Alexander was born in Greece and had extraordinary parents. His father was a mighty king (King Phillip) and his mom (Olympus) was considered not only beautiful but extraordinarily bright. People also considered her a spiritualist who was dedicated to Greek mythology. One of her favorite gods was the one of Passion and Wine. I can see this god having a large congregation! The craziest thing about her is that she said the Greek god Zeus was the one who impregnated her with Alexander.
King Phillip was a mighty warrior (Alexander worshipped him) and his men loved following him into battle. Of course Alexander had the advantage of learning from his father as soon as he was strong enough to wield a sword; he quickly became a great soldier. Like a lot of powerful men King Phillip had a passion for women which created a lot of discourse in their family because Olympus had a strong personality so she wasn’t the kind of wife that took this kind of thing lightly.
Olympus also had a lot of influence on Alexander and he shared her desire for learning. At the age of 13 she sent him away to study under Aristotle for three years; this of course made him much more intellectually advanced than most of the people around him. One of the things Alexander was most transfixed on was Homer’s stories of the Iliad and the Odyssey and all the battle action that took place. He was most impressed by stories of the great warrior Achilles and that he sacrificed everything in his personal life to fight. Achilles became Alexander’s hero and the type of man he wanted to become.
When he got home from school he found things were in an uproar 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 have to fight for his father’s throne.
This eventually became a non-issue as his father was stabbed in the back at a wedding ceremony and died. The man who killed him was immediately killed which meant they had no idea as to whether he had any accomplices. There were a few rumors that came out including that Olympus had him killed because of his adultery and because she wanted to secure her son’s place on the throne. Another theory is that the man who killed him was a spurned lover (during those times there was a lot of bisexual behavior). And lastly that maybe Alexander had him killed. Alexander was a likely suspect because he would secure the throne as his younger half-brother wasn’t old enough. Plus a lot of people knew that Alexander was livid with his father because he was getting ready to embark upon a major military campaign and he wasn’t taking Alexander with him. Alexander was all hopped up on the stories of Achilles and he also thought he’d be a mighty warrior just like his dad so he wanted to prove himself. Anyhow, nothing was ever proven as to whether or not someone else was in on the killing so Alexander became king at the age of 20.
It took him about a year to get his kingdom under control after his father’s death. Once established he set his sights on Prussia (a comparable campaign to what his father wanted to do), which included modern day Pakistan and Turkey. A hundred years earlier the Prussians ransacked Greece and destroyed a lot of their temples so they wanted revenge.
Alexander ended up being a mighty warrior. People who fought with him said he was driven to be greater than his father; actually obsessed with it. Like Achilles he didn’t care about dying as long as he left a great legacy about his life. It worked as even West Point studies Alexander’s military strategies and tactics.
It didn’t take long for Alexander to gain an even better reputation than his father. He was a brilliant military strategist and he always came across as completely confident which made it easier for his men to follow his directions. Alexander wasn’t the kind of leader who hung out in the back of his army; instead he wanted to be in the mix fighting alongside his men. This inspired his troops to fight even harder.
When Alexander’s army reached Prussia they encountered a much larger army than their own. Part of his strategy was to instill fear into their enemies. He had his men bang their swords against their shields, he had his men swinging their spears, and as they marched towards the Prussian army he had his men do a loud war chant. They charged into battle and quickly caved in Prussia’s left flank. With this opening Alexander charged through looking for Prussia’s king. When he found him he killed his guard but the king got away on horseback. Once the Prussian’ soldiers saw their king running they were scared and some of them began retreating. By the end of the day more than 50,000 Prussian’ soldiers were killed. It was a massacre by Alexander and his army.
Along their way, many kingdoms surrendered so Alexander’s army didn’t have to fight. But then they encountered the kingdom of Tyre. Alexander was livid that they wouldn’t surrender and it ended up taking him 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 their enemies in their route, Alexander had over 2,000 of Tyre’s soldiers crucified.
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 enemies’ leader and tied him to a horse (he was still alive) and dragged him around the city until he died. His head was eventually cut off and kicked around by soldiers. West Point teaches that this brutality was one of the reasons Alexander’s army was so successful. More and more kingdoms were laying down
their arms out of fear. Alexander the Great was good to the places that wouldn’t fight. They didn’t kill anyone and instead treated them with respect because they needed their support as part of Alexander’s expanded kingdom.
One of their greatest 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. This made it much easier for Alexander to add Egypt to his kingdom because the men and women were glad for him to take over their country. They gave him the title of Pharaoh which was what he considered his destiny because Pharaoh’s were considered gods. His ego became larger and larger as people were bowing down to him and even to this day you can see him depicted on temple walls in Egypt. Egyptians were a very proud people so the fact that they included a Greek in the art was amazing.
They kept on marching and reached upper Prussia (modern day Bagdad). This is where they encountered an army three times their size. King Durias who snuck away from their first fight put together a large army in an attempt to get his kingdom back.
Alexander’s army was surrounded but he was smart enough to focus his troops on one section of the enemies’ line and once it was broken they were able to come around and attack Duria’s troops from behind. Then Alexander’s men shifted their focus to the soldiers who were being attacked from behind and the battle was completely changed and Alexander won again. What also happened again is that King Duria ran off but this time he was killed by his own men because of his terrible leadership and cowardice.
