatic Sea to the Indus River.[4]

He attacked the subcontinent in 326 BC, and defeated King Porus, who ruled a region in the Punjab. Afterwards they became allies. The subcontinent at that time was divided into hundreds of kingdoms. The army refused to cross the Indus and fight the kings on the other side, so Alexander led them out of Pakistan.

Alexander died in Babylon in 323 BC, of unknown causes.[5] Poison, murder, or a fever after a battle have all been suggested. At his death, he was planning a series of campaigns that would have begun with an invasion of Arabia. In the years following his death, a series of civil wars tore his empire apart. Several states were then ruled by the Diadochi, Alexander's surviving generals and heirs. They fought and conquered each other. The largest surviving piece was the Seleucid Empire.[6]

Alexander's legacy includes the cultural diffusion of Greek ideas and language. He started some twenty cities that were named after him, most notably Alexandria in Egypt. Alexander's settlement of Macedonian colonists resulted in a new Hellenistic civilization. Signs of this can be seen in the Byzantine Empire in the mid-15th century AD. There were Greek speakers in central and far eastern Anatolia until the 1920s.

Alexander died when he was only 32 years old. He was never defeated in battle. The cause of his death is not known.

In the Hebrew Bible, the Greek king mentioned in Daniel 8:5–8 and 21–22 (who will conquer the Medes and Persians but then die at the height of his power and have his kingdom broken into four kingdoms) is often taken as a reference to Alexander. Alexander is also mentioned in the first Book of the Maccabees. In the Qur'an, Alexander is known by the Arabic epithet "Dhu al-Qarnayn" (The Two-Horned One).[7][8][9]



  1. Roisman, Worthington, Joseph, Ian (ed.). Ancient Macedonia. 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1-405-17936-2.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: editors list (link)
  2. "Alexander the Great and the Spread of Greek Culture".
  3. "Portraits from the Past: Aristotle". Awake!. Vol. 97, no. 5. 2016. p. 14. ISSN 0005-237X.
  4. Morkot, Robert 1996. The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Greece. Penguin.
  5. "Kingdoms of the Successors of Alexander: After the Battle of Ipsus, B.C. 301". World Digital Library. 1800–1884. Retrieved 2013-07-27.
  6. Renault, Mary 2001. The nature of Alexander the Great. Penguin. ISBN 0-14-139076-X
  7. Bietenholz, Peter G. (1994). Historia and fabula: myths and legends in historical thought from antiquity to the modern age. Brill. pp. 122–123. ISBN 978-9004100633.
  8. Stoneman 2003, p. 3.
  9. EI2, p. 127.

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