Alexandros III Philippou Makedonon,
Alexander III of Macedon (356-323 B.C.)
PROJECT by John J. Popovic
Alexander accomplished greater deeds than any other ruler before or after him.

This project is dedicated to the most charismatic and heroic king of all times.

Edition 7.6




Alexandros III Philippou Makedonon (Alexander the Great, Alexander III of Macedon) (356-323 B.C.), King of Macedonia, was born in late July 356 BC in Pella, Macedonia, he was one of the greatest military genius in history. He conquered much of what was then the civilized world, driven by his divine ambition of the world conquest and the creation of a universal world monarchy.Alexander, corniola engraving, 1st. century AD

Arrian describes Alexander: the strong, handsome commander with one eye dark as the night and one blue as the sky, always leading his army on his faithful Bucephalus. Alexander inherited from his father King Philip the best military formation of the time, the Macedonian Phalanx, armed with sarisses - the fearful five and half meter long lances. He was the first great conqueror who reached Greece, Egypt, Asia Minor, and Asia up to western India. He is famous for having created the ethnic fusion of the Macedonians and the Persians. From victory to victory, from triumph to triumph, Alexander created an empire which brought him eternal glory. He brought Greek ideas, culture and life style to the countries which he conquered, and assured expansion and domination of Hellenistic Culture which, together with Roman Civilization and Christianity, constitutes the foundation of what is now called Western Civilization.

Kingdom of Macedon (SE)
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Alexander's Origins

July 357
His parents were Olympias and Philip II and according to some legends and oracles Alexander has divine origins: Zeus and Olympias.

Olympia, golden medal, Albukir treasure, 3rd century BC, Archeologic Museum, ThessalonikiAlexander was born at Pella in Macedonia in late July of 356 BC, on the same day on which the famous Temple of Artemis at Ephesus was destroyed by fire. His father, Philip II of Macedon, was a brilliant ruler and strategist. His mother was Olympias, princess of Epirus, daughter of King Neoptolemus. Olympias was initiated into the cults of Dionysus and Orpheus. She was often jealous, vindictive and very protective of Alexander.

The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, one of the largest temples ever built by the Greeks, circa 550 B.C.

According to tradition, Olympias' ancestor was the mythical hero of the Iliad - Achilles, while his father, Philip II of Macedon, was said to descend from the Zeus' son - Hercules.

Related articles on the net:

Alexander'sOrigins , Plutarch
Thedynasty of Argeidos
Alexander'sBirth, Plutarch
Alexander'sorigin and controversies according various traditions

PERSEUSPROJECT, son of Philip, an Epirot and Aeacid by mother's side: Paus.1.9.8
PERSEUSPROJECT, reputed son of Ammon: Paus. 4.14.8
TheUnMuseum - The Temple of Artemis

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Alexander, Prince of Macedon


Even as a young boy Alexander was fearless and strong. At the age of twelve, he tamed the beautiful and spirited Bucephalus ("ox-head" in Greek), a horse that no one else could ride. Philip was so proud of Alexander's horsemanship that he said:

Later, this famous stallion carried him as far as India up to the Hydaspes River, where he died. There Alexander built the city of Bucephala, in memory of his beloved horse. Prince Alexander was even more ambitious than his father; he was even desperate when he heard of Philip's conquests:

My father will get ahead of me in everything, and will leave nothing great for me to do.

Alexander knew the Iliad by heart. He loved Homer, and always slept with a copy of the Iliad under his pillow.
His first teacher was Leonidas, a relative of Olympias. Leonidas instilled in Alexander his ascetic nature for which he became famous during his future campaigns; he lived simply, in a Spartan way, eating and sleeping together with his troops. Leonidas was replaced with Lysimachus, who taught Prince Alexander to play the lyre, and to appreciate the arts.

Plutarch writes: The care of his education, as it might be presumed, was committed to a great many attendants,  preceptors, and teachers, over the whole of whom Leonidas, a near kinsman of Olympias, a man of an austere temper, presided, who did not indeed himself decline the name of what in reality is a noble and honorable office, but in general his dignity, and his near relationship, obtained him from other people the title of Alexander's foster father and governor. But he who took upon him the actual place and style of his pedagogue was Lysimachus the Acarnanian, who, though he had nothing to recommend him, but his lucky fancy of calling himself Phoenix, Alexander Achilles and Philip Peleus, was therefore well enough esteemed, and ranked in the next degree after Leonidas.

