Alexander the Great, as his name connotes is probably one of the greatest military leaders and conquerors in the history of the world. At a very young age, he was able to put much of the Hellenistic world under his control extending over 3,000 miles from Greece to India (Cummings, 2004). The unification of the numerous Greek city-states under the father of Alexander, Philip II of Macedon was attributable to the the great conqueror who took control over these lands that the Persian army used to control. These include Anatolia, Syria, Phoenicia, Judea, Gaza, Egypt, Bactria and Mesopotamia (Shone and Odgens, 2005).
Alongside this, he extended the boundaries of his own empire reaching as far as Punjab (now a province of Pakistan) in the Indian subcontinent. These military achievements of Alexander the Great did not stop here. If he had not died at a very young age, Alexander the Great could have conquered the European lands (Tarn, 1979). He also wanted to continue his conquests by exploring eastwards, hoping to find the end of the world which had been made known to him by his tutor, the great philosopher, Aristotle. Alexander’s tutor once told him tales of where the lands and the great oceans begin.
It was also Aristotle who influenced the young prince greatly on how to behave properly, especially in dealing with women. His great respect for women has been very evident even during his adulthood (Syversten, 1997). In his conquests of new lands, Alexander encouraged the inclusion of foreigners into his army which is basically the reason why some scholars consider him to be a ‘policy of fusion (Cummings, 2004). ’ With this, he also encouraged the intermarriage between his army and foreigners, which he also engaged in by marrying Roxanne, the princess of Bactria, one of the present provinces of Afghanistan.
Because of this, the military conquests and achievements ushered in what came to be known as the Hellenistic age, a fusion of Greek and Middle Eastern culture (Gunther, 1963). In Afghanistan, for example, the rulers had combined Greek names with their own names. Having lived a life that was full of military achievements and accomplishments, though shortly lived made Alexander a person of vital importance not just in the history of the Greek culture but the history of the world as well. He has also appeared to be a legendary hero in the person of the Homeric hero, Achilles (Green, 1970).
The Achievements of Alexander the Great The birth of Alexander the Great on the twentieth of July to Philip II of Macedonia and his fourth wife Olympias in Pella, Macedonia in Northern Greece happened to be the same day when the temple of Artemis has been raised to the ground- a good omen of how great the young prince would be (Robinson, 1963). Aside from this, he could have inherited the military skills and achievements of his other relatives. His father, like him was a great general and organizer. Similarly, Pyrrhus of Epirus was his second cousin (O’Brien, 1992).
As a child, it has been said that Alexander would often get disappointed whenever he learns of his father’s successful conquests of new lands, thinking that there would be no more lands left for him by the time he sits on the throne as king (Syversten, 1997). By the time he reached thirteen, the young prince matured, thanks to his education under Aristotle. It was because of his education under Aristotle that he became interested in philosophy, literature, philosophy, countries, ethics, politics, etc.
He also developed a love for the works of Homer and the Heroic Age (Pinkerton, 2002). His love for Homer’s the Iliad was the reason why he regarded Achilles to be his role model, and it was because of this that the young boy became fearless and strong which he demonstrated by riding Bucephalus, the horse no one ever dared to touch (Pinkerton, 2002). At the age of sixteeen, King Philip II placed great responsibilities upon the young prince. While the former has been away for a long period of time, one of Macedonia’s colonies revolted.
Due to the absence of his father, the young prince took over the situation and commanded the troops to subdue the said rebellion. He was also sixteen years old when he found his first ever colony, Alexandroupolis (Syversten, 1997). Alexander became the king of Macedonia at the age of 20. During that time, the Greek city states became restless under Macedonian rule. On one of his battles in the north, fighting the Barbarians, word spread about Alexander’s death, causing the people of Thebes to revolt.
Upon learning of what is happening, Alexander had to engage in harsh measures to quell the rebellion. From then on, no one ever questioned the capacity, strength and efficiency of Alexander as a military leader (Cartledge, 2005). The young king then went on with his conquest of Persia, one of the dreams his father had, also knowing that he could not have real power with Darius, the great king of Persia around (Robinson, 1963). He defeated the great Persian ruler at the battle of Issus in 333 BC for the second time and in November of that same year, he was crowned as King of Persia (Stoneman, 1997).
It was also in that time when he reached the Indian subcontinent where he defeated Porus, an Indian prince. Although he planned on taking on what lies beyond the Ganges River, Alexander had to go back as his army mutinied against him (Cummings, 2004). He was able extend his empire up to this part because of his marriage to the Bactrian princess, Roxanne (Gunther, 1963). The journeys of Alexander the Great led him to discover numerous cities and colonies. The most popular of them all, is perhaps the city which bears his name, Alexandria.
The people in Egypt welcomed the Macedonian king hospitably, having despised their Persian rulers and crowned him as their pharaoh (Syversten, 1997). Egypt then became the center of learning and commerce because of its strategic location (Robinson, 1963). The greatness of Alexander, however started to diminish as he was continuously losing the support not just of his army but of the Macedonians as well because of his adoption of Persian ways (O’Brien, 1992). On July 10, 323 BC, a month before his 33rd birthday, Alexander the Great died.
Some say it was because of malaria or other types of sicknesses while others theorize it to be caused by poisoning. Some say this was due to some people’s discontent with his rule, especially the sons of Antipater, the viceroy of Greece. With no legal heir to inherit his vast kingdom which extends from Greece to India, the empire of Alexander the Great has been distributed to his generals. Having conquered vast territory within a very short lifetime, Alexander the Great remains to be the greatest military commander and conqueror in the history of the world.
References Cartledge, P. (2005). Alexander the Great: The Hunt for A New Past. US: Vintage. Cummings, L. V. (2004). Alexander the Great. USA: Grove Press. Green, P. (1970). Alexander the Great. USA: Cengage Learning Gunther, J. (1963). Alexander the Great. USA: Random House. O’ Brien, J. M. (1992). Alexander the Great: The Invisible Enemy: A Biography. UK: Routledge Pinkerton, J. (2002). Biography of Alexander the Great. Retrieved October 4, 2007 From http://mi. essortment. com/alexandergreat_rhqk. htm
Robinson, C. A. (1963) Alexander the Great: Conqueror and Creator of A New World. USA: F. Watts Publishing. Shone, R. and Odgens, C. (2005) Alexander the Great: The Life of a King and a Conqueror. USA: Rosen Classroom. Stoneman, R. (1997). Alexander the Great. UK: Routledge. Syversten, T. (1997). The Rise and Fall of Alexander the Great. Retrieved October 4, 2007 From http://members. aol. com/tomstp9/alex. html Tarn, W. W. (1979). Alexander the Great. Volume II: Sources and Studies. USA: Cambridge University Press