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Readings for Ancient Greece 2 --
Unit 19, Macedonians Conquer!

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1.  Amyntas III of Macedon, Unifier (From Wikipedia)
2.  Philip II of Macedon, Father of Alexander (From Wikipedia)
     2a.  Philip's Tomb (From Discovery News)
3.  Alexander the Great (From Wikipedia)
4.  Alexander the Great Alexander of Macedon Biography (From History of Macedonia)
5.  Alexander timeline (From
     5a.  Alexander Chronology  (From Livius))
6.  Category:  Battles of Alexander the Great (FromWikipedia)
7.  Chronology of the expedition of Alexander the Great into Asia (FromWikipedia)
8.  Diadochi, Alexander's Generals / successors (From Wikipedia)

1.   Amyntas III of Macedon -- considered to be the founder of the unified Macedonian state.

 From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Amyntas III of Macedon
Coin of Amyntas
silver stater Amyntas III
Predecessor Archelaus I
Successor Alexander II
Spouse(s) Eurydice I
Children Alexander II
Perdiccas III
Philip II
Parent(s) Arrhidaeus, son of Amyntas
Relatives Alexander the Great
Amyntas III of Macedon
Born: Unknown Died: 370 BC
Preceded by
King of Macedon
393 BC
Succeeded by
Argaeus II
Preceded by
Argaeus II
King of Macedon
392–370 BC
Succeeded by
Alexander II

Amyntas III (Greek: Ἀμύντας Γ΄; died 370 BC), was a Macedonian king of Macedon in 393 BC, and again from 392 to 370 BC. He was the son of Arrhidaeus and grandson of Amyntas, one of the sons of Alexander I.[1] His most famous son is Philip II, father of Alexander the Great. He is historically considered the founder of the unified Macedonian state.



He came to the throne after the ten years of confusion which followed the death of Archelaus I. But he had many enemies at home; in 393 he was driven out by the Illyrians, but in the following year, with the aid of the Thessalians, he recovered his kingdom. Medius, head of the house of the Aleuadae of Larissa, is believed to have provided aid to Amyntas in recovering his throne. The mutual relationship between the Argeadae and the Aleuadae dates to the time of Archelaus.

To shore up his country against the threat of the Illyrians, Amyntas established an alliance with the Chalkidian League led by Olynthus. In exchange for this support, Amyntas granted them rights to Macedonian timber, which was sent back to Athens to help fortify their fleet. With money flowing into Olynthus from these exports, their power grew. In response, Amyntas sought additional allies. He established connections with Kotys, chief of the Odrysians. Kotys had already married his daughter to the Athenian general Iphicrates. Prevented from marrying into Kotys' family, Amyntas soon adopted Iphicrates as his son.

After the King's Peace 387 BC, Sparta was anxious to re-establish its presence in the north of Greece. In 385 BC, Bardylis and his Illyrians attacked Epirus instigated and aided by Dionysius I of Syracuse,[2] in an attempt to restore the Molossian king Alcetas I of Epirus to the throne. When Amyntas sought Spartan aid against the growing threat of Olynthus, the Spartans eagerly responded. That Olynthus was backed by Athens and Thebes, rivals to Sparta for the control of Greece, provided them with an additional incentive to break up this growing power in the north. Amyntas thus concluded a treaty with the Spartans, who assisted him to reduce Olynthus (379). He also entered into a league with Jason of Pherae, and assiduously cultivated the friendship of Athens. In 371 BC at a Panhellenic congress of the Lacedaemonian allies, he voted in support of the Athenians' claim and joined other Greeks in voting to help Athens to recover possession of Amphipolis.[3][4]

With Olynthus defeated, Amyntas was now able to conclude a treaty with Athens and keep the timber revenues for himself. Amyntas shipped the timber to the house of the Athenian Timotheus, in the Piraeus.


Amyntas married Eurydice, daughter of Sirras of Lynkestis, circa 390.[5] By her, Amyntas had three sons, all of whom became kings of Macedonia one after the other, and a daughter:

Justin also mentions that Amyntas had three sons by another wife, Gygaea (probably and Argead): Archelaus, Arrhidaeus and Menelaus. The fact that they did not try to take the throne before the 350s suggests that they were younger that Amyntas' children by Eurydice. They were ultimately eliminated by their half-brother Philip II because they had a claim to the throne.[5]

Amyntas died at an advanced age, leaving his throne to his eldest son, Alexander II.

See also


  1. Roisman, Joseph (2010), "Classical Macedonia to Perdiccas III", in Roisman, Joseph; Worthington, Ian, A Companion to Ancient Macedonia, Blackwell Publishing, pp. 145–165, ISBN 978-1-4051-7936-2
  2. A History of Greece to 322 B.C. by N. G. L. Hammond. ISBN 0-19-873095-0, 1986, page 479, "Molossi, Alcetas, who was a refugee at his court, Dionysius sent a supply of arms and 2,000 troops to the Illyrians, who burst into Epirus and slaughtered 15,000 Molossians. Sparta intervened as soon as they had learned of the events and expelled the Illyrians, but Alcetas had regained his..."
  3. Aeschines - On the Embassy 2.32
  4. History of Greece [1] by George Grote
  5. Carney, Elizabeth (2000). Women and Monarchy in Macedonia. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 0-8061-3212-4.


2.  Philip II of Macedon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Philip II of Macedon
Philip II of Macedon
Born: 382 BC Died: 336 BC
Preceded by
Perdiccas III
King of Macedon
359–336 BC
Succeeded by
Alexander III the Great

Basileus of Macedon
Filip II
Bust of Philip II of Macedon.
Reign 359–336 BC
Predecessor Perdiccas III
Successor Alexander the Great
Born 382 BC
Pella, Macedon
Died October 336 BC (aged 46)
Aigai, Macedon
Burial Aigai, Macedon
Issue Cynane
Philip III
Alexander the Great
Greek Φίλιππος
House Argead dynasty
Father Amyntas III
Mother Eurydice I
Religion Ancient Greek religion

Philip II of Macedon[1] (Greek: Φίλιππος Β΄ ὁ Μακεδών, Phílippos II ho Makedṓn; 382–336 BC) was the king (Basileus) of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon from 359 BC until his assassination in 336 BC. He was a member of the Argead dynasty, the third son of King Amyntas III, and father of Alexander the Great and Philip III.



See also: Rise of Macedon

Philip was the youngest son of the king Amyntas III and Eurydice I. In his youth (c. 368 – 365 BC), Philip was held as a hostage in Thebes, which was the leading city of Greece during the Theban hegemony. While a captive there, Philip received a military and diplomatic education from Epaminondas, became eromenos of Pelopidas,[2][3] and lived with Pammenes, who was an enthusiastic advocate of the Sacred Band of Thebes.

In 364 BC, Philip returned to Macedon. The deaths of Philip's elder brothers, King Alexander II and Perdiccas III, allowed him to take the throne in 359 BC. Originally appointed regent for his infant nephew Amyntas IV, who was the son of Perdiccas III, Philip managed to take the kingdom for himself that same year.

Philip's military skills and expansionist vision of Macedonian greatness brought him early success. He first had to re-establish a situation which had been greatly worsened by the defeat against the Illyrians in which King Perdiccas himself had died. The Paionians and the Thracians had sacked and invaded the eastern regions of the country, while the Athenians had landed, at Methoni on the coast, a contingent under a Macedonian pretender called Argeus.

Using diplomacy, Philip pushed back the Paionians and Thracians promising tributes, and crushed the 3,000 Athenian hoplites (359). Momentarily free from his opponents, he concentrated on strengthening his internal position and, above all, his army. His most important innovation was doubtless the introduction of the phalanx infantry corps, armed with the famous sarissa, an exceedingly long spear, at the time the most important army corps in Macedonia.

Philip had married Audata, great-granddaughter of the Illyrian king of Dardania, Bardyllis. However, this did not prevent him from marching against them in 358 and crushing them in a ferocious battle in which some 7,000 Illyrians died (357). By this move, Philip established his authority inland as far as Lake Ohrid and earned the favour of the Epirotes.[4]

He agreed with the Athenians, who had been so far unable to conquer Amphipolis, which commanded the gold mines of Mount Pangaion, to lease it to them after its conquest, in exchange for Pydna (lost by Macedon in 363). However, after conquering Amphipolis, he kept both the cities (357). As Athens declared war against him, he allied with the Chalkidian League of Olynthus. He subsequently conquered Potidaea, this time keeping his word and ceding it to the League in 356. One year before, Philip had married the Epirote princess Olympias, who was the daughter of the king of the Molossians.

During 356 BC, Philip also conquered the town of Crenides and changed its name to Philippi: he established a powerful garrison there to control its mines, which granted him much of the gold later used for his campaigns. In the meantime, his general Parmenion defeated the Illyrians again. Also in 356 Alexander was born, and Philip's race horse won in the Olympic Games. In 355–354 he besieged Methone, the last city on the Thermaic Gulf controlled by Athens. During the siege, Philip was injured in his eye. It was later removed surgically.[5] Despite the arrival of two Athenian fleets, the city fell in 354. Philip also attacked Abdera and Maronea, on the Thracian seaboard (354–353).

Map of the territory of Philip II of Macedon.

Philip was involved in the Third Sacred War which had begun in Greece in 356. During the summer of 353 he invaded Thessaly, defeating 7,000 Phocians under the brother of Onomarchus. The latter however defeated Philip in the two succeeding battles. Philip returned to Thessaly the next summer, this time with an army of 20,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry including all Thessalian troops. In the Battle of Crocus Field 6,000 Phocians fell, while 3,000 were taken as prisoners and later drowned.

This battle granted Philip an immense prestige, as well as the free acquisition of Pherae. Philip was also tagus of Thessaly, and he claimed as his own Magnesia, with the important harbour of Pagasae. Philip did not attempt to advance into Central Greece because the Athenians, unable to arrive in time to defend Pagasae, had occupied Thermopylae.

Hostilities with Athens did not yet take place, but Athens was threatened by the Macedonian party which Philip's gold created in Euboea. From 352 to 346 BC, Philip did not again come south. He was active in completing the subjugation of the Balkan hill-country to the west and north, and in reducing the Greek cities of the coast as far as the Hebrus. To the chief of these coastal cities, Olynthus, Philip continued to profess friendship until its neighboring cities were in his hands.

Philip II gold stater, with head of Apollo.

In 349 BC, Philip started the siege of Olynthus, which, apart from its strategic position, housed his relatives Arrhidaeus and Menelaus, pretenders to the Macedonian throne. Olynthus had at first allied itself with Philip, but later shifted its allegiance to Athens. The latter, however, did nothing to help the city, its expeditions held back by a revolt in Euboea (probably paid by Philip's gold). The Macedonian king finally took Olynthus in 348 BC and razed the city to the ground. The same fate was inflicted on other cities of the Chalcidian peninsula.

Macedon and the regions adjoining it having now been securely consolidated, Philip celebrated his Olympic Games at Dium. In 347 BC, Philip advanced to the conquest of the eastern districts about Hebrus, and compelled the submission of the Thracian prince Cersobleptes. In 346 BC, he intervened effectively in the war between Thebes and the Phocians, but his wars with Athens continued intermittently. However, Athens had made overtures for peace, and when Philip again moved south, peace was sworn in Thessaly.

With key Greek city-states in submission, Philip II turned to Sparta; he sent them a message: "If I win this war, you will be slaves forever." In another version, he warned: "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city." According to both accounts, the Spartans' laconic reply was one word: "If". Philip II and Alexander both chose to leave Sparta alone. Later, the Macedonian arms were carried across Epirus to the Adriatic Sea.

Silver tetradrachms dated back to the reign of Philip II

In 345 BC, Philip conducted a hard-fought campaign against the Ardiaioi (Ardiaei), under their king Pluratus, during which he was seriously wounded by an Ardian soldier in the lower right leg.[6]

In 342 BC, Philip led a great military expedition north against the Scythians, conquering the Thracian fortified settlement Eumolpia to give it his name, Philippopolis (modern Plovdiv).

In 340 BC, Philip started the siege of Perinthus. Philip began another siege in 339 of the city of Byzantium. After unsuccessful sieges of both cities, Philip's influence all over Greece was compromised. However, he successfully reasserted his authority in the Aegean by defeating an alliance of Thebans and Athenians at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC, while in the same year, Philip destroyed Amfissa because the residents had illegally cultivated part of the Crisaian plain which belonged to Delphi.

It was these decisive victories that finally secured Philip’s position as having the majority of Greece under Macedonian sovereignty.

Philip created and led the League of Corinth in 337 BC. Members of the League agreed never to wage war against each other, unless it was to suppress revolution. Philip was elected as leader (hegemon) of the army of invasion against the Persian Empire. In 336 BC, when the invasion of Persia was in its very early stage, Philip was assassinated, and was succeeded on the throne of Macedon by his son Alexander III, who later become known as Alexander the Great.

State system and Achaemenid Persian borrowings and influences

As historians Roisman and Worthington state, to Macedonian rulers, Achaemenid Persia stood as an example of statehood and mores.[7] This is especially true of Philip II as he built his power and created many institutions to imitate those known from the Achaemenid Empire.[7] Thus, inspired by Persian achievements, Philip established a Royal Secretary and Archive, and aimed at the elevation of the political as well as religious level, and he used a special throne (Gr. thronos) borrowed from the Achaemenid court to demonstrate his elevated rank.[7] The institution of the Royal Pages (Gr. Paides Basilikoi) was probably inspired by Achaemenid prototype - among their duties, Arrian mentions mounting the king on his horse "in the Persian style".[7] The status of Thrace in 342-334 under the Macedonian sway as a kind of regular satrapy resembled Achaemenid administrative practices, and the organization of the royal court, generally, followed in a fashion of the Achaemenid tradition.[8] Some scholars deny Philip's international borrowings from Persian tradition, but it must be said that states do not develop in a vacuum.[8] For an increasingly powerful Macedonia, the most immediate model of a great monarchy was Persia.[8]


The murder of Philip occurred during October 336 BC, at Aegae, the ancient capital of the kingdom of Macedon. The court had gathered there for the celebration of the marriage between Alexander I of Epirus and Philip's daughter, by his fourth wife Olympias, Cleopatra. While the king was entering unprotected into the town's theater (highlighting his approachability to the Greek diplomats present), he was killed by Pausanias of Orestis, one of his seven bodyguards. The assassin immediately tried to escape and reach his associates who were waiting for him with horses at the entrance of Aegae. He was pursued by three of Philip's bodyguards; tripping on a vine, he died by their hands.

The reasons for Pausanias' assassination of Philip are difficult to expound fully, since there was already controversy among ancient historians. The only contemporary account in our possession is that of Aristotle who states rather tersely that Philip was killed because Pausanias had been offended by the followers of Attalus, uncle of Philip's wife Cleopatra (renamed upon marriage Eurydice).

Fifty years later, the historian Cleitarchus expanded and embellished the story. Centuries later, this version was to be narrated by Diodorus Siculus and all the historians who used Cleitarchus. According to the sixteenth book of Diodorus' history,[9] Pausanias had been a lover of Philip, but became jealous when Philip turned his attention to a younger man, also called Pausanias. The elder Pausanias's taunting of the new lover caused the youth to throw away his life, which turned his friend Attalus against the elder Pausanias. Attalus took his revenge by inviting Pausanias to dinner, getting him drunk, then subjecting him to sexual assault.

When Pausanias complained to Philip, the king felt unable to chastise Attalus, as he was about to send him to Asia with Parmenion, to establish a bridgehead for his planned invasion. He also married Attalus's niece, or daughter, Eurydice. Rather than offend Attalus, Philip tried to mollify Pausanias by elevating him within the bodyguard. Pausanias' desire for revenge seems to have turned towards the man who had failed to avenge his damaged honour, so he planned to kill Philip. Some time after the alleged rape, while Attalus was already in Asia fighting the Persians, he put his plan in action.

