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The effect of Alexander the Great

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James Sutcliffe

on 21 August 2015

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Transcript of The effect of Alexander the Great

How did the Reign of Alexander the Great have an effect on the Macedonian Empire and other Civilisations of that Era?
Who was Alexander the Great? - Overview
Born Alexander III of Macedon, he was parented by King Philip II and Queen Olympias. Alexander the Great was the King of Macedonia, and was famed for conquering a majority of the known world during his life. He was tutored by the Greek Philosopher Aristotle in the areas of medicine, science, literature and Philosophy. He was first gained his reputation as a military commander during a revolt of the Thracians, that took place whilst his father King Phillip II was out on a military campaign. Alexander would lead an army and crush the rebellion through his ability as a commander. Soon his father was assassinated by a Macedonian Noblemen, and Alexander succeeded the throne. Over the next 13 years of his reign, he would unite the Greek provinces through both diplomatic and military means, lead a successful campaign against the Persian or Achaemenid Empire both in the asian-minor (Which is now modern day Turkey) and Egypt, and conquer a vast range of the indian provinces.
Legends Surrounding Alexander the Great's Birth
Alexander the Great has been estimated to have been born around July 20, 356 B.C in the Macedonian Capital Pella to King Phillip II of Macedonia, and his fourth wife Queen Olympias. Olympias claimed that in her dreams she encountered a lightning bolt, symbolising her child's connection to the Gods, and that it was destined for greatness. This is also speculated and supported by the Greek Philosopher Plutarch, who states in his writings titled 'The Life of Alexander' ; "The night before the consummation of their marriage, she dreamed that a thunderbolt fell upon her body, which kindled a great fire, whose divided flames dispersed themselves all about, and then were extinguished." . The day Alexander was born, his father King Phillip II was said to have engaged in a battle, which the victory was credited to this birth as a sign of things to come. It is also notable that the time during which Alexander was born, the Temple of Artemis was also claimed to have burnt down, as Artemis according to legend was attending his birth.
Early Life of Alexander - Cultural Background
Figure 1: Portion of the Alexander the Great Mosaic portraying Alexander the Great riding his famed horse; Bucephalus into battle

Source: http://www.biography.com/people/alexander-the-great-9180468
Alexander spent most of his childhood listening to the stories of conquest and battle of his father King Phillip II. At the age of 10, Alexander first caught the eye of his father when he tamed a troublesome horse that refused to listen to anyone else, which he named Bucephalus (This horse would accompany Alexander in almost all his major battles) . From the age of 10, Phillip hired a tutor named Leonidas to teach Alexander the basics of hunting, horse riding, combat and mathematics. This continued for 3 years until a philosopher named Aristotle was hired to develop Alexander's mind and wisdom. Through Aristotle he was taught science, medicine, philosophy and literature, most notably the Iliad which inspired Alexander so much he always kept a copy of the poem with him throughout his life. Alexander's teachings under Aristotle ended when he was 16.
First Military Experiences
Alexander experienced his first taste of battle at the age of 16 during a revolt of the Thracians. As his father was out on a campaign against Byzantine, a Thracian Tribe named the Maidi, launched a small campaign take advantage of the King's absence. The young Alexander, eager to test his battle skills and prowess lead a small army and quickly crushed the invasion and quelled the revolt. This earned him the rank of commander in the battle to come at Chaeronea 2 years later. As the people of Thebes and the Athenians refused to join the King's League of Corinth, comprising of most of the major Greek provinces, King Phillip II lead an invasion that took place in the town of Chaeronea. During this battle, Alexander is said to have led the charge that was the deciding factor in the Macedonian's victory, however there is no hard evidence supporting this.
The Exile, Return and Assassination
Months following the battle at Chaeronea, King Phillip II was to marry a Macedonian girl named Cleopatra whom came from high nobility. During the wedding ceremony, it is reported that a general of Phillip's army made a remark about Alexander's right to the throne, causing Alexander the throw his cup at the man. This angered Phillip as he went to charge with his sword at Alexander, however he tripped and fell. As this happened Alexander insulted his father, and left the banquet with his mother to flee to Epirus. Although Alexander was soon to return, with his right to the throne compromised as a result.

During another wedding Banquet of Phillip's daughter, a former bodyguard, lover and noblemen of Phillip named Pausanias, murdered him. As the man is quickly killed and crucified by Alexander, historians have often placed the plot of his assassination to be that of Alexander or his mother Olympias's doing, or a simple act of revenge on Pausanias's part. Despite the various theories about the assassination there has been no clear evidence for either theory.
Alexander's succession of the Throne
Shortly after the assassination, the Corinthian League elects Alexander to succeed his father as King. News of Phillip's death caused a variety of reactions throughout the Greek provinces. As the Macedonian province mourned for the loss of their King, provinces such as the Illyrians, Thracians and Athenians took this as an opportunity to rebel.


Significant Historical Battle - Battle at Granicus - 334 BC
Suppression Of The Rebellion
Alexander assembled an army and marched north to reconquer the Thracian and Illyrian territories. As a result, both the Thracians and Illyrians were subdued and forced to join the Conrinthian League. Next Alexander marched against the Thebians, and a battle took place at the City of Thebes. Alexander as victorious, 6000 citizens were killed, and another 30,000 were sold for slave labor.