Alexander from age 13 to 16, together with the other boys belonging to the Macedonian aristocracy, was taught by Aristotle at the Mieza temple- about 30 kilometers from the royal palace at Pella; it was the great Greek philosopher himself who introduced them to the world of arts and sciences.

Aristotle, Lysippos

Alexander,Prince Regent
Cammeo con testa di Alessandro, eta ellenistica, collezione Orsini, agata calcedoio, 22 x 19 mm, Napoli, Museo Archeologico NazionaleDuring Philip's expedition against Byzantium in 340, Alexander, then sixteen years old was left in Macedonia in the charge of the royal seal; at that time, he was anything but idle: he managed to subjugate the rebellious Maedi, a Thracian tribe. He took their capital town by storm, drove out the barbarous inhabitants, and created a colony of several nations in their region, calling the new town Alexandropolis.

Philip's autocracy was not appreciated by the Athenians, and Demosthenes considered him semi-barbarian. Obviously the hegemony of Macedonia presented a threat for the autonomous politics of Athens.

Related articles on the net:
Aristotleand Alexander
Bucephalus-various traditions
PERSEUSPROJECT, wives and sons: Paus. 9.7.2
PERSEUSPROJECT, passionate nature: Paus. 6.18.2
PERSEUSPROJECT, good fortune: Paus.4.35.4,Paus.7.10.3
PERSEUSPROJECT, Aristotle's influence with him: Paus. 6.4.8
PERSEUSPROJECT, house at Megalopolis: Paus. 8.32.1
PERSEUSPROJECT, makes Chaeron tyrant of Pellene: Paus. 7.27.7

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Philip's Kingdom


At the battle of Chaeronea Philip defeated the allied Greek states of the Sacred Band of Thebes in September 338 BC. At that time Alexander was only 18, and, having been placed in command of the left wing of Philip's cavalry, he demonstrated personal courage in breaking the Band. It is said he was the first man to dare to charge against the Thebans. Although Philip's army was greatly outnumbered by the Athenian and Theban troops, the Macedonian phalanxes triumphed over them. Athens and Thebes now also came under Philip's rule. Sparta remained the only Greek state not under Macedonian control. This early demonstration of courage made Philip so proud of Alexander that he was even pleased to hear his subjects call him their general and Alexander their king!


At the Council of Corinth, Philip imposed his political system on the Greek states (with exception of Sparta); Philip gave freedom and autonomy to all the political parties in each polis, establishing an administrative system that would be stable and loyal to him.

In 337 divorced Olympias. After a quarrel at a wedding feast, Alexander and his mother left Macedonia. Few months afterward, they were reconciled and Alexander returned; but Philips' life was in danger...

With the support of almost all Greece, Philip declared war on Persia. In the spring of 336 BC, Philip sent Attalus and Parmenion with the army of 10,000 men into Asia Minor to begin with the liberation of Greek coastal cities. But Philip himself was assassinated before he was able to depart.
 Related articles:
Geopolitic map of Macedonia during Philip II

PERSEUS PROJECT, Congress at Corinth,Diodorus,Historical Library 16.89.1
PERSEUS PROJECT, War with Persia,Diodorus,Historical Library 16.91.1
PERSEUS PROJECT, Philip's last days,Diodorus,Historical Library 16.93.1
PERSEUS PROJECT, Assassination of Philip,Diodorus,Historical Library 16.94.1, 16.95.1
TheMurder of Philip II

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The King is dead, Long live the King.
Spring-Autumn 336 BC

Filippo II, copia Romana di un originale greco del IV sec. a.C., Citta' del Vaticano On his way to the theater at Ege, the ancient capital of Macedonia, Philip was assassinated by his officer Pausanias during the celebration of his daughter's wedding to Olympias' brother, Alexander of Epirus, in July 336. 
Alexander was immediately presented to the army as the new king of Macedon. He established his authority far more firmly than anyone thought possible; he was only 20 and for this reason not universally respected. Since Alexander himself was the main beneficiary of his father's murder, he was suspected of complicity, especially as he was only half Macedonian. He addressed himself to the embassies which were present and in affable fashion bade the Greek polises to maintain towards him the same loyalty which they had accorded to his father. Philip's last wife, Cleopatra, had borne a daughter a few days before his assassination, while Attalus, her uncle and guardian, had been sent on ahead to Asia to share the command of the forces with Parmenion. Attalus acquired great popularity in the army. Alexander at once executed all those who were alleged to be behind Philip's murder along with all possible rivals and the whole faction opposed to him. The known victims of this purge were Alexander's own rivals: his older cousin Philip's nephew Amyntas, son of King Perdiccas III; the principal family of Alexander of Lyncestis, although he himself was spared; and Philip's wife Cleopatra and her infant daughter, killed by Olympias. A possible rival for the throne remained Attalus himself; the uncle of Cleopatra (Philip's last wife) was disaffected because of her murder and that of her daughter, but he had no claim to the throne of Macedonia; indeed, he was loyal to Philip and hostile to his assassin. Alexander determined to eliminate Attalus discreetly. Alexander had good reason to fear that he might challenge his rule, making common cause with those of the Greeks who opposed him, and selected among his friends a certain Hecataeus from Cardia and sent him off to Asia with a number of soldiers, under orders to bring back Attalus- accused of high treason- alive if he could, but if not, to assassinate him.