Other historians (e.g., Justin 9.7) suggested that Alexander and/or his mother Olympias were at least privy to the intrigue, if not themselves instigators. The latter seems to have been anything but discreet in manifesting her gratitude to Pausanias, according to Justin's report: he says that the same night of her return from exile she placed a crown on the assassin's corpse and erected a tumulus to his memory, ordering annual sacrifices to the memory of Pausanias.

Many modern historians have observed that all the accounts are improbable. In the case of Pausanias, the stated motive of the crime hardly seems adequate. On the other hand, the implication of Alexander and Olympias seems specious: to act as they did would have required brazen effrontery in the face of a military personally loyal to Philip. What seems to be recorded in this are the natural suspicions that fell on the chief beneficiaries of the murder; their actions after the murder, however sympathetic they might seem (if actual), cannot prove their guilt in the deed itself.

Whatever the actual background to the assassination, it might have had an enormous effect on later world history, far beyond what any conspirators could have predicted; as asserted by some modern historians, had the older and more settled Philip been the one in charge of the war against Persia, he might have rested content with relatively moderate conquests, e.g. making Anatolia into a Macedonian province, and not pushed further into an overall conquest of Persia and further campaigns in India.[10]


The dates of Philip's multiple marriages and the names of some of his wives are contested. Below is the order of marriages offered by Athenaeus of Naucratis (flourished about the end of the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd century AD)., 13.557b–e:

Tomb of Philip II at Aigai

Great Tumulus of Aigai

The tomb of Philip II of Macedon at the Museum of the Royal Tombs in Vergina.

The golden larnax and the golden grave crown of Philip.

In 1977, Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos started excavating the Great Tumulus at Aigai[11] near modern Vergina, the capital and burial site of the kings of Macedon, and found that two of the four tombs in the tumulus were undisturbed since antiquity. Moreover, these two, and particularly Tomb II, contained fabulous treasures and objects of great quality and sophistication.[12]

Although there was much debate for some years,[13] as suspected at the time of the discovery Tomb II has been shown to be that of Philip II[14] as indicated by many features including the greaves, one of which was shaped in a way consistent with fitting a leg with a misaligned tibia (Philip II was recorded as having broken his tibia). Also the remains of the skull show damage to the right eye caused by the penetration of an object (historically recorded to be an arrow).[15][16]

A study of the bones published in 2015 indicated that Philip was buried in Tomb I, instead of Tomb II.[17] On the basis of age, knee ankylosis and a hole matching the penetrating wound and lameness suffered by Philip, the authors of the study identified the remains of Tomb I in Vergina as those of Philip II.[17] Tomb II instead was identified in the study as that belonging to King Arrhidaeus and his wife Eurydice II.[17] However this latter theory had previously been shown to be false.[16]

More recent research gives further evidence that Tomb II contains the remains of Philip II.[18]



The heroon at Vergina in Macedonia (the ancient city of Aegae – Αἰγαί) is thought to have been dedicated to the worship of the family of Alexander the Great and may have housed the cult statue of Philip. It is probable that he was regarded as a hero or deified on his death. Though the Macedonians did not consider Philip a god, he did receive other forms of recognition by the Greeks, such as at Eresos (altar to Zeus Philippeios), Ephesos (his statue was placed in the temple of Artemis), and Olympia, where the Philippeion was built.

Isocrates once wrote to Philip that if he defeated Persia, there would be nothing left for him to do but to become a god,[19] and Demades proposed that Philip be regarded as the thirteenth god; however, there is no clear evidence that Philip was raised to the divine status accorded his son Alexander.[20]

Fictional portrayals


  • Hegemony: Philip of Macedon is a PC game about Philip II's campaigns in Greece.
  • Philip II appears in the Battle of Chaeronea in Rome: Total War: Alexander



  1. Philip II of Macedonia: Ian Worthington, Yale University Press, ISBN 0300164769, 9780300164763
  2. Dio Chrysostom Or. 49.5
  3. Homosexualities by Stephen O. Murray,University of Chicago Press,page 42
  4. The Cambridge Ancient History Volume 6: The Fourth Century BC by D. M. Lewis, 1994, page 374, ISBN 0-521-23348-8: "... The victory over Bardylis made him an attractive ally to the Epirotes, who too had suffered at the Illyrians' hands, and his recent alignment ..."
  5. A special instrument known as the Spoon of Dioclese was used to remove his eye.
  6. Ashley, James R., The Macedonian Empire: The Era of Warfare Under Philip II and Alexander the Great, 359–323 BCE., McFarland, 2004, p.114, ISBN 0-7864-1918-0
  7. Roisman & Worthington 2011, p. 345.
  8. Roisman & Worthington 2011, p. 346.
  9. Diodorus Siculus, The Library of History, 16.91-95
  10. Dr. Laurence T. Stevens, "The Assassin Who Launched The Hellenistic Age" in Jane Trent (ed.) "Is History Made By Accident?"
  12. National Geographic article outlining recent archaeological examinations of Tomb II.
  13. Hatzopoulos B. Miltiades, �The Burial of the Dead (at Vergina) or The Unending Controversy on the Identity of the Occupant of Tomb II. ��Tekmiria, vol. 9 (2008)
  15. See John Prag and Richard Neave's report in Making Faces: Using Forensic and Archaeological Evidence, published for the Trustees of the British Museum by the British Museum Press, London: 1997.
  16. Musgrave J, Prag A. J. N. W., Neave R., Lane Fox R., White H. (2010) The Occupants of Tomb II at Vergina. Why Arrhidaios and Eurydice must be excluded, Int J Med Sci 2010; 7:s1–s15
  17. Antonis Bartsiokas; et al. (July 20, 2015). "The lameness of King Philip II and Royal Tomb I at Vergina, Macedonia". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. doi:10.1073/pnas.1510906112.
  18. New Finds from the Cremains in Tomb II at Aegae Point to Philip II and a Scythian Princess, T. G. Antikas* and L. K. Wynn-Antikas, International Journal of Osteoarchaeology
  19. Backgrounds of early Christianity By Everett Ferguson Page 202 ISBN 0-8028-0669-4
  20. The twelve gods of Greece and Rome By Charlotte R. Long Page 207 ISBN 90-04-07716-2
  21. Γενικό Επιτελείο Στρατού: Εμβλήματα Όπλων και Σωμάτων". Hellenic Army General Staff. Retrieved 24 July 2014.


External links


2a.  Remains of Alexander the Great's Father Confirmed Found

// A team of Greek researchers has confirmed that bones found in a two-chambered royal tomb at Vergina, a town some 100 miles away from Amphipolis's mysterious burial mound, indeed belong to the Macedonian King Philip II, Alexander the Great's father.
Unequal greaves and the Scynthian gorytus [(archery case) outside the door to the Philip II tomb chamber -- tkw]  Theodore Antikas

The anthropological investigation examined 350 bones and fragments found in two larnakes, or caskets, of the tomb. It uncovered pathologies, activity markers and trauma that helped identify the tomb's occupants.

Along with the cremated remains of Philip II, the burial, commonly known as Tomb II, also contained the bones of a woman warrior, possibly the daughter of the Skythian King Athea, Theodore Antikas, head of the Art-Anthropological research team of the Vergina excavation, told Discovery News.

The findings will be announced on Friday at the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki. Accompanied by 3,000 digital color photographs and supported by X-ray computed tomography, scanning electron microscopy, and X-ray fluorescence, the research aims to settle a decades-old debate over the cremated skeleton.

Scholars have argued over those bones ever since Greek archaeologist Manolis Andronikos discovered the tomb in 1977-78. He excavated a large mound -- the Great Tumulus -- at Vergina on the advice of the English classicist Nicholas Hammond.

Among the monuments found within the tumulus were three tombs. One, called Tomb I, had been looted, but contained a stunning wall painting of the Rape of Persephone, along with fragmentary human remains.

Tomb II remained undisturbed and contained the almost complete cremated remains of a male skeleton in the main chamber and the cremated remains of a female in the antechamber. Grave goods included silver and bronze vessels, gold wreaths, weapons, armor and two gold larnakes.

Tomb III was also found unlooted, with a silver funerary urn that contained the bones of a young male, and a number of silver vessels and ivory reliefs.

Most of the scholarly debate concentrated on the occupants of Tomb II, with experts arguing that the occupants were either Philip II and Cleopatra or Meda, both his wives, or Philip III Arrhidaeus, Alexander's half-brother, who assumed the throne after Alexander's death, with his wife Eurydice.

King Philip II was a powerful fourth-century B.C. military ruler from the Greek kingdom of Macedon who gained control of Greece and the Balkan peninsula through tactful use of warfare, diplomacy, and marriage alliances (the Macedonians practiced polygamy).

His efforts -- he reformed the Macedonian army and proposed the invasion of Persia -- later provided the basis for the achievements of his son and successor Alexander the Great, who went on to conquer most of the known world.

The overlord of an empire stretching from Greece and Egypt eastward across Asia to India, Alexander died in Babylon, now in central Iraq, in June of 323 B.C. — just before his 33rd birthday.

His elusive tomb is one of the great unsolved mysteries of the ancient world.

Analyzed by Antikas' team since 2009, the male and female bones in Philip II's tomb have revealed peculiarities not previously seen or recorded.

"The individual suffered from frontal and maxillary sinusitis that might have been caused by an old facial trauma," Antikas said.

Such trauma could be related to an arrow that hit and blinded Philip II's right eye at the siege of Methone in 354 B.C. The Macedonian king survived and ruled for another 18 years before he was assassinated at the celebration of his daughter's wedding.

The anthropologists found further bone evidence to support the identification with Philip II, who being a warrior, suffered many wounds, as historical accounts testify.

"He had signs of chronic pathology on the visceral surface of several low thoracic ribs, indicating pleuritis," Antikas said.

He noted that the pathology may have been the effect of Philip's trauma when his right clavicle was shattered with a lance in 345 or 344 B.C.

Male bone in the larnax from the main chamber. A big fragment of the composite material can be seen on top of the bones -- a square, purple-colored material to the right of the gold wreath.   Theodore Antikas

The anthropologist also found an old incised wound on Philip's left hand caused by a sharp-edged object, possibly a weapon.

Degenerative lesions and markers pointed to a middle-aged man who rode a horse frequently.

Examination of the bones revealed a fully-fleshed cremation, further disproving the theory that the remains belong to Philip III Arrhidaeus, who was buried, exhumed, cremated and finally reburied.

"Features such as cracking, color, warping, twisting seen on the bones indicate pyre-induced morphological alterations," Antikas said.

"A typical example is the 90-degree twisting of the left parietal bone of the man's cranium. This would never happen, if the skull were 'dry', coming from an ossuary," he added.

Additional composite material was also found on the bones. Dr. Yannis Maniatis, Head of the Archaeometry Lab at the ''Demokritos'' National Scientific Research Center in Athens, Antikas's team found traces of royal purple, huntite, textile, beeswax and clay belonging to an elaborately made object.

"It was placed on top of the bones after they were cleaned, wrapped and placed in the gold larnax. If they had been burned in the pyre, they would have dissappeared, as its temperature exceeded 800 degrees Celsius at times," Antikas said.

Ongoing investigations carried by Maniatis might reveal the nature and origins of the puzzling composite material. According to the researchers, further evidence for the dead being Philip II is the identity of the female buried in the antechamber, who died at 30 to 34.

"Her age was determined by examining a pelvis bone fragment not seen or identified by previous researchers," Antikas said.

The finding proved extremely important in the complex identification process.

"Basically her age excludes every other wife-concubine of Philip II and indirectly Arrhidaeus, whose wife was under 25," he said.

Morphological alterations in the bones indicate she was cremated just after her death, just like the deceased in the chamber, while equestrian activity indicators suggest she also rode for a long time.

A fracture in the upper end of her left leg caused shortening, atrophy, "and most probably disfiguration," according to Antikas.

"This leads to the conclusion that the pair of mismatched greaves -- the left is shorter -- the Scynthian gorytus and weaponry found in the antechamber belonged to her," he said.

The finding reinforces the assumption made by Hammond as early as 1978 that the spears, arrows, quiver and greaves belonged to a warrior queen in Philip's royal household. Among the candidates proposed by Hammond were Meda, Cynna (the offspring of Philip and Audata, an Illyrian warrior princess) and an unknown daughter of the Scythian king Ateas, defeated by Philip in 339 B.C.

The Scythian theory also strengthens Philip II's identification.

"No Macedonian King other than Philip is known to have had 'relations' with a Scythian," Antikas said.

According to Adrienne Mayor, a research scholar at Stanford University's Departments of Classics and History of Science, the new bioarchaeological analysis of the bones in Tomb II "is a truly exciting discovery, confirming without a doubt that the weapons and mismatched greaves belonged to a horsewoman-archer close to Philip II."

The author of "The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World," Mayor, however, cautions about the Scynthian princess hypothesis.

"Hammond speculated that Ateas might have sent a daughter to Philip during their negotiations. But their dealings were hostile, not friendly, ending in war and the defeat of Ateas in 339 B.C.," Mayor told Discovery News.

"Moreover, as Hammond acknowledged, there is no mention of a daughter of Ateas in any ancient sources that describe Philip's interactions with Ateas or list the names of his wives," she added.

Mayor proposes another possibility -- that the mystery woman could have been a wife selected by Philip from the 20,000 Scythian women he took as prisoners after the defeat of Ateas. The sources report that these women and their horses all escaped when another Scythian tribe attacked Philip's army on its way back to Macedonia.

"Perhaps one of these women, traveling with Philip's entourage, did not escape and remained in the royal house for three years until his death in 336 B.C. When the king was assassinated, a captive Scythian bride from Ateas' coalition may well have felt compelled to commit suicide," Mayor said.

On another finding, Antikas' team shed new light on the remains in Tomb I. His team found in an old storage place with wood cases containing plastics bags filled with never-studied bones from the tomb, which was thought to contain the remains of a male, a female and an infant. This led some scholars to believe Tomb I contained the remains of Philip, his wife Cleopatra, and their few-week-old child.

"From three recently found plastic bags containing over one hundred bone fragments of inhumed individuals, our team analyzed and identified 70 bones," Antikas told Discovery News.

Surprisingly, it emerged that Tomb I contained the remains of at least seven individuals: an adult male, a female, a child, four babies aged 8-10 lunar months and one fetus of 6.5 lunar months.

"This find automatically disproves every previous hypothesis of historians and archaeologista alike that Tomb I was intended for Philip II and his last wife," Antikas said.

Tombs photo gallery

The two Caryatids are fully revealed.

The statues wear high-soled red-and-yellow shoes.

Their toes are finely carved, as the rest of their bodies.

This drawing shows the tomb reconstruction according to the ongoing excavation.

Two finely carved female figures called Caryatids have been unearthed inside the mysterious tomb-in Amphipolis, which dates from the time of Alexander the Great. BLOG: Female Sculptures Guard Mysterious Tomb in Greece

Wearing a sleeved tunic and earrings, the Caryatids feature long, thick hair covering their shoulders. BLOG: Mosaics Revealed at Alexander the Great-Era Tomb

While the face of one sculpture survives nearly intact, the other is missing. PHOTOS: Accidental Archaeological Discoveries

The right arm of one Caryatid and the left arm of the other are both outstretched, as if to symbolically prevent anyone from attempting to enter the grave.

A perfectly preserved rectangular marble block, measuring 14 feet long and 3 feet wide, was unearthed at the bottom of the barrel vault.

On the underside of the large marble block are traces of blue, red and yellow, representing panels with rosettes in the center. Other rosettes were previously found embossed on a marble beam.


