Alexander the Great
Who is he: Alexander the Third of Macedon, also known as Alexander the Great, was a king of the state of Macedon, located in the northeastern region of Greece. By the time Alexander was 30 he had created one of the largest empires in ancient history, stretching from the Ionian Sea to the Himalayas.
Alexander the Great is remembered best for his cultural diffusion. He settled Greek colonists with their culture and beliefs in his eastern conquests, which created a new Hellenistic culture. Generals throughout the world, even up to modern times, see Alexander the Great as the measure to which they should compare themselves. In fact, his tactical exploits are still taught in the world's military academies.
Alexander died young. His short life reminds us that war and conquest create temporary empires and that only culture and commerce can create lasting, healthy societies. Alexander left behind an empire, but it lasted only as long as he did. Shortly after his death it was divided into four states by quarreling subordinates.
Background: Alexander the Great was born on July 20th or 21st, 356 BC in Pella, Macedon. His nurse, Lanike, raised him in the early years of his life, and later Leonidas and Lysimachus tutored him. He was taught how to read, write, hunt, play the lyre, ride and to fight. When Alexander was ten, he tamed a horse that none other could, which resulted in his father kissing him tearfully and exclaiming that his courage and ambition needed a kingdom bigger than Macedon to contain it.
The horse, Bucephalas, accompanied Alexander through his campaigns and into India. When he died, Alexander named a city after him, Bucephala. When Alexander was 13, he was taught by Aristotle and his classroom was the Temple of the Nymphs at Mieza. Aristotle taught Alexander and his companions about medicine, philosophy, morals, religion, logic and art. Alexander fell in love with the works of Homer, in particular The Illiad. He was given an annotated copy of the work by Aristotle, which accompanied him on his many campaigns. Alexander's tutoring with Aristotle came to an end when he turned 16. His father went to war against the Byzantion and left Alexander as his regent and heir apparent.
In 336 BC, at the age of 20, Alexander the Great became king when his father was assassinated. Upon news of Philip's death, there was revolt among the Thracian and several other tribes, which Alexander quickly quashed. He drove the revolters from their territory, populated it with Greeks, and founded a city named Alexandropolis. To solidify his reign, Alexander had all contenders to the throne eliminated and responded with military force to states that revolted. As he rode through Greece, Alexander stopped at Thermopylae, where he was recognized as the leader of the Amphictyonic League. At Corinth, he was given the title Hegemon, and appointed commander of the upcoming war against Persia.
Alexander the Great subdued the Balkans and razed Thebes to the ground after their second rebellion. This put all of Greece on peaceful terms with Alexander, at least outwardly. Alexander swept through Persia, taking the port cities to cut off Persia's access to the ocean and then moved inland. He conquered Syria and Levant and followed into Egypt. In 332 BC, the Egyptians regarded Alexander the Great as a liberator.
There, Alexander was pronounced the new "master of the Universe" and son of the deity Amun at the Oracle of Siwa Oasis in the Libyan Desert. In 331 BC, he captured Babylon. Alexander the Great adopted many customs of his conquests, like some Persian dress and their title, which he declared himself, "King of Kings." On June 10th or 11th, 323 BC, Alexander was struck down by some sort of illness and subsequently died at the age of only 32.