Alexander and his men marched on and he ended up being crowned the Lord of Asia. Of course this wasn’t enough for him so he told his men they were going to push east to Kabul. This is the place you’re thinking of so they headed towards what is today Afghanistan. The conditions there were brutal as they had to deal with the same problems we’ve had with them as their fighters were spread out over a large territory instead of in one force. The terrain was terrible and not anything they had encountered before.
Try to visualize this; Alexander the Great took 30,000 troops to Afghanistan 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 travel through it single file. Because of this his army was stretched out over ten miles. Could you imagine?
Speaking (or writing) about his army, things were getting worse within the ranks. The reason for this is that to keep his army large and strong Alexander recruited people from armies they conquered. So all of a sudden Greeks were sharing their space with the Prussians who they had spent years hating. When troop morale is negatively affected their effectiveness in battle takes a hit.
To make matters worse, Alexander’s ego kept getting bigger. During a drunk fest he was bragging about what he had accomplished and that he was a greater warrior than his father. One of the men there was a loyal soldier of Alexander’s father. This man saved Alexander in one of their battles. He got tired of Alexander’s bragging and yelled at him saying everything he is, is because of his father’s influence. A drunken Alexander took a spear and killed the popular military officer. As you can imagine many of Alexander’s top men became extremely concerned by his erratic behavior. This incident wasn’t the only strange thing that began happening as Alexander also told his men they had to bow down anytime they approached him; this greatly upset his men because it diminished their importance. This is another reason why his army began to lose their effectiveness because they started losing respect for their leader.
Alexander the Great heard about a land east of where they were (India) that it was some of the most beautiful land on earth. The Prussians told him they tried several times to attack them but the Indians were too powerful to defeat. This was too tempting for Alexander since no one else was able to beat the Indians; he’d prove that he was mighty enough to do it.
Much to Alexander’s soldiers dismay the Indian army was almost twice the size of theirs and they had a secret weapon that the Greeks had never seen. The Indians used war elephants that were at least nine feet high and weighed tons (this was kind of like having military tanks). The Indian’s would charge their enemies with the elephants and trample the men. The soldiers sitting on top of the elephants had shields and they were so high up that their enemies found it too difficult to kill them; especially with several tons of animal charging towards them.
Alexander quickly revised his strategy and had his men criss-cross and feint moving one direction then charging to another. He didn’t want his men to stack up and go directly towards the enemy because they’d just get mowed down by the elephants. Because they attacked to the side of the elephants it took them mostly out of play because if the elephants tried to move to the side they would trample their own men. He then had his men focus on a attacking the elephants. They used their spears to take the elephants down then killing the soldiers on top of them. The elephants became so rattled they began retreating and trampling the Indian soldiers. So once again Alexander the Great ended up being 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 ended up being a hero to the Indian people. Of course his men were extremely upset because some of them lost friends in the battle that at the end of the day meant nothing. The troops were at their breaking point and refused to go any further (Alexander was livid about their insubordination), 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. He ended up losing two-thirds of his army to heat stroke, starvation, and thirst. The men who survived were mad beyond belief. Some people thought Alexander took them through the desert to punish his troops for demanding they go home. Other people thought he was so egotistical that he didn’t even think the desert was a challenge to him.
Once past the desert they reached the Prussian city of Susa. Alexander’s strange behavior kicked in again as he had 100 of his men marry Prussian women (he married three). Strangely enough his intent was to get the Greek bloodline into Prussia so relations would be better with them once he went back and had to rule them. Most of the men were extremely mad because they hated these people. More disgust began seeping into the ranks as they didn’t have a clue what the 30 year-old Alexander would do next.
Alexander returned home the greatest hero they’d ever seen. During the campaign Alexander had a historian record what they were doing so the citizens knew of his amazing accomplishments. His kingdom now ranged from Greece to India, far beyond anything his father had done. He didn’t last long at home as he became gravely ill after a night of extreme partying. He lived for eleven days then passed away at the age of 32. They didn’t know for sure what Alexander died from because it seemed like alcohol poisoning and regular poisoning weren’t likely because it would’ve killed him faster. They decided that Malaria or Typhoid were probably responsible.
His crazy story doesn’t end there because as they were taking his body back to Macedonia a large group of soldiers attacked the convoy and stole his body. It was found out later that they took his body to Egypt and placed him 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.
There is absolutely no doubt that Alexander the Great deserves the respect he has been given because of his military genius; West Point teaches his military strategies and tactics to this day. He conquered thousands of miles of territory and he did it without losing a single battle; can any other military leader claim this amazing feat? Through most of his career he was a hero to his men but for some reason he began having mental problems which certainly contributed to his demise. If diagnosed today he would be most likely defined as being hypo bi-polar which would account for his sporadic crazy behavior. At the end of the day though Alexander the Great achieved exactly what he wanted because his amazing legacy lives on.
One side note, it was rumored that Alexander was either bi-sexual or homo-sexual. The primary reason for this is that Alexander had a very close friend in his army and they spent a lot of time together. Anytime Alexander would venture away from camp his friend rode with him and it was said that quite frequently they would take one horse. If Alexander was gay it wasn’t a big issue to the Greek soldiers because of the Greek culture of bi-sexuality.