3.  Alexander the Great

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the ancient king of Macedon. For other uses, see Alexander the Great (disambiguation).
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great
Argead dynasty
Born: 356 BC 323 BC
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Philip II
King of Macedon
336–323 BC
Succeeded by
Philip III and Alexander IV
Preceded by
Darius III
Great King (Shah) of Persia
330–323 BC
Pharaoh of Egypt
332–323 BC
New creation Lord of Asia
331–323 BC

Basileus of Macedon, Hegemon of the Hellenic League, Shahanshah of Persia, Pharaoh of Egypt, Lord of Asia
Alexander the
                                Great mosaic.jpg
King of Macedonia
Reign 336–323 BC
Predecessor Philip II
Successor Alexander IV
Philip III
Pharaoh of Egypt
Reign 332–323 BC
Predecessor Darius III
Successor Alexander IV
Philip III
King of Persia
Reign 330–323 BC
Predecessor Darius III
Successor Alexander IV
Philip III
King of Asia
Reign 331–323 BC
Predecessor New office
Successor Alexander IV
Philip III

Born 20 or 21 July 356 BC
Pella, Macedon
Died 10 or 11 June 323 BC (aged 32)
Spouse Roxana of Bactria
Stateira II of Persia
Parysatis II of Persia
Issue Alexander IV
Full name
Alexander III of Macedon
  • Μέγας Ἀλέξανδρος[d] (Mégas Aléxandros, Great Alexander)
  • Ἀλέξανδρος ὁ Μέγας (Aléxandros ho Mégas, Alexander the Great)
Dynasty Argead
Father Philip II of Macedon
Mother Olympias of Epirus
Religion Greek polytheism

Alexander III of Macedon (20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great (Greek: Ἀλέξανδρος ὁ Μέγας, Aléxandros ho Mégas [a.lék.san.dros ho mé.gas] ), was a King (Basileus) of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon[a] and a member of the Argead dynasty. Born in Pella in 356 BC, Alexander succeeded his father, Philip II, to the throne at the age of twenty. He spent most of his ruling years on an unprecedented military campaign through Asia and northeast Africa, and by the age of thirty he had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, stretching from Greece to Egypt into northwest India and modern-day Pakistan.[1] He was undefeated in battle and is widely considered one of history's most successful military commanders.[2]

During his youth, Alexander was tutored by the philosopher Aristotle until the age of 16. After Philip's assassination in 336 BC, Alexander succeeded his father to the throne and inherited a strong kingdom and an experienced army. Alexander was awarded the generalship of Greece and used this authority to launch his father's Panhellenic project to lead the Greeks in the conquest of Persia.[3][4] In 334 BC, he invaded the Achaemenid Empire, ruled Asia Minor, and began a series of campaigns that lasted ten years. Alexander broke the power of Persia in a series of decisive battles, most notably the battles of Issus and Gaugamela. He subsequently overthrew the Persian King Darius III and conquered the Achaemenid Empire in its entirety.[b] At that point, his empire stretched from the Adriatic Sea to the Indus River.

Seeking to reach the "ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea", he invaded India in 326 BC, but was eventually forced to turn back at the demand of his troops. Alexander died in Babylon in 323 BC, the city he planned to establish as his capital, without executing a series of planned campaigns that would have begun with an invasion of Arabia. In the years following his death, a series of civil wars tore his empire apart, resulting in several states ruled by the Diadochi, Alexander's surviving generals and heirs.

Alexander's legacy includes the cultural diffusion his conquests engendered, such as Greco-Buddhism. He founded some twenty cities that bore his name, most notably Alexandria in Egypt. Alexander's settlement of Greek colonists and the resulting spread of Greek culture in the east resulted in a new Hellenistic civilization, aspects of which were still evident in the traditions of the Byzantine Empire in the mid-15th century and the presence of Greek speakers in central and far eastern Anatolia until the 1920s. Alexander became legendary as a classical hero in the mold of Achilles, and he features prominently in the history and mythic traditions of both Greek and non-Greek cultures. He became the measure against which military leaders compared themselves, and military academies throughout the world still teach his tactics.[5][c] He is often ranked among the most influential people in human history, along with his teacher Aristotle.[6]


Early life

Lineage and childhood

Bust of a young Alexander the Great from the Hellenistic era, British Museum
Aristotle tutoring Alexander, by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

Alexander was born on the sixth day of the ancient Greek month of Hekatombaion, which probably corresponds to 20 July 356 BC, although the exact date is not known,[7] in Pella, the capital of the Kingdom of Macedon.[8] He was the son of the king of Macedon, Philip II, and his fourth wife, Olympias, the daughter of Neoptolemus I, king of Epirus.[9] Although Philip had seven or eight wives, Olympias was his principal wife for some time, likely a result of giving birth to Alexander.[10]

Several legends surround Alexander's birth and childhood.[11] According to the ancient Greek biographer Plutarch, Olympias, on the eve of the consummation of her marriage to Philip, dreamed that her womb was struck by a thunder bolt, causing a flame that spread "far and wide" before dying away. Some time after the wedding, Philip is said to have seen himself, in a dream, securing his wife's womb with a seal engraved with a lion's image.[12] Plutarch offered a variety of interpretations of these dreams: that Olympias was pregnant before her marriage, indicated by the sealing of her womb; or that Alexander's father was Zeus. Ancient commentators were divided about whether the ambitious Olympias promulgated the story of Alexander's divine parentage, variously claiming that she had told Alexander, or that she dismissed the suggestion as impious.[12]

On the day Alexander was born, Philip was preparing a siege on the city of Potidea on the peninsula of Chalcidice. That same day, Philip received news that his general Parmenion had defeated the combined Illyrian and Paeonian armies, and that his horses had won at the Olympic Games. It was also said that on this day, the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, burnt down. This led Hegesias of Magnesia to say that it had burnt down because Artemis was away, attending the birth of Alexander.[13] Such legends may have emerged when Alexander was king, and possibly at his own instigation, to show that he was superhuman and destined for greatness from conception.[11]

In his early years, Alexander was raised by a nurse, Lanike, sister of Alexander's future general Cleitus the Black. Later in his childhood, Alexander was tutored by the strict Leonidas, a relative of his mother, and by Lysimachus of Acarnania.[14] Alexander was raised in the manner of noble Macedonian youths, learning to read, play the lyre, ride, fight, and hunt.[15]

When Alexander was ten years old, a trader from Thessaly brought Philip a horse, which he offered to sell for thirteen talents. The horse refused to be mounted and Philip ordered it away. Alexander however, detecting the horse's fear of its own shadow, asked to tame the horse, which he eventually managed.[11] Plutarch stated that Philip, overjoyed at this display of courage and ambition, kissed his son tearfully, declaring: "My boy, you must find a kingdom big enough for your ambitions. Macedon is too small for you", and bought the horse for him.[16] Alexander named it Bucephalas, meaning "ox-head". Bucephalas carried Alexander as far as India. When the animal died (due to old age, according to Plutarch, at age thirty), Alexander named a city after him, Bucephala.[17]

Adolescence and education

When Alexander was 13, Philip began to search for a tutor, and considered such academics as Isocrates and Speusippus, the latter offering to resign to take up the post. In the end, Philip chose Aristotle and provided the Temple of the Nymphs at Mieza as a classroom. In return for teaching Alexander, Philip agreed to rebuild Aristotle's hometown of Stageira, which Philip had razed, and to repopulate it by buying and freeing the ex-citizens who were slaves, or pardoning those who were in exile.[18]

Mieza was like a boarding school for Alexander and the children of Macedonian nobles, such as Ptolemy, Hephaistion, and Cassander. Many of these students would become his friends and future generals, and are often known as the 'Companions'. Aristotle taught Alexander and his companions about medicine, philosophy, morals, religion, logic, and art. Under Aristotle's tutelage, Alexander developed a passion for the works of Homer, and in particular the Iliad; Aristotle gave him an annotated copy, which Alexander later carried on his campaigns.[19]

Philip's heir

Regency and ascent of Macedon

Philip II of Macedon, Alexander's father.

At age 16, Alexander's education under Aristotle ended. Philip waged war against Byzantion, leaving Alexander in charge as regent and heir apparent.[11] During Philip's absence, the Thracian Maedi revolted against Macedonia. Alexander responded quickly, driving them from their territory. He colonized it with Greeks, and founded a city named Alexandropolis.[20]

Upon Philip's return, he dispatched Alexander with a small force to subdue revolts in southern Thrace. Campaigning against the Greek city of Perinthus, Alexander is reported to have saved his father's life. Meanwhile, the city of Amphissa began to work lands that were sacred to Apollo near Delphi, a sacrilege that gave Philip the opportunity to further intervene in Greek affairs. Still occupied in Thrace, he ordered Alexander to muster an army for a campaign in Greece. Concerned that other Greek states might intervene, Alexander made it look as though he was preparing to attack Illyria instead. During this turmoil, the Illyrians invaded Macedonia, only to be repelled by Alexander.[21]

Philip and his army joined his son in 338 BC, and they marched south through Thermopylae, taking it after stubborn resistance from its Theban garrison. They went on to occupy the city of Elatea, only a few days' march from both Athens and Thebes. The Athenians, led by Demosthenes, voted to seek alliance with Thebes against Macedonia. Both Athens and Philip sent embassies to win Thebes' favor, but Athens won the contest.[22] Philip marched on Amphissa (ostensibly acting on the request of the Amphictyonic League), capturing the mercenaries sent there by Demosthenes and accepting the city's surrender. Philip then returned to Elatea, sending a final offer of peace to Athens and Thebes, who both rejected it.[23]

Statue of Alexander in Istanbul Archaeology Museum.

As Philip marched south, his opponents blocked him near Chaeronea, Boeotia. During the ensuing Battle of Chaeronea, Philip commanded the right wing and Alexander the left, accompanied by a group of Philip's trusted generals. According to the ancient sources, the two sides fought bitterly for some time. Philip deliberately commanded his troops to retreat, counting on the untested Athenian hoplites to follow, thus breaking their line. Alexander was the first to break the Theban lines, followed by Philip's generals. Having damaged the enemy's cohesion, Philip ordered his troops to press forward and quickly routed them. With the Athenians lost, the Thebans were surrounded. Left to fight alone, they were defeated.[24]

After the victory at Chaeronea, Philip and Alexander marched unopposed into the Peloponnese, welcomed by all cities; however, when they reached Sparta, they were refused, but did not resort to war.[25] At Corinth, Philip established a "Hellenic Alliance" (modeled on the old anti-Persian alliance of the Greco-Persian Wars), which included most Greek city-states except Sparta. Philip was then named Hegemon (often translated as "Supreme Commander") of this league (known by modern scholars as the League of Corinth), and announced his plans to attack the Persian Empire.[26][27]

Exile and return

When Philip returned to Pella, he fell in love with and married Cleopatra Eurydice, the niece of his general Attalus.[28] The marriage made Alexander's position as heir less secure, since any son of Cleopatra Eurydice would be a fully Macedonian heir, while Alexander was only half-Macedonian.[29] During the wedding banquet, a drunken Attalus publicly prayed to the gods that the union would produce a legitimate heir.[28]

At the wedding of Cleopatra, whom Philip fell in love with and married, she being much too young for him, her uncle Attalus in his drink desired the Macedonians would implore the gods to give them a lawful successor to the kingdom by his niece. This so irritated Alexander, that throwing one of the cups at his head, "You villain," said he, "what, am I then a bastard?" Then Philip, taking Attalus's part, rose up and would have run his son through; but by good fortune for them both, either his over-hasty rage, or the wine he had drunk, made his foot slip, so that he fell down on the floor. At which Alexander reproachfully insulted over him: "See there," said he, "the man who makes preparations to pass out of Europe into Asia, overturned in passing from one seat to another."

— Plutarch, describing the feud at Philip's wedding.[30]

Alexander fled Macedon with his mother, dropping her off with her brother, King Alexander I of Epirus in Dodona, capital of the Molossians.[31] He continued to Illyria,[31] where he sought refuge with the Illyrian king and was treated as a guest, despite having defeated them in battle a few years before. However, it appears Philip never intended to disown his politically and militarily trained son.[31] Accordingly, Alexander returned to Macedon after six months due to the efforts of a family friend, Demaratus, who mediated between the two parties.[32]

In the following year, the Persian satrap (governor) of Caria, Pixodarus, offered his eldest daughter to Alexander's half-brother, Philip Arrhidaeus.[31] Olympias and several of Alexander's friends suggested this showed Philip intended to make Arrhidaeus his heir.[31] Alexander reacted by sending an actor, Thessalus of Corinth, to tell Pixodarus that he should not offer his daughter's hand to an illegitimate son, but instead to Alexander. When Philip heard of this, he stopped the negotiations and scolded Alexander for wishing to marry the daughter of a Carian, explaining that he wanted a better bride for him.[31] Philip exiled four of Alexander's friends, Harpalus, Nearchus, Ptolemy and Erigyius, and had the Corinthians bring Thessalus to him in chains.[33]

King of Macedon


The Kingdom of Macedon in 336 BC.

In summer 336 BC, while at Aegae attending the wedding of his daughter Cleopatra to Olympias's brother, Alexander I of Epirus, Philip was assassinated by the captain of his bodyguards, Pausanias.[e] As Pausanias tried to escape, he tripped over a vine and was killed by his pursuers, including two of Alexander's companions, Perdiccas and Leonnatus. Alexander was proclaimed king by the nobles and army at the age of 20.[34][35][36]

Consolidation of power

Alexander began his reign by eliminating potential rivals to the throne. He had his cousin, the former Amyntas IV, executed.[37] He also had two Macedonian princes from the region of Lyncestis killed, but spared a third, Alexander Lyncestes. Olympias had Cleopatra Eurydice and Europa, her daughter by Philip, burned alive. When Alexander learned about this, he was furious. Alexander also ordered the murder of Attalus,[37] who was in command of the advance guard of the army in Asia Minor and Cleopatra's uncle.[38]

Attalus was at that time corresponding with Demosthenes, regarding the possibility of defecting to Athens. Attalus also had severely insulted Alexander, and following Cleopatra's murder, Alexander may have considered him too dangerous to leave alive.[38] Alexander spared Arrhidaeus, who was by all accounts mentally disabled, possibly as a result of poisoning by Olympias.[34][36][39]

News of Philip's death roused many states into revolt, including Thebes, Athens, Thessaly, and the Thracian tribes north of Macedon. When news of the revolts reached Alexander, he responded quickly. Though advised to use diplomacy, Alexander mustered 3,000 Macedonian cavalry and rode south towards Thessaly. He found the Thessalian army occupying the pass between Mount Olympus and Mount Ossa, and ordered his men to ride over Mount Ossa. When the Thessalians awoke the next day, they found Alexander in their rear and promptly surrendered, adding their cavalry to Alexander's force. He then continued south towards the Peloponnese.[40]

Alexander stopped at Thermopylae, where he was recognized as the leader of the Amphictyonic League before heading south to Corinth. Athens sued for peace and Alexander pardoned the rebels. The famous encounter between Alexander and Diogenes the Cynic occurred during Alexander's stay in Corinth. When Alexander asked Diogenes what he could do for him, the philosopher disdainfully asked Alexander to stand a little to the side, as he was blocking the sunlight.[41] This reply apparently delighted Alexander, who is reported to have said "But verily, if I were not Alexander, I would like to be Diogenes."[42] At Corinth, Alexander took the title of Hegemon ("leader") and, like Philip, was appointed commander for the coming war against Persia. He also received news of a Thracian uprising.[43]

Balkan campaign

Before crossing to Asia, Alexander wanted to safeguard his northern borders. In the spring of 335 BC, he advanced to suppress several revolts. Starting from Amphipolis, he traveled east into the country of the "Independent Thracians"; and at Mount Haemus, the Macedonian army attacked and defeated the Thracian forces manning the heights.[44] The Macedonians marched into the country of the Triballi, and defeated their army near the Lyginus river[45] (a tributary of the Danube). Alexander then marched for three days to the Danube, encountering the Getae tribe on the opposite shore. Crossing the river at night, he surprised them and forced their army to retreat after the first cavalry skirmish.[46]

News then reached Alexander that Cleitus, King of Illyria, and King Glaukias of the Taulanti were in open revolt against his authority. Marching west into Illyria, Alexander defeated each in turn, forcing the two rulers to flee with their troops. With these victories, he secured his northern frontier.[47]

