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The Rise of Alexander the Great of Macedonia

Updated on December 3, 2012

The Great Alexander

Alexander was born in 356 BC. He was the son of Prince Phillip the 2nd, ruler of Macedonia. Phillip was a formidable warrior and had brought most of the Greek peninsula under the control of Macedonia. Alexander's mother's name was Olympias, daughter of the king of a small Greek kingdom called Epirus. She was just one of many wives for Phillip but she was the smartest and the one he trusted most as an adviser.

Young Alexander was told that he was practically a God since he was raised to believe he had demi-God blood on both sides. From his father's side, he was told he was a descendant of Hercules, and on his mother's side, he was informed that he was from the same line as Achilles. His mother brainwashed him from a young age to believe he had a great destiny.

Alexander trained hard to be a great fighter, taught by a general named Cleitus the Black. Alexander became very competitive with his royal father and determined to outdo his dad in every way possible. For instance, one famous story tells that there was an untamable horse who no one had been able to ride, not even Prince Phillip. But a 10 year old Alexander successfully managed to break the animal and ride him. The boy had a meeting with the great and wise Plutarch, who was so impressed by the lad, he said "My boy, you must find a kingdom big enough for your ambitions". His ambition and ego grew to staggering proportions at a very early age.

When Alexander was 13, Prince Phillip insisted that his son must have the best education, so he asked Aristotle--considered the smartest man in the world at the time--to be the boy's tutor. Aristotle agreed and became Alexander's mentor. Aristotle taught Alexander to think things through and never be impulsive. Aristotle counseled patience, deliberation and research. Alexander learned to study his opponents before a fight. He realized out-thinking an enemy was an important part of out-fighting him. Thanks to Aristotle's teaching, Alexander became very cunning. He was convinced he could outwit anyone (except Aristotle himself.) His belief in himself and his infallibility was colossal and unshakable.

Alexander was 16 when he finished his studies with Aristotle and his father left to do battle in Byzantium. Alexander became regent in his father's place. He enjoyed the feeling of power. He soon utilized the teachings of Cleitus and Aristotle when he personally led troops to put down revolts in Thrace. After that, he joined his father on the front lines of Macedonia's military expansion.

In 336 BC, while attending one of his daughter's weddings, Phillip was assassinated by his own bodyguard. Alexander was declared king at age 20. He finally had the power to go along with his massive ambition. He began his reign by having any possible rivals to his throne killed. Then he declared he would create a larger empire than his father or anyone else had ever conquered. He began by proceeding with his father's long-planned attack on the Persian Empire, who were longtime enemies of Macedonia.

The Greeks hoped they could now fight their way free of Macedonian since a "mere boy" now ruled. Alexander quickly proved that they had underestimated him, by conquering the city of Thebes. He'd learned the value of psychological warfare from Aristotle, so he burned the city to the ground as a warning to the rest of Greece not to try any revolts while Alexander was running the show.

Next he attacked and conquered Persia, the largest empire in the world at the time. Despite the size of their army, the Persians were no match for Alexander's military genius. Alexander was always at the forefront of battle and won the admiration of his men for his skill, intelligence and fearlessness.

To secure his hold on Persia, he married a Persian Princess and then he proceeded to forge the greatest empire ever. He went south to Egypt where conquest was easy. He was worshipped as a God and hero because he'd freed them from the oppressive Persian rule. They proclaimed him Pharaoh of Egypt and he founded the great city of Alexandria.

Alexander proceeded on his march to claim his destiny. He continued defeating army after army, country after country, and never lost a battle in his life. (Assyria, Mesopotamia, Babylonia and more) Eventually, his Empire stretched as far as India. In only 12 years, he'd conquered one-third of the world. As he'd predicted, it was the largest Empire anyone had ever managed to build.

There's no telling what Alexander would have achieved if he had lived. But his legacy was cut short. At the age of 33, he fell ill and died. The likely cause was malaria, although many believe he was poisoned by rivals.

Despite the giant size of the empire he'd formed, Alexander's once great kingdom fell apart very quickly after he died. All his relatives and heirs were killed in a power struggle. (Although some survived in Egypt. Cleopatra was a direct descendant of Alexander.) His empire was divided among four of his Generals. This was the beginning of the Hellenistic Age, which was divided into four power blocks...The Ptolemaic Empire; the Seleucid Empire; The Pergamon Kingdom; and the Macedonian Empire. The Hellenistic age would last until the birth of the Roman Empire.


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I'm don't under stand how he had to diy at all

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Thanks for the comments. I'll look at your hub.

    • dilipchandra12 profile image

      Dilip Chandra 

      8 years ago from India

      very good article rob... very informative, History of Alexander the Great.. check out mine regarding his invasion of india... and do comment. thanks for sharing the above.

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      True, HH. Thanks for reading.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      When you look back in history there is very rarely a good or strong leader following a great leader. It is amazing realy if you think about it. You would think it were so. Thank you for a great hub.

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Good point Dahoglund. In this case, there were too many people who thought they were the man for the job after Alexander died, so they ended up ripping his empire apart.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      This is a well written and informative hub.The fact that things fell apart after he died reminds me of my political science professor who said that leaders tend to discourage competition even to the point of not training someone to take their place.

    • Robwrite profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Thank you, JB. I appreciate the kind words.

    • JBeadle profile image

      J Beadle 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin

      I didn't know much about Alexander the Great before - this was a great summary of his life from boy to death. I'll be keeping an eye out for him after this on the History Channel and will check out more of your hubs. Voted UP! A very good hub.


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