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8 Surprising Facts about Alexander the Great - History Lists

8 Surprising Facts about Alexander the Great

Perhaps the greatest military genius of the ancient world, the warrior-king Alexander III of Macedon (356–323 B.C.) conquered territories stretching from Greece to Egypt and through present-day Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. Combining battlefield successes with kingdom-building strategy, Alexander spent his 13-year reign working to unite East and West through military force and cultural exchange. Alexander’s reputation grew so quickly that by the time of his death at age 32 he was viewed as having godlike aspects. It isn’t always possible to separate fact and fiction from the stories told about Alexander over the centuries, but here are eight great nuggets from Alexander’s life.

He was taught by Aristotle but had famous run-ins with other philosophers.

Alexander’s father, Philip II of Macedon, hired Aristotle, one of history’s greatest philosophers. to educate the 13-year-old prince. Little is known about Alexander’s three-year tutelage but presumably by the end of it Aristotle’s wise but worldly approach had sunk in. According to legend, while still a prince in Greece, Alexander sought out the famed ascetic Diogenes the Cynic, who rejected social niceties and slept in a large clay jar. Alexander approached the thinker in a public plaza, asking Diogenes if there was anything he in his great riches could do for him. “Yes,” Diogenes replied, “stand aside; you’re blocking my sun.” Alexander was charmed by Diogenes’ refusal to be impressed, stating, “If I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes.”

Years later, in India, Alexander paused his military conquests to have lengthy discussions with the gymnosophists, “naked philosophers” from the Hindu or Jain religions who eschewed human vanity—and clothing.

In 15 years of conquest Alexander never lost a battle.

Alexander the Great’s military tactics and strategies are still studied in military academies today. From his first victory at age 18, Alexander gained a reputation of leading his men to battle with impressive speed, allowing smaller forces to reach and break the enemy lines before his foes were ready. After securing his kingdom in Greece, in 334 B.C. Alexander crossed into Asia (present-day Turkey) where he won a series of battles with the Persians under Darius III. The centerpiece of Alexander’s fighting force was the 15,000-strong Macedonian phalanx, whose units held off the sword-wielding Persians with 20-foot-long pikes called sarissa.

He named more than 70 cities after himself—and one after his horse.

Alexander commemorated his conquests by founding dozens of cities (usually built up around previous military forts), which he invariably named Alexandria. The most famous of these, founded at the mouth of the Nile in 331 B.C. is today Egypt’s second-largest city. Other Alexandrias trace the path of his armies’ advances through present-day Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan. Near the site of the battle of the river Hydaspes—the costliest victory of his Indian campaign—Alexander founded the city of Bucephala, named for his favorite horse, which was mortally wounded in the battle.

When Alexander met his future wife Roxanne, it was love at first sight.

After his spectacular capture in 327 B.C. of Sogdian Rock, a seemingly impregnable mountain fortress, the 28-year-old Alexander was surveying his captives when Roxanne, the teenage daughter of a Bactrian nobleman, caught his eye. Soon after, in a traditional wedding ceremony, the king sliced a loaf of bread in two with his sword and shared it with his new bride. A few months after Alexander’s death, Roxanne gave birth to the couple’s only son, Alexander IV.

Alexander even smelled great.

Plutarch’s “Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans,” written 400 years after Alexander’s death, reports that “a most agreeable odor” exuded from Alexander’s skin, and that “his breath and body all over was so fragrant as to perfume the clothes which he wore.” The olfactory detail was part of a tradition, begun during Alexander’s lifetime, of ascribing godlike attributes to the conquering king. Alexander himself openly called himself Son of Zeus during a visit to Siwah in 331 B.C.

After defeating the Persians, Alexander started dressing like them.

After six years of ever-deeper incursions into the Persian empire, in 330 A.D. Alexander conquered Persepolis, the longtime center of Persian culture. Realizing that the best way to maintain control of the Persians was to act like one, Alexander began to wear the striped tunic, girdle and diadem of Persian royal dress—to the dismay of cultural purists back in Macedonia. In 324 he held a mass wedding in the Persian city of Susa, in which he forced 92 leading Macedonians to take Persian wives (Alexander himself married two, Stateira and Parysatis).

The cause of Alexander’s death remains one of the greatest mysteries of the ancient world.