Related articles on the net:

Philip's Assassination, Plutarch
PERSEUSPROJECT, Alexander establishes his authority,Diodorus,HistoricalLibrary 17.2.1
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Consolidation of the Kingdom & European Campaigns

Alexander then marched south, pacified Thessaly, and at an assembly of the Greek League at Corinth was confirmed as strategos autocrator (the supreme commander) of all Greeks for the expected invasion of the Persian Empire, previously planned and initiated by Philip. On his return to Macedonia by way of Delphi, the Pythian priestess acclaimed him as invincible.


He started with blitz campaigns against the Triballiand Ilyrians, which took him across the Danube. He marched into Thrace in Spring 335 and, after forcing through the Shipka Pass and crushing the Triballi, crossed the Danube to subjugate the Getae and Celtic tribes; turning west, he then shattered a coalition of Illyrians who had invaded Macedonia.

The monument erected to the Theban Heroes from Chaeronea, IV th century B.C., ChaeroneaTheGreek states had grown restless under Macedonian hegemony, and Greeks did not support it. In the meantime a rumor of Alexander's death in Illyria had caused a revolt by the Thebans, favored partly by the Athenians and some other Greek states (Arcadia, Eolia, Etholia). Alexander reached Thessaly in seven days and Boeotia five days later. So in only 14 days Alexander marched 380 kilometers from Pelion in Illyria to Thebes. When the Thebans refused to surrender, he made an entry and razed their city to the ground, sparing only the temples and the poet Pindar's house; 6,000 were killed and 30,000 survivors were sold into slavery for 440 Talents of silver.
Related articles:

PERSEUSPROJECT, the danger over the Thebans,Diodorus,HistoricalLibrary17.10.1
PERSEUSPROJECT,destroys Thebes: Paus.4.27.10,7.6.9,7.17.2,9.6.5., 9.7.1,9.23.5,9.25.10
PERSEUSPROJECT,Greeks suffer at his hands: Paus.1.4.1
The destruction of Thebe



The other Greek states were frightened by this cruelty, and Alexander could thus afford himself to treat Athens diplomatically, while Macedonian garrisons were left in Corinth, Chalcis and Cadmea.

Related articles:
PERSEUS PROJECT, Greek states do recognisie Alexander's leadership, Diodorus,HistoricalLibrary 17.04.1

Beginnings of the Alexander invasion of Persia

Alexander had matured the idea of the Persian expedition. He also needed the Persian wealth to maintain the army built by his father and pay off the 500 talents he owed to the ten thousand Greek professional troops, and to Agesilaus of Sparta. Alexander's army in its successful campaign in Persian territory had demonstrated the weaknesses of the Persian Empire. With the Companion Cavalry he could expect to preside over any Persian army. The reason for the invasion of Asia was to liberate the Greek cities taken by the Persians some years before. In spring 334 he crossed the Dardanelles,(i.e. Hellespont), leaving Antipater, the general and friend of his father as his deputy in Europe with over 13,000 troops. Alexander himself commanded about 30,000 foot soldiers and over 5,000 cavalry, of whom nearly 14,000 were Macedonians and about 7,000 allies of the Greek League. This army had an excellent mixture of arms- the lightly armed Cretan and Macedonian archers, the Thracians, and the Agrianian javelin men; the striking force was the cavalry, and the core of the army was the infantry phalanx, 9,000 strong, armed with shields and five -and-one- half meter long spears, the sarises, and the 3,000 men of the royal troops, the hypaspists. Alexander's second in command was Parmenio, who had secured a foothold in Asia Minor during Philip's lifetime; many of his family and supporters were entrenched in responsible positions. The army was accompanied by explorers, engineers, architects, scientists, court officials and historians.

