Alexander the Great

Word Count: 1418″It is a lovely thing to live with great courage and die leaving
an everlasting fame.”Long before the
birth of Christ, the land directly above what we know as
Greece today, was called Macedonia. Macedonia still
exists, but it is now Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and modern
Greece. Macedonia was considered to be part of ancient
Greece, but the people of these two countries couldn’t be
more different. No people in history ever gave so much to
the human race as the ancient Greeks. They produced
architectural monuments, four of the greatest dramatic
actors who ever lived, one of the most brilliant statesmen
and two of the greatest historians. Scientists, philosophers
and artists all thrived in this country. The political system
we call democracy had its roots in this culture. The
Macedonians in comparison with their Greek neighbors
were crude and fierce in their outlook. They were a rough
people. They never produced any artists, philosophers, or
great actors. But they produced Alexander The Great – a
man with a legacy so remarkable that it has challenged the
minds of men ever since. Alexander was born to conquer
the world. His life was bold and from beginning to end, it
was etched with dramatic clarity. Every important event in
his life brought him one step closer to fulfilling his ambition.

He was the first leaders, like Caesar and Napoleon, who
partly be accident and partly by design, set out to gather
the whole world into their fists, unify it, rule it and enlighten
it. But unlike the other great giants of history, Alexander
was a shooting star whose blaze of glory ended with his
death, at not quite thirty-three years old Alexander was
born in 356 BC to King Philip of Macedonia and his wife,
Olympias. On the day of Alexander’s birth, Philip was
away in battle. A courier brought Philip the message of his
son’s birth, along with two other messages – Philip’s horse
had won first prize in the Olympic Games and his army had
just won a very important battle. With three pieces of good
news at once, Philip always thought his son’s arrival into the
world came with an omen of good luck. As Crown Prince
of Macedonia and at that time, his father’s only heir,
Alexander was raised to inherit his father’s kingdom.

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Alexander was good at sports and even as a young child
showed a very ambitious streak. One of his courtiers
commented on how well he ran and suggested that he
compete in the Olympic foot races. Alexander refused and
replied that we would only run against kings, so that he
could be sure that no one threw the race in his favor. As a
young boy, Alexander began to show many of the traits
that made him famous – courage, cleverness and complete
self-confidence. Once when Alexander’s father brought
home several horses, one horse in particular caught
Alexander’s eye. It was an enormous black horse and one
that none of King Philip’s men seemed to be able to mount
and ride. Alexander approached his father and asked for
the horse. On a dare and a bet from his father, Alexander
did what no one else had been able to do, mount and ride
the horse. The horse, Bucephalus, became one of the most
famous horses in history and for most of the sixteen years
of his life was the only horse that Alexander ever rode in
battle. When Bucephalus died, Alexander gave him a
funeral worthy of a king and named a city after him.

Alexander’s education is said to have been the most
expensive in history. Philip persuaded Aristotle, the Greek
philosopher and scientist to be Alexander’s tutor. In
addition to the large sum of money paid to Aristotle for his
years of service as a teacher, Philip also agreed to rebuild
the town where Aristotle had been born (which Philip had
destroyed in a raid) and permit its exiled citizens to return.

Aristotle introduced Alexander to many things, but in
particular he instilled in Alexander the love of books.

Alexander’s favorite was Homer’s Iliad, which he learned
by heart. Throughout his entire life, whereever he was,
Alexander slept with two things under his pillow – a dagger
for protection and a copy of the Iliad. When Alexander
was seventeen, his father left him temporarily in charge of
Macedonia while he attended state matters in Greece.

While his father was away, a tribe in a northern province,
apparently hoping to take advantage of Alexander’s youth
and inexperience started a revolt. Alexander gathered his
army, marched against the rebels, beat them in battle and
captured their chief city. He renamed their city after himself
Alexandropolis. By the time Alexander was eighteen, things
were not well between his parents. What has started, as a
love match between Philip and Olympias had become a
hateful and vengeful relationship. Philip decided to marry
again, taking a second Queen. Alexander, who had always
had a good relationship with his father, but loved his mother
deeply, sided with her. During the next two years
Alexander and Philip held a troubled truce. When Philip
was assassinated, whispers emerged that his first wife,
Olympias was involved in the plot. Within days of Philip’s
death, Olympias had her husband’s second wife and her
infant son murdered, so as to not shed any doubt on
Alexander’s claim to the throne. At twenty, Alexander was
king of Macedonia. He set about restoring order in
Macedonia and Greece with a vengeance. During this time,
a serious revolt broke out in Thebes, a city in Greece.

Alexander and his army marched against Thebes and
burned it to the ground. Over thirty thousand Thebans were
sold into slavery. In the entire city, Alexander spared only
one house – the home of a poet called Pindar, whose
poetry Alexander has always liked. The battle of Thebes
was the first of many atrocities that Alexander committed.

The memory of the battle lingered and Alexander’s
reputation spread. He never had any difficulties in keeping
the Greeks in line after this campaign. Alexander admired
courage in all forms. Many times he spared the lives of
people who showed courage in the face of pain or death.

In 334 BC, Alexander set out to conquer Persia. No
expedition like it had ever been undertaken and few rival it
since. Alexander’s army was small by that day’s standard,
but it was very efficient. Alexander was also something of a
military genius and he systematically set about to overtake
parts of Persia in a series of smaller and victorious battles.