In 323 B.C. Alexander the Great fell ill after downing a bowl of wine at a party. Two weeks later, the 32-year-old ruler was dead. Given that Alexander’s father had been murdered by his own bodyguard, suspicion fell on those surrounding Alexander, most notably his general Antipater and Antipater’s son Cassander (who would eventually order the murders of Alexander’s widow and son). Some ancient biographers even speculated that Aristotle, who had connections with Antipater’s family, may have been involved. In modern times, medical experts have speculated that malaria, lung infection, liver failure or typhoid fever may have done Alexander in.

Alexander’s body was preserved in a vat of honey.

Plutarch reports that Alexander’s body was initially treated in Babylon by Egyptian embalmers, but leading Victorian Egyptologist A. Wallis Budge speculated that Alexander’s remains were immersed in honey to stave off decay. A year or two after Alexander’s demise, his body was sent back to Macedonia only to be intercepted and sent to Egypt by Ptolemy I, one of his former generals. By controlling Alexander’s body, Ptolemy aimed to be viewed as the successor to his empire.

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Alexander The Great Essay - essays research papers

Alexander The Great Essay

Alexander the Great is said to be one of the greatest conquerors of all time, and yet, his significance in battle showed up late in his life. His early years were spent in poverty, and as the years progressed, his dream of being a war hero grew dimmer and dimmer.Ironically, while he was later known as a war hero, he was still feared by all because of his reputation as a drinker and murderer. But first, his background. He was born in 356 BC. His parents were Philip, the brother of King Perdiccas III of Macedon, in Northern Greece. His mother was Olympias, daughter of King Neoptolemus I of Epirus, in modern Albania. He also had a younger sister, Cleopatra (not the famous Egyptian queen).However, this family was not as ordinary as one might think. In fact, his parents
absolutely hated each other. Philip had complied with Macedonian tradition and had a few wives. Soon, one of his wives had a baby which had mysteriously become disabled after birth. It was said that the disability was due to poisoning from Olympias. Olympias sometimes told Alexander that Philip wasn’t his real father, but this probably wasn’t true.After all, Philip certainly did seem to care for Alexander as if he was his real son. He even appointed Aristotle himself as Alexander’s first and only tutor. Yet, there were
some things about Alexander that made Philip angry. He hated the fact that his was very skinny and the fact that he had a high-pitched voice. Still, Alexander felt lucky to have this man as his father and mentor. In 359 BC, when Alexander was three, Philip’s Brother, King Peridcaas III, died. It was originally planned that his son, Amyntas, was tosucceed him with Philip as his regent, but Philip usurped his nephew’s throne and made himself King Philip II. In a few decades, he proved to be a stronger king and he eventually conquered most of Greece. When he was in his teens, Alexander’s father came to him one day and told him that he had to leave to fight in a war. Thus Alexander, being his regent, would have to serve for the time being. While his father was away, Alexander led an expedition to a wild region of modern day Bulgaria. Here, he found a race of wild barbarians, whom he later subdued. He, then, established his first city, Alexandropolis, at the site of this defeat. This made his strength apparent to everyone and.

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. y from Roxane for a long period of time. His men refused to go any further, however, and he turned back to go home. On the march home, he fought many cities, and took an arrow in the chest, but lived.On a later visit to Persia, he found that many of his Governors had abused their power. He had them executed and, in an attempt to reunite the two civilizations, he married the old King’s daughter, Barsine, while still
married to Roxane. His best friend, Hephaestion, married Barsine’s sister, Drypetis. He even gave some Persians high rankings in his army. But these attempts failed and even the marriages broke up.In the fall of 324 BC, Alexander’s best friend, Hephaestion, died.Alexander was heartbroken and in the following summer, Alexander became ill and died on June 13 in Babylon at the age of 32. Modern historians have long suspected that he died from Malaria, but, recently, it has been suggested that Typhoid Fever was the culprit. Today, we know Alexander as one of the greatest generals, leaders, and
conquerors of all time, and we know that this was his main goal in life. To be
remembered, not as a villain, but as his childhood dream. A war hero.

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Top 10 Amazing Facts about Alexander The Great

Top 10 Amazing Facts about Alexander The Great

Born on July 20, 356 B.C. in Pella, Macedonia, Alexander was son of King Philip II of Macedon and Queen Olympia. A clever tactician and successful general, he went undefeated in battles for an unprecedented period of over 15 years – a period of time in which he led his army in numerous victories. He died fairly young for someone who had conquered most of the known world. But even in that short period of time, from his ascension to the throne of Macedonia to this death, he accomplished far more than the biggest of the names in history did in their entire lifetime. Looking back at the life of arguably the most influential ruler in history, here is a list of top 10 facts about Alexander the Great.