After his resolution to the rebellions, Alexander had successfully gained the reputation of a leader whom is to be feared and respected throughout the Greek Provinces.
Notable Events and information leading to Alexander the Great's Succession as King
Alexander's Campaign into Persia and the Asian Minor
After reinforcing his rule as King by quelling the rebellions of the Greek states, Alexander, at the young age of 22, began his campaign to conquer The Persian Empire. He had left a trusted general named Antipater along with a garrison of 13000 soldiers to act as a regent for the Macedonian and other Greek Provinces. Alexander marches his army across the Northern Coastline of the Aegean, and shortly across the narrow straight of Hellespont, into what is now modern day Turkey.

It is supposedly recorded that Alexander threw his spear onto the mainland of Persia and exclaimed how Asia would be won by the Macedonian Spear.

Alexander soon makes his way to the site of Troy as he had been inspired by the Iliad during his tutoring with Aristotle. Here he performs a sacred ritual and receives a shield he use is future battles.
Image Sources:
Alexander's Achievements and Significant Battles as King
Figure 4: Artists depiction of Alexander throwing his spear onto mainland Persia

Source: http://www.historyofmacedonia.org/AncientMacedonia/AlexandertheGreat.html
Figure 3: Simple map of the Hellespont, or the narrow straight Alexander had to cross with his army

Source: https://www.msu.edu/~williss2/carpentier/part2/hellespont.html
Soon after Alexander's trip to the site of Troy, he is encountered by a large Persian army fighting under their King, Darius III. The number of Persians numbered up to around 40,000 soldiers, consisting of both Persian's and Greek mercenaries. As there had been past rivalry between the Greeks and Macedonians, many Greek fighters under King Darius III army had taken up arms to fight their rival. There were also Greek mercenaries employed under Alexander's control.

As the Macedonian army held the advantage over the Persian chariots due to the muddy water and terrain at the River, Alexander was able to secure victory with a total loss of Macedonian troops numbering only around 130. Casualties of Greeks on both sides numbering around 18000, with the enslaving of another 2000 for work back on the Macedonian mainland.

This battle marked the first of the four major battles against the Persian Empire that Alexander was most known for.
Famed Historical Battles of Alexander the Great
Figure 5: Battle formation of the two armies

Source: http://www.greatmilitarybattles.com/html/battle_of_granicus.html
Significant Battle - Battle at Issus - 333 BC
The Battle of Issus is the next major battle between the army of Alexander the Great, it also marks the first engagement where both Darius III and Alexander the Great personally command their armies.

It takes place near the city of Issus near a mountain pass. As Alexander had left his injured and sick troops to recover at Issus, King Darius III and his army quickly took the city and caught Alexander's attention offguard. Darius then butchered the sick and injured and preceeded to confront Alexander's army. The two armies then engages in battle, the odds looked grim for the Macedonian Conqueror. However it is alleges that Darius's army provided an opening for Alexander's cavalry to flank and turn the tides.

After the Persian King Darius III realised his loss on the battlefield, he fled the battle and left the path for Alexander to conquer most of Egypt (which had been under the control of Persia) and other Persian territories.

Significant Battle - Battle of Tyre - 332 BC
Significant Battle - Battle at Gaugamela - 331 BC
Other notable Battles and Campaigns in India
The End of Alexander the Great's Ambition
What did Alexander the Great bring to the Macedonian Empire?
Aftermath Following His Death
Conclusion - The Legend of Alexander the Great
The battle of Tyre would prove to be a long struggle for the seemingly unstoppable conqueror. With massive walls and and impregnable defences, the siege spanned 7 months. Several attempts to build bridges, towers and other devices to allow access over the city wall had failed as they were burnt or destroyed.

However Alexander was backed with the support of several cities he had previously conquered and had allied with him, in the form of a naval fleet. Making use of this fleet, Alexander progressed the siege with catapults and battering rams aboard the fleet. Soon the walls crumbled and his army stormed the city killing 7000 citizens and soldiers, while also forcing another couple ten's of thousands in slavery.


Figure 8: Alexander the Great Mosaic recovered from Pompeii depicting the battle between King Darius III and Alexander the Great

Source: http://alexandermosaik.de/en/
This would be the final confrontation between King Darius III of Persia and the undefeated conqueror Alexander the Great. Before the battle, it was reported that Alexander's scouts had found the campfires and setup of Darius III's army, however Alexander had refused to take the advantage as he wanted to face Darius directly with the full strength of his army.

The Persian army numbered around 50,000-100,000, with the Macedonian army at around 40000 soldiers. Although Darius held the advantage in numbers, Alexander had proven himself to be a greater tactician before.

During the battle Alexander was able to discover an opening with the Persian army's ranks which ultimately resulted in his victory.

