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Alexander the Great

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Long before the birth of Christ, the land directly above what we know as Greece

today, was called Macedonia. Macedonia still exists, but it is now Bulgaria, Yugoslavia

and modern Greece. Macedonia was considered to be part of ancient Greece, but the

people of these two countries couldn't be more different. No people in history ever gave

so much to the human race as the ancient Greeks. They produced architectural

monuments, four of the greatest dramatic actors who ever lived, one of the most brilliant

statesmen and two of the greatest historians. Scientists, philosophers and artists all thrived

in this country. The political system we call democracy had its roots in this culture.

The Macedonians in comparison with their Greek neighbors were crude and fierce in their

outlook. They were a rough people. They never produced any artists, philosophers, or

great actors. But they produced Alexander The Great --- a man with a legacy so

remarkable that it has challenged the minds of men ever since.

Alexander was born to conquer the world. His life was bold and from beginning

to end, it was etched with dramatic clarity. Every important event in his life brought him

one step closer to fulfilling his ambition. He was the first leaders, like Caesar and

Napoleon, who partly be accident and partly by design, set out to gather the whole world

into their fists, unify it, rule it and enlighten it.

But unlike the other great giants of history, Alexander was a shooting star whose

blaze of glory ended with his death, at not quite thirty-three years old. . . .

Alexander was born in 356 BC to King Philip of Macedonia and his wife,

Olympias. On the day of Alexander's birth, Philip was away in battle. A courier brought

Philip the message of his son's birth, along with two other messages - Philip's horse had

won first prize in the Olympic Games and his army had just won a very important battle.

With three pieces of good news at once, Philip always thought his son's arrival into the

world came with an omen of good luck.

As Crown Prince of Macedonia and at that time, his father's only heir, Alexander

was raised to inherit his father's kingdom. Alexander was good at sports and even as a

young child showed a very ambitious streak. One of his courtiers commented on how

well he ran and suggested that he compete in the Olympic foot races. Alexander refused

and replied that we would only run against kings, so that he could be sure that no one

threw the race in his favor.

As a young boy, Alexander began to show many of the traits that made him

famous - courage, cleverness and complete self-confidence. Once when Alexander's

father brought home several horses, one horse in particular caught Alexander's eye. It was

an enormous black horse and one that none of King Philip's men seemed to be able to

mount and ride. Alexander approached his father and asked for the horse. On a dare and a

bet from his father, Alexander did what no one else had been able to do, mount and ride

the horse. The horse, Bucephalus, became one of the most famous horses in history and

for most of the sixteen years of his life was the only horse that Alexander ever rode in

battle. When Bucephalus died, Alexander gave him a funeral worthy of a king and named

a city after him.

Alexander's education is said to have been the most expensive in history. Philip

persuaded Aristotle, the Greek philosopher and scientist to be Alexander's tutor. In

addition to the large sum of money paid to Aristotle for his years of service as a teacher,

Philip also agreed to rebuild the town where Aristotle had been born (which Philip had

destroyed in a raid) and permit its exiled citizens to return.

Aristotle introduced Alexander to many things, but in particular he instilled in

Alexander the love of books. Alexander's favorite was Homer's Iliad, which he learned by

heart. Throughout his entire life, wherever

he was, Alexander slept with two things

under his pillow - a dagger for protection and a copy of the Iliad.

When Alexander was seventeen, his father left him temporarily in charge of

Macedonia while he attended state matters in Greece. While his father was away, a tribe

in a northern province, apparently hoping to take advantage of Alexander's youth and

inexperience started a revolt. Alexander gathered his army, marched against the rebels,

beat them in battle and captured their chief city. He renamed their city after himself

Alexandropolis.

By the time Alexander was eighteen, things were not well between his parents.

What has started, as a love match between Philip and Olympias had become a hateful and

vengeful relationship. Philip decided to marry again, taking a second Queen. Alexander,

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