Heruled all of the known world, and one of the largest empires ever. His men were the firstwesterners toencounter tales of the Yeti. They even discovered and classified new types of flora and fauna,such as the redmold that grew on their bread while they were in Asia, and made it appear as if it were bleeding. He expandedthe Hellenist sphere of influence to the farthest reaches of the globe. When the king of Greece visited the British colony of India around the turn of thecentury, the colonialgovernment had some native Indian dances displayed for him. He was shocked when heimmediatelyrecognized the dances as the same harvest dances that his fellow Greeks performed nearThessalonika.
Thiswas the breadth of Alexander’s influence on hundreds of different cultures around the world. Throughout thewhole of Europe, Asia, and North Africa, stories of this great man have been handed down fromgeneration togeneration throughout the centuries. In many cases Alexander has even taken on a superhumanaura, and manyunbelievable legends have been based on his life. When Julius Caesar visited Alexandria, he asked to see the body of the greatest warriorof all time-Alexander the Great. Such was Alexander’s reputation, able to impress even the powerful Caesar. He was,without a doubt, one of the most remarkable men that ever walked the face of this Earth.
And thisis the storyof his life. 1The Life and Times of Alexander the GreatThe story of Alexander the Great is one of courage, genius, and great accomplishment;but it is also somewhat of abittersweet one, ending with his tragic death during the prime of his life, at thirty-two. Alexander was born to Philip II of Macedon and Olympias, his principal wife, in 356 BCE,mpic Games. Just three years earlier, Philip had ascended to thethrone after the death of his olderbrother, Perdikkas1, and named the city of Philipi after himself.
Shortly thereafter, at the age oftwenty, he met Olympias at areligious ceremony on the island of Samothrace. Olympias was of the Mystery Religions, and was initiated at an early age. She spent hertime at wild orgies duringwhich snakes were wrapped around the worshippers limbs. She kept this custom of sleeping withsnakes throughout hermarriage to Philip. In addition, she sacrificed thousand of animals to her particular god orgoddess each year. Interestinglyenough, she had a cruel streak normally common only to the Greek men of her time.
Throughouther career she was noslower than her male rivals to kill off enemies who seemed to threaten her. Olympias, believing that she was descended from Achilles, and being of royal Epeirosianblood herself, thought thatshe was rightly entitled to respect from Philip as his queen. For this reason Olympias wasconstantly upset at Philip’s longstays away fromhome. This anger was especially directed towards his torrid affairs with the nearest nubile2waif. At the time of Alexander’s birth, Philip was involved in a campaign to defeat the Illyrianprovinces in battle andincorporate them into the Greek empire that he was building for himself.
In that month, Philipreceived three messagesbearing good in quick succession: his victory over the Illyrians, Alexander’s birth, andMacedonian victory in the Olympicraces. Alexander resembled his mother more than his father. It was in memory of Macedonia’sgreatest king, Alexander I,that Alexander was named. Philip, currently engaged in a plan for the conquest of Greece andeventually parts of Asia, hadhigh hopes for his firstborn son to eventually continue in his footsteps.
In the following yearAlexander’s only sibling, a sisternamed Cleopatra, was born. Alexander probably had no recollection of his father having both of his eyes, becausePhilip lost his eye storming anAthenian fortress. During Alexander’s early years, he was watched over by a man namedLeonidas2. Leonidas saw to all ofAlexander’s education and tutelage in many varied subjects including: writing, geometry, reading,arithmetic, music, archery,horseback riding, javelin, and other types of athletics.
Alexander’s nursemaid was an endearing gentleman whose name was Lysimachos, whowon Alexander’s heart at anearly age by playing imagination games with Alexander and his playmates: Ptolemy, Harpalos,Nearchos, Hephaistion, andErigyios. When Alexander reached the ripe old age of thirteen, Philip decided it was time forAlexander to receive a highereducation better befitting his young heir. Searching throughout his empire, Philip was luckyenough to find a student of Platowho was at the time unemployed, a young genius named Aristoteles (commonly known asAristotle). Aristotle’s father, Nakimachos, had been Macedonia’s court physician, so Aristotle was 3quite familiar with the area. Aristotle taught Alexander, and sometimes his friends in a ruralsanctuary for the nymphs atMieza. Aristotle actually composed two books, “In Praise of Colonies” and “On Kingship”, forAlexander’s education.