As a result of this confrontation, King Darius III fled once again, however he was later found assassinated, to which end Alexander gave him a royal funeral. The Persian Empire's capital was captured in the name of the Macedonian Empire.
After Alexander the Great's successful domination of the Persian Empire, he set his sights on conquering the indian provinces. This campaign would prove to be the most difficult as Alexander's were depleted more considerably compared to his Persian Campaign.

The most notable battle of the Indian Campaign was the Battle at the Hydaspes River. The battle took place between various Indian provinces armies led by King Porus. Although the battle ultimately ended in the defeat of Porus at Alexander's hands, Porus's bravery on the battlefield earned Alexander's respect, and thus e promised let him remain King answering only to him.

It was during this battle that Alexander's long time companion and horse throughout his campaigns, Bucephalus, died of either old age or battle wounds. In his honor Alexander named a city after him; Bucephala, to commemorate his fallen friend.

It should also be noted that is was the furthest point of Alexander's conquest into India
Although the undefeated King of Macedonia and Conqueror of Persia was never bested in battle, it is alleged that Alexander the Great was struck with illness and fever that gradually worsened over a 10 day period.

There is much debate at to what the true cause of his illness was. Many believe it to be a poisoning or a case of malaria which was common during that era, however with no known evidence to support either is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the problem.

As Alexander's army thought nothing of their King's illness he had been stricken plenty times before, the King's symptoms caused him to fall into a coma.

It was around the 10th day mark that Alexander stopped breathing and was soon unable to nurtured back to health. And at this point, at the young age of 33, Alexander the Great died.
The conquest of Alexander the Great was able to expand the territory of the Macedonian King's territory to previously unimaginable horizons. With the total domination of Egypt, and the Asian minor as well as the Greek provinces, the conquered land served as mark to other nations the capability of the ambitious Macedonian Leader's military ability.

Throughout the undefeated conquerors campaigns, he had pillaged a large amount of wealth, primarily from the Persian Provinces. This improved overall the overall finances and trade of the Macedonian Economy immeasurably.

Alexander the Great throughout his conquests, often installed 'hubs' of Greek culture throughout Egypt and the Asain minor. This improved the expansion of Greek Culture overall. Alexander made 80 of his commanding officers to marry Persian wives in an attempt to improve cultural relations.
Following the death of Alexander the Great, the Macedonian's territory was either occupied by former generals of the army, or relatives of Alexander.

The Persian wife of Alexander, Roxanna, whom he had met during his campaign of Persia, was pregnant with his son. This son was seen as an illegitimate son of the King, as many Macedonian nobles and citizens viewed Roxanna as barbaric as she was Persian. This naturally caused strife within the Corinthian League as other relatives of Alexander, such as his half brother Phillip III also wished to claim the throne. Antipater, a former general under Alexander whom had been left as a regent for the Greek provinces previously, soon possessed supreme control over all the conquered Macedonian Territory. As he was struck by illness in 319, he died and his control of the territories was left to his son Cassander.

Alexander's mother Olympias soon sent armies against Cassander. However these armies were eventually and defeated and she was executed. Cassander also eventually had the son of Alexander (whom at this point had been born and was a child) killed along with Roxanna.

The territories of Alexander were soon split into three; the region that Cassander controlled, primarily consisting of the Macedonian mainland, a region occupied by a former general of Alexander named Ptolemy, whom occupied egypt, and Lysimachus, who claimed the majority of Thrace and the Asain Minor.

Although after his demise, Alexander the Great's territories were fought over and eventually divided in three with his heir and wife executed, the name of Alexander the Great and his stories of undefeated conquest and battles throughout the Persian and Indian provinces lived on. His reign as the King that was never bested in battle, served as a tool to inspire future leaders throughout the Classical, Hellenistic and even Modern eras of the world.
Figure 2: Map of the various territories controlled by the Greek provinces

Source: http://www.penfield.edu/webpages/jgiotto/onlinetextbook.cfm?subpage=1653418
Figure 7: 18th century Flemish Tapestry of the Battle of Gaugamela

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Gaugamela
Figure 6: Artists portrayal of the Battle of Tyre

Source: www.kingofmacedon.net/battles.html
Figure 9: Map detailing the extend of Alexander's the Great's territorial conquest

Source: http://www.historyofmacedonia.org/AncientMacedonia/AlexandertheGreat.html

Figure 10: Map showing the divided territories of Alexander the Great's land

Source: http://www.fsmitha.com/h1/ch12dis.htm

Figure 1: Source: http://www.biography.com/people/alexander-the-great-9180468
Figure 2: http://www.penfield.edu/webpages/jgiotto/onlinetextbook.cfm?subpage=1653418
Figure 3: https://www.msu.edu/~williss2/carpentier/part2/hellespont.html
Figure 4: http://www.historyofmacedonia.org/AncientMacedonia/AlexandertheGreat.html
Figure 5: http://www.greatmilitarybattles.com/html/battle_of_granicus.html
Figure 6: www.kingofmacedon.net/battles.html
Figure 7: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Gaugamela
Figure 8: http://alexandermosaik.de/en/
Figure 9: http://www.historyofmacedonia.org/AncientMacedonia/AlexandertheGreat.html
Figure 10: http://www.fsmitha.com/h1/ch12dis.htm
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