Who Was Alexander the Great and Why Is He Important?
Alexander the Great was one of the most influential military leaders and conquerors in history. He was born in 356 BC in Macedonia, a kingdom in northern Greece. He was the son of King Philip II and his fourth wife, Olympias. He inherited his father’s throne at the age of 20, after Philip was assassinated by one of his bodyguards.
Alexander’s main goal was to fulfill his father’s plan of expanding the Macedonian empire and spreading Greek culture throughout the known world. He led his army in a series of campaigns that spanned over a decade and covered more than 20,000 miles. He defeated the mighty Persian Empire, which had been the dominant power in Asia for centuries. He also conquered Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, Bactria, and India. He founded many cities along his route, most of them named after himself or his horse.
Alexander’s achievements had a lasting impact on the world. He spread Greek language, art, literature, philosophy, and religion to many regions and peoples. He also encouraged cultural exchange and fusion among different civilizations. He is regarded as one of the greatest military geniuses of all time, and his tactics and strategies are still studied by modern soldiers and historians. He is also admired for his charisma, courage, generosity, and ambition.
Alexander died in 323 BC in Babylon, at the age of 32. He had no legitimate heir, and his empire soon fell apart after his death. His generals divided his territories among themselves, forming the Hellenistic kingdoms that lasted for several centuries. Alexander’s legacy lives on in many aspects of our culture, from literature and art to science and politics.
What Were Alexander’s Main Battles and Victories?
Alexander fought many battles and won many victories during his campaigns. Here are some of the most notable ones:
The Battle of Granicus (334 BC): This was Alexander’s first major battle against the Persians, who were led by King Darius III. Alexander crossed the river Granicus with his cavalry and attacked the Persian army, which was larger and better equipped. He managed to break through their lines and rout them, killing many of their commanders and capturing their camp. He also freed many Greek cities in Asia Minor from Persian rule.
The Battle of Issus (333 BC): This was Alexander’s second encounter with Darius, who had gathered a huge army to stop him. Alexander marched south along the coast of Anatolia, while Darius moved north from Syria. They met near the town of Issus, where Alexander had the advantage of a narrow battlefield that prevented the Persians from using their superior numbers. Alexander charged at Darius with his Companion cavalry, while his infantry held off the Persian center and left wing. Darius panicked and fled, leaving behind his family, treasure, and most of his army.
The Siege of Tyre (332 BC): This was one of Alexander’s most difficult and impressive sieges. Tyre was a wealthy and powerful Phoenician city-state on an island off the coast of Lebanon. It resisted Alexander’s demand to surrender and pay tribute. Alexander decided to build a causeway from the mainland to the island, using rubble and debris from the old city of Tyre on the shore. He also used siege engines, ships, and divers to attack the city walls and harbor. After seven months of fierce resistance, Tyre fell to Alexander, who massacred most of its inhabitants and sold the rest into slavery.
The Battle of Gaugamela (331 BC): This was Alexander’s final and decisive battle against Darius, who had assembled his largest and best army ever. Alexander marched east from Egypt to Mesopotamia, where Darius had chosen a flat and open plain for the battle. Darius had prepared many traps and obstacles for Alexander, such as chariots with scythes, elephants, and a deep ditch. However, Alexander used his superior mobility and tactics to avoid or overcome these challenges. He found a gap in the Persian line and charged at Darius with his cavalry, while his infantry followed behind. Darius once again fled, leaving behind his army and his empire.
The Siege of Aornos (327 BC): This was one of Alexander’s last and most daring sieges. Aornos was a mountain fortress in modern-day Pakistan, where a local tribe had taken refuge from Alexander’s invasion. It was considered impregnable by ancient standards, as it had steep cliffs on all sides and only one narrow path to access it. Alexander used his engineering skills and courage to find a way to reach the summit. He built a mound of stones and wood on a nearby hill, from which he launched missiles and fire at the defenders. He also sent a detachment of climbers to scale the cliffs and surprise them from behind. After a fierce fight, Aornos surrendered to Alexander.