Alexander the Great


Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great or Alexander III of Macedonia (ancient Greek Ἀλέξανδρος Γ 'ὁ Μακεδών / o Aléxandros III Makedốn, Ἀλέξανδρος meaning "protector or repousseur of man") (born July 21 -356 to Pella, who died on June 13 -- 323 in Babylon) is one of the most famous ancient times.

Son of Philip II, a student of Aristotle and King of Macedonia since -336, he became one of the greatest conquerors of history. He makes his small kingdom master of the vast Persian Achaemenid empire, moved to the banks of the Indus and founded nearly seventy cities, including Alexandria, -331.

The myth of Alexander explained mainly by its claims to universal conquest. This aspiration, both impossible and almost done before it is foudroyé at the age of thirty-three years, a consequence - in a very short time - a political unit never found then between West and East .

The legacy of Alexander, marked by an attempted merger of Greek and Eastern cultures, was divided between his generals to form the various kingdoms and dynasties from the Hellenistic period.

Birth and descent
lexandre was born in Pella, capital of the kingdom of Macedonia, July 21 -356. He is the son of Philip II of Macedonia and Olympias, princess of Epirus, his third wife. For his mother, he is the nephew of Alexander the Molosse, king of Epirus, a territory which is today between the Greek region of Epirus and south of the current Albania.

A legend, known since antiquity, "said qu'Olympias did not designed with Philippe Alexandre, who was afraid of her and her habit of sleeping with snakes, but with Zeus. Alexandre uses these folktales for political purposes, referring to the god rather than Philippe when he talked about his father. Another legend dating from the third century, of Egyptian origin that one and wrongly attributed to Callisthenes, the Roman Alexander, wants as Alexander is the son of the last Egyptian pharaoh of the XXX dynasty, Nectanebo II.

For his father Philip II, Alexander claimed off TEMENOS Argos, himself a descendant of Heracles, son of Zeus - for this reason, the Macedonian dynasty called dynasty or Téménides Argead dynasty. For his mother, Olympias, the dynasty Éacides, Alexandre says descend neoptolemus, son of Achilles.

According to a statement of time, among other reported by Plutarch, Alexandre was born the night when fire Herostratus the temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Alexandre uses later this coincidence to strengthen its political will and proposes to finance the restoration of the temple, which was however denied by the Ephesians.

Plutarch also indicates that Philip and Olympias have dreamed of the future birth of their son. After consulting Aristandre of Telmessos which determined that Olympias was pregnant and the child would have the character of a lion. As for his physical, it would appear he had eyes minnows and, because of an injury war that would have severed a nerve, his head always looked to the left side.

Children and Education
Alexandre has, in the eyes of Greeks a dual membership. It is also a barbaric because it is a Macedonian who has a passionate temperament and leaves carried away by anger of a terrible violence, inheritance attributed to his mother, but often followed by quick repentirs. It is capable of generous impulses which combine uncompromising loyalties. His religious convictions are tainted with superstitions. However, the dominant character trait of character is not without challenge his iron-willed, which can go up to the obstinacy and stubbornness.

Meanwhile, Alexander is deeply influenced by Greek culture. It is true that, located in northern Greece today, Macedonia is one of the regions pelagic antiques. The language was one of the many dialects and Greek, since the time of King Archelaus (late-fifth century), the official language of the court and the Chancery Macedonian becomes Ionian-Attic. Philippe, who visited Thebes in the house Épaminondas hostage (between -369 and -367), for its part speaks fluently and his son. The latter according to Plutarch speaks Macedonian that under a strong emotion.

After being educated by Leonidas, a relative of his mother Olympias and Lysimaque of Acarnanie, Alexandre receives tutor for the philosopher Aristotle -343 to -340. The latter is the son of Nicomaque, doctor Amyntas III, the grandfather of Alexander. He wrote an annotated edition of the Iliad for his pupil. Alexandre also reads Herodotus and Xenophon, who he knows exploit later during his conquests. Alexander is a gifted student. He knows by heart many tragedies, the Iliad, and has many notions of medicine, history and mathematics [ref. necessary].

