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Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great was born in 356 BC, and died in 323 BC. He was the king of Macedonia, conqueror of the Persian Empire, and one of the greatest military geniuses of all times. Born in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedonia, Alexander was the son of Philip II, king of Macedonia, and of Olympias, a princess of Epirus. Alexander's tutor was Aristotle; Aristotle gave Alexander extremely good training in rhetoric and literature while also stimulating his interest in science, medicine, and philosophy. Philip was assassinated in the summer of 336 BC. Alexander ascended to the Macedonian throne and unfortunately then found himself surrounded by enemies at home and threatened by rebellion abroad. With little hesitation, Alexander disposed quickly of all conspirators and domestic enemies by ordering them to be executed. Next, Alexander descended on Thessaly, where partisans of independence had gained ascendancy, and also successfully restored Macdeonian rule. Before the end of the summer of 336 BC, he had reestablished his position in Greece and was elected by a congress of states at Corinth. In 335 BC as general of the Greeks in a campaign against Persians, he carried out a successful campaign against the defecting Thracians, penetrating to the Danube River, which was all originally planned by his own father. During Alexander's return, in as little as a single week, he crushed the threatening Illyrians and then hastened to Thebes, which had revolted. He took the city by storm and razed it, sparing only the house of the Greek lyric poet Pindar and the temples of the gods, and then selling about 8000 surviving inhabitants into slavery. Because of Alexander's quickness in destroying the revolt of Thebes, the other Greek states were brought into instant and abject submission. With an army of 35,000 Macedonian and Greek troops, Alexander began his war against Persia in the spring of 334 BC by crossing the Hellespont. His chief officers were all Macedonians and included such people as Antigonus, Ptolemy, and Seleucus. Near the ancient city of Troy, at the river Granicus, Alexander attacked a Persian army and Greek mercenaries (hoplites) totaling 40,000 men. His forces defeated the enemy and, according to tradition, lost only 110 men. All the states of Asia Minor submitted to him after this battle. In passing through Phrygia he is said to have cut with his sword the Gordian knot. Continuing to advance southward, Alexander ran into the main Persian army which was commanded by King Darius III at Issus, in northeastern Syria. The size of Darius's army is unknown, however the ancient tradition which said it contained up to 500,000 men is now considered a wild exaggeration. In 333 BC, The Battle of Issus ended in a great victory for Alexander. Cut off from his base, Darius fled northward, abandoning his mother, wife, and children to Alexander, who treated them with the respect due to royalty. A strongly fortified seaport by the name of Tyre, offered obstinate resistance, but Alexander once again took it by storm in 332 BC after a seven month siege. Next, Alexander captured Gaza and then continued on into Egypt, where he was greeted as a deliverer. In the spring of 331 BC, Alexander made a pilgrimage to the great temple and oracle of Amon-Ra, whom the Greeks identified with Zeus. The earlier Egyptian pharaohs were believed to be sons of Amon-Ra, therefore Alexander, the new ruler of Egypt, wanted the god to acknowledge him as his son. The pilgrimage apparently was successful, and it may have confirmed in him a belief in his own divine origin. Turning northward again, he reorganized his forces at Tyre and started for Babylon with an army of 40,000 infantry and 7000 cavalry. Alexander then met Darius at the head of an army of unknown size, which, according to the exaggerated accounts of antiquity, was said to number a million men. Alexander completely defeated the army in the Battle of Gaugamela, October 1, 331 BC. Darius then fled as he had done at Issus but was later slain by two of his own generals. Babylon surrendered after this, and the city of Susa with its enormous treasures was soon conquered. Then, in midwinter, Alexander forced his way to Persepolis, the capital of Persia. After plundering the royal treasuries and taking other rich booty, he burned the city during a drunken binge and thus completed the destruction of the ancient Persian Empire. By these successes he secured control of the entire eastern Mediterranean coastline. Later in 332 he founded, at the mouth of the Nile River, the city of Alexandria, which later became the literary, scientific, and commercial center of the Greek world. The capital of the ancient North African kingdom of Cyrenaica, Cyrene, submitted to Alexander soon afterward, extending his dominion to Carthaginian territory. In order to complete his conquest of the remnants of the Persian Empire, which had once included part of western India, Alexander crossed the Indus River in 326 BC, and invaded the Punjab as far as the river Hyphasis; at this point the Macedonians rebelled and refused to go farther. In September 325 BC, he constructed a fleet and passed down the Indus, reaching its mouth. The fleet then sailed to the Persian Gulf. He returned overland across the desert to Media with his army. Severe losses and hardship among the troops was caused by shortages of food and water. Alexander spent about a year organizing his dominions and completing a survey of the Persian Gulf in preparation for further conquests. In the spring of 323 BC in Babylon, Alexander arrived. Then in June he contracted a fever and died. He left his empire, in his own words, "to the strongest"; this ambiguous testament resulted in dire conflicts for half a century. Noted for his brilliance as a tactician and troop leader, Alexander was one of the greatest generals of all time. Usually Alexander was brave and generous, but he could be very cruel and ruthless when politics were at hand. One theory even states he was a alcoholic, for example, he killed his friend Clitus in a drunken fury but later regretted the act deeply. Shortly before Alexander died, he ordered the Greek cities to worship him as a god. Although he probably gave the order for political reasons, he was, in his own view and that of his contemporaries, of divine birth. Due to his death shortly after he issued this, the order was largely nullified. To bind his conquests together, Alexander founded a number of cities, most of them named Alexandria. These cities were well located, well paved, and provided good water supplies. Greek veterans from his army often settled in them, along with young men, traders, merchants, and scholars. From this, Greek culture was introduced and the Greek language became widely known. Thus, Alexander vastly extended the influence of Greek civilization and prepared the way for the kingdoms of the Hellenistic period and the conquests of the Roman Empire. I believe Alexander The Great was the greatest military genius ever. His skills were so amazing, no other military leader could traverse great expanses of territory with his rapidity. The way he could also make people follow and believe in him is even more impressive than that of Adolf Hitler.


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