Alexander the Great is, arguably, the most famous secular figure in history. His magnetism in life was rivaled only by his magnetism in death, and the story of his career has evoked vastly different interpretations in his age and ours. Young romantic hero or megalomaniac villain? Alexander III of Macedon conquered all who stood before him, but usually in order to free the lower class. He did more to spread the Hellenistic culture than anyone before or after him. My credibility comes from much studying of his lifestyle, and analysis of many contradicting biographies. With this speech, I hope to display to you most of his feats and battles, as well as the vast quantity of folklore that surrounds his life.
Alexander, was born on or around July 20, 356 BCE, in Pella. The exact date may have been created after the fact to match the date of the burning of the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus. His parents were Philip II of Macedon and Olympias, who descended from Gods according to myth. At 13, Aristotle was hired to tutor Alexander. Under Aristotle, Alexander learned philosophy, ethics, politics, and healing. The two later became estranged, due to their difference of opinion on the status of foreginers; Aristotle saw them as barbarians, while Alexander sought to merge Macedonians and foreigners.
At 14 Alexander surprised all including his father by mounting an untamable horse named Bucephalus. Alexander would later name a city after the site where his horse died in battle.
During 340 BC, Philip II traveled to Byzantium to battle rebels, leaving 16yr old Alexander in charge as Prince Regent. While away, the Maedi, a north Macedonia tribe, revolted. Alexander traveled there, put down the revolt, captured the city and renamed it Alexandropolis.
At the age of 19, Philip II was assassinated. Alexander was a boy king. Cities like Athens and Thebes had pledged allegiance to Philip II, but were not sure if they wanted to do the same for a 19 year old boy. On top of that, barbarians to the north threatened to invade.
Alexander drove the barbarians north of the Danube, then focused on Thebes. He marched to the city, and offered them one final chance to obey him. They refused, and he went on to march into the city and kill nearly everyone. Athens later decided to align with Alexander. In 334 BC, Alexander travels to Asia Minor. He begins freeing Greek cities under Persian rule, which ignites his legend as the great liberator. He defeats King Darius’ army for the first time at the Battle of Granicus. Alexander then traveled to Phrygia, where the Gordian Knot sat. According to legend, he who untied this great knot tied by a long dead king would go on to rule all of Asia Minor. Alexander simply slashed it in two with his sword.
During November, 333 BC, Alexander met Darius in battle for the second time. Though greatly outnumbered, Alexander defeated the Persians, but not before Darius fled. Afterward, Alexander marched into Damascus and captured Darius’ war chest and family. After subduing the entire Aegean coast, Alexander traveled south to Egypt, where the peasants welcomed him as their great liberator. Alexander conquered the Pharaoh and freed all slaves, as well as founding Alexandria. The Egyptians made Alexander their Pharaoh.
In 331 B.C., Alexander left Egypt in search of Darius, and finds him in Gaugamela. The Macedonians slaughtered the Persians, but Alexander again did not succeed in capturing Darius. After this battle, Alexander was named King of Asia, and sent letters to all of his Greek cities, proclaiming he had freed Asia of tyranny. Alexander then received surrenders from Bayblon and Susa, and proceeded to rest his tropps in Persepolis, the capital of Persia. Alexander continued his pursuit of Darius for hundreds of miles from Persepolis. When he finally caught up to him, he found the Persian king dead in his coach, assassinated by his own men. Alexander had the assassins executed and gave Darius a royal funeral.
As the Macedons marched on, the tone of the journey changed. Alexander had adopted the Persian style of dress, rather than his traditional Macedonian clothing, and his troops were unhappy with him. They gradually became more reluctant to follow him, but his charismatic personality persuaded them not to abandon him. The change in Alexander’s attire was but one part of his grand effort to reconcile Greek and Persian culture. He established training programs to teach Persians about Greek and Macedonian culture, and he even married a Persian dancer named Roxane.
In 326 BC, Alexander traveled to India, where he faced Porus, one of India’s most powerful kings. He defeated Porus’ army, who fought with Elephants, something the Macedonians had never seen. Alexander captured Porus and, like all the other local rulers he had defeated, allowed him to continue to govern his territory. Alexander even subdued an independent province and granted it to Porus as a gift. This is the battle where Bucephalus died. Alexander wanted to travel to the Ganges but his soldiers refused. Instead, they took the long way home, with random stops for Alexander to either conquer or debate Indian philosophers. At one of these stops, a fierce tribe, the Malli, wounded him in the ribcage severely.
In 324 B.C.E., Alexander furthered his mission to assimilate Macedonian and Persian cultures when he arranged thousands of marriages between the Greek soldiers and Persian women in Susa. Alexander himself took a second wife, Stateira, one of Darius’ daughters. The next year, Alexander traveled with his men to Babylon despite numerous threatening omens. The omens were so frequent and ominous that Alexander feared that he had fallen out of favor with the gods. He died of a fever on June 10, 323 BC.
Though Alexander died suddenly, and at the age of 33, he left behind a tremendous legacy. Alexander spread the Hellenistic culture far and wide, providing the backbone for culture in the western hemisphere as we know it today. He paved the way for Christianity as well. From the fulfillment of the Gordian knot legend, to the dignified way he conquered countries, Alexander the Great ensured his place in history as one of, if not the greatest ruler of all time.