Alexander the Great

Category : Essays

"My father will get ahead of me in everything, and will leave nothing great for me to do". These were little Alexander's words when he came to know about the conquests of his father, the king Philip of Macedonia. Action and glory, rather than pleasure and wealth, were what Alexander wanted from life. Fame was his passion.

One of the greatest generals in history, Alexander conquered much of what was then the civilized world. He was born in Pella, Macedonia. His mother was Olympias. She was brilliant and hot-tempered and the young Alexander inherited the best qualities of both his parents. He was ambitious and carried a copy of 'Illiad' with him. The hero Achilles in the story became Alexander's model.

Even as a boy Alexander was fearless and strong. He tamed the beautiful and spirited Bucephalus, a horse that no one else dared to touch or ride. His father was so proud of Alexander's power over the horse that he said, "Oh my son, seek out a kingdom worthy of thyself, for Macedonia is too little for thee". And he fulfilled his father's wishes.

When Alexander was 13 years old, he became the pupil of famous Greek philosopher, Aristotle. He was always eager to learn. Aristotle inspired the talented youth with a great love for literature. He took part in sports and daily exercises to develop a strong body. His teacher also incited in him a keen interest in other countries and races of people. Alexander's education was not solely bookish. He talked with ambassadors from many foreign countries, and with other noted persons in his father's court. When he was only 18, he commanded a part of Philips' cavalry at a battle. Alexander also acted as his father's ambassador to Athens.

At the tender age of 20 years, Alexander became the king of Macedonia. The Greek states had grown restless under Macedonian rule. While Alexander was away in war on some barbarian tribes in the north, someone spread a story that he was dead. The people in the city of Thebes revolted and called upon people of Athens to join them. Alexander stormed the city and every building in Thebes was destroyed. About 30,000 inhabitants were sold into slavery. Alexander's action broke the spirit of rebellion in the other Greek states.

Alexander was very ambitious and through his conquests all over the world, he proved his valour. His next target was Persia. Armed with 35,000 men in the spring of 334 BC with little money, he stormed the Granicus river. This victory opened all of the Asia Minor to him. In 333 BC, Alexander became seriously ill. But he recovered and marched along the coast into Syria. The king of Persia, Darius III, raised d large army. He captured the King's camp, including Darius's wife and mother. His gallantry was his finest act.

Alexander next went to Egypt and founded a city there called Alexandria. This became a world centre for commerce and learning. While it was being built Alexander made the long, dangerous march to the temple and Oracle of Leus-Ammon, in the Libyan desert. Alexander was told that he was the son of the God and would conquer the world. Continuing his victory march, Alexander reached the rich plains of India in 326 BC. King Porus, however, refused to submit. After a long fight, Alexander won, and Porus came to him as a prisoner. Alexander asked him as a prisoner how he expected to be treated, and Porus replied 'As a king". Alexander not only allowed Porus to keep his kingdom but also gave him more territory. This shows his generous nature.

Returning back to his empire, he became busy with the organization and administration of his empire. At the height of his power, his realm stretched from the Ionian sea to Northern India. He planned to make Asia and Europe one country and combine the best of the East with the West. He chose Babylon as his capital city. Alexander had big plans, including his governmental re-organization and an expedition to Arabia. But he was taken seriously ill with malaria at Babylon. He died on June 13, 323 BC.

Alexander left no choice for a successor. His only son, Alexander IV, was born after his death. As a result, Alexander's leading generals became governors of various areas and fought among themselves to control the Empire. But no single leader emerged. By 311 BC, the empire split into independent states. Thus, a vast empire built brick by brick collapsed after Alexander's death. History has not witnessed anyone superior in warfare and craft than him till now.


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