Alexander the Great is known for and was dubbed the "great" for his military prowess, conquering most of the known world of his time, and for spreading Greek culture and language throughout the Eastern world. Alexander III of Macedon essentially founded the era of the Hellenistic world.
Alexander the Great
Most commonly known as Alexander the Great, Alexander III of Macedon was born on July 21, 356 BCE. Alexander's father, King Phillip II, hired Lysimachus of Acarnania to teach his son reading, writing, and music. At age 14, Alexander met the philosopher Aristotle, who was hired to be Alexander's private tutor. For three years, Aristotle tutored Alexander, which had an impact on Alexander's later dealings with those he conquered.
Little is known about Alexander's childhood, except that he interviewed dignitaries about Persia around age seven and that his closest friends were Cassander, Ptolemy, and Hephaestion, whom Alexander would later make generals in his army. At the age of 18, Alexander first exhibited his military prowess at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BCE when he aided in securing a Macedonian victory over the allied Greek city-states. Alexander assumed the throne in 336 BCE when his father was assassinated. He then set out on his father's plot to conquer the Persian Empire.
Following many victories over Greek states, Alexander and his army traveled to Asia Minor, along with several scientists that Alexander enlisted to help learn about each region. The army destroyed the city of Baalbek, and Alexander renamed it Heliopolis. Alexander then liberated the Greek city Ephesus from Persian control. He then defeated King Darius III of Persia. Alexander went on to sack Sidon, a Phoenician city, and Aleppo. Alexander conquered Syria, then Egypt, where he founded the city Alexandria. While he is known for spreading Greek culture, he did not force it upon the people he conquered, though he did punish or execute those who opposed him.
With a steady supply of food and equipment from Alexandria, Alexander went on to conquer Phoenicia, save for the city, Tyre. Alexander defeated King Darius III in battle again, after which he proclaimed himself King of Asia and then set off for Susa, which surrendered immediately. Alexander named many cities after himself as a form of propaganda and called himself Shahanshah, a Persian title meaning "king of kings".
By 327 BCE, Alexander controlled the Persian Empire and had turned his focus to India. Alexander's plan to cross the Ganges River was halted when his troops mutinied; half were sent to Susa on ships, while the others conquered tribes as they marched. Upon his return to Susa in 324, Alexander had suffered major losses and faced other issues, including integrating his Macedonian and Persian troops, finding a balance between Greek and Persian customs, and later, dealing with his best friend, Hephaestion's death. His plan to expand his empire further was cut short when Alexander died in Babylon in June of 323 BCE after suffering from a fever for ten days. The true cause of his fever is uncertain, though many theories exist.
Alexander the Great’s Significant Accomplishments
- Expanded his empire to 5,200,000 km2, making it the largest state of his time
- Founded a Hellenistic period, in which the empire he expanded remained under Greek influence for hundreds of years, thereby spreading Greek culture, language, and population into the former Persian empire
- Founded around 20 cities
- Created a legacy as an undefeated conqueror with which Romans later sought to associate themselves
Alexander the Great Quotes
“There is nothing impossible to him who will try.”
“Remember upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all.”
“I had rather excel others in the knowledge of what is excellent, than in the extent of my power and dominion.”
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