While Alexander campaigned north, the Thebans and Athenians rebelled once again. Alexander immediately headed south.[48] While the other cities again hesitated, Thebes decided to fight. The Theban resistance was ineffective, and Alexander razed the city and divided its territory between the other Boeotian cities. The end of Thebes cowed Athens, leaving all of Greece temporarily at peace.[48] Alexander then set out on his Asian campaign, leaving Antipater as regent.[49]

Conquest of the Persian Empire

Asia Minor

Map of Alexander's empire and his route

Alexander's army crossed the Hellespont in 334 BC with approximately 48,100 soldiers, 6,100 cavalry and a fleet of 120 ships with crews numbering 38,000,[48] drawn from Macedon and various Greek city-states, mercenaries, and feudally raised soldiers from Thrace, Paionia, and Illyria.[50] (However, Arrian, who used Ptolemy as a source, said that Alexander crossed with more than 5,000 horse and 30,000 foot; Diodorus quoted the same totals, but listed 5,100 horse and 32,000 foot. Diodorus also referred to an advance force already present in Asia, which Polyaenus, in his Stratagems of War (5.44.4), said numbered 10,000 men.) He showed his intent to conquer the entirety of the Persian Empire by throwing a spear into Asian soil and saying he accepted Asia as a gift from the gods.[48] This also showed Alexander's eagerness to fight, in contrast to his father's preference for diplomacy.[48]

After an initial victory against Persian forces at the Battle of the Granicus, Alexander accepted the surrender of the Persian provincial capital and treasury of Sardis; he then proceeded along the Ionian coast, granting autonomy and democracy to the cities. Miletus, held by Achaemenid forces, required a delicate siege operation, with Persian naval forces nearby. Further south, at Halicarnassus, in Caria, Alexander successfully waged his first large-scale siege, eventually forcing his opponents, the mercenary captain Memnon of Rhodes and the Persian satrap of Caria, Orontobates, to withdraw by sea.[51] Alexander left the government of Caria to a member of the Hecatomnid dynasty, Ada, who adopted Alexander.[52]

From Halicarnassus, Alexander proceeded into mountainous Lycia and the Pamphylian plain, asserting control over all coastal cities to deny the Persians naval bases. From Pamphylia onwards the coast held no major ports and Alexander moved inland. At Termessos, Alexander humbled but did not storm the Pisidian city.[53] At the ancient Phrygian capital of Gordium, Alexander "undid" the hitherto unsolvable Gordian Knot, a feat said to await the future "king of Asia".[54] According to the story, Alexander proclaimed that it did not matter how the knot was undone and hacked it apart with his sword.[55]

The Levant and Syria

Detail of Alexander Mosaic, showing Battle of Issus, from the House of the Faun, Pompeii.
Further information: Battle of Issus and Siege of Tyre (332 BC)

In spring 333 BC, Alexander crossed the Taurus into Cilicia. After a long pause due to illness, he marched on towards Syria. Though outmanoeuvered by Darius' significantly larger army, he marched back to Cilicia, where he defeated Darius at Issus. Darius fled the battle, causing his army to collapse, and left behind his wife, his two daughters, his mother Sisygambis, and a fabulous treasure.[56] He offered a peace treaty that included the lands he had already lost, and a ransom of 10,000 talents for his family. Alexander replied that since he was now king of Asia, it was he alone who decided territorial divisions.

Alexander proceeded to take possession of Syria, and most of the coast of the Levant.[52] In the following year, 332 BC, he was forced to attack Tyre, which he captured after a long and difficult siege.[57][58] Alexander massacred the men of military age and sold the women and children into slavery.[59]


Further information: Siege of Gaza

Name of Alexander the Great in Egyptian hieroglyphs (written from right to left), c. 330 BC, Egypt. Louvre Museum.

When Alexander destroyed Tyre, most of the towns on the route to Egypt quickly capitulated. A later tradition recorded his entry into Jerusalem: according to Josephus, Alexander was shown the Book of Daniel's prophecy, presumably chapter 8, which described a mighty Greek king who would conquer the Persian Empire. He spared Jerusalem and pushed south into Egypt.[60] However, Alexander met with resistance at Gaza. The stronghold was heavily fortified and built on a hill, requiring a siege. When "his engineers pointed out to him that because of the height of the mound it would be impossible… this encouraged Alexander all the more to make the attempt".[61] After three unsuccessful assaults, the stronghold fell, but not before Alexander had received a serious shoulder wound. As in Tyre, men of military age were put to the sword and the women and children were sold into slavery.[62]

Alexander advanced on Egypt in later 332 BC, where he was regarded as a liberator.[63] He was pronounced son of the deity Amun at the Oracle of Siwa Oasis in the Libyan desert.[64] Henceforth, Alexander often referred to Zeus-Ammon as his true father, and after his death, currency depicted him adorned with rams horn as a symbol of his divinity.[65] During his stay in Egypt, he founded Alexandria-by-Egypt, which would become the prosperous capital of the Ptolemaic Kingdom after his death.[66]

Assyria and Babylonia

Further information: Battle of Gaugamela

Leaving Egypt in 331 BC, Alexander marched eastward into Mesopotamia (now northern Iraq) and again defeated Darius, at the Battle of Gaugamela.[67] Darius once more fled the field, and Alexander chased him as far as Arbela. Gaugamela would be the final and decisive encounter between the two. Darius fled over the mountains to Ecbatana (modern Hamedan), while Alexander captured Babylon.[68]


Site of the Persian Gate; the road was built in the 1990s.
Further information: Battle of the Persian Gate

From Babylon, Alexander went to Susa, one of the Achaemenid capitals, and captured its treasury.[68] He sent the bulk of his army to the Persian ceremonial capital of Persepolis via the Persian Royal Road. Alexander himself took selected troops on the direct route to the city. He then stormed the pass of the Persian Gates (in the modern Zagros Mountains) which had been blocked by a Persian army under Ariobarzanes and then hurried to Persepolis before its garrison could loot the treasury.[69]

On entering Persepolis, Alexander allowed his troops to loot the city for several days.[70] Alexander stayed in Persepolis for five months.[71] During his stay a fire broke out in the eastern palace of Xerxes and spread to the rest of the city. Possible causes include a drunken accident or deliberate revenge for the burning of the Acropolis of Athens during the Second Persian War by Xerxes I.[72] Years later upon revisiting the city he had burnt, Alexander would regret the burning of Persepolis.[citation needed] Plutarch recounts an anecdote in which Alexander pauses and talks to a fallen statue of Xerxes the Great as if it were a live person:

Shall I pass by and leave you lying there because of the expeditions you led against Greece, or shall I set you up again because of your magnanimity and your virtues in other respects?[73]

Fall of the Empire and the East

Silver coin of Alexander wearing the lion scalp of Herakles, British Museum.

Alexander then chased Darius, first into Media, and then Parthia.[74] The Persian king no longer controlled his own destiny, and was taken prisoner by Bessus, his Bactrian satrap and kinsman.[75] As Alexander approached, Bessus had his men fatally stab the Great King and then declared himself Darius' successor as Artaxerxes V, before retreating into Central Asia to launch a guerrilla campaign against Alexander.[76] Alexander buried Darius' remains next to his Achaemenid predecessors in a regal funeral.[77] He claimed that, while dying, Darius had named him as his successor to the Achaemenid throne.[78] The Achaemenid Empire is normally considered to have fallen with Darius.[79]

Alexander viewed Bessus as a usurper and set out to defeat him. This campaign, initially against Bessus, turned into a grand tour of central Asia. Alexander founded a series of new cities, all called Alexandria, including modern Kandahar in Afghanistan, and Alexandria Eschate ("The Furthest") in modern Tajikistan. The campaign took Alexander through Media, Parthia, Aria (West Afghanistan), Drangiana, Arachosia (South and Central Afghanistan), Bactria (North and Central Afghanistan), and Scythia.[80]

Spitamenes, who held an undefined position in the satrapy of Sogdiana, in 329 BC betrayed Bessus to Ptolemy, one of Alexander's trusted companions, and Bessus was executed.[81] However, when, at some point later, Alexander was on the Jaxartes dealing with an incursion by a horse nomad army, Spitamenes raised Sogdiana in revolt. Alexander personally defeated the Scythians at the Battle of Jaxartes and immediately launched a campaign against Spitamenes, defeating him in the Battle of Gabai. After the defeat, Spitamenes was killed by his own men, who then sued for peace.[82]

Problems and plots

The killing of Cleitus, André Castaigne 1898–1899

During this time, Alexander adopted some elements of Persian dress and customs at his court, notably the custom of proskynesis, either a symbolic kissing of the hand, or prostration on the ground, that Persians showed to their social superiors.[83] The Greeks regarded the gesture as the province of deities and believed that Alexander meant to deify himself by requiring it. This cost him the sympathies of many of his countrymen, and he eventually abandoned it.[84]

A plot against his life was revealed, and one of his officers, Philotas, was executed for failing to alert Alexander. The death of the son necessitated the death of the father, and thus Parmenion, who had been charged with guarding the treasury at Ecbatana, was assassinated at Alexander's command, to prevent attempts at vengeance. Most infamously, Alexander personally killed the man who had saved his life at Granicus, Cleitus the Black, during a violent drunken altercation at Maracanda (modern day Samarkand in Uzbekistan), in which Cleitus accused Alexander of several judgemental mistakes and most especially, of having forgotten the Macedonian ways in favour of a corrupt oriental lifestyle.[85]

Later, in the Central Asian campaign, a second plot against his life was revealed, this one instigated by his own royal pages. His official historian, Callisthenes of Olynthus, was implicated in the plot; however, historians have yet to reach a consensus regarding this involvement. Callisthenes had fallen out of favor by leading the opposition to the attempt to introduce proskynesis.[86]

Macedon in Alexander's absence

When Alexander set out for Asia, he left his general Antipater, an experienced military and political leader and part of Philip II's "Old Guard", in charge of Macedon.[49] Alexander's sacking of Thebes ensured that Greece remained quiet during his absence.[49] The one exception was a call to arms by Spartan king Agis III in 331 BC, whom Antipater defeated and killed in the battle of Megalopolis.[49] Antipater referred the Spartans' punishment to the League of Corinth, which then deferred to Alexander, who chose to pardon them.[87] There was also considerable friction between Antipater and Olympias, and each complained to Alexander about the other.[88]

In general, Greece enjoyed a period of peace and prosperity during Alexander's campaign in Asia.[89] Alexander sent back vast sums from his conquest, which stimulated the economy and increased trade across his empire.[90] However, Alexander's constant demands for troops and the migration of Macedonians throughout his empire depleted Macedon's manpower, greatly weakening it in the years after Alexander, and ultimately led to its subjugation by Rome.[15]

Indian campaign

Forays into the Indian subcontinent

The phalanx attacking the centre in the Battle of the Hydaspes by André Castaigne (1898–1899)

After the death of Spitamenes and his marriage to Roxana (Raoxshna in Old Iranian) to cement relations with his new satrapies, Alexander turned to the Indian subcontinent. He invited the chieftains of the former satrapy of Gandhara, in the north of what is now Pakistan, to come to him and submit to his authority. Omphis (Indian name Ambhi Kumar), the ruler of Taxila, whose kingdom extended from the Indus to the Hydaspes (Jhelum), complied, but the chieftains of some hill clans, including the Aspasioi and Assakenoi sections of the Kambojas (known in Indian texts also as Ashvayanas and Ashvakayanas), refused to submit.[91] Ambhi hastened to relieve Alexander of his apprehension and met him with valuable presents, placing himself and all his forces at his disposal. Alexander not only returned Ambhi his title and the gifts but he also presented him with a wardrobe of "Persian robes, gold and silver ornaments, 30 horses and 1000 talents in gold". Alexander was emboldened to divide his forces, and Ambhi assisted Hephaestion and Perdiccas in constructing a bridge over the Indus where it bends at Hund (Fox 1973), supplied their troops with provisions, and received Alexander himself, and his whole army, in his capital city of Taxila, with every demonstration of friendship and the most liberal hospitality.

On the subsequent advance of the Macedonian king, Taxiles accompanied him with a force of 5000 men and took part in the battle of the Hydaspes River. After that victory he was sent by Alexander in pursuit of Porus, to whom he was charged to offer favourable terms, but narrowly escaped losing his life at the hands of his old enemy. Subsequently, however, the two rivals were reconciled by the personal mediation of Alexander; and Taxiles, after having contributed zealously to the equipment of the fleet on the Hydaspes, was entrusted by the king with the government of the whole territory between that river and the Indus. A considerable accession of power was granted him after the death of Philip, son of Machatas; and he was allowed to retain his authority at the death of Alexander himself (323 BC), as well as in the subsequent partition of the provinces at Triparadisus, 321 BC.

In the winter of 327/326 BC, Alexander personally led a campaign against these clans; the Aspasioi of Kunar valleys, the Guraeans of the Guraeus valley, and the Assakenoi of the Swat and Buner valleys.[92] A fierce contest ensued with the Aspasioi in which Alexander was wounded in the shoulder by a dart, but eventually the Aspasioi lost. Alexander then faced the Assakenoi, who fought in the strongholds of Massaga, Ora and Aornos.[91]

The fort of Massaga was reduced only after days of bloody fighting, in which Alexander was wounded seriously in the ankle. According to Curtius, "Not only did Alexander slaughter the entire population of Massaga, but also did he reduce its buildings to rubble."[93] A similar slaughter followed at Ora. In the aftermath of Massaga and Ora, numerous Assakenians fled to the fortress of Aornos. Alexander followed close behind and captured the strategic hill-fort after four bloody days.[91]
Alexander's invasion of the Indian subcontinent

After Aornos, Alexander crossed the Indus and fought and won an epic battle against King Porus, who ruled a region in the Punjab, in the Battle of the Hydaspes in 326 BC.[94] Alexander was impressed by Porus's bravery, and made him an ally. He appointed Porus as satrap, and added to Porus' territory land that he did not previously own. Choosing a local helped him control these lands so distant from Greece.[95] Alexander founded two cities on opposite sides of the Hydaspes river, naming one Bucephala, in honor of his horse, who died around this time.[96] The other was Nicaea (Victory), thought to be located at the site of modern-day Mong, Punjab.[97]

Revolt of the army

East of Porus' kingdom, near the Ganges River, were the Nanda Empire of Magadha and further east the Gangaridai Empire (of modern-day Bengal region of the Indian subcontinent). Fearing the prospect of facing other large armies and exhausted by years of campaigning, Alexander's army mutinied at the Hyphasis River (Beas), refusing to march farther east. This river thus marks the easternmost extent of Alexander's conquests.[98]

As for the Macedonians, however, their struggle with Porus blunted their courage and stayed their further advance into India. For having had all they could do to repulse an enemy who mustered only twenty thousand infantry and two thousand horse, they violently opposed Alexander when he insisted on crossing the river Ganges also, the width of which, as they learned, was thirty-two furlongs, its depth a hundred fathoms, while its banks on the further side were covered with multitudes of men-at-arms and horsemen and elephants. For they were told that the kings of the Ganderites and Praesii were awaiting them with eighty thousand horsemen, two hundred thousand footmen, eight thousand chariots, and six thousand war elephants.[99]

Alexander tried to persuade his soldiers to march farther, but his general Coenus pleaded with him to change his opinion and return; the men, he said, "longed to again see their parents, their wives and children, their homeland". Alexander eventually agreed and turned south, marching along the Indus. Along the way his army conquered the Malhi (in modern-day Multan) and other Indian tribes and sustained an injury during the siege.[100]

Alexander sent much of his army to Carmania (modern southern Iran) with general Craterus, and commissioned a fleet to explore the Persian Gulf shore under his admiral Nearchus, while he led the rest back to Persia through the more difficult southern route along the Gedrosian Desert and Makran.[101] Alexander reached Susa in 324 BC, but not before losing many men to the harsh desert.[102]