Hetaught Alexander that other peoples were vastly inferior to the Greeks, and therefore fit forsubjugation. Alexander lovedAristotle like his own father as he said himself, “One gave him life, but the other showed him howto live it. “During this time , Alexander was involved in a homosexual relationship with Hephastion, afriend he loved dearly. This was a very common occurrence, looked upon as a learning experience for the boys. Theirlove was a very deep andclose one, and when he died prematurely during Alexander’s teenage years, Alexander felt acrippling grief from which henever fully recovered. Philip was constantly conquering more territory, and though Alexander respected him, hewas also a bit jealous.
Heonce told Ptolemy, “Father is going to do everything; at this rate he won’t leave any conquests foryou and me. “During Alexander’s sixteenth winter, Philip went to attack Perinthos in Thrace, andAlexander was left as regent inMacedonia. It was now, when Philip was away, that the Madoi tribe chose to revolt. Alexandercrushed the rebellionexpertly, in a merciless fashion.
He was so victorious that when he built a walled city at the site ofthe battle, he took thefreedom of naming it Alexandropolis, after himself, thus beginning his illustrious career. It was love at first sight for Philip when he saw Cleopatra, the niece of Attalus, Philip’sgeneral. The wedding was totake place immediately. At the wedding feast Attalus stood up for a toast to the bride and groom. In the course of hisspeech he “calledupon the Macedonians to pray to the gods that of Philip and Cleopatra there might be 4born a legitimate son as a successor to the kingdom3.
“Alexander had been quiet throughout the celebration, but with these words, he’d finallyhad enough. He rose andshouted, “What of me villain? Do you take me for a bastard4?”, and with that threw his goblet ofwine in Attalus’s face. An enraged Philip sprang from his seat and made for Alexander, but being drunk, trippedand fell flat on his face. Alexander took the opportunity to further mock his fatherby proclaiming, “Look, men! Here is the man preparing to cross from Europe into Asia, and hecan’t get from one couch toanother without falling down. “After this incident Alexander no longer felt comfortable staying in Macedonia, and left withhis mother. Afterdropping her off in her home town of Epeiros, he continued on and finally settled in Illyria, wherehe was welcomed as afellow dissident to the monarchy.
In a story reminiscent of King David and Absalom, Demarates, one of Philip’s generals,convinced Philip to getAlexander to return. When Philip gave the affirmative, Demarates went to return Alexander to hishome. Philip soon forgotthe whole incident. Pixodar, the ruler of Caria and a vassal of the king of Persia, wanted to marry off hisdaughter to one of Philip’s sonsso as to secure a peace with Philip.
Philip agreed, but didn’t want Alexander, his heir, to marry avassal’s daughter, soinstead he chose Arrhidaios, an epileptic. Alexander was still suspicious of Philip’s intentions (after Attalus’s speech), and his friendsconvinced him that Philipwas planning on making Arrhidaios his heir in Alexander’s stead. Therefore Alexander offered toPixodar that he should takeArrhidaios’s place, noting that Arrhidaios was an epileptic. When Philip found out, he was mad as all Hell, but treated Alexander maturely byreasoning with him. He argued, “Do you really think so little of yourself to be the son-in- 5law of a lowly Persian vassal?!”Alexander had at last learned his lesson and began trusting Philip.
Philip, though hadfinally had enough of Ptolemyand the rest of Alexander’s friends meddling in Alexander’s business, and exiled them fromMacedonia “sine die”. In Alexander’s twentieth year, Philip was ready to begin his conquest of Persia and AsiaMinor, but first he had tocement Epeiros’s allegiance to him by marrying off Cleopatra (his only daughter from Olympias)to King Alexander ofEpeiros. At daybreak the wedding procession began. Twelve of the Greek deities led theprocession with Philip followingclose behind. A man posing as a guard gained access to Philip’s entourage and stabbed Philip inthe side before anyonecould stop him.
This man, later identified as Pausanias, had a horse prepared for a quickdeparture, but as fate would haveit, he tripped over a bush, and was transfixed with a spear before he was able to rise to his feet.But there was no helping Philip- he was quite dead.Alexander was a firm believer in the saying, “The king is dead,Category: Roman Culture