PERSEUSPROJECT,makes war on Darius: Paus. 6.17.5


The Battle of Granicus
On the way he stopped at Troy and afterwards he visited Ilium, at the Granicus River, near the Sea of Marmara (May/June 334), where he confronted his first Persian army which was led by three satraps.

Alessandro, Magnesia, II sec. a.C., Museo Archeologico - Istanbul The Persian plan to tempt Alexander across the river and kill him in the melee almost succeeded; but the Persian line broke, and Alexander's victory was complete. This victory opened western Asia Minor to the Macedonians, and most cities opened their gates. The tyrants were expelled, and in contrast to Macedonian policy in Europe, in Asia were installed democracies. Alexander confirmed his Panhellenic policy, confirmed in the sending of 300 panoplies, i.e. sets of armor, taken at the Granicus as an offering dedicated to Athena at Athens by "Alexander the son of Philip, and the Grecians, except the Lacedaemonians (Spartans), won these from the barbarians who inhabit Asia."
The cities remained de facto under Alexander, and his nomination Calasas satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia confirmed his intention to succeed theGreat King of Persia.
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The Battle of Granicus
TheCampaignsof Alexander
PERSEUS PROJECT, Granicus,thebattle of, Diodorus,HistoricalLibrary17.20.1

PERSEUS PROJECT, Granicus,thebattle of, Diodorus,HistoricalLibrary17.21.1

The prospect of conquering the Persian empire had become more realistic than in 346: Artaxerxes III had died in 338, and the new king was the much weaker Darius II (he succeeded to the Persian throne in 336, after the brief reign of Arses, who, as the trilingual inscription found at Xanthus in 1973 shows, was given the name Artaxerxes IV at birth).

When the city of Miletus refused to open its gates, encouraged by the proximity of the Persian fleet, Alexander took it by assault; without a maritime battle: he disbanded his expensive navy and decided to defeat the Persian fleet on land by occupying the coastal cities. In Caria, Halicarnassus resisted and was destroyed; but Ada, the widow and sister of the satrap Idrieus, adopted Alexander as her son and Alexander appointed her as a satrap of Caria. However, until 332 some parts of Caria held out. On his way toward Babylon, Alexander won several important battles.

Related articles:

Sarcophagus,Constantinople,Archeology museum1
Sarcophagus,Constantinople,Archeology museum2
Sarcophagus,Constantinople,Archeology museum3
Sarcophagus,Constantinople,Archeology museum4

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Alexander conquered western part of Asia Minor in winter 334-333, subjugating the hill tribes of Lycia and Pisidia; and in spring 333 he advanced along the coastal road to Perga. At Gordium in Phrygia, tradition records his cutting of the Gordian knot, which could only be loosed by the man who was to rule Asia. At this point Alexander benefited from the sudden death of Memnon, the competent Greek commander of the Persian fleet. From Gordium he moved to Ancyra and then south through Cappadocia and the Cilician Gates. In the meantime, Darius with his Grand Army had advanced northward on the eastern side of Mt.Amanus.

The Battle of Issus
Intelligence on both sides was imprecise, and the two armies had infact been advancing randomly. Alexander was already encamped by Myriandrus (nearmodern Iskenderun, Turkey) when he find out that Darius was astride hisline of communications at Issus, north of Alexander's position (Autumn 333). Alexander came head to head with King Darius during the Battle of Issus on the north-east Mediterranean coast. Although Alexander was advancing south he was surprised to find Darius approaching from his North! Turning, Alexander found Darius drawn up along the Pinarus River.In the battle that followed, Alexander won a decisive victory, and Darius fled, leaving his family in Alexander's hands.

Alexander was outnumbered many times (perhaps even 10:1). Even so, he held back a reserve force, for the first time in the military history.

After the battle when he entered in the Darius's tent in all its luxury, golden bath, silk carpets, and so on (while Alexander was known for living in spartan conditions in comparison) he is reported to have commented:
"So this is what it means to be a King."

Another famous incident sheds light upon Alexander's and Hephaestion's friendship. Alexander had captured Darius's throne tent with treasure of 3000 talents of gold ( US$ 1.2 billion, 1 TALENT = 27 kg Au), with a complete imperial escort; including Darius's mother, Sisygambis; his wife, Stateira; his harem and other princesses.

