5.4 alexander the great
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Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great
The Peloponnesian Wars ended with Athens defeat in 404 BC.But, heck, why let that stop good bickering and fighting?The city-states continued to fight each other.Some of Spartas former allies joined with Athens and fought Sparta.Later on, Athens and Sparta united to fight Thebes.The point is, because the major Greek city-states had been in a near constant state of periodic war for nearly 80 years, they were weakened in wealth, military ability, and manpower.This made them ripe for conquering. . .
Macedonia (or simply Macedon) was a kingdom to the north of Greece.
The Macedonians, who had strong Greek influences, considered themselves Greek.The Greeks, on the other hand, didnt and looked down on the Macedonians as being semi-barbaric.
King Philip II ruled Macedon starting in 359 BC. 23 yrs. old
The Macedonian phalanx did away with the heavily armed and armored hoplite shock troops. It introduced the phalangites.These soldiers were armed with 18 foot pikes with iron spear heads and butt spikes. They would line up in square formation of 16 by 16 men.Also introduced fast-moving cavalry (horses)
So Philip takes advantage of the Greeces weakness and attack.He defeats a combined Athens-Theban force in 338 BC.The fiercely independent Greek city-states become part of the new Macedonian empire.The great Athenian orator, Demosthenes, spent almost all his time warning people about Philip and his designs on Greece, but they werent taken seriously enough until it was too late.
Unfortunately for Philip, hes assassinated in 336 BC by one of his bodyguards while at his daughters wedding (it was after the chicken dance, but before YMCA).Not sure why. One theory is that Alexander and his mother, Olympias, were behind it.
One interesting side note is that Philips remains were possibly found by archaeologists.Excavated royal tombs in Vergina in Macedonia in 1977 revealed the cremated remains of a skull that had severe blinding damage to the right eye. Philip was blinded in his right eye by an arrow during a battle.Based on facial reconstruction, they think this is what he looked like:
Philips son, Alexander, becomes king.Or he should be Philips son.
According to legend, Olympias had a dream that her womb was struck by lightning meaning she was impregnated by Zeus.This account also holds that Philip was afraid to consort with her because she liked sleeping with snakes.
He was personally tutored by the philosopher Aristotle (who was Platos student and Plato was Socrates student).Aristotle taught him philosophy, ethics, rhetoric, literature, etc.For his part, Alexander helped Aristotle amass a sizable library and financed his work.
Anyway, Alexander becomes king and immediately gains the full support of the army (the most important thing).Though he was only 20 at the time, he had already proved himself in battle as both an effective warrior and a good commander.
His first job was to put down the rebellion of the Greek city-states which occurred after Philips death.First they submitted and then they later rebelled again.The second time around, most hesitated while Thebes decided to resist. The Thebans were crushed.As punishment and as a warning to others, Alexander destroyed Thebes and sold the populace into slavery (6,000 killed and 30,000 sold for 440 talents of silver).Everybody else got the message and submitted.
In 334 BC, Alexander invades the Persian empire with 30,000 men. This had been Philips ambition.Not only did Alexander thirst for power, adventure, and especially glory, but he also wanted to get revenge on Persia for its ill-treatment of Greece.Alexander was also a lead from the front type of commander. He didnt stay at the back of the army where hed be safest. He rode with the cavalry and actively engaged in hand to hand combat.
The Persian king, Darius III, at first doesnt take Alexander all that seriously.Alexander wins Battle of Granicus (uses cavalry to attack first)At Issus, the Hellenes were outnumbered by around 10 to 1. Victory for Alexander!Alexander rejects offer from Darius III for Western 1/3 of Persian Empire. He planned to conquer the whole thing!
Alexander goes down to Egypt and conquers it, taking it from the Persians. He is made a Pharaoh (Impressive)He then heads back into modern-day Iraq, the heart of the empire. There he engages in the pivotal battle of Gaugamela on 10/1/331 BC.The battle was a brilliant display of military tactics.Victory for Alexander!Alexander heads straights towards Darius who panics and runs, leaving his army behind.
EEEEK! Its Alexander!
Darius runs and Alexander keeps conquering. He captures the Persian capital Persepolis and burned it down. There is disagreement over whether it was and accident or not.He has Darius on the run and just about when he catches up with the Persian king, one of his own provincial governors, a satrap, kills Darius.
By the time they reach India, the troops have had enough warring (11 years). Alexander turns around and travels back to the heart of Persia to solidify instead of expand his empire. He dies of a fever in 323 BC at the age of 33.Likely malaria or typhus. Some theorize poisoning.Hes buried in a golden coffin filled with honey.
Alexanders vast empire gets divvied up among three generals (look at map on page 130)Ptolemy got EgyptAntigonus got GreeceSelecus got PersiaNot surprisingly, they immediately began fighting with each other.Era of independent Greek City-States over!Vibrant new culture emerged!
By conquering most of the know world, Alexander spreads Greek culture and ideals everywhere.Forms a common language, Koine, a Greek dialect. This is the lingua franca that everybody knows in addition to their local language.The books of the new testament were written in Koine.