Alexander the Great
More than two thousand years after his death, Alexander the Great is still considered one of the most influential people of all time, as well as one of the most brilliant military leaders the world has ever known. He was ambitious, ruthless, cruel, and at times, kind and diplomatic.
- Alexander was born in Pella, the capital of the Kingdom of Macedon in 356 B.C. His father, Phillip II, was a great military leader and king of Macedon. His mother, Olympius, was the daughter of a king, as well.
- Before Alexander was born, Olympius had a dream that her womb was struck by lightning. A fire spread near and far before dying out. This dream might explain why many people thought that the god Zeus was Alexander’s real father.
- As a boy, Alexander attended school. He learned how to read, ride, hunt, and fight. Aristotle became his tutor when the boy was 13-years-old. Alexander’s father arranged for Alexander and other students to meet for school at the Temple of the Nymphs of Mieza. In this boarding school atmosphere, Alexander met boys who would become his lifelong friends. Aristotle taught the boys art, medicine, philosophy, religion, and logic. He also introduced Alexander to the work of Homer, a great Greek poet who wrote The Odyssey and The Iliad.
- When Alexander was 10, a trader presented a large, fiercely tempered, untamed horse for Phillip to buy. Phillip didn’t see the benefit of such a horse, but Alexander begged for a chance to tame the beast. Alexander succeeded and the horse became his. He named the horse Bucephalus. The horse became his beloved companion, accompanying him through many battles. Alexander was deeply sad when the horse died years later, even naming a city after him.
- Phillip left to battle the Byzantiums, leaving 16-year-old Alexander in charge of Macedonia. In Phillip’s absence, Alexander fought the Sacred Band of Thebes. He easily defeated them and proved his military worth.
- Phillip was assassinated in 336 BC and Alexander became king. He quickly killed all those who would challenge him and began a years-long campaign to create an empire that would take in Greece, Persia, Asia, and even parts of northern Africa.
- Alexander became king of Persia, adopting many Persian customs to win the people over. His own troops did not like this shift in loyalty, but Alexander quickly squashed their rebellion. He invaded Egypt and named a city, Alexandria, after him. The city still stands today.
- Alexander wanted India too. He fought a fierce battle against King Porus and his troops. Porus had a secret weapon – warrior elephants. The battle took place in a raging storm and Alexander was seriously wounded. Even so, he was ready to continue onward. His exhausted troops refused to go father and he was forced to turn back.
- Alexander had conquered much of Asia, introducing Greek culture along the way. He had plans to invade Arabia when he died in 323 BC at the age of 32.
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