Alexander the Great

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Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE) - IPA: /,ælɪg'zɑːndə/ - was probably the greatest general of the ancient world.

He was the son of Philip (II) of Macedon (382-336 BCE). Philip unified Macedonia, built up the Macedonian army, and established Macedonian dominance over the Greek cities. He planned an expedition to liberate the Greek cities of Asia Minor from Persian rule, but was assassinated in 336 before this plan could be put into effect.

On his father's death Alexander ascended the throne as Alexander III and immediately set about implementing the plan he had inherited from his father. In 334 he crossed the Dardanelles and defeated the Persians at the battle of the Granicus (not far from the Dardanelles). Having conquered western and southern Asia Minor he again met and defeated the Persian army at the battle of Issus (near Alexandretta, modern Iskenderun). Rejecting a Persian offer of peace, he spent the next year establishing control of Palestine and Egypt. (By this stage it was clear that he intended to go beyond his father's plan and wished to destroy the Persian Empire.)

In 331 Alexander advanced into Persia, defeating the Persian army at Gaugamela in Mesopotamia (in modern-day Iraq) and occupying the capital cities of the Persian Empire. In 330-329 he led his army through modern-day Iran and Afghanistan to the southern slopes of the Hindu Kush range in northern Pakistan, and in 327-325 he conquered much of Pakistan. He would have advanced even further east had his army not refused to follow him further. The journey back to Greece (in 325-324) was fraught with difficulties, and on his return he faced a multitude of problems, amongst them disloyalty amongst his immediate subordinates and a mutiny by the Macedonian troops.

Alexander died of a fever in 323.

The city of Alexandria (Al-iskandariyyah) in Egypt was founded by Alexander in 330.

See further Demosthenes, Isocrates, Aristotle.