Several childhood companions Alexander, Ptolemy, Philotas, Hephaestion, can be found at his side during the conquest of Asia.

The seduction of character is probably a mixture contradictory: barbaric and Macedonian, mystical and realistic, violent and generous, carried away by his imagination and his dream and guided by his lucidity. His determination is coupled with a real opportunism and an innate sense of staging.

A prince associated with power (-338 / -336)
Although seen as barbaric by the Athenians, the kingdom of Macedonia, during the reign of Philip, extended its hegemony over classical Greece. It overcomes the Thermopylae in Athens -352, intervenes in a conflict between Thebes and Phocidiens, triumph of a coalition of Athens and Thebes to the battle of Chaeronea, -338. Alexandre y proved its worth in the cavalry commander and cutting it into pieces Battalion sacred Thébains.

Philippe is also the initiator of the League of Corinth, bringing together all the Greek cities, with the exception of Sparta, under his command. The league must carry the war against the Persian Empire. In -340, in the absence of his father siege Byzantium, Alexandre, to sixteen years, became regent of Macedonia.

In -337 however, a violent dispute between father and son when Alexander took from his mother Olympias when Philippe wants to impose Cleopatra, sister or a niece of General Philippe, Attalus, as a second wife and legitimate he has a son soon. Alexandre must take refuge in the family of his mother in Epirus. However, the blur takes little and soon forgiven, Alexandre saves the life of his father during an expedition against the Tribali.

The elimination of any potential rival (summer -336)
During the summer -336, Philippe was murdered during the marriage of his daughter Cleopatra with the king of Epirus, Alexander the Molosse, the brother of Olympias. The assassin is a young noble, Pausanias, a former officer of the king who keeps a grudge against Philippe, the latter having ignored a request that would have made. The ancient historians have sometimes thought that the murder of Philippe had been a plot involving Olympias and perhaps Alexandre but Diodorus of Sicily looks for a ground staff of the murderer. Few contemporary historians consider as Alexander is involved in the murder of his father while the entire leadership of Philippe shows it intends to be his successor.

Another hypothesis involves Darius III, the new king of Persia. Plutarch mentions a virulent letter to Darius Alexander, where the Macedonian reprimand Darius (and Bagoas, his grand vizier whose Darius III gets rid quickly shortly thereafter), for the murder of his father, arguing that it was Darius who had praised from various Greek cities of how he had murdered Philippe.

After the death of Philippe, the army proclaims Alexandre, then aged twenty years, the new king of Macedonia. The Greek cities as Athens and Thebes, who had lent allegiance to Philippe, are not in such a hurry to do so vis-à-vis the young man. Alexandre immediately ordered the execution of all its potential rivals. Thus, for not having a competitor to the throne, he murdered his cousin Amyntas IV, king of Macedonia to -360 / -359 that Philip II was overthrown while he was a child. As for Olympias, taking advantage of the absence of his son from guerroyer north, it killed the son of Philip II and Cleopatra and forced the latter to hang [ref. necessary]. The uncle of the latter, Attalus, who is campaigning in Asia with Parmenion, was also assassinated. Impossible to know if acting with the consent of Alexander or not; always is that the new king of Macedonia no longer capable rival to contest the throne.

The consolidation of power (end -336 / -334 Spring)
Alexandre is not only king of the Macedonians, but also, like his father, archon to life and Thessaliens hegemon (ἡγεμών, "Commander in Chief") and self strategist of the League of Corinth. Indeed, the policy of the League is entirely dictated by the Macedonians and Philippe Alexandre.

However, before resuming the draft his father to bring the war in Asia, it ensures the security of his kingdom by two expeditions to northern Macedonia, one to the Danube, another revolt Illyria (end of -336 year and the beginning of the year until the summer -335). Next Strabo and Arrien, Celtic emissaries - the ancestors of Scordisci the mid-third century - Alexandre met on the Danube, on this occasion to -335. The following anecdote is reported:

"When Alexander had defeated the Getae and razed their city on the Danube, he came to the embassies of all sides and among other Gauls, which are (he says) of great men. Alexander then asked them what they feared most in the world, expecting that these people are saying they feared nothing more than him, but he was détrompé because it was dealing with people who felt not least that it, they told him that something of this world they feared most was that the sky does tombât on them, which meant that they feared nothing."

