“Remember, upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all.”
Alexander III, better known as Alexander the Great, was born to King Philip II and his fourth wife, Queen Olympia, daughter of King Neoptolemus, in the Pella region of Macedonia in 356 B.C. on the 6th day of the ancient Greek month of Hekatombaion, which probably corresponds to 20 July 356 BC, although the exact date is not known. The young prince grew up resenting his father’s philandering ways, though his mother served as a strong role model.
Alexander received his earliest education under the tutelage of Leonidas. Leonidas, who had been hired by King Phillip to teach Alexander mathematics, horsemanship and archery, struggled to control his rebellious student. Alexander’s next tutor was Lysimachus, who used role-playing to capture the restless boy’s attention. Alexander particularly delighted in impersonating Achilles, providing a glimpse into his interest in heroic warriors.
In 343 B.C., King Philip II hired the philosopher Aristotle to tutor Alexander at the Temple of the Nymphs at Meiza. Over the course of three years, Aristotle taught Alexander and his friends philosophy, poetry, drama, science and politics. Seeing that Homer’s Iliad inspired Alexander to dream of becoming a heroic warrior, Aristotle created an abridged version of the tome for Alexander to carry with him on military campaigns.
Alexander completed his education at Meiza in 340 B.C and a year later, at sixteen, he became a soldier and embarked on his first military expedition, against the Thracian tribes. In 338 B.C, Alexander took charge of the Companion Cavalry, formed with many of his friends and aided his father in defeating the Athenian and Theban armies at Chaeronea. Once Philip II had succeeded in his campaign to unite all the Greek states except Sparta into the Corinthian League, the alliance between father and son soon disintegrated. His father married the niece of General Attalus and exiled Olympia and Alexander.
In 336 B.C, Alexander’s sister wed the Molossian king and during the festivities that followed, Pausanias, a Macedonian noble, murdered King Philip. After his father’s death, Alexander, then aged nineteen, was determined to seize the throne. Having gathered the support of the Macedonian generals, Alexander was proclaimed the feudal king. He and his loyal mother later murdered all potential claimants to the throne.
Later, Alexander quelled the independence movements of the city states under the Corinthian League and gained full military power, which helped him win the battles of Persia, Egypt and Iran. With the collapse of the Persian army, Alexander became “King of Babylon, King of Asia, and King of the Four Quarters of the World.”
After capturing Iran, he married the daughter of Prince Oxyartes, Rhoxana. He defeated King Porus in India and headed onwards but had to turn back from the Ganges when his army refused to accompany him. Injured on his way back by Malli warriors, he recovered and headed northwards, along the Persian coast, where many of his soldiers died due to illness and injury. In February 324, Alexander at last reached the city of Susa. Desperate to retain his leadership and recruit more soldiers, he tried to connect Persian nobles to Macedonians in order to create a ruling class, wherein, he encouraged Macedonians to marry Persian princesses. Although married to Rhoxana, he married Statiera, one of the daughters of Darius to strengthen the ties. He also recruited several Persians into his army. This move was opposed by his soldiers and he ended up gaining their resentment.
While considering the conquests of Carthage and Rome, Alexander the Great died of malaria in Babylon on June 13, 323 B.C. He was just 32 years old. Rhoxana gave birth to his son a few months later. After Alexander died, his empire collapsed and the nations within it battled for power. Over time, the cultures of Greece and the Orient synthesized and thrived as a side effect of Alexander’s Empire, becoming part of his legacy and spreading the spirit of Pan Hellenism, which means the idea of a union of all Greeks in a single political body.