Greece Expands: Alexander the Great

The End of an Era: the downfall of the Greek polis

  • Following the Peloponnesean War, Sparta held dominance over Greece
  • In 341 B.C.E., Thebes rebelled, but despite victory over the Spartans, the end result was "a constellation of petty warring states" in Greece

From Philosophical Beginnings...

  • Plato (429-349 B.C.E.) followed in the footsteps of his teacher, Socrates, and wrote The Republic, in which Plato stated social harmony exceeds individual freedoms in importance
  • Aristotle (384-322 B.C.E.) followed Plato's example by continuing to teach, although Aristotle's teachings contrasted Plato's; Aristotle proclaimed that "the highest good consists of the harmonious functioning of the individual human mind and body"

...To A Call for Action

  • In contrast to earlier Greek philosopher's, other contemporaries of Plato wanted radical change
  • One of Plato's contemporaries, an Athenian named Isocrates (436-338 B.C.E.), sought a massive invasion of Persia in order to unite Greece behind a single cause
  • In order to lead the Greeks, Isocrates vied for Philip II, King of Macedonia (382-336 B.C.E.)

The Rise of Macedonia

  • Up until the 4th century B.C.E., Macedonia was a weak kingdom that the Greeks looked down upon
  • Philip II, farthest from the throne being the youngest of three, was sent to Thebes as a hostage which turned out to be to his fortune; he ended up being the protege of none other than Epaminondas, and was most likely trained in the Theban Sacred Band as a hoplite
  • After gaining an education better than any other Macedonian at the time, Philip II ultimately ascended to the throne after his elder brothers died in battle

From Philip II to Alexander

  • Before he was able to conquer Persia, Philip II was assassinated in 336 B.C.E.
  • Alexander, already seasoned with victories over the Athenians and Thebans, took the throne and began his reign

Conquest of the Persians

  • Before heading to Persia, Alexander was faced with quelling revolts after Philip's death
  • Two years after successfully reestablishing control of Thebes, Alexander faced a succession of victories in Anatolia, Troy, and finally Issus, where he faced Darius II ad soundly defeated him in 333 B.C.E.
  • In 331 B.C.E., Darius II, after fleeing Alexander and his army for two years, was killed by a chieftain who sought to win over Alexander
  • Instead, Alexander had the chieftain executed and moved on to Persepolis the following spring, striking the final blow to the Persian empire by destroying the royal capital of Persepolis in order to prevent an uprising by his conquered foes

From Persia to Egypt

  • Unlike the conquering of Persia, acquiring Egypt under his dominance was simple for Alexander the Great
  • Egypt proved to be willing to be ruled by Alexander, making him pharaoh of Egypt, further increasing the size of his domain

Alexander's Campaign Unravels

  • After easily taking control of Egypt, Alexander's ambitions led to his undoin
  • Alexander pushed his army to its limits to the far reaches of Mesopotamia, eventually going all the way to the Arabian Sea
  • After reaching the coast, Alexander and his army traveled back towards the Persian royal palace of Susa through the Gedrosian desert, further weaking Alexander and his army
  • It was at Susa where Alexander attempted to appease both his loyal Greeks and conquered foes, namely the Persians, by showing signs of respect for the Persians and attempting to assimilate their culture into the Greek culture, ultimately backfiring

The End of Alexander the Great

  • Ultimately, leaving no administration behind to govern his empire, Alexander's conquered foes were left to their own devices
  • Alexander himself died of sickness in 323 B.C.E. at the age of 32 years old
  • Thanks to Alexander's successes, the Hellenistic World experienced a new level of prosperity through improved and widespread trade, in addition to heightened levels of industry throughout what remained of his empire

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