However, while the new king of Macedonia is occupied north, the Greek cities to revolt.

The response of Alexander is both devastating, merciless and paradoxical. Impitoyable, because the city of Thebes is completely shaved (autumn -335) with the exception of the citadel of Cadmée, the birthplace of Pindar and temples of gods, its population reduced to slavery and land shared between the victors. Paradoxically, because Alexandre savings Athens, too happy to submit to lesser evil. Without doubt should be seen in this generosity will not destroy the main centre of artistic, philosophical Greece, or the influence of his former master Aristotle who settled the same year -335 in Athens and founded the High school. It also appears that the advice of Phocion have convinced the king not to destroy the city [ref. necessary]. However, access fury at Alexandre alternate frequently with gestures of generosity, the destruction of Thebes and forgiveness in Athens are only the first in a long list.

In the end, Alexander is not very present as sovereign in his kingdom. When he left Europe in the spring -334 for shipment to Asia, is to never come back.

The army of Alexander
Alexandre did not leave Macedonia totally dégarnie. It gives Antipater, who was appointed regent in the absence of the king, half the Macedonian cavalry roughly 1 500 men and 12 000 infantrymen. Staffing at the start of the expedition in Asia are approximately 1 800 riders, plus an equivalent number of riders thessaliens and 600 other recruits in the states of the Greek League of Corinth.

Infantry soldiers, probably 32 000, which constitute the famous phalanx, are recruited into the Macedonian peasant class. A total staff fairly low, about 4 400 riders and just over 30 000 infantrymen. But throughout the dispatch of reinforcements arriving from Macedonia and Greece, not counting the indigenous troops that will complement the size of the army as Alexandre advance in Asia. On the other hand, the low staffing is offset by a large tactical superiority. The phalanges are lighter and their sarisses (long pikes whose base can be stored in the ground and able to break the cavalry charges) elongated thus increasing their speed loading, so that with very tight formations, masses and kinetic energy of hoplites accumulate making shock when in contact as it can reverse several infantry ranks opposing. The heavy cavalry compensates for the lack of handling phalanges protecting its most vulnerable flanks and attacking those of the enemy to disrupt enemy formations and make them vulnerable to the impact of phalanges.

The Battle of Granique (May -334)
The young king of Macedonia part of its capital and Pella, in twenty days, reached Sestos Chersonese in Thrace. While Parmenion is appointed by the king to carry the army to Abydos, bridgehead created by Philip II on the Hellespont, Alexander goes to Éléonte where he makes sacrifice the first fallen hero during the Trojan war, Protesilaus. This gesture is the first in a long list that demonstrates the king to strike the imagination by pretending to be the new Achilles, but it is also possible to know if it is sincerely penetrated proud to belong to the breed of heroes or if this is merely a theatrical gesture to his soldiers and peoples of Asia Minor and Greece.

Thus, it landed in Asia near the supposed site of Troy, compiles altars in the temple of Athena at Ilion, and then will put a wreath on the tomb of Achilles, while Hephaestion did the same on that of Patroclus (referring to possible homosexual relationship: Élien explains in its varied history (XII, 7) the "left and that he was the cute Alexander, as Patroclus was that of Achille"). Only after, as Alexander joined his army to Arisbé in four days, bypassing the north by the massive Pityos.

The main Greek mercenary leader of Darius III, Memnon of Rhodes is an advocate of the scorched earth face the Macedonians, which he believes, rightly value. He suggested that the army leads to the interior of the country without fighting, the troops of Alexander while the Persian fleet bears the war until Macedonia. Memnon could legitimately expect a revolt of the Greek cities, based on gold of Darius and the legitimate resentment against Alexander in the wake of the sacking of Thebes. But satrapes Persian are wary of advice from a stranger and take no account of his opinion. Arsitès, the satrap of Phrygia, said he will not leave a single house burn its satrapie.