Last years in Persia

Alexander, left, and Hephaestion, right

Discovering that many of his satraps and military governors had misbehaved in his absence, Alexander executed several of them as examples on his way to Susa.[103][104] As a gesture of thanks, he paid off the debts of his soldiers, and announced that he would send over-aged and disabled veterans back to Macedon, led by Craterus. His troops misunderstood his intention and mutinied at the town of Opis. They refused to be sent away and criticized his adoption of Persian customs and dress and the introduction of Persian officers and soldiers into Macedonian units.[105]

Painting of Alexander the Great at the desecrated tomb of Cyrus the Great

After three days, unable to persuade his men to back down, Alexander gave Persians command posts in the army and conferred Macedonian military titles upon Persian units. The Macedonians quickly begged forgiveness, which Alexander accepted, and held a great banquet for several thousand of his men at which he and they ate together.[106] In an attempt to craft a lasting harmony between his Macedonian and Persian subjects, Alexander held a mass marriage of his senior officers to Persian and other noblewomen at Susa, but few of those marriages seem to have lasted much beyond a year.[104] Meanwhile, upon his return to Persia, Alexander learned that guards of the tomb of Cyrus the Great in Pasargadae had desecrated it, and swiftly executed them.[107] Alexander admired Cyrus, from an early age reading Xenophon's Cyropaedia, which described Cyrus's heroism in battle and governance as a king and legislator.[108] During his visit to Pasargadae Alexander ordered his architect Aristobulus to decorate the interior of the sepulchral chamber of Cyrus' tomb.[108]

Afterwards, Alexander traveled to Ecbatana to retrieve the bulk of the Persian treasure. There, his closest friend and possible lover, Hephaestion, died of illness or poisoning.[109][110] Hephaestion's death devastated Alexander, and he ordered the preparation of an expensive funeral pyre in Babylon, as well as a decree for public mourning.[109] Back in Babylon, Alexander planned a series of new campaigns, beginning with an invasion of Arabia, but he would not have a chance to realize them, as he died shortly thereafter.[111]

Death and succession

A Babylonian astronomical diary (c. 323–322 BC) recording the death of Alexander (British Museum, London)
19th century depiction of Alexander's funeral procession based on the description of Diodorus

On either 10 or 11 June 323 BC, Alexander died in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II, in Babylon, at age 32.[112] There are two different versions of Alexander's death and details of the death differ slightly in each. Plutarch's account is that roughly 14 days before his death, Alexander entertained admiral Nearchus, and spent the night and next day drinking with Medius of Larissa.[113] He developed a fever, which worsened until he was unable to speak. The common soldiers, anxious about his health, were granted the right to file past him as he silently waved at them.[114] In the second account, Diodorus recounts that Alexander was struck with pain after downing a large bowl of unmixed wine in honour of Heracles, followed by 11 days of weakness; he did not develop a fever and died after some agony.[115] Arrian also mentioned this as an alternative, but Plutarch specifically denied this claim.[113]

Given the propensity of the Macedonian aristocracy to assassination,[116] foul play featured in multiple accounts of his death. Diodorus, Plutarch, Arrian and Justin all mentioned the theory that Alexander was poisoned. Justin stated that Alexander was the victim of a poisoning conspiracy, Plutarch dismissed it as a fabrication,[117] while both Diodorus and Arrian noted that they mentioned it only for the sake of completeness.[115][118] The accounts were nevertheless fairly consistent in designating Antipater, recently removed as Macedonian viceroy, and at odds with Olympias, as the head of the alleged plot. Perhaps taking his summons to Babylon as a death sentence,[119] and having seen the fate of Parmenion and Philotas,[120] Antipater purportedly arranged for Alexander to be poisoned by his son Iollas, who was Alexander's wine-pourer.[118][120] There was even a suggestion that Aristotle may have participated.[118]

The strongest argument against the poison theory is the fact that twelve days passed between the start of his illness and his death; such long-acting poisons were probably not available.[121] However, in a 2003 BBC documentary investigating the death of Alexander, Leo Schep from the New Zealand National Poisons Center proposed that the plant white hellebore (Veratrum album), which was known in antiquity, may have been used to poison Alexander.[122][123][124] In a 2014 manuscript in the journal Clinical Toxicology Schep suggested Alexander's wine was spiked with Veratrum album, and that this would produce poisoning symptoms that match the course of events described in the Alexander Romance.[125] Veratrum album poisoning can have a prolonged course and it was suggested that if Alexander was poisoned, Veratrum album offers the most plausible cause.[125][126] Another poisoning explanation put forward in 2010 proposed that the circumstances of his death were compatible with poisoning by water of the river Styx (modern-day Mavroneri in Arcadia, Greece) that contained calicheamicin, a dangerous compound produced by bacteria.[127]

Several natural causes (diseases) have been suggested, including malaria and typhoid fever. A 1998 article in the New England Journal of Medicine attributed his death to typhoid fever complicated by bowel perforation and ascending paralysis.[128] Another recent analysis suggested pyogenic (infectious) spondylitis or meningitis.[129] Other illnesses fit the symptoms, including acute pancreatitis and West Nile virus.[130][131] Natural-cause theories also tend to emphasise that Alexander's health may have been in general decline after years of heavy drinking and severe wounds. The anguish that Alexander felt after Hephaestion's death may also have contributed to his declining health.[128]

After death

Detail of Alexander on the Alexander Sarcophagus.

Alexander's body was laid in a gold anthropoid sarcophagus that was filled with honey, which was in turn placed in a gold casket.[132][133] According to Aelian, a seer called Aristander foretold that the land where Alexander was laid to rest "would be happy and unvanquishable forever".[134] Perhaps more likely, the successors may have seen possession of the body as a symbol of legitimacy, since burying the prior king was a royal prerogative.[135]

While Alexander's funeral cortege was on its way to Macedon, Ptolemy seized it and took it temporarily to Memphis.[132][134] His successor, Ptolemy II Philadelphus, transferred the sarcophagus to Alexandria, where it remained until at least late Antiquity. Ptolemy IX Lathyros, one of Ptolemy's final successors, replaced Alexander's sarcophagus with a glass one so he could convert the original to coinage.[136] The recent discovery of an enormous tomb in northern Greece, at Amphipolis, dating from the time of Alexander the Great [137] has given rise to speculation that its original intent was to be the burial place of Alexander. This would fit with the intended destination of Alexander's funeral cortege.

Pompey, Julius Caesar and Augustus all visited the tomb in Alexandria, where Augustus, allegedly, accidentally knocked the nose off. Caligula was said to have taken Alexander's breastplate from the tomb for his own use. Around AD 200, Emperor Septimius Severus closed Alexander's tomb to the public. His son and successor, Caracalla, a great admirer, visited the tomb during his own reign. After this, details on the fate of the tomb are hazy.[136]

The so-called "Alexander Sarcophagus", discovered near Sidon and now in the Istanbul Archaeology Museum, is so named not because it was thought to have contained Alexander's remains, but because its bas-reliefs depict Alexander and his companions fighting the Persians and hunting. It was originally thought to have been the sarcophagus of Abdalonymus (died 311 BC), the king of Sidon appointed by Alexander immediately following the battle of Issus in 331.[138][139] However, more recently, it has been suggested that it may date from earlier than Abdalonymus' death.

Division of the empire

Main article: Diadochi

Kingdoms of the Diadochi in 281 BC: the Ptolemaic Kingdom (dark blue), the Seleucid Empire (yellow), Kingdom of Pergamon (orange), and Macedonia (green). Also shown are the Roman Republic (light blue), the Carthaginian Republic (purple), and the Kingdom of Epirus (red).

Alexander's death was so sudden that when reports of his death reached Greece, they were not immediately believed.[49] Alexander had no obvious or legitimate heir, his son Alexander IV by Roxane being born after Alexander's death.[140] According to Diodorus, Alexander's companions asked him on his deathbed to whom he bequeathed his kingdom; his laconic reply was "tôi kratistôi"—"to the strongest".[115]

Arrian and Plutarch claimed that Alexander was speechless by this point, implying that this was an apocryphal story.[141] Diodorus, Curtius and Justin offered the more plausible story that Alexander passed his signet ring to Perdiccas, a bodyguard and leader of the companion cavalry, in front of witnesses, thereby nominating him.[115][140]

Perdiccas initially did not claim power, instead suggesting that Roxane's baby would be king, if male; with himself, Craterus, Leonnatus, and Antipater as guardians. However, the infantry, under the command of Meleager, rejected this arrangement since they had been excluded from the discussion. Instead, they supported Alexander's half-brother Philip Arrhidaeus. Eventually, the two sides reconciled, and after the birth of Alexander IV, he and Philip III were appointed joint kings, albeit in name only.[142]

Dissension and rivalry soon afflicted the Macedonians, however. The satrapies handed out by Perdiccas at the Partition of Babylon became power bases each general used to bid for power. After the assassination of Perdiccas in 321 BC, Macedonian unity collapsed, and 40 years of war between "The Successors" (Diadochi) ensued before the Hellenistic world settled into four stable power blocks: Ptolemaic Egypt, Seleucid Mesopotamia and Central Asia, Attalid Anatolia, and Antigonid Macedon. In the process, both Alexander IV and Philip III were murdered.[143]


Diodorus stated that Alexander had given detailed written instructions to Craterus some time before his death.[144] Craterus started to carry out Alexander's commands, but the successors chose not to further implement them, on the grounds they were impractical and extravagant.[144] Nevertheless, Perdiccas read Alexander's will to his troops.[49]

The testament called for military expansion into the southern and western Mediterranean, monumental constructions, and the intermixing of Eastern and Western populations. It included:

  • Construction of a monumental tomb for his father Philip, "to match the greatest of the pyramids of Egypt"[49]
  • Erection of great temples in Delos, Delphi, Dodona, Dium, Amphipolis, and a monumental temple to Athena at Troy[49]
  • Conquest of Arabia and the entire Mediterranean Basin[49]
  • Circumnavigation of Africa[49]
  • Development of cities and the "transplant of populations from Asia to Europe and in the opposite direction from Europe to Asia, in order to bring the largest continent to common unity and to friendship by means of intermarriage and family ties."[145]



The Battle of the Granicus, 334 BC

The Battle of Issus, 333 BC

Alexander earned the epithet "the Great" due to his unparalleled success as a military commander.[48] He never lost a battle, despite typically being outnumbered.[48] This was due to use of terrain, phalanx and cavalry tactics, bold strategy, and the fierce loyalty of his troops.[146] The Macedonian phalanx, armed with the sarissa, a spear 6 metres (20 ft) long, had been developed and perfected by Philip II through rigorous training,[147] and Alexander used its speed and maneuverability to great effect against larger but more disparate[clarification needed] Persian forces.[147] Alexander also recognized the potential for disunity among his diverse army, which employed various languages and weapons. He overcame this by being personally involved in battle,[71] in the manner of a Macedonian king.[148]

In his first battle in Asia, at Granicus, Alexander used only a small part of his forces[citation needed], perhaps 13,000 infantry with 5,000 cavalry, against a much larger Persian force of 40,000. Alexander placed the phalanx at the center and cavalry and archers on the wings, so that his line matched the length of the Persian cavalry line, about 3 km (1.86 mi). By contrast, the Persian infantry was stationed behind its cavalry. This ensured that Alexander would not be outflanked, while his phalanx, armed with long pikes, had a considerable advantage over the Persian's scimitars and javelins. Macedonian losses were negligible compared to those of the Persians.[149]

At Issus in 333 BC, his first confrontation with Darius, he used the same deployment, and again the central phalanx pushed through.[149] Alexander personally led the charge in the center, routing the opposing army.[150] At the decisive encounter with Darius at Gaugamela, Darius equipped his chariots with scythes on the wheels to break up the phalanx and equipped his cavalry with pikes. Alexander arranged a double phalanx, with the center advancing at an angle, parting when the chariots bore down and then reforming. The advance was successful and broke Darius' center, causing the latter to flee once again.[149]

When faced with opponents who used unfamiliar fighting techniques, such as in Central Asia and India, Alexander adapted his forces to his opponents' style. Thus, in Bactria and Sogdiana, Alexander successfully used his javelin throwers and archers to prevent outflanking movements, while massing his cavalry at the center.[150] In India, confronted by Porus' elephant corps, the Macedonians opened their ranks to envelop the elephants and used their sarissas to strike upwards and dislodge the elephants' handlers.[106]

Physical appearance

Roman copy of a herma by Lysippos, Louvre Museum. Plutarch reports that sculptures by Lysippos were the most faithful.

Greek biographer Plutarch (c. 45–120 AD) describes Alexander's appearance as:

¹ The outward appearance of Alexander is best represented by the statues of him which Lysippus made, and it was by this artist alone that Alexander himself thought it fit that he should be modelled. ² For those peculiarities which many of his successors and friends afterwards tried to imitate, namely, the poise of the neck, which was bent slightly to the left, and the melting glance of his eyes, this artist has accurately observed. ³ Apelles, however, in painting him as wielder of the thunder-bolt, did not reproduce his complexion, but made it too dark and swarthy. Whereas he was of a fair colour, as they say, and his fairness passed into ruddiness on his breast particularly, and in his face. 4 Moreover, that a very pleasant odour exhaled from his skin and that there was a fragrance about his mouth and all his flesh, so that his garments were filled with it, this we have read in the Memoirs of Aristoxenus.[151]

Greek historian Arrian (Lucius Flavius Arrianus 'Xenophon' c. 86–160) described Alexander as:

[T]he strong, handsome commander with one eye dark as the night and one blue as the sky.[152][153]

The semi-legendary Alexander Romance also suggests that Alexander suffered from heterochromia iridum: that one eye was dark and the other light.[154]

British historian Peter Green provided a description of Alexander's appearance, based on his review of statues and some ancient documents:

Physically, Alexander was not prepossessing. Even by Macedonian standards he was very short, though stocky and tough. His beard was scanty, and he stood out against his hirsute Macedonian barons by going clean-shaven. His neck was in some way twisted, so that he appeared to be gazing upward at an angle. His eyes (one blue, one brown) revealed a dewy, feminine quality. He had a high complexion and a harsh voice.[155]

Ancient authors recorded that Alexander was so pleased with portraits of himself created by Lysippos that he forbade other sculptors from crafting his image.[156] Lysippos had often used the contrapposto sculptural scheme to portray Alexander and other characters such as Apoxyomenos, Hermes and Eros.[157] Lysippos' sculpture, famous for its naturalism, as opposed to a stiffer, more static pose, is thought to be the most faithful depiction.[158]


Some of Alexander's strongest personality traits formed in response to his parents.[155] His mother had huge ambitions, and encouraged him to believe it was his destiny to conquer the Persian Empire.[155] Olympias' influence instilled a sense of destiny in him,[159] and Plutarch tells us that his ambition "kept his spirit serious and lofty in advance of his years".[160] However, his father Philip was Alexander's most immediate and influential role model, as the young Alexander watched him campaign practically every year, winning victory after victory while ignoring severe wounds.[37] Alexander's relationship with his father forged the competitive side of his personality; he had a need to out-do his father, illustrated by his reckless behavior in battle.[155] While Alexander worried that his father would leave him "no great or brilliant achievement to be displayed to the world",[161] he also downplayed his father's achievements to his companions.[155]

Alexander (left) fighting an Asiatic lion with his friend

Craterus (detail). 3rd century BC mosaic, Pella Museum.

