Alexander was born in Pella, Macedon in July, 356 BC. He was the son of King Philip II of Macedon and of Epirote princess Olympias. He ascended Macedonian throne when he was twenty after the death of his father in 336 BC. In the world history he is one of the most successful military commanders to conquer most of then known world in a brief period of twelve years. His teacher was Aristotle, who gave him a thorough training in rhetoric and literature and stimulated his interest in science, medicine, and philosophy.
Greek cities like Athens and Thebes, which had been forced to pledge allegiance to Philip rebelled. Alexander moved swiftly to crush the rebellions and Thebes, which had been most belligerent against him, submitted the moment he appeared at its gates. The Greeks at the Isthmus of Corinth, with the only exception of the Spartans, elected him to command against Persia, which had previously been bestowed upon his father. In 333 BC Alexander defeated the Persian emperor Darius III. Then Alexander successfully marched into Egypt and founded Alexandria, which was followed by his triumph in Assyria and Babylonia (now Iraq), from where he victoriously headed towards Central Asia. He married Roxana, a Central Asian women (Roshanak in Bactrian) to cement his relations with his new Central Asian satrapies.
In 326 BC Alexander turned his attention to India. King Ambhi, ruler of Axial, surrendered the city to Alexander. Alexander fought an epic battle against Porus, a ruler of a region in the Punjab in the Battle of Hydaspes in 326 BC. After achieving victory, Alexander extended his courtesy and kindness to Porus and appointed him as satrap of his own kingdom. Alexander continued to conquer all the headwaters of the Indus River. In the east of Porus’ kingdom, near the bank of River Ganges, was the powerful empire of Magadha ruled by Nanda dynasty. He wanted to overpower him but exhausted by years of travelling and fighting, his army mutinied at the Hyphasis (modern Beas), refusing to march further east. After consulting his officer, Coenus, Alexander was convinced that it was better to return. After traveling to Ecbatana to retrieve the bulk of the Persian treasure, his close friend Hephaestion’s death made Alexander distraught. On his return to Babylon, he fell ill and died in 323 BC.
Alexander promoted cultural and racial assimilation, adopted Persian manners and encouraged interracial marriages. Most historians believe that Alexander adopted the Persian royal title of shahenshah (greatest king or king of kings). Alexander founded seventy cities including Alexandria on the Indus (Alexandria Bucephalous) in Pakistan, Kandahar (Alexandropolis) in Afghanistan and Alexandria in Egypt. After Alexander’s death, his empire was divided due to rival monarchies and territorial disputes of his officers. Ultimately, the conflict was settled after the Battle of Ipsus in Phrygia in 301 BC.
This article was last updated on Monday, Jan 03, 2005