Taking Milet (May / July -334)
The victory of Alexander has an important consequence: up to the Battle of Issos, he has only just left garrisons in the cities to oppose him. In the wake of Granique, Sardis, capital of Phrygia, went without resistance, while Parmenion seized Dascylion. The city of Ephesus, beset by factional struggles, where Memnon fled after the battle, sees the Democratic Party supports Alexandre prevail. This cleverly s'attire sympathy of the city's residents entrusting the temple of Artemis the tribute that the city previously paid to Darius and recalling banned.

Opponents of Alexander fled to Miletus, where Memnon, who has just left Ephesus, took things in hand after the whims of betrayal of the cause by Persian Hégésistrate, the head of the Greek mercenaries in the service of Darius. However, the city is quickly taken in July by -334 Alexandre, after he banned the Persian fleet at anchor on the coast taking the course Mycale.

The headquarters of Halicarnassus (summer / autumn -334)
However Memnon fled to Halicarnassus whose Pixodaros King, the brother of famous Mausole, was placed on the side of the Persians. Memnon is assisted by the satrap Orontabès and Thébain Ephialte, which has vowed the death of Macedonian since the destruction of his hometown.

Alexandre plays on internal rivalries in the city and because of Ada, the sister of Pixodaros that it had overthrown, the satrap of caries. It then adopts Alexandre as his son and his heir. Most Eastern satrapies will be held under this model. The civil powers are given to a Persian or an Asian military powers and a Macedonian.

It remains, however, to capture the city which has two citadels including one on an island. Alexandre after taking Milet just make the mistake of dismissing its fleet. Also can not take it as the lower town while the two acropoles remain in the hands of Greek mercenaries Darius. Also Alexandre "he leaving his way under the command of Ptolemy a troupe of 3 000 infantry and 200 riders pursue the seat.

Alexandre seizes the Pamphylia and the Pisidia (-334 winter / spring -333)
Alexander then turned towards the Lycia and seized them without much resistance. Then at the end of -334 and -333 earlier, it penetrates Pamphylia then Pisidia. These regions very nominally belong to the Achaemenid empire. Most often these cities are autonomous and competing with each other. Of these rivalries, Alexandre will play and receives the submission of Aspendos (east of the present city of Antalya), Sidé (now wearing Selimye about 60 kilometres east of Antalya) . Then he goes back to Phrygia and combats the inhabitants of the city of Termessos (34 km north-west of Antalya) without success to take the city, deals with their enemies benevolence of the city of Selge, and seized Sagalassos finally manages to Gordion (village current Yassihöyük). There are reinforcements came from both Macedonia and Greece as well as Parmenion just a part of winter Sardis. The Government of Pamphilie and the Pisidia is entrusted to Nearchus.

The offensive-against Memnon of Rhodes (winter -334 / -333)
The first part of the Alexander campaign is over. The situation is indecisive because certainly the king of Macedonia won of glorious success, but it faces several uncertainties. For some members of his entourage, including Parmenion is seemingly the representative, the goal of Philip II, theorized by Isocrate namely the conquest of Asia to the shores of the Halys, is reached . A vast territory was conquered by Macedonia and opened for settlement and Hellenic influence. But Isocrate, in projects that were submitted to Philippe envisaged a second solution: the destruction of the Persian empire.

It is this goal that wants to reach Alexandre. This also explains why, although it proclaims its willingness to act as head of the Greeks, it relies first and foremost, at least initially, on the Macedonians regarded as more reliable and committed to his person by dynastic loyalty. That is why it remains relatively little time to Gordion, where the episode of the Gordian knot, if authentic, it promises the empire of Asia (Alexandre is presenting the Gordian knot: it is said that the person who comes to untangle this knot acquire the empire of Asia. Alexandre, a stroke of his sword, slice the famous node), and that while the situation is not entirely risk-free on his rear.

