iii been handed down from generation to generation
Alexander the great made an impact on world history that few individuals can profess to
have done. He
ruled all of the known world, and one of the largest empires ever. His men were the first
encounter tales of the Yeti. They even discovered and classified new types of flora and fauna,
such as the red
mold that grew on their bread while they were in Asia, and made it appear as if it were bleeding.
the Hellenist sphere of influence to the farthest reaches of the globe.
When the king of Greece visited the British colony of India around the turn of the
century, the colonial
government had some native Indian dances displayed for him. He was shocked when he
recognized the dances as the same harvest dances that his fellow Greeks performed near
was the breadth of Alexander’s influence on hundreds of different cultures around the world.
whole of Europe, Asia, and North Africa, stories of this great man have been handed down from
generation throughout the centuries. In many cases Alexander has even taken on a superhuman
aura, and many
unbelievable legends have been based on his life.
When Julius Caesar visited Alexandria, he asked to see the body of the greatest warrior
of all time-
Alexander the Great. Such was Alexander’s reputation, able to impress even the powerful Caesar.
without a doubt, one of the most remarkable men that ever walked the face of this Earth. And this
is the story
of his life.
The Life and Times of Alexander the Great
The story of Alexander the Great is one of courage, genius, and great accomplishment;
but it is also somewhat of a
bittersweet one, ending with his tragic death during the prime of his life, at thirty-two.
Alexander was born to Philip II of Macedon and Olympias, his principal wife, in 356 BCE,
mpic Games. Just three years earlier, Philip had ascended to the
throne after the death of his older
brother, Perdikkas1, and named the city of Philipi after himself. Shortly thereafter, at the age of
twenty, he met Olympias at a
religious ceremony on the island of Samothrace.
Olympias was of the Mystery Religions, and was initiated at an early age. She spent her
time at wild orgies during
which snakes were wrapped around the worshippers limbs. She kept this custom of sleeping with
snakes throughout her
marriage to Philip. In addition, she sacrificed thousand of animals to her particular god or
goddess each year. Interestingly
enough, she had a cruel streak normally common only to the Greek men of her time. Throughout
her career she was no
slower than her male rivals to kill off enemies who seemed to threaten her.
Olympias, believing that she was descended from Achilles, and being of royal Epeirosian
blood herself, thought that
she was rightly entitled to respect from Philip as his queen. For this reason Olympias was
constantly upset at Philip’s long
stays away from
home. This anger was especially directed towards his torrid affairs with the nearest nubile
At the time of Alexander’s birth, Philip was involved in a campaign to defeat the Illyrian
provinces in battle and
incorporate them into the Greek empire that he was building for himself. In that month, Philip
received three messages
bearing good in quick succession: his victory over the Illyrians, Alexander’s birth, and
Macedonian victory in the Olympic
Alexander resembled his mother more than his father. It was in memory of Macedonia’s
greatest king, Alexander I,
that Alexander was named. Philip, currently engaged in a plan for the conquest of Greece and
eventually parts of Asia, had
high hopes for his firstborn son to eventually continue in his footsteps. In the following year
Alexander’s only sibling, a sister
named Cleopatra, was born.
Alexander probably had no recollection of his father having both of his eyes, because
Philip lost his eye storming an
Athenian fortress. During Alexander’s early years, he was watched over by a man named
Leonidas2. Leonidas saw to all of
Alexander’s education and tutelage in many varied subjects including: writing, geometry, reading,
arithmetic, music, archery,
horseback riding, javelin, and other types of athletics.
Alexander’s nursemaid was an endearing gentleman whose name was Lysimachos, who
won Alexander’s heart at an
early age by playing imagination games with Alexander and his playmates: Ptolemy, Harpalos,
Nearchos, Hephaistion, and
When Alexander reached the ripe old age of thirteen, Philip decided it was time for
Alexander to receive a higher
education better befitting his young heir. Searching throughout his empire, Philip was lucky
enough to find a student of Plato
who was at the time unemployed, a young genius named Aristoteles (commonly known as
Aristotle’s father, Nakimachos, had been Macedonia’s court physician, so Aristotle was
quite familiar with the area. Aristotle taught Alexander, and sometimes his friends in a rural
sanctuary for the nymphs at
Mieza. Aristotle actually composed two books, “In Praise of Colonies” and “On Kingship”, for
Alexander’s education. He
taught Alexander that other peoples were vastly inferior to the Greeks, and therefore fit for
subjugation. Alexander loved
Aristotle like his own father as he said himself, “One gave him life, but the other showed him how
to live it.”