According to Plutarch, among Alexander's traits were a violent temper and rash, impulsive nature,[162] which undoubtedly contributed to some of his decisions.[155] Although Alexander was stubborn and did not respond well to orders from his father, he was open to reasoned debate.[163] He had a calmer side—perceptive, logical, and calculating. He had a great desire for knowledge, a love for philosophy, and was an avid reader.[164] This was no doubt in part due to Aristotle's tutelage; Alexander was intelligent and quick to learn.[155] His intelligent and rational side was amply demonstrated by his ability and success as a general.[162] He had great self-restraint in "pleasures of the body", in contrast with his lack of self control with alcohol.[165]

Alexander was erudite and patronized both arts and sciences.[160][164] However, he had little interest in sports or the Olympic games (unlike his father), seeking only the Homeric ideals of honor (timê) and glory (kudos).[166] He had great charisma and force of personality, characteristics which made him a great leader.[140][162] His unique abilities were further demonstrated by the inability of any of his generals to unite Macedonia and retain the Empire after his death – only Alexander had the ability to do so.[140]

During his final years, and especially after the death of Hephaestion, Alexander began to exhibit signs of megalomania and paranoia.[119] His extraordinary achievements, coupled with his own ineffable sense of destiny and the flattery of his companions, may have combined to produce this effect.[167] His delusions of grandeur are readily visible in his testament and in his desire to conquer the world,[119] in as much, he is by various sources described as having boundless ambition,[168][169] an epithet, the meaning of which, has descended into an historical cliché.[170][171]

He appears to have believed himself a deity, or at least sought to deify himself.[119] Olympias always insisted to him that he was the son of Zeus,[172] a theory apparently confirmed to him by the oracle of Amun at Siwa.[173] He began to identify himself as the son of Zeus-Ammon.[173] Alexander adopted elements of Persian dress and customs at court, notably proskynesis, a practice of which Macedonians disapproved, and were loath to perform.[83] This behavior cost him the sympathies of many of his countrymen.[174] However, Alexander also was a pragmatic ruler who understood the difficulties of ruling culturally disparate peoples, many of whom lived in kingdoms where the king was divine.[175] Thus, rather than megalomania, his behavior may simply have been a practical attempt at strengthening his rule and keeping his empire together.[176]

A mural in Pompeii, depicting the marriage of Alexander to Barsine (Stateira) in 324 BC. The couple are apparently dressed as Ares and Aphrodite.

Personal relationships

Alexander married three times: Roxana, daughter of the Bactrian nobleman Oxyartes, out of love;[177] and the Persian princesses Stateira II and Parysatis II, the former a daughter of Darius III and latter a daughter of Artaxerxes III, for political reasons.[178][179] He apparently had two sons, Alexander IV of Macedon of Roxana and, possibly, Heracles of Macedon from his mistress Barsine. He lost another child when Roxana miscarried at Babylon.[180][181]

Alexander also had a close relationship with his friend, general, and bodyguard Hephaestion, the son of a Macedonian noble.[109][155][182] Hephaestion's death devastated Alexander.[109][183] This event may have contributed to Alexander's failing health and detached mental state during his final months.[119][128]

Alexander's sexuality has been the subject of speculation and controversy.[184] No ancient sources stated that Alexander had homosexual relationships, or that Alexander's relationship with Hephaestion was sexual. Aelian, however, writes of Alexander's visit to Troy where "Alexander garlanded the tomb of Achilles and Hephaestion that of Patroclus, the latter riddling that he was a beloved of Alexander, in just the same way as Patroclus was of Achilles."[185] Noting that the word eromenos (ancient Greek for beloved) does not necessarily bear sexual meaning, Alexander may have been bisexual, which in his time was not controversial.[186]

Green argues that there is little evidence in ancient sources that Alexander had much carnal interest in women; he did not produce an heir until the very end of his life.[155] However, he was relatively young when he died, and Ogden suggests that Alexander's matrimonial record is more impressive than his father's at the same age.[187] Apart from wives, Alexander had many more female companions. Alexander accumulated a harem in the style of Persian kings, but he used it rather sparingly;[188] showing great self-control in "pleasures of the body".[165] Nevertheless, Plutarch described how Alexander was infatuated by Roxana while complimenting him on not forcing himself on her.[189] Green suggested that, in the context of the period, Alexander formed quite strong friendships with women, including Ada of Caria, who adopted him, and even Darius' mother Sisygambis, who supposedly died from grief upon hearing of Alexander's death.[155]


The Hellenistic world view after Alexander: ancient world map of Eratosthenes (276–194 BC), incorporating information from the campaigns of Alexander and his successors.[190]

Alexander's legacy extended beyond his military conquests. His campaigns greatly increased contacts and trade between East and West, and vast areas to the east were significantly exposed to Greek civilization and influence.[15] Some of the cities he founded became major cultural centers, many surviving into the 21st century. His chroniclers recorded valuable information about the areas through which he marched, while the Greeks themselves got a sense of belonging to a world beyond the Mediterranean.[15]

Hellenistic kingdoms

Main article: Hellenistic period

Alexander's most immediate legacy was the introduction of Macedonian rule to huge new swathes of Asia. At the time of his death, Alexander's empire covered some 5,200,000 km2 (2,000,000 sq mi),[191] and was the largest state of its time. Many of these areas remained in Macedonian hands or under Greek influence for the next 200–300 years. The successor states that emerged were, at least initially, dominant forces, and these 300 years are often referred to as the Hellenistic period.[192]

Plan of Alexandria c. 30 BC

The eastern borders of Alexander's empire began to collapse even during his lifetime.[140] However, the power vacuum he left in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent directly gave rise to one of the most powerful Indian dynasties in history, the Maurya Empire. Taking advantage of this power vacuum, Chandragupta Maurya (referred to in Greek sources as "Sandrokottos"), of relatively humble origin, took control of the Punjab, and with that power base proceeded to conquer the Nanda Empire.[193]

Founding of cities

Over the course of his conquests, Alexander founded some twenty cities that bore his name, most of them east of the Tigris.[84][194] The first, and greatest, was Alexandria in Egypt, which would become one of the leading Mediterranean cities.[84] The cities' locations reflected trade routes as well as defensive positions. At first, the cities must have been inhospitable, little more than defensive garrisons.[84] Following Alexander's death, many Greeks who had settled there tried to return to Greece.[84][194] However, a century or so after Alexander's death, many of the Alexandrias were thriving, with elaborate public buildings and substantial populations that included both Greek and local peoples.[84]


Alexander's empire was the largest state of its time, covering approximately 5.2 million square km.

Hellenization was coined by the German historian Johann Gustav Droysen to denote the spread of Greek language, culture, and population into the former Persian empire after Alexander's conquest.[192] That this export took place is undoubted, and can be seen in the great Hellenistic cities of, for instance, Alexandria, Antioch[195] and Seleucia (south of modern Baghdad).[196] Alexander sought to insert Greek elements into Persian culture and attempted to hybridize Greek and Persian culture. This culminated in his aspiration to homogenize the populations of Asia and Europe. However, his successors explicitly rejected such policies. Nevertheless, Hellenization occurred throughout the region, accompanied by a distinct and opposite 'Orientalization' of the successor states.[197]

The core of the Hellenistic culture promulgated by the conquests was essentially Athenian.[198] The close association of men from across Greece in Alexander's army directly led to the emergence of the largely Attic-based "koine", or "common" Greek dialect.[199] Koine spread throughout the Hellenistic world, becoming the lingua franca of Hellenistic lands and eventually the ancestor of modern Greek.[199] Furthermore, town planning, education, local government, and art current in the Hellenistic period were all based on Classical Greek ideals, evolving into distinct new forms commonly grouped as Hellenistic.[195] Aspects of Hellenistic culture were still evident in the traditions of the Byzantine Empire in the mid-15th century.[200]

The Buddha, in Greco-Buddhist style, 1st–2nd century AD, Gandhara, ancient India. Tokyo National Museum.

Some of the most pronounced effects of Hellenization can be seen in Afghanistan and India, in the region of the relatively late-rising Greco-Bactrian Kingdom (250 BC-125 BC) (in modern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan) and the Indo-Greek Kingdom (180 BC - 10 CE) in modern Afghanistan and India.[201] There on the newly formed Silk Road Greek culture apparently hybridized with Indian, and especially Buddhist culture. The resulting syncretism known as Greco-Buddhism heavily influenced the development of Buddhism[citation needed] and created a culture of Greco-Buddhist art. These Greco-Buddhist kingdoms sent some of the first Buddhist missionaries to China, Sri Lanka, and the Mediterranean (Greco-Buddhist monasticism). Some of the first and most influential figurative portrayals of the Buddha appeared at this time, perhaps modeled on Greek statues of Apollo in the Greco-Buddhist style.[201] Several Buddhist traditions may have been influenced by the ancient Greek religion: the concept of Boddhisatvas is reminiscent of Greek divine heroes,[202] and some Mahayana ceremonial practices (burning incense, gifts of flowers, and food placed on altars) are similar to those practiced by the ancient Greeks; however, similar practices were also observed amongst the native Indic culture. One Greek king, Menander I, probably became Buddhist, and was immortalized in Buddhist literature as 'Milinda'.[201] The process of Hellenization also spurred trade between the east and west.[203] For example, Greek astronomical instruments dating to the 3rd century BC were found in the Greco-Bactrian city of Ai Khanoum in modern-day Afghanistan,[204] while the Greek concept of a spherical earth surrounded by the spheres of planets eventually supplanted the long-standing Indian cosmological belief of a disc consisting of four continents grouped around a central mountain (Mount Meru) like the petals of a flower.[203][205][206] The Yavanajataka (lit. Greek astronomical treatise) and Paulisa Siddhanta texts depict the influence of Greek astronomical ideas on Indian astronomy.

Influence on Rome

This medallion was produced in Imperial Rome, demonstrating the influence of Alexander's memory. Walters Art Museum, Baltimore.

Alexander and his exploits were admired by many Romans, especially generals, who wanted to associate themselves with his achievements.[207] Polybius began his Histories by reminding Romans of Alexander's achievements, and thereafter Roman leaders saw him as a role model. Pompey the Great adopted the epithet "Magnus" and even Alexander's anastole-type haircut, and searched the conquered lands of the east for Alexander's 260-year-old cloak, which he then wore as a sign of greatness.[207] Julius Caesar dedicated a Lysippean equestrian bronze statue but replaced Alexander's head with his own, while Octavian visited Alexander's tomb in Alexandria and temporarily changed his seal from a sphinx to Alexander's profile.[207] The emperor Trajan also admired Alexander, as did Nero and Caracalla.[207] The Macriani, a Roman family that in the person of Macrinus briefly ascended to the imperial throne, kept images of Alexander on their persons, either on jewelry, or embroidered into their clothes.[208]

The Greco-Bactrian king Demetrius (reigned c. 200–180 BC), wearing an elephant scalp, took over Alexander's legacy in the east by again invading India, and establishing the Indo-Greek kingdom (180 BC–10 AD).

The coronation of Alexander depicted in medieval European style in the 15th century romance The History of Alexander’s Battles

On the other hand, some Roman writers, particularly Republican figures, used Alexander as a cautionary tale of how autocratic tendencies can be kept in check by republican values.[209] Alexander was used by these writers as an example of ruler values such as amicita (friendship) and clementia (clemency), but also iracundia (anger) and cupiditas gloriae (over-desire for glory).[209]


Legendary accounts surround the life of Alexander the Great, many deriving from his own lifetime, probably encouraged by Alexander himself.[210] His court historian Callisthenes portrayed the sea in Cilicia as drawing back from him in proskynesis. Writing shortly after Alexander's death, another participant, Onesicritus, invented a tryst between Alexander and Thalestris, queen of the mythical Amazons. When Onesicritus read this passage to his patron, Alexander's general and later King Lysimachus reportedly quipped, "I wonder where I was at the time."[211]

In the first centuries after Alexander's death, probably in Alexandria, a quantity of the legendary material coalesced into a text known as the Alexander Romance, later falsely ascribed to Callisthenes and therefore known as Pseudo-Callisthenes. This text underwent numerous expansions and revisions throughout Antiquity and the Middle Ages,[212] containing many dubious stories,[210] and was translated into numerous languages.[213]

In ancient and modern culture

Alexander the Great depicted in a 14th-century Byzantine manuscript

Alexander the Great's accomplishments and legacy have been depicted in many cultures. Alexander has figured in both high and popular culture beginning in his own era to the present day. The Alexander Romance, in particular, has had a significant impact on portrayals of Alexander in later cultures, from Persian to medieval European to modern Greek.[213]

Alexander features prominently in modern Greek folklore, more so than any other ancient figure.[214] The colloquial form of his name in modern Greek ("O Megalexandros") is a household name, and he is the only ancient hero to appear in the Karagiozis shadow play.[214] One well-known fable among Greek seamen involves a solitary mermaid who would grasp a ship's prow during a storm and ask the captain "Is King Alexander alive?". The correct answer is "He is alive and well and rules the world!", causing the mermaid to vanish and the sea to calm. Any other answer would cause the mermaid to turn into a raging Gorgon who would drag the ship to the bottom of the sea, all hands aboard.[214]

Post-Islamic Persian miniature depicting Khidr and Alexander watching the Water of Life revive a salted fish

In pre-Islamic Middle Persian (Zoroastrian) literature, Alexander is referred to by the epithet gujastak, meaning "accursed", and is accused of destroying temples and burning the sacred texts of Zoroastrianism.[215] In Islamic Iran, under the influence of the Alexander Romance (in Persian: اسکندرنامه‎‎ Iskandarnamah), a more positive portrayal of Alexander emerges.[216] Firdausi's Shahnameh ("The Book of Kings") includes Alexander in a line of legitimate Iranian shahs, a mythical figure who explored the far reaches of the world in search of the Fountain of Youth.[217] Later Persian writers associate him with philosophy, portraying him at a symposium with figures such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, in search of immortality.[216]

The Syriac version of the Alexander Romance portrays him as an ideal Christian world conqueror who prayed to "the one true God".[216] In Egypt, Alexander was portrayed as the son of Nectanebo II, the last pharaoh before the Persian conquest.[218] His defeat of Darius was depicted as Egypt's salvation, "proving" Egypt was still ruled by an Egyptian.[216]

The figure of Dhul-Qarnayn (literally "the Two-Horned One") mentioned in the Quran is believed by some scholars to represent Alexander, due to parallels with the Alexander Romance.[216] In this tradition, he was a heroic figure who built a wall to defend against the nations of Gog and Magog.[218] He then traveled the known world in search for the Water of Life and Immortality, eventually becoming a prophet.[218]

In Hindi and Urdu, the name "Sikandar", derived from Persian, denotes a rising young talent.[219] In medieval Europe he was made a member of the Nine Worthies, a group of heroes who encapsulated all the ideal qualities of chivalry.


Apart from a few inscriptions and fragments, texts written by people who actually knew Alexander or who gathered information from men who served with Alexander were all lost.[15] Contemporaries who wrote accounts of his life included Alexander's campaign historian Callisthenes; Alexander's generals Ptolemy and Nearchus; Aristobulus, a junior officer on the campaigns; and Onesicritus, Alexander's chief helmsman. Their works are lost, but later works based on these original sources have survived. The earliest of these is Diodorus Siculus (1st century BC), followed by Quintus Curtius Rufus (mid-to-late 1st century AD), Arrian (1st to 2nd century AD), the biographer Plutarch (1st to 2nd century AD), and finally Justin, whose work dated as late as the 4th century.[15] Of these, Arrian is generally considered the most reliable, given that he used Ptolemy and Aristobulus as his sources, closely followed by Diodorus.[15]

See also


  1. ^ Macedon was an Ancient Greek polity. The Macedonians were a Hellenic tribe. Historiography and scholarship agree that Alexander the Great was Greek.[220]
  2. ^ By the time of his death, he had conquered the entire Achaemenid Persian Empire, adding it to Macedon's European territories; according to some modern writers, this was most of the world then known to the ancient Greeks (the 'Ecumene').[221][222] An approximate view of the world known to Alexander can be seen in Hecataeus of Miletus's map; see Hecataeus world map.
  3. ^ For instance, Hannibal supposedly ranked Alexander as the greatest general;[223] Julius Caesar wept on seeing a statue of Alexander, since he had achieved so little by the same age;[224] Pompey consciously posed as the 'new Alexander';[225] the young Napoleon Bonaparte also encouraged comparisons with Alexander.[226]
  4. ^ The name Ἀλέξανδρος derives from the Greek verb ἀλέξω (alexō) "ward off, avert, defend"[227][228] and ἀνδρ- (andr-), the stem of ἀνήρ (anēr) "man",[229][228] and means "protector of men."[230]
  5. ^ There have been, since the time, many suspicions that Pausanias was actually hired to murder Philip. Suspicion has fallen upon Alexander, Olympias and even the newly crowned Persian Emperor, Darius III. All three of these people had motive to have Philip murdered.[231]


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Primary sources

Secondary sources

Further reading

External links

4.  Alexander the Great Alexander of Macedon Biography

King of Macedonia and Conqueror of the Persian Empire

From History of Macedonia III the Great, the King of Macedonia and conqueror of the Persian Empire is considered one of the greatest military geniuses of all times. He was inspiration for later conquerors such as Hannibal the Carthaginian, the Romans Pompey and Caesar, and Napoleon.  Alexander was born in 356 BC in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedonia. He was son of Philip II, King of Macedonia, and Olympias, the princess of neighboring Epirus.

