Some Background Information
Alexander the Great was born in 356 BCE and died in 323 BCE. He was from Macedonia and was the son of King Phillip II. He supposedly tamed a wild horse at a young age which impressed his father, who then encouraged him to do great things. When his father was killed, he fell into kingship. He is most famous for never losing a battle.
Why Is He Great?
He is great for all of his accomplishments. He did what the Spartans and the Athenians couldn't do, which was destroying the Persian empire. Therefore, he conquered all the land the Persian empire had and continued to march towards India. He was also a very good General for his army and they had lots of success in war. Alexander had an enormous impact on the world after he died. He became a military role model throughout the centuries. The cities he built during his route of conquest became really important cities after his death. Alexander had cultural influence too. He introduced the language Greek. He made the world more connected in ways of trade and communication. However, he didn't do it intentionally.
Alexander's Route of Conquest
Why Is He Not So Great?
Alexander was great at taking over territories and tearing down what those empires had built. Yet, when he tore things down he was bad at putting up buildings to replace them. Due to the fact he didn't build anything real institutions he had a sloppy empire. Which lead to his empire splitting into 3 separate empires called the Hellenistic Kingdoms, ruled by his army generals. The 3 empires were the Antigonids, Seleucids, Ptolemies and they lasted longer than his empire ever did.
While Alexander was alive, no records were written about him. Therefore, everything was written after his death, so it could have been exaggerated. It is recorded that he died of a fever, which later got turned into him being poisoned by assassins. He also chased people around wanting to kill them for no reason. The stories say though that ravens lead him to the enemies who he needed to kill. There were stories of him walking in the desert, where it would suddenly begin to rain. Even the story referenced in the background could have been exaggerated. The story of him taming a wild horse at a young age.
The Conquest of Persia Explained
After Alexander's father died, revolts took place. In Thebes, he destroyed its famous walls. After that, he advanced toward Persia to take on the king, Darius III. When they met for battle, Darius fled and continued to try outrunning Alexander's army. He was later killed at Issus by a local chieftain who wanted to please Alexander. The chieftain was then killed for treason. He then took the capital of Persepolis and destroyed it.
Alexander Takes Egypt
After he took over Persia, he went into Egypt. Egypt was controlled by Persia before this. When Alexander took Persia that made him technically in charge/a liberator of Egypt. He was treated as a pharaoh and became the latest is a succession of rulers. The Egyptians thought Alexander was the son of their God. He was honored and decided that Egypt would be the capital of his empire. He would build the great city of Alexandria there. Alexander never made it back alive to develop the city as he wished.
Alexander's soldiers struggling in battle
Lastly, he wandered into the mountainous regions of the Persian Empire. They had a tough battle and never fully got a hold of them but had a loose reign over the territory. He then moved through Pakistan into the Indus Valley. The Battle of Hydaspes took place and he had trouble against their warlords. He defeated them finally. His famous horse was killed in this battle and this was the last major battle of his life. It was his last battle because his army was exhausted and refused to go on any longer.
Alexander dressing like the Persians
Alexander tried to combine his Greco-Macedonian Empire with Persia's. He stated he was going to start training Persian children along side Greeks and Macedonians in order to fight together. He thought this would unite them. He developed marriages between his war officers and and Persian noblewomen. Alexander started dressing like the Persians to show respect. His attempts to make peace did not work. There was mutiny between the Macedonians and Alexander, which Alexander had to stop.
More on the Hellenistic Kingdoms
When he was dying, he left his empire to the strongest from his army. The leader of his cavalry, Perdiccas, tried making arrangements. He wanted Alexander's son and his half brother, Phillip, to have some control over the empire. However, his son and brother were murdered. Perdiccas was also murdered. Turmoil over who would have control over the land of Alexander lasted for 2 generations. Then, leaders emerged from military and political power. The fact that they had political power united Alexander's empire.