Alexander the Great or Alexander III of Macedonia was the son of Philip II of Macedonia. He was one of the greatest conquerors of ancient age and founded Alexandria in 331 B.C. The myth of Alexander explained mainly by its pretensions to universal conquest (worldwide). This aspiration, both impossible and almost made before it was stopped by sudden death at the age of 33 years, had the effect that during a very short time, a political unit was established between the West and East. The legacy of Alexander, also marked by the Greek cultures, Western and Eastern Europe, was divided into different kingdoms and dynasties among his generals (Pomeroy, Burstein, Dolan & Roberts, 1998).
Alexander was the son of Philip II of Macedon and his third wife Olympias, the princess of Epirus. Through his mother, he was the nephew of Alexander the Hound, king of Epirus, a territory which is located today between the Greek region of Epirus and southern Albania. According to a legend, Olympias was not fertilized by Philip, who was afraid of her and her habit of sleeping in the company of snakes, but by Zeus (Green, 1992). Alexander used these folktales for political purposes, referring to the god rather than Philip when he spoke of his father. By his father Philip II, Alexander descended from Temenos Argos, himself a descendant of Heracles, the son of Zeus. Through his mother, Olympias, Alexander descended from Neoptolemus, son of Achilles and Deidamia. After being educated by Leonidas and Lysimachus of Akarnania, Alexander was blessed to have a tutor like Aristotle, who taught him from 343 BC to 340 BC.
Alexander the Conqueror
Although regarded as barbaric by the Athenians, the kingdom of Macedonia under the reign of Philip extended its hegemony over classical Greece. It defeated Athens at Thermopylae in 352 B.C. intervened in a conflict between Thebes and Phocis and vanquished a coalition of Athens and Thebes at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 B. C. Philippe was also the initiator of the League of Corinth, brought together all the Greek cities, with the exception of Sparta, under his command. At the death of his father, Alexander took over and was recognized as the King and Commander in Chief in the league. He was not only the king of the Macedonians, but also, like his father, archon of Thessaly and Autocrat of the League of Corinth (Bosworth, 1988).
Alexander led the cavalry at the Battle of Chaeronea (338 BC) and became the ambassador responsible to return to Athens the ashes of the Athenians killed. The accession to the throne of Alexander brings trouble caused by the Macedonian nobility. Thebes, which had been raised with the help of the Athenians implied, is defeated and the city razed to the ground. When calm was restored and power firmly established, Alexander participated in the conquest of Asia Minor in 334 BC under the pretext of a war of retribution for the wrongs suffered during the Median wars. It entrusted the power temporarily to Antipater and left behind the most loyal troops of his army.
He went to Troy at the head of 35,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry. The king of Persia, Darius III Codomannus, was not involved during the crossing of the Hellespont. His army, far superior in numbers, had tried to stop the Macedonian army on the banks of the Granicus. This battle, in which Alexander's army crossed the river and climbed a steep bank, ended with the victory of the Greeks. The Persians fled. Alexander extended his advantage to the whole coastal region in order to deprive the Persians of a base to invade Greece. It released several cities of their tyrant and restored democracy. The cities that resisted (Halicarnassus, or Lampsacus Aspendos) were besieged and conquered. The winter period 334-333 BC was utilized to capture the Lycia, the Pamphylia, Pisidia in southern Asia Minor. The government of this region is entrusted to his friend Nearchus.
The Greek armies then penetrated inside the territory and seized Gordion. Alexander then headed to the east, toward the Taurus Mountains that passed easily. Alexander fell ill after taking a bath in the Cydnus and seized Tarsus. The king of Sparta, allied admirals Persian attempted to seize power. The Greek army confronted the Persian forces of 600,000 men strong, concentrated in the plain of Issus five kilometers wide and situated between the Taurus Mountains and the sea. Alexander delayed a resounding victory. Darius fled, leaving his mother hostage, his wife, his daughters and a huge booty. He retired from beyond the Euphrates. The roads to Syria and Egypt were open.
He then attacked Gaza where he was wounded twice. Alexander was welcomed as a liberator by the Egyptians, fierce enemies of the Persians. He founded the West Nile Delta, the city of Alexandria, the first of a series that was built to the bottom of the Caucasus. He entrusted the administration of the country several Macedonian military and civilian leaders. The priests of the god Amon gave him the title "son of Amun" once worn by the Pharaohs. He became an Egyptian god (Hammond, 1997).
After becoming the master of Asia Hellenic Mediterranean, he left again at war against Darius in 331 BC to become also the King of Persia. He crossed the Tigris and Euphrates unopposed. The confrontation came at the East of the Tigris, near Gargamel, north of Arbela. Caught between the Greek cavalry led by the King on the right and the powerful Macedonian phalanx in the center, the Persian army with nearly one million people was once again defeated. Darius fled at 331 BC, left behind his chariot and weapons. All the capitals of the Persian Empire were looted while the residents were spared. Alexander was welcomed in Babylon and Susa as king of Asia. He burned the palaces of Persepolis in revenge and paid tribute to the tomb of Cyrus the Great at Pasargadae.
Darius, with a handful of faithful whose number was decreasing, plunged to the east. Alexander tried to capture it. At the end of a race suit, and while it was handy to Alexander, Darius was killed by one of his satraps. The new king of Asia was making royal honors to the remains of Darius and took his crown. He then submitted the eastern Persia (Afghanistan, Turkestan and Baluchistan), but was facing a guerrilla war that lasted from 330 to 328 BC. The climatic conditions were harsh and fertile ground for resistance. The revolt ends with the submission of Sogdiana and Bactria. Alexander married in the Persian rite, Roxane, daughter of the Bactrian Oxyartes. The morale of the troops, worn by years of campaigning and homesick, was weakening. Macedonian nobles worried that their king was behaving like an absolute monarch and adopted Persian dress and customs (Gergel, 2004).
Alexander was directed to India, a country peopled by fantastic beings and full of wonders for him. He descended the Indus basin and headed for the Hydaspes located on the border of the Persian kingdom. His entry into India was conditioned by the victory over King Poros who wanted to deny access to the Macedonians. Alexander crossed the river by deception. The victory was slow to emerge. The army of Poros, reinforced elephant, opposed a fierce resistance. The winner, knowing appreciate the dignity of the vanquished and treated him as an ally. The army arrived in full monsoon to the banks of the Ganges (upper limit of the known world) mutinied. Alexander returned to the Indus and down south towards the Indian Ocean. He crossed the desert Gedrosia alongside the Persian Gulf. He then returned to Babylon where he undertook a vast program of work. However, in his return journey he was attacked by the epidemic of malignant fever and died after some days of illness in July 323 BC. Alexander's body was later moved from Babylon to Memphis and buried in Alexandria by Ptolemy.