When Alexander and Hephaestion went to meet Sisygambis, she prostrated herself at the feet of the most imponent figure in the group. She chose by the mistake the taller Hephaestion! Alexander is said to have responded in a rather friendly fashion:

"Don't worry mother, he is Alexander too."

Alexander treated all the women with great respect "due to their station". An interesting fact is that later when Sisygambis had an opportunity to return to Persians, she had refused.

Related articles and paintings on the net:
PaoloVeronese:The Family of Darius before Alexander
Alexander'sGenerosity, Plutarch

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Conquest of Syria, Phoenicia and Egypt
With the intention to isolate the Persian fleet from its maritime bases and so to destroy it as an effective fighting reconstruction by greg matenkoskiforce, from Issus Alexander marched south into Syria and Phoenicia. The Phoenician cities Marathus and Aradus came over to Alexander with no resistance. In reply to a letter from Darius offering peace, Alexander replied with detemination, demanding unconditional surrender to himself as lord of Asia.

After taking Byblos and Sidon, he met serious resistance at Tyre,where he was refused entry into the island city. The Tyrians walled them- selves inside their island fortress. Alexander could not leave them to attack his rear and he could not attack by sea so he decided to build a land bridge, which still exists. He succeeded finally only after seven months, not on land but in a very brutal naval battle; the Tyrians fired red hot sand at Alexander's fleet. The storming of Tyre in July 332 was Alexander's greatest military achievement; it was followed by a great massacre and the sale of the women and children into slavery.

In the meantime (winter 333-332) the Persians had counterattacked by land in Asia Minor, but they were defeated by Antigonus, the satrap of Greater Phrygia. In the meantime, at sea, the Persians succeeded in recapturing various Ionian cities and islands.

During the siege of Tyre, Darius sent a letter with his offer: he wanted to pay ransom of 10,000 talents for his family and cede all his lands west of the Euphrates.Onthat occasion Alexander's general Parmenio advised him to accept.

"I would accept, were I Alexander." Parmenio said ;
"I too, were I Parmenio!" was Alexander's famous retort;


Leaving Parmenio in Syria, Alexander advanced south without opposition until he reached Gaza on its high mound; there bitter resistance halted him for two months, and he sustained a serious shoulder wound during a sortie.

PERSEUS PROJECT, at Tyre,Diodorus,HistoricalLibrary17.41.1

Alexander in Egypt

In November 332 he reached Egypt, and the Egyptians welcomed him as their liberator. The Persian satrap Mazaces surrendered with no resistance. At Memphis Alexander was sacrificed to Apis, (Hapi) , and was crowned with the traditional double crown of the pharaohs of Egypt; the egyptian priests were placated and their religion encouraged.

Alexander reorganized Egypt employing Egyptian governors, while keeping the army under a separate Macedonian command. He founded the city of Alexandria near the western arm of the Nile between the sea and Lake Mareotis, protected by the island of Pharos, having it planned by the famous Rhodian architect Deinocrates. From Alexandria he marched along the coast to Paraetonium and from there inland to visit the celebrated oracle of Amon at Siwah. About 570 B.C., the Pharaoh Amasis rebuilt a temple in Siwa dedicated to the Amon (also Amun, Ammon, Hammon).
Tradition claims that in Egypt Dionysus founded the oracle of Ammon. One day he was wandering in the waterless desert with his followers when they saw a solitary ram. As they followed the animal it disappeared, but a spring of water was found where it had been. There the god placed the oracle, and set the ram in in heaven as the constellation of Aries. ...When the gods fled to Egypt from the monstrous Typhon, Dionysus changed himself into goat...
The temple oracle was one of the most famous in antiquity and was famed for being able to answer difficult question. According tradition he was descended from the heroes Heracles and Perseus. Both of these heroes had visited the oracle in their lifetime, and Alexander thought it appropriate that he should visit it as well. When he reached the oracle in its oasis, the priest gave him the traditional salutation of a pharaoh, as son of Ammon; Alexander consulted the oracle and: Oracle proclaimed Alexander the son of Deus - Amon (Zeus). It changed his life for ever.

Related articles:
Alexanderin Egypt

PERSEUS PROJECT, foundslatercity of Smyrna: Paus.7.5.1ff.
PERSEUS PROJECT, foundsAlexandria:Paus.5.21.9,Paus.8.33.3
PERSEUS PROJECT, in the Templeof Ammon-Zeus, Diodorus,HistoricalLibrary 17.51.1

Alexander the Great PartTwo
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