During this time , Alexander was involved in a homosexual relationship with Hephastion, a
friend he loved dearly.
This was a very common occurrence, looked upon as a learning experience for the boys. Their
love was a very deep and
close one, and when he died prematurely during Alexander’s teenage years, Alexander felt a
crippling grief from which he
never fully recovered.
Philip was constantly conquering more territory, and though Alexander respected him, he
was also a bit jealous. He
once told Ptolemy, “Father is going to do everything; at this rate he won’t leave any conquests for
you and me.”
During Alexander’s sixteenth winter, Philip went to attack Perinthos in Thrace, and
Alexander was left as regent in
Macedonia. It was now, when Philip was away, that the Madoi tribe chose to revolt. Alexander
crushed the rebellion
expertly, in a merciless fashion. He was so victorious that when he built a walled city at the site of
the battle, he took the
freedom of naming it Alexandropolis, after himself, thus beginning his illustrious career.
It was love at first sight for Philip when he saw Cleopatra, the niece of Attalus, Philip’s
general. The wedding was to
take place immediately. At the wedding feast Attalus stood up for a toast to the bride and groom.
In the course of his
speech he “called
upon the Macedonians to pray to the gods that of Philip and Cleopatra there might be
born a legitimate son as a successor to the kingdom3.”
Alexander had been quiet throughout the celebration, but with these words, he’d finally
had enough. He rose and
shouted, “What of me villain? Do you take me for a bastard4?”, and with that threw his goblet of
wine in Attalus’s face.
An enraged Philip sprang from his seat and made for Alexander, but being drunk, tripped
and fell flat on his face.
Alexander took the opportunity to further mock his father
by proclaiming, “Look, men! Here is the man preparing to cross from Europe into Asia, and he
can’t get from one couch to
another without falling down.”
After this incident Alexander no longer felt comfortable staying in Macedonia, and left with
his mother. After
dropping her off in her home town of Epeiros, he continued on and finally settled in Illyria, where
he was welcomed as a
fellow dissident to the monarchy.
In a story reminiscent of King David and Absalom, Demarates, one of Philip’s generals,
convinced Philip to get
Alexander to return. When Philip gave the affirmative, Demarates went to return Alexander to his
home. Philip soon forgot
the whole incident.
Pixodar, the ruler of Caria and a vassal of the king of Persia, wanted to marry off his
daughter to one of Philip’s sons
so as to secure a peace with Philip. Philip agreed, but didn’t want Alexander, his heir, to marry a
vassal’s daughter, so
instead he chose Arrhidaios, an epileptic.
Alexander was still suspicious of Philip’s intentions (after Attalus’s speech), and his friends
convinced him that Philip
was planning on making Arrhidaios his heir in Alexander’s stead. Therefore Alexander offered to
Pixodar that he should take
Arrhidaios’s place, noting that Arrhidaios was an epileptic.
When Philip found out, he was mad as all Hell, but treated Alexander maturely by
reasoning with him. He argued, “Do you really think so little of yourself to be the son-in-
law of a lowly Persian vassal?!”
Alexander had at last learned his lesson and began trusting Philip. Philip, though had
finally had enough of Ptolemy
and the rest of Alexander’s friends meddling in Alexander’s business, and exiled them from
Macedonia “sine die”.
In Alexander’s twentieth year, Philip was ready to begin his conquest of Persia and Asia
Minor, but first he had to
cement Epeiros’s allegiance to him by marrying off Cleopatra (his only daughter from Olympias)
to King Alexander of
At daybreak the wedding procession began. Twelve of the Greek deities led the
procession with Philip following
close behind. A man posing as a guard gained access to Philip’s entourage and stabbed Philip in
the side before anyone
could stop him. This man, later identified as Pausanias, had a horse prepared for a quick
departure, but as fate would have
it, he tripped over a bush, and was transfixed with a spear before he was able to rise to his feet.
But there was no helping Philip- he was quite dead.
Alexander was a firm believer in the saying, “The king is dead,
Category: Roman Culture