Alexander was born in Greece and had powerful parents. His father was the mighty King Phillip and his mother was Olympus who was considered not only breathtakingly beautiful but also extraordinarily intelligent. People considered her a spiritualist who was dedicated to Greek mythology.
One of her favorite gods was the god of Passion and Wine; I can see this god having a large following. The craziest thing about her is that she said the Greek god Zeus was the one who impregnated her with Alexander. King Phillip didn’t appreciate her story and it was something they fought about a lot because she was making the claim in public.
King Phillip was a military hero and Alexander worshipped him. He had the advantage of learning how to fight from his father as soon as he was strong enough to lift a sword.
Olympus had a lot of influence on Alexander as well and he shared her desire for learning. At the age of 13 she sent him away to study under Aristotle for three years which certainly made him smarter than most people around him. He also had to learn military strategies and tactics along with sword fighting.
One of the things Alexander was most transfixed on was Homer’s stories of the Iliad and the Odyssey and all the battles that took place. He was most impressed by stories of the great fighter Achilles so he became Alexander’s hero and the type of man he wanted to become.
When his instruction with Aristotle ended he discovered things were in an uproar at home because his father had married another woman while still married to his mom. What was worse is that King Phillip had a son with his new wife which meant Alexander might need to fight for his father’s throne someday.
This eventually became a non-issue as his father was stabbed in the back at a wedding ceremony and died. The man who murdered him was immediately killed by guards which meant they had no idea as to whether he had any accomplices.
There were rumors that Olympus had King Phillip killed because of his adultery and because she wanted to secure Alexander’s place on the throne which meant she’d remain influential as well. Nothing was ever proven as to whether or not someone else was in on the murder so Alexander became king at the age of 20.
He was extremely young but he was a great leader because of his education and after about a year of mostly sitting on the throne taking care of administrative matters, he became bored and set his sights on enlarging his kingdom by taking Prussia which included modern day Pakistan and Turkey.
A hundred years earlier, the Prussians ransacked Greece and destroyed a lot of their religious temples so he wanted revenge on behalf of his mother, but the bottom line is he was ready for a fight to test how good he was.
Alexander became a tremendous warrior. People who fought with him said he was obsessed with being greater than his father. Like Achilles, he didn’t care about dying as long as he left a great legacy.
When Alexander’s men reached Prussia they encountered a much larger army than theirs. Part of his strategy was to instill fear into his enemies so as they approached they banged their swords against their shields and it made a thunderous sound. They charged into battle and started decimating Prussia’s troops so Alexander began looking for their king but he had gotten away. Once the Prussian’ soldiers saw their king running they started retreating. Even though Alexander’s army was far outnumbered, by the end of the day more than 50,000 Prussian’ soldiers were killed.
Many kingdoms along their way surrendered without a fight but then they encountered the kingdom of Tyre and they refused to lay down their arms. Alexander was very angry because it took his army seven months to defeat them.
Most of the enemy’s men were killed and their women and children were taken as slaves. To send a message to other armies, Alexander had over 2,000 of Tyre’s soldiers crucified; these men were lined up for miles along the road leading to Tyre.
When they encountered Gaza (part of it still exists today), they met resistance again. Alexander and his men became more and more brutal in how they treated their enemies. In this battle they took the enemy’s leader who was still alive and tied him to a horse then dragged him around the city until he died. His head was then cut off and kicked around by soldiers.
More and more kingdoms were laying down their arms out of fear. Alexander was good to these places and didn’t kill anyone; instead he treated them with respect hoping they would be supportive of his expanded kingdom.
A major problem began brewing because many of Alexander’s men were getting tired of all the travel and fighting because they had been away from their families for several years. Gaining additional territory meant nothing to them it was all for Alexander, so morale was worsening.
One of his most interesting conquests was when they went to war against Egypt. What they weren’t counting on at the time is that most of the Egyptians were glad to see them because they hated their Pharaoh and his family so they didn’t put up a fight. They gave Alexander the title of Pharaoh which was what he considered his destiny because Pharaoh’s were considered gods.
His ego kept getting bigger as Egyptians were bowing down to him as was their custom. Alexander was depicted on some of their artwork which was pretty incredible because Egyptians were a very proud people yet in this case they included a Greek. This opened the door to Cleopatra’s ancestors who were Greek to move in and start their dynasty in Egypt.
Alexander became bored so they left Egypt and began marching towards Prussia (modern day Bagdad). This is where they encountered an army three times their size. King Durias who snuck away from the previous fight bought a large army in an attempt to get his kingdom back.
Alexander focused his army’s attention on one section of the enemies’ line and crashed through it. The next thing the Prussians knew they were fighting men in front of them and behind them and this strategy completely took Duria’s men off guard and they started losing the battle. Once again King Duria ran off but this time he was killed by his own men because of his cowardice.
