Alexander the Great

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Alexander the Great
Painting of Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great was born in 356 BC to Philip II of Macedon. While growing up, Alexander was tutored by Aristotle from whom he learned philosophy and geography among other subjects. Alexander's father was a warrior and conquered Greece while a young Alexander successfully led a cavalry regiment. Phillip planned to conquer Persia next, but was assassinated in 336. It is generally agreed that Alexander was not part of the plot, although his mother who was estranged from Phillip might have been. His father's death left a twenty year-old Alexander king of Macedonia and Greece. The Greeks had no love of being ruled by anyone, especially not by "barbarians" (What they called the Macedonians who generally lacked their level of sophistication and refinement.) With the death of Phillip, they revolted believing they could easily break away from the new young ruler. They were about to become the first people to experience the depth of his military genius.

Once Alexander reconquered Greece, he decided to put into action his father’s plan of conquering Persia. Alexander thought that if he united the whole world through culture and intermarriage, there would be no reason for anyone to fight. To this end, he formed an army of thirty thousand foot soldiers, five thousand cavalry men, and engineers to build siege engines[Citation Needed].

In four years Alexander conquered the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon, the countries of Canaan and Egypt, the Persian cities of Susa and Persepolis, and many other lands. Wherever he went, Alexander triumphed and spread Greek language and culture. Palestine fell in 332, and Greek conquest and Hellenization became a new threat to Judaism and its traditions. The Persians offered resistance to Alexander with massive armies in two battles, both of which Alexander won. The Persian capital was captured and sacked shortly after that. Alexander wasn't satisfied with just conquering Persia. He also wanted to conquer the unknown and continued east into India. Finally when he reached the Indus River, his homesick army decided that they would go no farther. Alexander sadly withdraw from extending his military conquests and decided to set up a capital for his new empire in Babylon. He had never been defeated in battle. Alexander sought to bring about a blending of Greek and Persian cultures, even encouraging his men to take Persian wives. In 323 BC, after a period of very heavy drinking, Alexander died of fever. He had ruled in Babylon for about a year. To what extent he could have continued to bring about a harmony of cultures is unknown. Failing to appoint a heir to carry on his legacy, his vast Empire broke apart into 4 major sections upon his death.

Although never mentioned by name, it is commonly believed that the book of Daniel in the Bible makes reference to Alexander and his sudden demise.

See also