Indeed during the winter -334 Darius gives the command of its fleet to Memnon of Rhodes. It envisages bringing the war in Macedonia arrived in Greece (one speaks of Evia) and organizing a revolt. The anti-Macedonian sentiment remains vivid in many cities. The idea of a war of revenge against the Persians, in relation to medical wars, an idea developed by Alexander and his followers in Greece does not acceptable to their opponents Macedonian hegemony. Let us not forget that Greek soldiers fighting in both camps. Memnon resumed Chios, which is delivered by the party oligarchic (this political trend is still broadly hostile to Alexander in the Greek cities unlike the Democratic Party) and then it restores the tyrant Aristonicos Mithymna and to put the seat in front of Mytilene. Then Memnon dies (late summer -333) and that its plan is abandoned by Darius III. The Persian ruler decides to make himself the head of his army against Alexander. Autophradatès Pharnabazus replace Memnon and the head of the army and fleet. Milet Pharnabazus resumed and Halicarnassus but must get rid of its Greek mercenaries who will join, probably by sea, the army Darius gathers.

Alexander believes, however, quite rightly, have made a mistake by dismissing its fleet. That is why it supports two officers, Hégélochos and Amphotéros (brother of Crater) to reconstruct a [ref. necessary]. It would be just a conflict breaks out with Athens whose vessels from the bridge Euxin are intercepted by Hégélochos. It faces a threat of intervention by the fleet of Athens and relaxes the blood vessels. This episode illustrates the need for Alexandre a victory in Asia to prevent any attempt to revolt in Greece [ref. necessary]. That is why, as early summer -333 he learned that Darius III walks on the Cilicia, Alexandre leaves Gordion.

D'Issos to Arbeles
Leaving Gordion, Alexandre travels in a first time Ancyre and receives the submission of the Paphlagonia then that of Cappadocia to the Halys. He then pushed southward penetrates Cilicia by the passage guarded by the satrap Arsamès Portes ciliciennes. It is a step Tarsus and fell ill several weeks (probably after a hydrocution after a swim in the river Kydnos. Parmenion However, the true king of second at the beginning of the expedition, which occupies passes allow the passage of Cilicia the plain Issos (neck Karanluk-Kapu) and those beyond the control passage to Syria (passes Merkès and Baïlan). Alexandre, once established, submit, seven days depending Arrien, mountain populations of Cilicia and seized Soles where he restores, in theory at least, democracy. He learned at that time the pacification of his rear with the victories of Ptolemy in Carie on the satrap and Orontobatès the fall of Halicarnassus, Myndos and submission of Kos. But shortly after (-333), the satrap Pharnabazus, the head of the Persian fleet and submit Tenedos Sigeion and agrees with the king of Sparta, Agis III, which is trying to raise Greece in giving the money and some ships. The situation remains delicate especially as the imminent arrival of Darius III is accurate.

The sovereign Achaemenid moved into the plain of Issos, leaving curiously the most favourable position at its cavalry Soches, perhaps the willingness to cut Alexandre its rear and to compel the battle. Alexandre is in Syria but he turned around, needing for the reasons given above a victory. It takes the path passes Syrian already borrowed, ventured slowly in the plain of Issos and organizes its line of battle before the Persian army.

The conquest of Phoenicia (winter -333)
The defeat of the Persians after the defeat of Issos (November 1, -333) is total. Darius with a few thousand men barely escaped to Thapsaque (city of Syria on the Euphrates), while others are fugitives scattered by the various officers Alexandre. Many fugitives took refuge in Phoenicia and then earn Egypt or Cyprus. The net result most of victory is, paradoxically, the total submission of the Greek world who do more thinking to support the Persians, came to try the king of Sparta, Agis III meeting of Persian and satrapes trying to raise Crete. Demosthenes, in Athens, had predicted (hoped?) Defeat of the king of Macedonia. The victory Issos stopped temporarily in any case, the ambitions of independence of Greek cities.

