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Alexander the Great

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Alexander List of people known as The MACEDONIAN the Great ( language|macedonian]] (July 356 BC - June 11, 323 BC), King of Macedon (336-323 BC), is considered one of the most successful military commanders in world history, conquering most of the world known to the ancient Greeks before his death. Alexander is also known in the Zoroastrian Middle Persian work Arda Wiraz Nāmag as "the accursed Alexander" due to his conquest of the Persian Empire and the destruction of its capital Persepolis. However in later Persian tradition, up to modern day Iran, he is known as Eskandar and even acclaimed during the construction of the Great Wall Sadd-e Eskandar by the Parthian Dynasty.[citation needed] He is also known in Middle Eastern traditions as Dhul-Qarnayn in Arabic and Dul-Qarnayim in Hebrew and Aramaic (the two-horned one), apparently due to an image on coins minted during his rule that seemingly depicted him with the two ram's horns of the Egyptian god Ammon. He is known as Sikandar in Hindi, a term also used as a synonym for "expert" or "extremely skilled."

Following the unification of the multiple city-states of ancient Greece under the rule of his father, Philip II of Macedon, (a labor Alexander had to repeat twice because the southern Greeks rebelled after Philip's death), Alexander conquered the Persian Empire, including Anatolia, Syria, Phoenicia, Gaza, Egypt, Bactria and Mesopotamia and extended the boundaries of his own empire as far as the Punjab. Alexander integrated foreigners (non-Macedonians, non-Greeks1) into his army and administration, leading some scholars to credit him with a "policy of fusion." He encouraged marriage between his army and foreigners, and practiced it himself. After twelve years of constant military campaigning, Alexander died, possibly of malaria, typhoid, or even viral encephalitis. His conquests ushered in centuries of Greek settlement and rule over foreign areas, a period known as the Hellenistic Age. Alexander himself lived on in the history and myth of both Greek and non-Greek cultures. Already during his lifetime, and especially after his death, his exploits inspired a literary tradition in which he appears as a towering legendary hero in the tradition of Achilles.

Early life

Bust of Alexander III in the British Museum.Alexander the Great was the son of King Philip II of Macedon and of his third wife, Epirote princess Olympias. According to Plutarch (Alexander 3.1,3), Olympias was impregnated not by Philip, who was afraid of her, and her affinity for sleeping in the company of snakes, but by Zeus Ammon. Plutarch (Alexander 2.2-3) relates that both Philip and Olympias dreamt of their son's future birth. Olympias dreamed of a loud burst of thunder and of lightning striking her womb. In Philip's dream, he sealed her womb with the seal of the lion. Alarmed by this, he consulted the seer Aristander of Telmessus, who determined that his wife was pregnant and that the child would have the character of a lion.

Aristotle was Alexander's tutor; he gave Alexander a thorough training in rhetoric and literature and stimulated his interest in science, medicine, and philosophy. After his visit to the Oracle of Ammon at Siwa, according to five historians of antiquity (Arrian, Curtius, Diodorus, Justin, and Plutarch), rumors spread that the Oracle had revealed Alexander's father to be Zeus, rather than Philip. According to Plutarch (Alexander 2.1), his father descended from Heracles through Caranus and his mother descended from Aeacus through Neoptolemus and Achilles. Aristotle gave him a copy of the Iliad and a knife that he always hid under his pillow at night.

The ascent of Macedon

When Philip led an attack on Byzantium in 340 BC, Alexander, aged 16, was left in command of Macedonia. In 339 BC, Philip took a fifth wife and repudiated his third, Alexander's mother Olympias, as an adulteress. This led to a quarrel between Alexander and his father and threw into question Alexander's succession to the Macedonian throne. In 338 BC, Philip created the League of Corinth. Alexander also assisted his father at the decisive Battle of Chaeronea in this year. The cavalry wing led by Alexander annihilated the Sacred Band of Thebes, an elite corps previously regarded as invincible. Philip was content to deprive Thebes of her dominion over Boeotia and leave a Macedonian garrison in the citadel.

A marble inscription from a temple in Priene which reads 'King Alexander dedicated the Temple to Athena Polias' Greek, around 330 BC From Priene, Asia Minor, now in the British Museum.In 336 BC, Philip was assassinated at the wedding of his daughter Cleopatra of Macedonia to King Alexander of Epirus. The assassin was supposedly a former lover of the king, the disgruntled young nobleman Pausanias, who held a grudge against Philip because the king had ignored a complaint he had expressed. Philip's murder was once thought to have been planned with the knowledge and involvement of Alexander or Olympias. Another possible instigator could have been Darius III, the recently crowned King of Persia. Plutarch mentions an irate letter from Alexander to Darius, where Alexander blames Darius and Bagoas, his grand vizier, for his father's murder, stating that it was Darius who had been bragging with the Greek cities of how he managed to assassinate Philip.

After Philip's death, the army proclaimed Alexander, then aged 20, as the new king of Macedon. Greek cities like Athens and Thebes, which had been forced to pledge allegiance to Philip, saw in the new king an opportunity to retake their full independence. Alexander moved swiftly and Thebes, which had been most active against him, submitted when he appeared at its gates. The assembled Greeks at the Isthmus of Corinth, with the sole exception of the Spartans, elected him to the command against Persia, which had previously been bestowed upon his father.

The next year, (335 BC), Alexander felt free to engage the Thracians and the Illyrians in order to secure the Danube as the northern boundary of the Macedonian kingdom. While he was triumphantly campaigning north, the Thebans and Athenians rebelled once again. Alexander reacted immediately and while the other cities once again hesitated, Thebes decided this time to resist with the utmost vigor. The resistance was useless; in the end, the city was conquered with great bloodshed. The Thebans encountered an ever harsher fate when their city was razed to the ground and its territory divided between the other Boeotian cities. Moreover, all of the city's citizens were sold into slavery, sparing only the priests,



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