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The life & times of alexander the great

iii

Introduction

Alexander the great made an impact on world history that few individuals can profess to

have done. He

ruled all of the known world, and one of the largest empires ever. His men were the first

westerners to

encounter tales of the Yeti. They even discovered and classified new types of flora and fauna,

such as the red

mold that grew on their bread while they were in Asia, and made it appear as if it were bleeding.

He expanded

the 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 the

century, the colonial

government had some native Indian dances displayed for him. He was shocked when he

immediately

recognized the dances as the same harvest dances that his fellow Greeks performed near

Thessalonika. This

was the breadth of Alexander's influence on hundreds of different cultures around the world.

Throughout the

whole of Europe, Asia, and North Africa, stories of this great man have been handed down from

generation to

generation throughout the centuries. In many cases Alexander has even taken on a superhuman

aura, and many

unbelievable legends have been based on his life.

When Julius Caesar visited Alexandria, he asked to see the body of the greatest warrior

of 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 this

is the story

of his life.

1

The Life and Times of Alexander the Great

The story of Alexander the Great is one of courage, genius, and great accomplishment;

but it is also somewhat of a

bittersweet 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 the

throne after the death of his older

brother, Perdikkas1, and named the city of Philipi after himself. Shortly thereafter, at the age of

twenty, he met Olympias at a

religious ceremony on the island of Samothrace.

Olympias was of the Mystery Religions, and was initiated at an early age. She spent her

time at wild orgies during

which snakes were wrapped around the worshippers limbs. She kept this custom of sleeping with

snakes throughout her

marriage to Philip. In addition, she sacrificed thousand of animals to her particular god or

goddess each year. Interestingly

enough, she had a cruel streak normally common only to the Greek men of her time. Throughout

her career she was no

slower 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 Epeirosian

blood herself, thought that

she was rightly entitled to respect from Philip as his queen. For this reason Olympias was

constantly upset at Philip's long

stays away from

home. This anger was especially directed towards his torrid affairs with the nearest nubile

2

waif.

At the time of Alexander's birth, Philip was involved in a campaign to defeat the Illyrian

provinces in battle and

incorporate them into the Greek empire that he was building for himself. In that month, Philip

received three messages

bearing good in quick succession: his victory over the Illyrians, Alexander's birth, and

Macedonian victory in the Olympic

races.

Alexander resembled his mother more than his father. It was in memory of Macedonia's

greatest king, Alexander I,

that Alexander was named. Philip, currently engaged in a plan for the conquest of Greece and

eventually parts of Asia, had

high hopes for his firstborn son to eventually continue in his footsteps. In the following year

Alexander's only sibling, a sister

named Cleopatra, was born.

Alexander probably had no recollection of his father having both of his eyes, because

Philip lost his eye storming an

Athenian fortress. During Alexander's early years, he was watched over by a man named

Leonidas2. Leonidas saw to all of

Alexander'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, who

won Alexander's heart at an

early age by playing imagination games with Alexander and his playmates: Ptolemy, Harpalos,

Nearchos, Hephaistion, and

Erigyios.

When Alexander reached the ripe old age of thirteen, Philip decided it was time for

Alexander to receive a higher

education better befitting his young heir. Searching throughout his empire, Philip was lucky

enough to find a student of Plato

who was at the time unemployed, a young genius named Aristoteles (commonly known as

Aristotle).

Aristotle's father, Nakimachos, had been Macedonia's court physician, so Aristotle was

3

quite familiar with the area. Aristotle taught Alexander, and sometimes his friends in a rural

sanctuary for the nymphs at

Mieza. Aristotle actually composed two books, "In Praise of Colonies" and "On Kingship", for

Alexander's education. He

taught Alexander that other peoples were vastly inferior to the Greeks, and therefore fit for

subjugation. Alexander loved

Aristotle like his own father as he said himself, "One gave him life, but the other showed him how

to live it."

During this time , Alexander was involved in a homosexual relationship with Hephastion, a

friend he loved dearly.

This was a very common occurrence, looked upon as a learning experience for the boys. Their

love was a very deep and

close one, and when he died prematurely during Alexander's teenage years, Alexander felt a

crippling grief from which he

never fully recovered.

Philip was constantly conquering more territory, and though Alexander respected him, he

was also a bit jealous. He

once told Ptolemy, "Father is going to do everything; at this rate he won't leave any conquests for

you and me."

During Alexander's sixteenth winter, Philip went to attack Perinthos in Thrace, and

Alexander was left as regent in

Macedonia. It was now, when Philip was away, that the Madoi tribe chose to revolt. Alexander

crushed the rebellion

expertly, in a merciless fashion. He was so victorious that when he built a walled city at the site of

the battle, he took the

freedom 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's

general. The wedding was to

take place immediately. At the wedding feast Attalus stood up for a toast to the bride and groom.

In the course of his

speech he "called

upon the Macedonians to pray to the gods that of Philip and Cleopatra there might be

4

born a legitimate son as a successor to the kingdom3."

Alexander had been quiet throughout the celebration, but with these words, he'd finally

had enough. He rose and

shouted, "What of me villain? Do you take me for a bastard4?", and with that threw his goblet of

wine in Attalus's face.

An enraged Philip sprang from his seat and made for Alexander, but being drunk, tripped

and fell flat on his face.

Alexander took the opportunity to further mock his father

by proclaiming, "Look, men! Here is the man preparing to cross from Europe into Asia, and he

can't get from one couch to

another without falling down."

After this incident Alexander no longer felt comfortable staying in Macedonia, and left with

his mother. After

dropping her off in her home town of Epeiros, he continued on and finally settled in Illyria, where

he was welcomed as a

fellow dissident to the monarchy.

In a story reminiscent of King David and Absalom, Demarates, one of Philip's generals,

convinced Philip to get

Alexander to return. When Philip gave the affirmative, Demarates went to return Alexander to his

home. Philip soon forgot

the whole incident.

Pixodar, the ruler of Caria and a vassal of the king of Persia, wanted to marry off his

daughter to one of Philip's sons

so as to secure a peace with Philip. Philip agreed, but didn't want Alexander, his heir, to marry a

vassal's daughter, so

instead he chose Arrhidaios, an epileptic.

Alexander was still suspicious of Philip's intentions (after Attalus's speech), and his friends

convinced him that Philip

was planning on making Arrhidaios his heir in Alexander's stead. Therefore Alexander offered to

Pixodar that he should take

Arrhidaios's place, noting that Arrhidaios was an epileptic.

When Philip found out, he was mad as all Hell, but treated Alexander maturely by

reasoning with him. He argued, "Do you really think so little of yourself to be the son-in-

5

law of a lowly Persian vassal?!"

Alexander had at last learned his lesson and began trusting Philip. Philip, though had

finally had enough of Ptolemy

and the rest of Alexander's friends meddling in Alexander's business, and exiled them from

Macedonia "sine die".

In Alexander's twentieth year, Philip was ready to begin his conquest of Persia and Asia

Minor, but first he had to

cement Epeiros's allegiance to him by marrying off Cleopatra (his only daughter from Olympias)

to King Alexander of

Epeiros.

At daybreak the wedding procession began. Twelve of the Greek deities led the

procession with Philip following

close behind. A man posing as a guard gained access to Philip's entourage and stabbed Philip in

the side before anyone

could stop him. This man, later identified as Pausanias, had a horse prepared for a quick

departure, but as fate would have

it, 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,

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