Yet, paradoxically, the situation remains perilous Alexandre. One of the best officers Persian, Nabarzanès withdrew with large forces of cavalry in Cappadocia and Paphlagonia and recruits important forces (end -333/début -332). There is therefore a real risk on the rear of Alexander and its lines of supply in Asia Minor. In addition, it appears clear that Darius raises a new army. Finally, the Persian fleet poses a great danger in the Aegean. The mastery of the Phoenician coast, it could serve as a rear base, is therefore indispensable. That is why, abandoning the pursuit of Darius III, Alexandre took the road south to Arados (north of Phoenicia) while Parmenion is sent to Damascus where he seizes luggage Darius. At the same time Alexandre appoint one of its officers strongest, Antigone, in command of all Macedonian forces present in Asia Minor. He passes, with the help of Nearchus, break-offensive against the Persian Asia Minor in spring -332.

The period of the Achaemenid empire for the Phoenicians had been a prosperous period since, leaving them a genuine autonomy, the Persian kings had allowed the Phoenician cities to resume partially control many roads commercial [ref. necessary] to face their traditional rivals: the Greeks. The Phoenicians were a big part of seamen in the Persian fleet at the battle of Salamis for example [ref. necessary]. But divided between them, these cities do not adopt a common attitude to face the arrival of the Macedonians. The king of Arastos, Gérostrate, said he did not have the means to resist and especially that his city, richer in its trade land (with Persia and Médie especially) as its maritime trade, has no interest in a seat destructive. The city went as well as the cities of Marathos, Sigôn and Byblos. As in Sidon, she submits all the more easily than its inhabitants have not forgotten the retaliation of Artaxerxes II when the city had participated in the revolt satrapes during the reign of the prince.

The siege of Tyre (January / August -332)
At the end of -333, while Alexandre is in Sidon, undertake negotiations with the king of Tyre, Azemilcos, who wishes to remain neutral in the conflict. Denied against Alexandre who wishes to offer a sacrifice in the temple of Melqart Tyre. Refusal of Tyriens which detect the trap. To enter a winner Alexandre in the temple is given power over the city. As for Alexandre, it did nothing to keep the coast if the Phoenician city of Tyre, with its two ports, remains outside its control. That is why beginning in January -332 the long siege of Tyre (until August -332). The new town is on an island (see Ancharadus) as Alexander intends to achieve by building a dam, with the remnants of the old city (the city continental), about 60 m long. But the difficulties increase when the dam reached deeper waters, especially as the Tyriens carry out deadly raids with their ships [ref. necessary].

Alexandre, however, has an advantage. Taking other Phoenician cities, it disperses the Persian fleet (beginning -332) whose crews Phoenicians gradually returning to their ports. The kings of Sidon, Aratos, Cyprus offer these vessels and Alexandre which may constitute a fleet sufficient for the siege of the city (probably a hundred vessels). After a raid of a dozen days to submit mountain people of Lebanon today, he noted that its new fleet is ready and learns the arrival of Cléandre with a corps of 4 000 mercenaries, mostly from the Peloponnese.

Attaquée by land, isolated by sea, the old city resists until August -332. The fleet of Tyre was destroyed by ships of Alexander in a desperate attack against. The people defend themselves by means of ballistic gear, divers and ships brûlots [ref. necessary]. Once the towers headquarters and the Rams approached walls, Alexandre conducts himself assault (according to historian Diodorus of Sicily). The capture of the city gives rise to acts of great violence as residents defend themselves hard. The Tyriens using tridents, resembling a kind of hooks to tear shields Macedonians, and pouring hot sand on the attackers. They have not forgotten the scenes of prisoners of the army of Alexander rushed from the top of the walls. Undoubtedly 7 000 to 8 000 inhabitants of the city are killed (according Diodorus of Sicily), and at least 20 000 are sold as slaves (a portion of the population including many women and children fled to Carthage) . Only the temple is spared in the city. The dike built by Alexander are still part of our day, it served especially when the Crusaders besieged Tyre. This success allows Alexandre completed its control over the Phoenicia.

Read also Pyramids of Egypt


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