10. Philosophical encounters

When Alexander was about 14 years old, his father King Phillips II decided to tutor him under the guidance of the biggest names in contemporary philosophical teaching. At that time, Aristotle had not already made a name for himself, but he was a known pupil of Plato. So, King Phillip II invited Aristotle to impart his knowledge to his son – a decision much favored by Alexander’s mother. She had a lot of faith on Plato’s insightful apprentice. There is the famous story of the first encounter between Alexander and the famed ascetic Diogenes. Diogenes believed man only needed what is essential to survive. So, he would sleep in a barrel, travel places, and preach his thoughts to whoever would listen.

Once Alexander met him in a public plaza and asked him “if there is anything he could do for him”. Diogenes calmly replied, “Yes, you can step aside a little so as not to keep the sunshine from me. ” Alexander was rather impressed at his sheer blunt reply and is believed to have said to his soldiers that if he wasn’t Alexander, he would have been Diogenes.

9. Ascension to throne

Although Alexander had a great relation with his father during his childhood, things between them had notably soured by the time Phillip decided to marry Cleopatra, a woman who had noticeable Macedonian roots. When King Phillip was stabbed to death by one of his bodyguards in 336 B.C. at a wedding banquet, many eyebrows were raised at Alexander and his mother’s involvement behind the scenes. But, with the throne now open for grab, Alexander wasted no time to react. He was quick to eliminate all possible hurdles on his way to the throne. King Phillip also had a son from his last wife, but Alexander had him swiftly killed off at the hands of his allies. But, soon, a number of rebellions rose among the Thracians and Greeks.

Alexander silenced them all with resounding authority by forcing his way into Greece and restoring the Macedonian rule over all conquered states. His agility took everyone by surprise and soon they all could do nothing, but acknowledge his authority.

8. Conquest Names

In the period of 13 years, Alexander pretty much changed the face of Europe and Asia, conquering all neighboring enemies and the nations far beyond. With around 43,000 infantry and 5,500 cavalry under his command, he led a fearsome military muscle on one of the biggest expedition in history. During this period, he wrecked through settlements, conquered nations and empires, and founded around 70 new cities in different locations. Being Alexander, he named all of them after himself – Alexandria. All these different Alexandria can be traced along the paths of his military advances from the beginning of his expedition to its end.

Perhaps, the most famous among these was founded at the mouth of Nile in 331 BC. Coincidentally, it happens to be the second largest city in the present day Egypt. There was the city of Bucephala that Alexander founded at the site of his toughest battle during the campaign of conquering India. The name was given after his favorite horse Bucephalus who died in that decisive battle.

7. Alexander and Roxane

Roxane (Raxana) was the daughter of Sogdian nobleman named Oxyartes who had the responsibility of defending a mountain fortress against an invading army led by Alexander the great himself. Alexander was in the middle of his military campaign in the Achaemenid Empire. and the Macedonians were putting on an arduous effort to control their conquests. It was obvious that they needed to achieve truce with the native population in order to gain their trust and loyalty.

Amid all this, Alexander was surveying the captives after breaking in through the said fortress when he saw Roxane for the first time. Soon they got married in a traditional wedding ceremony, at the end of which Alexander sliced a bread loaf in two with his sword and shared it with his new bride. Roxane then went with her husband on his campaigns in India in 326 BC, and gave birth to Alexander’s child very shortly after his death.

6. Great Military tactician

Alexander had a great presence of mind when it came to military warfare. He was a cunning tactician who would devise ways to defeat enemies with greater strength in terms of soldiers and weapons. Upon that, Alexander got to take command of a well-trained army from his father, and further improved their skills. The size of his army never crossed 50,000 at any point – a direct result of fact that Alexander valued the military speed. skill and agility far more over the number of his men.

Alexander is also attributed with mastering the unique Macedonian battle technique known as the phalanx. It was a formation developed by his father, but Alexander turned it into a dominant war technique. His soldiers would attack in a formation of 8 to 32 men – each of them wielding a 12 to 18 feet Cornelian wood spear. Add to that an experienced army that he inherited from his father, Alexander had a formidable force at his disposal.

5. Bucephalus – The Royal Steed

Bucephalus was the name of a mighty horse that had cost king Phillip a fortune. But the horse’s behavior in the field was as exorbitant as its price. The trainers were finding it impossible to bring his viciousness under control. While observing their efforts to control the steed go in vain, Alexander noticed that Bucephalus was actually agitated by its own shadow. That is when he bet his father he can tame the horse.

