Alexander the Great, born in 356 BC in Pella, Macedonia, was the son of Philip of Macedon and Princess Olympias of Epirus. As a young boy he was always fearless, strong, and eager to learn. He went on to inherit each of his parents best qualities. His father was an excellent general and organizer, while his mother was extremely intelligent. At the age of thirteen he became a pupil of Aristotle. It was Aristotle who inspired Alexander's great love for literature. Through his mentor Alexander learned the Greek ways of living and the ideals of Greek civilization. However, it was not all work and no play for the young Alexander. He spent a great deal of time participating in sports and daily exercise in order to develop a strong body.
Back to "Rise of Macedonia" Chronology
At a fairly young age Alexander was given many responsibilities. His father made him his ambassador to Athens when he was eighteen. Two years later, he succeeded his father as King of Macedonia. During this time the Greek states had become restless under Macedonian rule. While Alexander was away fighting, the people of Thebes seized the opportunity and revolted. When Alexander returned he attacked the city and destroyed almost everything in sight. This dissipated any further attempts at rebellion and Alexander quickly united the Greek cities and formed the League of Nations, of which he became president.
Soon after this victory, in 334 BC, Alexander set out to conquer Persia. On the banks of the Granicus River Alexander quickly defeated the Persian troops who had been waiting for him. This victory made the rest of Asia Minor vulnerable. The following year, Alexander marched into Syria. Even though Darius III, King of Persia, had raised a large army, he was unable to withstand Alexander's powerful infantry and phalanx. The entire region soon submitted to Alexander. Following this he went to Egypt, where he was welcomed as a deliverer because the Egyptians hated their cruel Persian rulers. It was here that Alexander founded the famous city that bears his name. Alexandria, situated on a strip of land between Lake Mareotis and the Mediterranean Sea, became a world center of commerce and learning.
Alexander was soon drawn into battle with the Persians again. In the decisive Battle of Gaugamela, Alexander routed Darius and forced his entire army east. After this the city of Babylon surrendered, which allowed Alexander to easily capture Susa and Persepolis. Darius was soon killed by one of his generals which made Alexander King of Asia. He did not rest for long, as he had set his sights on India. In 326 BC Alexander defeated Porus, the prince of India.
Alexander was now at the height of his power. His empire stretched from the Ionian Sea to northern India. However, Alexander had even greater plans. He wanted to combine Asia and Europe into one country, and named Babylon the new capital. In order to attain this goal he encouraged intermarriages, did away with corrupt officials, and spread Greek ideas, customs, and laws into Asia. The great and many plans that he had abruptly came to an end. While in Babylon Alexander became seriously ill with malaria and on June 13, 323 BC he died. During his time he conquered most of the civilized world and has been remembered as one of the greatest generals in history.