Little Bits of History

Alexander the Great

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 20, 2014
Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great

July 20, 356 BC: Alexander III of Macedon is born. He was born on the sixth month of the ancient Greek calendar, Hekatombaion, which corresponds to this date although, in all fairness, this may be a miscalculation. He was the son of Philip II and his fourth wife, Olympias (daughter of the king of Epirus). Philip had seven or eight wives, but Olympias was his favorite one, possibly due to having given birth to Alexander. The infant’s care was given over to a nurse and he eventually came under the tutelage of Leonidas and Lysimachus. He was raised as most nobles of the time with instruction in reading, riding, fighting, hunting, and playing the lyre.

At age 13, he needed a private tutor and Aristotle was chosen for the job. The lessons were held at the Temple of the Nymphs at Mieza and other students there were Ptolemy, Hephaistion, and Cassander who would become Alexander’s lifelong friends and generals in his conquests. These teens were taught about medicine, philosophy, morals, religion, logic, and art under Aristotle. Alexander developed a passion for Homer and his favorite tale was the Iliad. His annotated copy went with him on his later campaigns. At age 16, his time with Aristotle ended. His father left to go to war against Byzantium and left Alexander as regent and heir apparent in Macedon.

While the father was gone, the Thracian Maedi revolted and Alexander responded quickly and decisively, driving them from their lands and colonizing it with Greeks. Father and son campaigned together after Philip returned and were a force to be reckoned with. When Philip died in 336 BC, Alexander took over the kingdom but desired to spread his rule farther afield. His successful campaigns did give him more lands to rule and he became the Pharaoh of Egypt in 332 BC, the King of Persia in 330 BC, and the King of Asia in 331 BC. Darius III had been ruler of Egypt and Persia prior to Alexander’s take over. There was no prior king of Asia.

While Alexander was out on conquests, the homeland enjoyed peace and prosperity. He sent back much of the plunder enriching the economy back home. However, because of his ever increasing need for troops, much of the male population in Macedon was away and it weakened the region which eventually led to their subjugation by Rome. As his Empire became larger, there was dissention and eventually mismanagement crept in. In June 323 BC, Alexander the Great died in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II at the age of 32. There are a few versions of the cause of death and a couple involve drunken debauchery and others include assassination. Also possible are natural causes such as malaria or typhoid fever. After his death, the cohesiveness deteriorated and his Empire was soon divided.

I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.

I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well.

Heaven cannot brook two suns, nor earth two masters.

I had rather excel others in the knowledge of what is excellent, than in the extent of my power and dominion. – all from Alexander the Great

Also on this day: One Small Step – In 1969, Neil Armstrong steps out of the Eagle and walks on the moon.
Dethroned – In 1984, Vanessa Williams was asked to step down as Miss America.
Women’s Army Corps – In 1942, the Women’s Army Corps begins training.
Special – In 1968, the first Special Olympics were held.

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