He calmly made Bucephalus face the sun, slowly climbed into the saddle and then triumphantly rode around on its back. Amid all the cheers from onlookers, legends has it that his father King Phillip took him in his arms and said, “O my son look thee out a kingdom equal to and worthy of thyself, for Macedonia is too little for thee.” In many ways, this single incident was pivotal in reflecting a glimpse of the fame Alexander would then go on to build for himself. And this point on, Bucephalus was arguably destined to become the most famous steed in the history.

4. The Gordian Knot

It was an intricate knot used by Gordius, the founder of City of Gordium, to securely tie his chariot. But far more famous was the legend foretold by an oracle that whoever untied the knot would go on to become the true ruler of entire Asia. Needless to say, countless people tried to undo it from time to time, but no one succeeded. And as fate would have it, Alexander soon reached the central mountains in the town of Gordium.

At a young age of 23, he was well on course for his Conquer-Asia-Minor campaign. Being a man who was willing to go all ends to conquer the known world, Alexander decided to tackle the “Gordian Knot” himself. With a crowd of Macedonians and locals around, he frustratingly toiled around with the complex knot. Soon his patience gave away, and he drew out his sword and sliced it through the knot. When one observes how the rest of history went down, this incident truly foretold that Alexander was destined to become “The Great”.

3. Defeat of the mighty Persians

Once Alexander restored peace and Macedonian authority over the neighboring states, he reinstated the campaign to take over the mighty Persian Empire. Alexander went on to face off against the far superior force of Persian King Darius III in three monumental battles. The Macedonian won the first battle at the Granicus River in Asia Minor in the spring of 334 BC. When the battle was over, Alexander now controlled all of Asia Minor states at the loss of only 110 of his men.

The two sides came to blows again for the second time in the battle of Issus. Despite the enemy’s advantage in numbers, Alexander’s cunning offensives sent the Persians into withdrawal and Darius had to flee from the battlefield to save himself. The two then faced off in the decisive battle of Gaugamela where around 200,000 infantry and 34,000 cavalry led by Darius went against the Macedonians. Again, the Macedonians army brought their skills and agility to good use – insuring the defeat and inevitable fall of the Persian Empire.

2. Mysterious death

By the time Alexander had turned 32, he had spent most of his previous 13 years in annexing much of the known world that he had traversed. It was the month of May in 323 BC when he had returned to Baghdad after years of campaigning all over Asia. Then on May 29, amid all plannings for his next conquests, he went to a dinner party thrown by one of his close confidants. After a long session of heavy drinking, he started to feel unwell and went to bed with a rising fever.

His conditions only further deteriorated in the following days as the strong fever took hold of his body. Finally, on the 10th day, with no more will to even leave his bed, one of the most famous conquerors in human history died at such an early age. Of course, his premature death bought with it a number of conspiracies. His general Antipater and Antipater’s son Cassander came under serious suspicions. Some even speculated that Aristotle might have had a hand in it too. Though the modern medical experts attribute his death to malarial infection.

1. Alexander the Conqueror

Once, he became the undisputed King of Macedonia in 336 BC, Alexander faced an early plethora of obstacles in the form of neighboring rebellions. Of course, he handled the situation with such commanding authority that the rebelling Thracian and Greek settlements did not give second thoughts on accepting him as their king. And then, when he was only 22 years old, he took on the Persian Empire. Flash forward to 323 BC, exactly 11 years later, Alexander had traveled to places hitherto unknown and conquered much of the known Asia.

From his first victory at age of 18 while fighting under the command of his father, to the historical victories against the mighty Persians and many formidable Asian nations and settlements, Alexander truly made a legend for himself. That he never lost a battle during his countless campaigns gives a testament to all of his military conquests. By the time his army had reached the Indus River in Indian subcontinent, the Macedonian had laid down an empire that stretched from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean.

Alexander the Great’s legacy lives to this day and holds a profound impact on modern day historians. The Macedonians saw an unprecedented scale of unification and expansion during his rule – a campaign that was started by his father and truly enacted by him. Not only did he expand his empire to then furthest known point in Asia, he was also responsible in spreading the Greek culture to an incredibly vast part of the world. And not to forget, Alexander undoubtedly was one of the greatest tactician and military mind to have ever lived. It was his tricks and training that molded an already experienced army into a skilled killing machine. His battlefield tactics as a general remain a subject of research for the modern day counterparts at present.

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