Alexander the Great1
Alexander the Great or Alexandros III Philippou Makedonan
was born in July 356BC in Pella, Macedonia (Popovic intro). He conquered
what was in his time, most of the civilized world. “Alexander accomplished
greater deeds than any, not only of the kings before him but also of those
later to come later down to our time (popovic intro).” He was one of the
greatest military geniuses in the history of the world.
Both of Alexander’s parents always dreamed of him someday
being a great leader. Alexander’s mother was named Olympias, she was
princess of Epirus, a small provincial kingdom. She was the high priestess
of a religious cult. She believed that she was descended from Achilles
(Wepman 17). She was a jealous woman and very protective of her son
Alexander’s father, Phillip II of Macedonia was also a great
leader and military strategist. When Alexander was young Greece looked
down on the Macedonians as barbarians. In twenty years Phillip made
Macedonia more powerful than any province in Greece. He bribed his
enemies so that he would only have to deal with them one at a time
(Townson 2). Alexander was very anxious to begin his career as ruler
the empire his father had created. Once he said,“My father will get to far
ahead and leave nothing for me to do.(Popovic origins).
“When Alexander was twelve he tamed a horse named
Bucephalus, that no one else was able to ride. Phillip was very proud of his
son for this accomplishment, he thought that this showed how strong and
brave he was. Once Phillip said to his son”seek out a kingdom worthy of
thyself, for the kingdom of Macedonia is to little for thee (Popovic parents)
prince).”Even at a young age he showed promise as a great ruler.
Growing up, Alexander was trained in the art of war. He
learned sword fighting, javelin throwing, horseback riding, and archery
(Townson 3). He was well known for his ablility to tame horses. Alexander
had the best education possible in his time. The great philosopher Aristotle
taught him. Aristotle taught him about literature, and introduced him to
science, philosophy, and medicine which he became interested in.
His favorite work of literature was The Iliad, by Homer. Every night he
slept with it and a dagger under his pillow (Townson 3).
Soon he would be able to put all of his drive, ambition, and
education to work. Phillip was assassinated in July 336BC on the way to the
theater with his brother-in-law, Alexander of Epirus, by a Macedonian
soldier, (Popovic death of Phillip). After this event , at the age of twenty
Alexander quickly and firmly took charge of his father’s army, faster than
anyone had ever thought possible (Popovic death of Phillip). Alexander
quickly executed all of his enemies and people that had any chance of
claiming the thrown; among these were Attulus, a general who claimed that
his nephew was the rightful heir and Phillip’s other wife and child. There are
stories that Olympia, Alexander’s mother tortured them to death (Wepman
After Phillip’s death Sparta and Thessaly claimed independence
from Greece. Alexander quickly marched 30,000 men into Thessaly and
caught them off guard. When Greece saw how strong Alexander’s army was
he gained their support.
With the support of Greece, Alexander didn’t waste any time to
finish what his father had begun. When Phliip died he left his land far in
debt. Alexander’s plan was to conquer more land to get the money to pay
off the debts his father had accumulated (Townson 4). He would begin by
marching to the Danube River. Along the way Alexander’s army
encountered Thracian tribes. Alexander knew that they would try to crush
the Macedonian phalanx by pushing their wagons down the slope at them.
Alexander told his men to quickly open up the phalanx so that the wagons
would roll harmlessly by. The Tracians only had weak weapons to defend
their selves with. After Alexander’s army got past the wagons they easily
conquered them and took the pass through the Balkans. (Wepman 44).
When the army got to the Danube river they tied their tents