He then moved on to Asia Minor, the Mediterranean coast
and Egypt. By the time Alexander was twenty-four most of
the known world at that time was under his rule. In Egypt,
Alexander founded Alexandria, which is still one of the
chief world ports today. When Alexandria was completed
it was one of the most impressive cities in the world. The
streets were lettered or numbered and it was the first city in
history to have lights at night. Four years after Alexander
set out to conquer Persia he finally met the Persian king in
battle. Alexander won. The battle was called the Battle of
Arbela and marked the end of Persian power. Alexander
became King of Persia, along with being King of
Macedonia, Greece, Egypt and Asia. He was twenty-six.

Alexander married when he was twenty-eight. Because he
had spent the majority of his time since becoming an adult
in Persia, it was no surprise that he married a Persian
princess. Everyone knew that Alexander and his Queen
were friends and liked each other. But because Alexander
spent most of his life surrounded by his male friends, rather
than seek relationships with women, the marriage was
known as one of duty to produce an heir than a love match
for either Alexander or Roxana. Alexander’s battle for
India was his last battle of any consequence. He won the
battle against the great Indian king, Porus. But Alexander’s
army was getting tired. They had been away from home
and fighting for over eight years. After overtaking more
than 5000 towns and villages in India, Alexander’s army
wanted to go home. They started the long trek back to
Macedonia. During this time, the army never lost a battle
and they never broke ranks. When they made it to Persia,
two major events happened. First, to further his political
ties with Persia, especially since he was heading back to
Macedonia, Alexander decided to marry another Persian
princess. He also orchestrated the marriages of 9000 of his
men to Persian women, just to solidify the two countries.

Second, he watched his best friend, constant companion
and general of his armies’ die of fever. Alexander, mad with
grief became a drunken wreck almost overnight. He
became manic in his dealings. Alexander never returned to
Greece. He died in Persia of fever, similar in symptoms to
Malaria. After he died, Alexander was buried in Alexandia.

Roxana, Alexander’s first wife and mother to his first born
son, had the second wife and her child murdered, hoping to
secure Alexander’s throne. Roxana and her child were
murdered as well, and Alexander’s kingdom went to one of
Alexander’s generals, rather than an heir. Alexander The
Great lived a life, which in human terms has never been
matched. His contributions to history, despite his faults, will
never dim. The stories of his exploits will live forever.

Alexander The Great

Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great was the king of Macedonia, conqueror of the Persian Empire, and one of the greatest military geniuses of all times. Even at an early age, Alexander had the promise to become a great leader. Through all his victories and conquests, he has become a great hero and has had a large impact on history. That is why I chose he book Alexander the Great, by J.R. Hamilton for my review. Hamilton does a very good job with the story of Alexander the Great.
The book begins by talking about the Macedonian homeland and the make up of the people, their culture. Alexander was born in 356 BC in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedonia he was the son of Philip II, king of Macedonia, and of Olympias, a princess of Epirus. After discussing his parents and their relationship, Hamilton talks about how Aristotle was Alexander’s tutor from age 13 to 16 and stimulated his interest in science, medicine, and philosophy. The book then talks about how well prepared Alexander was to take over the throne. Then, in the summer of 336 BC Philip was assassinated, and Alexander took over the Macedonian throne.

Hamilton does a very good and descriptive job of how Alexander soon showed his power when the large city of Thebes revolted in 335. Alexander stormed the city with mighty force and took 30,000 people as slaves. An important point the book discussesnext is when Alexander begins his attempt to conqueor Persia. Alexander believed he could never be the dominant force in his area as long as the Persian ruler Darius was still alive. After being defeated the first time Alexander tried again in 332 and finally took Persia. Darius survived and fled to the mountains, but was killed by one of his own. With Darius dead, Alexander was crowned King of Persia and became known as the king of all Asia.
After Alexander’s taking over of Persia, Hamilton begins talking about Alexanders next conquests. First, Babylon surrendered after Gaugamela, and the city of Susa with its enormous treasures was soon conquered. Then, in midwinter, Alexander forced his way to Persepolis, the Persian capital. After plundering the royal treasuries and taking anything worthwhile, he burned the city during a drunken binge and thus completed the destruction of the ancient Persian Empire. This demonstrated how ruthless and cruel of a person he could be. Another thing that showed this is when was on a drinking binge and in a fury he killed his own friend.
Hamilton now talks about how far and long it took Alexander to get to where he was. Alezxander’s domain now extended along and beyond the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, including modern Afghanistan and Baluchistan, and northward into Bactria and Sogdiana, the modern Western Turkistan, also known as Central Asia. It had taken Alexander only three years, from the spring of 330 BC to the spring of 327 BC, to take over such a large area. Hamilton then talks about how Alexander still wished to take over the complete Persian empire, so he crossed the Indus River in 326 BC. There he invaded the Punjab as far as the river Hyphasis, at this point the Macedonians rebelled and refused to go farther. He then constructed a fleet and passed down the Indus, reaching its mouth in September 325 BC. The fleet then sailed to the Persian Gulf. With his army, he returned overland across the desert to Media. Shortages of food and water caused severe losses and hardship among his troops.
The book also talks about how Alexander would name cities as he went along after himself. Alexander then spent about a year organizing his dominions and completing a survey of the Persian Gulf in preparation for further conquests. He arrived in Babylon in the spring of 323 BC. In June he contracted a fever and died. He left his empire, in his own words, to the strongest; this uncertain testament resulted in huge conflicts for half a century. Hamilton believes that this could have possible been Alexander’s greatest mistake, because his empire then falls apart. Though all of his conquest Hamilton talks about how well, if

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