Alexander the Great

No soldier in history is more indisputably "great" than Alexander, surpassing the majority even of good and eminent generals, as do Napoleon and very few others. What marks him out--even more than the quality both of his swift tactical insight and deliberate strategic planning--is the "daemonic" strength of will and leadership with which he dragged a war weary army with unbroken success to Khodjend and the Punjab. He wrote his name across the Near and Middle east for two hundred years; and yet his work was ephemeral, in that the empire which he left, even in the strong hands of the early Seleukids, was dying on its feet from the first generation. even his personality made no permanent impression beyond the Greco-Roman world; for, as is not generally realized, the Legend of Alexander that so deeply impressed not only medieval Europe, but the world of Islam, and even lands which the historical Alexander never saw, is not a spontaneous growth of the age immediately after him. The versions of the Romance of Alexander, which existed by the fifth century A.D. in Syria and Armenian as well as Greek and Latin--which caught the imagination of Firdausi and of Arabic poets, which penetrated even to Ethiopia, and were brought west again by the Crusaders with their incrustations of eastern marvels--are all derived from one book, a literary forgery, ascribed to Kallisthenes, and written probably at Alexandria in the second century A.D. It became very popular in the later empire, quite outshining the more sober and "highbrow" popularization of Curtius.

Philip II of Macedonia and Olympias the father of Alexander the Great established a series of bureaucracies that would be stable and loyal to him. Then, with the support of all of Greece, he declared war on Persia. That spring Philip sent Attalus with 10,000 troops into Asia Minor to begin liberating Greek cities. Just before Philip was to join the invasion of Asia, he was assassinated. (Green, p. 2) Alexander was born in 356 B.C. Some historians say he was born on the same day that the Temple of Artemis at ephesus burned to the ground. That temple was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Both Olympias and Philip saw potential in their son Alexander, and arranged for his education. His first teacher Leonideas, a relative of Olympias, some says her uncle, was a strict disciplinarian and gave Alexander his ascetic nature. Leonidas was replaced with Lysimachus who taught Alexander to play the lyre and taught him an appreciation of the fine arts. Philip wanted nothing but the best for his son, so at the age of 13, Philip hired Aristotle to be Alexander's personal tutor. Under Aristotle, Alexander learned philosophy, ethics, politics, and healing. All of these would greatly help Alexander later in his life during his conquests. Aristotle and Alexander later became estranged due to their difference of opinions over foreigners. Following the death of his father, Alexander took over the throne of Macedonia. At the time, the kingdom was in trouble. Many of the Greek States did not know whether they wanted to pledge an allegiance to Alexander, at the time he was only twenty years old. In the north, barbarians that Philip had subdued were threatening to break away from Macedonia and cause trouble. Ignoring the suggestions of his advisors, Alexander marched north with his army and drove the barbarians across the Danube River. (Green, p. 14) Now that Philip was gone, Thebes and Athens had to be dealt with again. Under the impression that Alexander had been killed during his battles in the north, both Athens and Thebes decided it would be a perfect time to withdraw from Macedonia. Alexander had other plans. ...

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