Alexander Macedon: Biography and Battles

Alexander Macedon, also known as Alexander III or Alexander the Great, is known in history as one of the greatest generals in all of history. Alexander the Great was born in 356 BCE at Pella in Macedonia Pella [northwest of Thessaloniki, Greece] was a king of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon. He spent most of his ruling years conducting a lengthy military campaign throughout Western Asia, Central Asia, parts of South Asia, and Egypt. By the age of 30, he had created one of the largest empires in history. His empire ushered in significant cultural changes in the lands he conquered and changed the course of the region’s history.

alexander macedonian

Alexander Macedon’s battle life

In 336 B.C., Alexander’s father Philip was assassinated by his bodyguard, Pausanias. Upon his father’s death, Alexander moved quickly to consolidate power. He gained the support of the Macedonian army and intimidated the Greek city-states that Philip had conquered into accepting his rule. He also put an end to the rebellions for independence in northern Greece. Once he’d cleaned the house, Alexander left to follow in his father’s footsteps and continue Macedonia’s world dominance.

His battles

The first major battle he won against the Persians

From his accession, Alexander Macedon had set his mind on the Persian expedition. He needed the wealth of Persia if he was to maintain the army built by Philip and pay off the 500 talents he owed. By successfully campaigning in Persian territory and with a good cavalry force, Alexander could expect to defeat any Persian army. In spring 334 he crossed the Dardanelles, leaving Antipater, who had already faithfully served his father, as his deputy in Europe with over 13,000 men. He commanded about 30,000 foot and over 5,000 cavalries, of whom nearly 14,000 were Macedonians and about 7,000 were allies sent by the Greek League.

The Persian plan to tempt Alexander across the river and kill him in the melee almost succeeded, but the Persian line broke, and Alexander’s victory was complete. Alexander was hugely successful against Persia, marking the first major battle he won against the Persians in 334 B.C. The ancient Greek historian Arrian wrote that Alexander defeated a force of 20,000 Persian horsemen and an equal number of foot soldiers. He then advanced down the coast of west Turkey, taking cities and depriving the Persian navy of bases. Darius’s Greek mercenaries were largely massacred, but 2,000 survivors were sent back to Macedonia in chains (slaves of war).

Asia Minor and the Battle of Issus

The second key battle Alexander Macedon won was near the ancient town of Issus in southern Turkey, close to modern-day Syria. In that battle, the Persians were led by Darius III himself. In 333 B.C., Alexander and his men encountered a massive Persian army led by King Darius III near the town of Issus in southern Turkey.

Alexander’s forces were greatly outnumbered in men but not in experience or the determination for revenge and to claim Persia’s great wealth; much of it plundered. Darius’s soldiers got in the rear of Alexander’s force. However, Darius’s army had been led to a narrow spot where the Persians could not use their superior numbers effectively, and at that point, Alexander moved his force against the Persians. In his haste, Darius left much of his family behind, including his mother, wife, infant son, and two daughters.

The battle of tyre

Alexander Macedon took over the Phoenician cities of Marathus and Aradus. He rejected a plea from Darius for peace and took the towns of Byblos and Sidon. He then laid siege to the heavily fortified island of Tyre in January 332 B.C., after the Tyrians refused him entry. In 332 B.C., he amassed a large fleet, breached the city’s walls in July 332 B.C., and executed thousands of Tyrians for daring to defy him; many others were sold into slavery. After Gaza was taken by siege, Alexander entered Egypt, a country that had experienced on-and-off periods of Persian rule for two centuries. On its northern coast, he founded Alexandria, the most successful city he ever built.

The City Alexandria Today

After conquering Egypt, Alexander Macedon faced Darius and his massive troops at Gaugamela in October 331 B.C. Following fierce fighting and heavy losses on both sides, Darius fled and was assassinated by his own troops. It’s said Alexander was sad when he found Darius’s body, and he gave him a royal burial. Finally rid of Darius, Alexander proclaimed himself King of Persia.

 

Alexander Macedon’s final battle

Alexander made an alliance with a local ruler named Taxiles, who agreed to allow Alexander to use his city, Taxila, as a base of operations. He also agreed to give Alexander all the supplies he needed. In exchange, Alexander agreed to fight Porus, a local ruler who set out against Alexander with an army that reportedly included 200 elephants. The two armies met at the Hydaspes River in 326 B.C. With little experience, the Porus army lost. With his army falling apart, Porus stayed until the end and was captured.

Why Alexander Macedon killed his friends

Alexander killed Parmenio, his former second-in-command, and Cleitus, the Macedonian king’s close friend, who is said to have saved his life at the Battle of Granicus. This may be seen as a sign of how Alexander’s men were becoming exhausted from campaigning. In 328 B.C., Cleitus, a close friend of Alexander, met his violent end. Fed up with Alexander’s new Persian-like persona, a drunk Cleitus continually insulted Alexander and minimized his achievements. Pushed too far, Alexander killed Cleitus with a spear, a spontaneous act of violence that anguished him.

The Death of Alexander Macedon and Succession

In 323 B.C., Alexander Macedon was in Babylon in modern-day Iraq, and his next major military target was apparently to be Arabia on the southern end of his empire. In June 323 B.C., while he was readying troops, he caught a fever that would not go away. He soon had trouble speaking and eventually died, with some suggesting he was poisoned.  Alexander was supposedly asked who his empire should go to. His answer was said to be “to the strongest man,” although he had an unborn son. However, there was nobody strong enough to hold his empire together.

After Alexander Macedon died, his empire collapsed, and the nations within it battled for power. Over time, the cultures of Greece and the Orient synthesized and thrived as a side effect of Alexander’s empire, becoming part of his legacy and spreading the spirit of Panhellenism.

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