Alexander spent his childhood watching his father transforming Macedonia into a great military power, winning victory after victory on the battlefields throughout the Balkans.   At age 12 he showed his equestrian skill to his father and all who were watching when he tamed Bucephalus, an unruly stallion horse, unable to be ridden and devouring the flesh of all who had tried. Plutarch writes:

"Philip and his friends looked on at first in silence and anxiety for the result, till seeing him turn at the end of his career, and come back rejoicing and triumphing for what he had performed, they all burst out into acclamations of applause; and his father shedding tears, it is said, for joy, kissed him as he came down from his horse, and in his transport said, 'O my son, look thee out a kingdom equal to and worthy of thyself, for Macedonia is too little for thee' " (Alex. 6.8.).

Alexander would ride Bucephalus in all of his major battles, together till the very end. When he was 13, Philip hired the Greek philosopher Aristotle to be Alexander’s personal tutor.  During the next three years Aristotle gave Alexander a training in rhetoric and literature and stimulated his interest in science, medicine, and philosophy, all of which became of importance in Alexander’s later life. 

In 340, when Philip assembled a large Macedonian army and invaded Thrace, he left his 16 years old son with the power to rule Macedonia in his absence as regent, which shows that even at such young age Alexander was recognized as quite capable.  But as the Macedonian army advanced deep into Thrace, the Thracian tribe of Maedi bordering north-eastern Macedonia rebelled and posed a danger to the country.  Alexander assembled an army, led it against the rebels, and with swift action defeated the Maedi, captured their stronghold, and renamed it after himself to Alexandropolis.  Two years later in 338 BC, Philip gave his son a commanding post among the senior generals as the Macedonian army invaded Greece. At the Battle of Chaeronea the Greeks were defeated and Alexander displayed his bravery by destroying the elite Greek force, the Theban Secret Band. Some ancient historians recorded that the Macedonians won the battle thanks to his bravery.


Family Split and the Assassination of Philip II

But not too long after the defeat of the Greeks at Chaeronea, the royal family split apart when Philip married Cleopatra, a Macedonian girl of high nobility. At the wedding banquet, Cleopatra's uncle, general Attalus, made a remark about Philip fathering a ‘legitimate’ heir, i.e., one that was of pure Macedonian blood. Alexander threw his cup at the man, blasting him for calling him 'bastard child’. Philip stood up, drew his sword, and charged at Alexander, only to trip and fall on his face in his drunken stupor at which Alexander shouted:  

"Here is the man who was making ready to cross from Europe to Asia, and who cannot even cross from one table to another without losing his balance."

He then took his mother and fled the country to Epirus. Although allowed to return later, Alexander remained isolated and insecure at the Macedonian court. 




Gold Medallion of Philip II of Macedon

Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris

Gold Medallion of Olympias

Walters Art Museum, Baltimore    



In the spring of 336 BC, with Philip’s Persian invasion already set in motion, the king was assassinated by a young Macedonian noble Pausanias, during the wedding ceremony in Aegae, the old capital of Macedonia.  Why Pausanias killed the Macedonian king is a question that puzzled both ancient and modern historians. There is a claim that Pausanias was driven into committing the murder because he was denied justice by the king when he sought his support in punishing the Cleopatra's uncle Attalus for earlier mistreatment. But there are also reports that that both Olympias and Alexander were responsible for the assassination, by driving the young man into committing the act. That might explain why Pausanias was instantly put to death by Alexander's close friends as he attempted to flee the scene, instead of being captured alive and tried before the Macedonian assembly.  Philip, the great Macedonian conqueror was dead, the man who liberated his own country and brought if from the edge of the abyss into a world power. His dream of conquering the Persian Empire now lays on his successor, his son king Alexander III. 



Macedonia at Philip's death (336 BC)



Suppression of the Thracian, Illyrian, and Greek Rebellions


Once he ascended on the Macedonian throne, Alexander quickly disposed of all of his domestic enemies by ordering their execution.  But soon he had to act outside Macedonia.  Philip’s death caused series of rebellions among the conquered nations and the Illyrians, Thracians, and Greeks saw a chance for independence.  Alexander acted swiftly.  He forced his way into Greece despite the roads leading to the country being blocked by the Thessalians.  As soon as he restored Macedonian rule in northern Greece, he marched into southern Greece.  His speed surprised the Greeks and by the end of the summer 336 BC they had no other choice but to acknowledge his authority.

Believing that Greece would remain calm, Alexander returned to Macedonia, marched east into Thrace, and campaigned as far as the Danube river.  He defeated the Thracians and Tribalians in series of battles and drove the rebels beyond the river. Then he marched back across Macedonia and on his return crushed in a single week the threatening Illyrians, before they could receive additional reinforcements.

But now in Greece, upon rumors of his death, a major revolt broke out that engulfed the whole nation.  Enraged, Alexander marched south covering 240 miles in two weeks and appeared before the walls of Thebes with a large Macedonian army.  He let the Greeks know that it was not too late for them to change their minds, but the Thebans confident in their position called for all the Greeks who wished to set Greece free to join them against the Macedonians.  They were not aware that the Athenians and the Peloponnesians, stunned by the speed of the Macedonian king, quickly reconsidered their options and were now awaiting the outcome of the battle before they make their next move.

Alexander's general Perdiccas attacked the gates, broke into the city, and Alexander moved with the rest of the army behind him to prevent the Thebans from cutting him off.  The Macedonians stormed the city, killing everyone in sight, women and children included.  6,000 Thebans citizens died and 30,000 more were sold as slaves. The city where Alexander's father was kept as hostage for three years, was plundered, sacked, burned, and razed to the ground, just like Philip acted with Methone, Olynthus, and the rest of the Greek cities in Chalcidice.  Only the temples and the house of the poet Pindar were spared from destruction. This was to be an example to the rest of Greece and Athens and the other Greek city-states quickly rethought their quest for freedom.  Greece remained under Macedonian rule.

 Battle of Granicus

With the conquered territories firmly in Macedonian control, Alexander completed the final preparations for the invasion of Asia.  The 22 year-old king appointed Philip's experienced general Antipater as regent in his absence to preside over the affairs of Macedonia and Greece, left him a significant force of 13,500 Macedonian soldiers to watch Greece, Thrace, Illyria, and protect Macedonia, and set out for the Hellespont (modern Dardanelles) in the spring of 334 BC. 


Alexander the Great performing sacrifice aboard Macedonian battleship


As his ship approached the Asia Minor's coast, he threw his spear from aboard and stuck it in the ground. He stepped onto the shore, pulled the weapon from the soil, and declared that the whole of Asia would be won by the Macedonian spear.   


Asia will be won by the Macedonian spear!


In the army there were 25,000 Macedonians, 7,600 Greeks, and 7,000 Thracians and Illyrians, but the chief officers were all Macedonians, and Macedonians also commanded the foreign troops.  Alexander's second in command was Philip's general Parmenio, the other important commanders being Perdiccas, Craterus, Coenus, Meleager, Antigonus, and Parmenio's son Philotas. The army soon encountered the forces of King Darius III. There were 40,000 Persians and Greeks (20,000 each) waiting for them at the crossing of the river Granicus, near the ancient city of Troy.  These Greeks had joined the Persians in the years following the defeat of the Greek army by Philip II at Chaeronea.  It is important to note the number of Greeks on the both sides. The Greeks in the Macedonian train were mobilized by the Macedonians, and historians Peter Green and Ulrich Wilcken speak of them as hostages that would ensure the good behavior of their countrymen left behind in Greece under the watch of Antipater's Macedonian garrisons.  Not surprisingly, the Greeks in Alexander's army did not have significant role in the upcoming battles, only to be discharged when convenient. But far greater number of Greeks joined the Persians brushing away the memory of the Persian invasion of Greece some 150 years ago. The ancient Greek historian Arrian cited the "old racial rivalry between the Greeks and Macedonians" that led to this hatred on both sides. 


Alexander the Great and the Macedonian cavalry crossing river Granicus

Artwork by Peter Connolly



The Macedonians defeated the Persians and put them to flight and although the Greeks held their ground and fiercely fought, the battle ended in Macedonian victory.  Almost the entire Greek force was annihilated. 18,000 Greeks perished on the banks of Granicus and the 2,000 survivors were sent to forced labor in Macedonia. The Macedonians lost only 120 men according to tradition.

 Campaigns in Asia Minor

Alexander then led the army south across Asia Minor.  Ironically, it is not the Persians but the Greek coastal cities which gave the greatest resistance to the Macedonians.  The Greek commander Memnon and his men considerably slow down the advance of Alexander and many Macedonians died during the long and difficult sieges of the Greek cities of Halicarnassus, Miletus, Mylasa.  But at the end the Macedonian army defeated the enemy and conquered the coast of Asia Minor. Alexander then turned northward to central Asia Minor, to the city of Gordium. 



Alexander the Great at Gordium Cutting the Gordin knot with the sward



Gordium was a home of the famous so-called Gordian Knot. Alexander knew the legend that said that the man who could untie the ancient knot was destined to rule the entire world. To that date nobody had succeeded in raveling the knot. But the young Macedonian king simply slashed it with his sword and unraveling its ends. 

 Battle of Issus

In the autumn of 333 BC, the Macedonian army's encountered the Persian forces under the command of King Darius III himself at a mountain pass at Issus in northwestern Syria. 30,000 Greeks again formed a sizable addition to the Darius' army as elite fighters and were positioned directly against the Macedonian phalanx. Describing the atmosphere before a battle, the Roman historian Curtius explained how Alexander raised the morale of the Macedonians, Greeks, Illyrians, and Thracians in his army, one at the time:

"Riding to the front line he (Alexander the Great) named the soldiers and they responded from spot to spot where they were lined up. The Macedonians, who had won so many battles in Europe and set off to invade Asia ... got encouragement from him - he reminded them of their permanent values. They were the world's liberators and one day they would pass the frontiers set by Hercules and Father Liber. They would subdue all races on Earth. Bactria and India would become Macedonian provinces. Getting closer to the Greeks, he reminded them that those were the people (the Persians on the other side) who provoked war with Greece, ... those were the people that burned their temples and cities ... As the Illyrians and Thracians lived mainly from plunder, he told them to look at the enemy line glittering in gold ..." (Q. Curtius Rufus 3.10.4-10)

For information on Curtius, see

Darius's army greatly outnumbered the Macedonians, but the Battle of Issus ended in a big victory for Alexander. Ten's of thousands of Persians, Greeks, and other Asiatic soldiers were killed and king Darius fled in panic before the Macedonian phalanx, abandoning his mother, wife, and children behind.  Alexander treated them with the respect out of consideration for their royalty.


Sieges of Tyre and Gaza

The victory at Issus opened the road for Syria and Phoenicia.  In early 332, Alexander sent general Parmenio to occupy the Syrian cities and himself marched down the Phoenician coast where he received the surrender of all major cities except the island city of Tyre which refused to grant him access to sacrifice at the temple of the native Phoenician god Melcart.  A very difficult seven-month siege of the city followed.  In an enormous effort, the Macedonians begun building a mole that would connect the island-city with the coast.  Tons of rocks and wood were poured into the water strip separating the island from the coast but its construction and the attacks from the city walls cost Alexander many of his bravest Macedonians.  Although seriously tempted to lift the siege and continue marching on Egypt, Alexander did not abandon the project and continued the siege, surrounding the island with ships and blasting the city walls with catapults.  When the walls finally gave in, the Macedonians poured their anger over the city defenders - 7,000 people were killed, 30,000 were sold as slaves.  Alexander entered the temple of Melcart, and had his sacrifice.  


Phoenician ships burning the Macedonian siege towers

Artwork by Johnny Shumate

Macedonians storming the walls of Tyre

Artwork by Johnny Shumate



During the seven-month siege of Tyre, Alexander received a letter from Darius offering a truce with a gift of several western provinces of the Persian Empire, but he refused to make peace unless he could have the whole empire.  He continued marching south toward Egypt but was again held up by resistance at Gaza.  The Macedonians put the city under a siege which lasted two months, after which the scenario of Tyre was repeated.  With the fall of Gaza, the whole Eastern Mediterranean coast was now secured and firmly in the hands of the Macedonians. 

The mainland Greeks had hoped that the Persian navy and the Greek commander Memnon would land in Greece and help them launch a rebellion against Antipater's Macedonians, transfer the war into Macedonia itself, and cut off Alexander in Asia, but the sealing of the coast prevented this from happening.  Memnon fell sick and died while attempting to regain the lost Greek city of Miletus on the Asia Minor coast, and the Persian plan to transfer the war into Europe well apart.

 Conquest of Egypt

Alexander entered Egypt in the beginning of 331 BC. The Persian satrap surrendered and the Macedonians were welcomed by the Egyptians as liberators for they had despised living under Persian rule for almost two centuries.  Here Alexander ordered that a city be designed and founded in his name at the mouth of river Nile, as trading and military Macedonian outpost, the first of many to come. He never lived to see it built, but Alexandria will become a major economic and cultural center in the Mediterranean world not only during the Macedonian rule in Egypt but centuries after.

In the spring of 331 Alexander made a pilgrimage to the great temple and oracle of Amon-Ra, the Egyptian god of the sun, whom the Greeks and Macedonians identified with Zeus Ammon. The earlier Egyptian pharaohs were believed to be sons of Amon-Ra and Alexander as new ruler of Egypt wanted the god to acknowledge him as his son. He decided to make the dangerous trip across the desert to visit the oracle at the temple of the god. According to the legend, on the way he was blessed with abundant rain, and guided across the desert by ravens. At the temple, he was welcomed by the priests and spoke to the oracle. The priest told him that he was a son of Zeus Ammon, destined to rule the world, and this must have confirmed in him his belief of divine origin.  Alexander remained in Egypt until the middle of 331, and then returned to Tyre before facing Darius. 


Battle of Gaugamela

At Tyre, Alexander received reinforcements from Europe, reorganized his forces, and started for Babylon. He conquered the lands between rivers Tigris and Euphrates and found the Persian army at the plains of Gaugamela, near modern Irbil in Iraq, which according to the exaggerated accounts of antiquity was said to number a million men. The Macedonians spotted the lights from the Persian campfires and encouraged Alexander to lead his attack under cover of darkness. But he refused to take advantage of the situation because he wanted to defeat Darius in an equally matched battle so that the Persian king would never again dare to raise an army against him. 

The two armies met on the battlefield the next morning, October 1, 331 BC.  On the Persian side were numerous Asiatic nations - Bactrians, Indians, Medians, Sogdians, even Albanians from the Caucasus, the ancestors of the modern Albanians who many centuries later migrated to Europe and are now northern neighbors to the modern Greeks and western neighbors to the modern Macedonians.  The survivors of the 50,000 Greeks which Darius had on his side at the beginning of the war were also among the Persian ranks. 