Alexander marched on and he became crowned the Lord of Asia. This wasn’t enough for him so he told his men they were going to push east to Kabul (Afghanistan). The conditions were brutal and they had to deal with the same problems that occur today as Kabul’s fighters were spread out over a large territory instead of a single army. The terrain was terrible and not anything they had encountered before.
Try to visualize this; Alexander took 30,000 troops to Kabul and cut through the mountains where there were freezing temperatures, snow, and limited oxygen because the mountains were so tall. At one point they travelled through a narrow path and had to go through single file. Because of this, his army was stretched out over ten miles.
After all the terrible conditions they dealt with, when they arrived in Kabul the men were extremely upset because there was very little there basically nothing to plunder which is what motivated soldiers.
Morale was worsening by the minute. One of the reasons for this is that to keep his army large and strong Alexander recruited people from armies they conquered. With this in mind, his loyal Greek army had to start sharing their rations and tents with the Prussians who they had spent years despising and who had recently killed some of their fellow soldiers.
To make matters worse, Alexander’s ego kept getting bigger. He got extremely drunk one night and was bragging about what he had accomplished and that he was a greater fighter than his father. One of the men listening to him was a loyal soldier of Alexander’s father plus he had saved Alexander in one of their battles and didn’t get credit for it. He got tired of his bragging and yelled at him saying everything he is was because of his father’s influence. Alexander was livid about what the soldier said so he took a spear and killed him.
This outraged many of Alexander’s top men and they were becoming increasingly concerned by his erratic behavior. This incident wasn’t the only strange thing that occurred as Alexander told his men they had to bow down anytime they approached him. This greatly upset his men because it diminished their importance.
Alexander heard about a territory east of where they were that was some of the most beautiful land on earth (India). The Prussians told him they tried several times to attack but the Indians were too powerful to defeat. This was tempting for Alexander since no one else was able to beat them he’d prove that he could do it; why not, he was a god.
As Alexander’s soldiers approached the enemy lines they were in shock. It wasn’t the size of their army that worried them but they had a secret weapon that the Greeks had never seen before. The Indians used war elephants that were at least nine feet tall and weighed tons (this was kind of like having military tanks).
The Indian’s charged their enemies with the elephants and trampled the men. The soldiers sitting on top of the elephants had shields and long spears and they were so high up that their enemies found it difficult to kill them especially with several tons of animal charging towards them.
Alexander quickly revised his strategy and told his men not to charge straight towards the enemy but to feint moving one direction then charging to another (basically crisscrossing), and attack them from the sides. This took away most of the effectiveness of the massive elephants because they couldn’t move side to side real well.
Although Alexander’s men couldn’t reach high enough to get the soldiers sitting on top of the elephants, they attacked the elephants with spears and brought the elephants and the riders down. The elephants became so rattled they began retreating and trampling the Indian soldiers. So once again Alexander the Great became victorious in a battle he shouldn’t have won.
This time Alexander did something completely unexpected. He was so impressed by the way the Indian army fought that he gave the Raja (King) his kingdom back. The Indians couldn’t believe it and Alexander became a hero to the Indian people. His men were extremely upset because some of them lost friends in the battle so they felt like their lives didn’t matter to Alexander.
The troops were at their breaking point and refused to go any further. Alexander was angry about their insubordination but what could he do when thousands of troops were ready to leave him? So after eight years of fighting and over 17,000 miles of marching, Alexander and his troops headed home.
No one knows for sure why he did it but Alexander chose a terrible route home that included a long march through the desert and he lost two-thirds of his army to heat stroke, starvation, and thirst. The men who survived were mad beyond belief. Some soldiers thought Alexander took them through the desert to punish them for demanding they go home while other soldiers thought he was so egotistical that he didn’t even think the desert was a challenge to him.
During his great military campaign he had a historian travel with him and record his accomplishments and the reports were sent home so the citizens already knew of his awe-inspiring accomplishments. Alexander returned home the greatest hero the world had ever seen. His kingdom now ranged from Greece to India, far beyond anything his father had accomplished.
Not long after arriving home Alexander became sick from either malaria or typhoid and died. All of those amazing battles and it took tiny bacteria to kill him. His crazy story doesn’t end here because as they were taking his body back to Macedonia, a large group of soldiers attacked the convoy and stole his body.
They learned later that Alexander’s body ended up in Egypt and placed in a lavish tomb where he could be worshiped. Years later his body was stolen from the tomb and no one knew where it was taken; it still remains a mystery to this day.
Alexander the Great deserves the respect he has been given because of his military genius. He conquered thousands of miles of territory and he did it without losing a single battle; can any other military leader claim this awesome feat?
Through most of his career he was a hero to his men but for some reason he began behaving erratically (some claimed a mental illness), which certainly contributed to losing some respect from his men. At the end of the day though Alexander achieved exactly what he wanted because people (including me), are still talking and writing about him even though he’s been dead for around 2,400 years.