Alexander the Great: Facts, biography and accomplishments

Macedonia briefly became the largest empire in the world under the reign of Alexander the Great in the fourth century B.C. Since the formation of the Republic of Macedonia in 1991, Macedonians and Greeks have sparred over which country gets to claim the history of ancient Macedonia as its own. As of February 2019, the country is officially known as the Republic of North Macedonia. Cassander was one of the diadochoi (“successors”), the Macedonian generals who fought over the empire of Alexander the Great after his death in 323. After Antipater’s death in 319, Cassander refused to acknowledge the new regent, Polyperchon. With the aid of Antigonus I Monophthalmus, ruler of Phrygia, Cassander seized Macedonia and most of Greece, including Athens (319–317).

The next year he retrieved it with a spectacular victory, which forced the Athenians to occupy Thermopylae and bar his path to the south. Under Philip V (reigned 221–179) and his son Perseus (reigned 179–168), Macedonia clashed with Rome and lost. (See Macedonian Wars.) Under Roman control Macedonia at first (168–146) formed four independent republics without common bonds. In 146, however, it became a Roman province with the four sections as administrative units.

king of macedonia

The elder son of King Philip V of Macedonia, Perseus commanded troops in his father’s wars against Rome (199) and Aetolia (189). After three years of intriguing against his brother Demetrius, accusing him of coveting the succession, Perseus in 180 persuaded the king to have Demetrius executed. On succeeding to the throne in 179, he extended his influence in Thrace and Illyria but made special efforts to win over the Greek world. To this end he resumed control of the Delphic Amphictyony, established excellent relations with Rhodes, and encouraged revolution in Aetolia and Thessaly.

Philip suffered serious wounds in battle, such as the loss of an eye, a broken shoulder and a damaged leg, according to Worthington. In 334, Alexander embarked on his Asiatic expedition, arriving in Troy that spring. Alexander then faced Persian King Darius III’s army near the Grancius River; Darius’ forces were swiftly defeated. By fall, Alexander and his army had made it across the southern coast of Asia Minor to Gordium, where they took the winter to rest. In the summer of 333, the troops of Alexander and Darius once again went head to head in battle at Issus.

A Roman army forced him to fight at Pydna (in southern Macedonia), where he was defeated by Lucius Aemilius Paullus. After marching as a captive in Aemilius Paullus’s triumph (167), Perseus spent the brief remainder of his life in captivity. Perseus’s failure revealed his inability to reconcile the needs of Macedonia with the reality of Roman predominance. Throughout his reign, he was able to expand the empire to Asia and India.

His son Alexander, later known as Alexander the Great, was able to expand Macedonia. In his haste, Darius left much of his family behind, including his mother, wife, infant son and two daughters. Alexander ordered that they be „honored, and addressed as royalty,” Arrian wrote. After the battle, Darius offered Alexander a ransom for his family and alliance, through marriage. Alexander watched his father campaign nearly every year and win victory after victory. Philip remodeled the Macedonian army from citizen-warriors into a professional organization, wrote Ian Worthington, professor of history and archaeology at Macquarie University, in „Philip II of Macedonia” (Yale University Press, 2010).

Although Alexander’s army was outnumbered, he used his flair for military strategy to create formations that defeated the Persians again and caused Darius to flee. In November of 333, Alexander declared himself the king of Persia after capturing Darius and making him a fugitive. As Alexander was nearing the end of his northern campaign, he was delivered the news that Thebes, a Greek city-state, had forced out the Macedonian troops that were garrisoned there.


  • Leonidas, who had been hired by King Phillip to teach Alexander math, horsemanship and archery, struggled to control his rebellious student.
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  • „The personality of Alexander the Great was a paradox,” Susan Abernethy of The Freelance History Writer told Live Science.
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  • Philip himself organized the Greeks now to keep the peace with him and with each other and to support him in the Persian war overseas.
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  • „The burning heat and the lack of water destroyed a great part of the army and particularly the pack animals,” Arrian wrote.
  • Alexander and Olympia were forced to flee Macedonia and stay with Olympia’s family in Epirus until Alexander and King Philip II were able to reconcile their differences.
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  • Alexander’s legacy remains alive today, according to Cartledge, and is reimagined and reinterpreted by each generation; „There have been many Alexanders, as many as there have been observers, enemies, admirers, worshippers or serious students of the man, and hero, and god.”
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Alexander then moved south along the eastern Mediterranean, continuing a strategy designed to deprive the Persians of their naval bases. Many cities surrendered, but some, such as Tyre, which was on an island in modern-day Lebanon, put up a fight and forced Alexander to lay siege. At the time of his death, Philip was contemplating invading the Persian Empire, also known as the Achaemenid Empire, which at its peak stretched from the Balkan peninsula to modern-day Pakistan and had repeatedly attempted to conquer the Greek world. Philip’s dream was passed onto Alexander, partly via his mother Olympias, according to Abernethy. „She fostered in him a burning dynastic ambition and told him it was his destiny to invade Persia.”

Their participation on the Persian side does not seem to have worsened the poor relations between Macedonia and southern Greece in any way. Following the Greek victory and expulsion of the Persians, Macedon preferred to remain aloof from the rest of Greece and the squabbles and fighting which constantly took place between the Greek city-states and the southern states did the same with Macedon. Alexander I, byname Alexander Philhellene, or Alexander The Wealthy, (died c. 450 bc), 10th king of ancient Macedonia, who succeeded his father, Amyntas I, about 500 bc. More than a decade earlier, Macedonia had become a vassal state of Persia; and in 480 Alexander was obliged to accompany Xerxes I in a campaign through Greece, though he secretly aided the Greek allies. With Xerxes’ apparent acquiescence, Alexander seized the Greek colony of Pydna and advanced his frontiers eastward to the Strymon, taking in Crestonia and Bisaltia, with the rich silver deposits of Mt. Dysorus.

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