   Alexander Mosaic found in Pompeii

National Archaeological Museum, Naples


At the beginning of the battle the Persian forces split and separated the two Macedonians wings. The wing of general Parmenio appeared to be backing down, but Alexander's cavalry rode straight after Darius and forced again his flight like he did at Issus. Darius fled to Ecbatana in Media, and Alexander occupied Babylon, the imperial capital Susa, and the Persian capital Persepolis, and was henceforth proclaimed king of Asia. Four months later, the Macedonians burned the royal palace in Persepolis, completing the end of the ancient Persian Empire.

 Suppression of the Greek Rebellion, Discharge of the Greeks, and the Death of Darius

Meanwhile in Greece, the Greeks under the leadership of Sparta rose to a rebellion against the Macedonian occupation. Antipater was in Thrace at the time and the Greeks took the opportunity to push back the Macedonian forces.  But their initial victory did not last for long as Antipater returned with a large army, defeated the rebels, and regained Greece.  5,300 Greeks, including the Spartan king Agis were killed, while the Macedonians lost 3,500 men.

In Asia, the news of the beginning of the Greek rebellion had Alexander so deeply worried, that he immediately sent money to Antipater to counter it.  And when he learned that the Greeks were defeated, he proclaimed the end of the "Hellenic Crusade" and discharged all-Greek forces in his army. He no longer needed these hostages and potential troublemakers

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.  He was assassinated by Bessus, the satrap of Bactria which now proclaimed himself "King of the Kings", assuming the title of the Persian kings. Alexander gave Darius a royal funeral and set out for Bactria after his murderer.


Macedonian silver tetradrachm of Alexander the Great       Macedonian gold stater of Alexander the Great


Silver tetradrachm of Lysimachus with bust of Alexander the Great Gold stater of Lysimachus with bust of Alexander the Great


Trial of Philotas and the Murder of Parmenio

To win the support of the Persian aristocracy Alexander appointed many Persians as provincial governors in his new empire.  He adopted the Persian dress for ceremonies, gave orders for Persians to be enlisted in the army, and encouraged the Macedonians to marry Persian women.   

But the Macedonians were unhappy with Alexander's Orientalization for they were proud of their Macedonian customs, culture, and language.  His increasingly Oriental behavior eventually led to conflict with the Macedonian nobles and some Greeks in the train. In 330 BC series of allegations were brought up against some of Alexander's officers concerning a plot to murder him. Alexander tortured and executed the accused leader of the conspiracy, Parmenio's son Philotas, the commander of the cavalry. Several other officers were also executed according to Macedonian law, in order to eliminate the alleged attempt on Alexander's life. During the trial of Philotas Alexander raised the question of the use of the ancient Macedonian language. He spoke:

"'The Macedonians are about to pass judgment upon you; I wish to know whether you will use their native tongue in addressing them.' Philotas replied: 'Besides the Macedonians there are many present who, I think, will more easily understand what I shall say if I use the same language which you have employed.' Than said the king: 'Do you not see how Philotas loathes even the language of his fatherland? For he alone disdains to learn it. But let him by all means speak in whatever way he desires, provided that you remember that he holds out customs in as much abhorrence as our language.'" (Quintus Curtius Rufus 6.9.34-36)

The trial of Philotas took place in Asia before a multiethnic public, which has accepted Greek as their common language. Alexander spoke Macedonian with his conationals, but used Greek in addressing the Greeks and the Asians, as Greek was widely taken as international language in ancient times.  Like Carthaginian, Illyrian, and Thracian, ancient Macedonian was not recorded in writing. However, on the bases of about hundred glosses, Macedonian words noted and explained by Greek writers, some place names from Macedonia, and names of individuals, most scholars believe that ancient Macedonian was a separate Indo-European language. Evidence from phonology indicates that the ancient Macedonian language was distinct from ancient Greek and closer to the Thracian and Illyrian languages. Some modern writers have erroneously concluded that the Macedonians spoke Greek based on few Greek inscriptions discovered in Macedonia, but that is by no means a proof that the Macedonian was not a distinct language.  Greek inscriptions were also found in Thrace and Illyria, the Thracians even inscribed their coins and vessels in Greek, and we know that both the Illyrians and the Thracians were not Greeks who had distinct languages.

After Philotas was executed according to the Macedonian custom, Alexander ordered next the execution of Philotas' father, general Parmenio.  But the death of the old general did not sit well with every Macedonian in the army.  Parmenio was a veteran, proven solder of Philip's guard, a men who played a major part in leading the Macedonian armies and rising the country to a world power. In fact Philip II had often remarked how proud he was to have Parmenio as his general.  



Marble bust of Alexander the Great

Louvre Museum Paris

Marble statue of Alexander the Great

Archaeological Museum Istanbul



Murder of Cleitus and the execution of Callisthenes

Alexander next killed Cleitus, another Macedonian noble, in a drunken brawl. Heavy drinking was a cherished tradition at the Macedonian court and that day Cleitus publicly denounced the king before the present for the murders of Parmenio and Philotas. He went further by ridiculing Alexander for claiming to be "son of Ammon" and for denouncing his own father Philip II.  Alexander lost his temper, snatched the spear from the bodyguard standing near, and ran Cleitus through with it. Although he mourned his friend excessively and nearly committed suicide when he realized what he had done, all of Alexander's associates thereafter feared his paranoia and dangerous temper.

He next demanded that Europeans, just like the Asians, follow the Oriental etiquette of prostrating themselves before the king - which he knew was regarded as an act of worship by the Greeks. But resistance put by Macedonian officers and by the Greek historian Callisthenes, the nephew of Aristotle who had joined the expedition, defeated the attempt. Callisthenes was soon executed on a charge of conspiracy, and we can only imagine how Aristotle received the news of his death.  The two were already estranged for a long time before Callisthenes’ execution, as Alexander's letters to his former tutor carried unfriendly contents.

The Macedonians spent two hard years in Bactria fighting a guerilla war against the followers of Bessus and the Sogdian ruler Spitamenes.  Finally, Bessus was caught and executed for the murder of his king Darius III, and Spitamenes was killed by his own wife which was tired of running away. Bactria and Sogdiana, the most eastern provinces of the Persian Empire came under Macedonian control.  It is here that Alexander fell in love with and married the beautiful Sogdian princess Roxane.

 March on India

 In the spring of 327 BC, Alexander and his army marched into India invading Punjab. The greatest of Alexander's battles in India was at the river Hydaspes, against king Porus, one of the most powerful Indian rulers. In the summer of 326 BC, Alexander's army crossed the heavily defended river during a violent thunderstorm to meet Porus' forces. The Indians were defeated in a fierce battle, even though they fought with elephants, which the Macedonians had never seen before. Porus was captured and like the other local rulers he had defeated, Alexander allowed him to continue to govern his territory. 


Battle between Macedonians and Indians The death of Buckephalus



In this battle Alexander's horse Bucephalus was wounded and died. Alexander had ridden Bucephalus into every one of his battles in Europe and Asia, so when it died he was grief-stricken.  He founded a city which he named Buckephalia, in his horse's name.

The army continued advancing as far as the river Hydaspes but at this point the Macedonians refused to go farther as reports were coming of far more larger and dangerous armies ahead equipped with many elephants and chariots. General Coenus spoke on army's behalf to the king.  Reluctantly, Alexander agreed to stop here.  Not too long afterwards Coenus died and the army buried him with the highest honors.

It was agreed that the army travel down south the rivers Hydaspes and Indus so that they might reach the Ocean on the southern edge of the world and from there head westward toward Persia. 1,000 ships were constructed and while the navy sailed the rivers, the army rode down along the rivers banks, stopping to attack and subdue the Indian villages along the way.


Macedonian ships traveling traveling down Hydaspes and Indus rivers


One of the villages in which the army stopped belonged to the Malli, who were said to be one of the most warlike of the Indian tribes. Alexander was severally wounded in this attack when an arrow pierced his breastplate and his ribcage.  The Macedonians rescued him in a narrow escape from the village. Still the Malli surrendered as Alexander became to recover from the grave wound.  The travel down the river resumed and the Macedonian army reached the mouth of the Indus in the summer of 325 BC. Then it turned westward to Persia.


Crossing of the Gerdosian desert on the way to Babylon


But the return was a disaster.  The army was marching through the notorious Gerdosian desert during the middle of the summer. By the time Alexander reached Susa thousands had died of heat and exhaustion. 

 Alexander's Death

In the spring of 324, Alexander held a great victory celebration at Susa. He and 80 of his close associates married Persian noblewomen. In addition, he legitimized previous so-called marriages between soldiers and native women and gave them rich wedding gifts, no doubt to encourage such unions.

Little later, at Opis he proclaimed the discharge of 10,000 Macedonian veterans to be sent home to Macedonia with general Craterus.  Craterus' orders were to replace Antipater and Antipater’s to bring new reinforcements in Asia. But the army mutinied hearing this. Enraged Alexander pointed the main ringleaders to his bodyguards to be punished and then gave his famous speech where he reminded the Macedonians that without him and his father Philip, they would have still been living in fear of the nations surrounding Macedonia, instead of ruling the world.  After this the Macedonians were reconciled with their king and 10,000 of them set out for Europe, leaving their children of Asian women with Alexander. In the same time 30,000 Persian youth already trained in Macedonian manner were recruited in the army.  Alexander prayed for unity between Macedonians and Persians and by breeding a new army of mixed blood he hoped to create a core of a new royal army which would be attached only to him. 

But Alexander will never see this happen.  Shortly before beginning of the planned Arabian campaign, he contracted a high fever after attending a private party at his friend's Medius of Larisa.  As soon as he drank from the cup he “shrieked aloud as if smitten by a violent blow”. The fever became stronger with each following day to the point that he was unable to move and speak.  The Macedonians were allowed to file past their leader for the last time before he finally succumbed to the illness on June 7, 323 BC in the Macedonian month of Daesius. Alexander the Great, the Macedonian king and the great conqueror of Persian Empire, died at the age of 33 without designating a successor to the Macedonian Empire. 


The Macedonian Empire of Alexander the Great

After Alexander

After his death, nearly all the noble Susa marriages dissolved, which shows that the Macedonians despised the idea. There never came to unity between Macedonians and Persians and there wasn't even a unity among the Macedonians.  Alexander's death opened the anarchic age of the Successors and a bloody Macedonian civil war for power followed.  As soon as the news of Alexander's death were known, the Greeks rebelled yet again and so begun the Lamian War.  The Macedonians were defeated and expelled from Greece, but then Antipater received reinforcements from Craterus who brought to Macedonia the 10,000 veterans discharged at Opis.  Antipater and Craterus jointly marched into Greece, defeated the Greek army at Crannon in Thessaly and brought the war to an end. Greece will remain under Macedonian rule for the next one and a half century.   In Asia the Macedonian commanders who served Alexander fought each other for power.  Perdiccas and Meleager were murdered, Antigonus rose to control most of Asia, but his growth of power brought the other Macedonian generals in coalition against him.  He was killed in battle and the Macedonian Empire split into four main kingdoms - the one of Seleucus (Asia), Ptolemy (Egypt), Lysimachus (Thrace), and Antipater's son Cassander (Macedonia, including Greece). The rise of Rome put an end to Macedonian kingdoms. Macedonia and Greece were conquered in 167/145 BC, Seleucid Asia by 65 BC, and Cleopatra VII, the last Macedonian descendent of Ptolemy committed suicide in 30 BC, after which Egypt was added to the Roman Empire. 

With the split of the Roman Empire into Western and Eastern (Byzantium), the Macedonians came to play a major role in Byzantium.  The period of rule of the Macedonian dynasty which ruled the Eastern Roman Empire from 867 to 1056 is known as the "Golden Age" of the Empire.  The Eastern Roman Empire fell in the 15th century and Macedonia, Greece, and the whole southern Balkans came under the rule of the Turkish Empire.

Greece gained its independence at the beginning of the 19th century with the help of the Western European powers, while Macedonia which continued to be occupied by foreign powers, gained independence in 1991, but only over 37% of its historical ethnic territory. With the Balkan Wars of 1912/13 Macedonia was occupied by the armies of its neighbors - 51% of it's territory came under, and still is under the rule of Greece, while the remaining 12% are still occupied by Bulgaria. Both Greece and Bulgaria had been condemned numerous times for the oppression of their large Macedonian minorities which they had stripped off basic human rights, ever since the partition of the country.  (bibliography Ancient Greek and Roman Historians and Modern Historians)


5.  Alexander timeline


5a.  Alexander Chronology  


Alexander bust from Delos. Louvre,
                              Paris (France). Photo Marco Prins.Alexander, bust from Delos (Louvre)
Spring Parmenion leads vanguard into Asia

Summer Murder of Artaxerxes IV; accession of Darius III

October Murder of Philip (text); accession of Alexander

Nov-Dec. Alexander gains support of the Greek towns
Summer Alexander campaigns in the Balkans

Memnon's counterattack in Asia

12? Sept. Fall of Thebes (text)

Nov-Dec. Festivals at Dion and Aegae
May Alexander lands in Asia

Early June Battle of the Granicus river (text)

July Capture of Miletus

August Start of the siege of Halicarnassus
Winter Alexander conquers Caria, Lycia, Pamphylia and Phrygia

March-June Naval offensive of Memnon

April-July Alexander in Gordium (text)

July Death of Memnon

Late July Alexander leaves Gordium

Darius leaves Babylon

July-Sept Pharnabazus continues the naval offensive

September Alexander in Cilicia and falls ill (text)

October Parmenion sent to the Syrian gates

Alexander campaigns in West-Cilicia

c.5 Nov. Battle of Issus (text)

Dec.? Darius opens negotiations (text)
January Beginning of the siege of Tyre

Spring Disintegration of Persian fleet

July Fall of Tyre (text)

Sept-Nov. Siege of Gaza (text)

November Alexander visits Jerusalem? (text)

Alexander enters Egypt
331 January Alexander in Heliopolis and Memphis

March Alexander visits the oracle of Ammon (text)

7 April Alexander founds Alexandria (text)

June Alexander in Phoenicia and Syria

July Reinforcements leave Macedonia

Alexander's crosses the Euphrates

Aug-Sept. Alexander campaigns in Mesopotamia

1 Oct. Battle of Gaugamela

22 Oct. Mazaeus surrenders Babylon to Alexander
(Babylonian text; Latin text)

15 Dec.
22 Dec.
Abulites surrenders Susa to Alexander
Alexander leaves Susa

20 Jan.
30 Jan.
Battle of the Persian gate
Alexander reaches Persepolis
Alexander at Persepolis (text)

June Darius leaves Ecbatana

c.17 July Death of Darius III at Choara; Bessus king (text)

Aug-Sept. Alexander in Hyrcania, Parthia and Aria

November Alexander in Drangiana; plot of Philotas

Alexander in Ariaspa; murder of Parmenion
329 February Armies unite in Arachosia
  April Alexander advances to Gandara

Late May Alexander crosses the Hindu Kush (text)

c. 1 June Alexander advances to the Oxus (text)

Alexander captures Bessus

Alexander advances to the Jaxartes

July Alexander founds Alexandria Eschat�

Revolt in Sogdia, led by Spitamenes; battle of the Jaxartes

Cavalry reorganized
Winter Alexander at Bactra

Summer Campaigns in Sogdia and Bactria

Autumn Murder of Clitus

December Capture of Spitamenes
Winter Alexander in Maracanda and Nautaca

Spring Capture of the Sogdian Rock (text)

Summer Armies unite at Bactra. 

Introduction of  proskynesis (text)

Marriage to Roxane

Late Summer Conspiracy of the pages; death of Callisthenes
February Hephaestion advances through Gandara to Indus

Alexander campaigns in the Swat valley

Alexander takes the Aornus rock

April Armies unite near the Indus; advance to Taxila

May Battle of the Hydaspes against Porus

c. 26 June Crossing of the Acesines

Late July Mutiny at the Hyphasis (