Alexander the Great’s Military Accomplishments
There is only one other man who is written about in at the level of Jesus Christ, his name was Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great is one of the most told about, and written about Kings of the ancient world. Not only was he a vastly loved and appreciated leader to his army but he was a conqueror of much of his known world. His military genius and tactics, even at his young age of attaining the throne from his father Philip II after he was assassinated, were unrivaled resulting in him never to lose a battle.
Alexander the Great had no easy time upon his ascent to the throne, the authors said “He had to put down the revolts that erupted immediately after Philip’s death-notably at Thebes.” (Cole, Symes, Coffin, and Stacey 90) The dispute in Thebes was settled when Alexander the Great punished them by tearing down their walls. Two years after Alexander had settled all the unrest in his new kingdom he turned his sights on Darius III and his kingdom of Persia.
The kingdom of Persia was led by Darius III, the authors state “Darius III was a minor member of the royal family who had been placed on the throne after a palace coup.” (Cole, Symes, Coffin, and Stacey 90). Darius had ascended the throne the same year as Alexander but at the much older age of 45 in comparison to Alexander at the age of 20Darius’ first mistake was that he and his advisors refused to take Alexander seriously even though they suffered defeat at the hands of the Greeks in the past. Perhaps it was their sheer numbers that kept the Persians from seeing past their ego’s and not understand the aim of Alexander the Great.
Alexander’s conquest began with a victory at Anotlia; this was near the field that the battle of Troy took place at. He continued down the Ionian coastline in more strings of victory leading him to an opportunity that took him a year to get, Darius III. Alexander finally had the opportunity to challenge Darius personally on the river bank near Issus; the authors tell us “The chosen site…favored Alexander’s fast-moving infantry, not the heavy cavalry and chariots of the Persians.” (Cole, Symes, Coffin, and Stacey 90). The defeat of the Persians was so bad Darius III abandoned both his army and his family, including his mother. Darius’ family was captured by Alexander the Great but was treated with the respect that their standing as a royal family called for. Darius was chased for the remainder of his life by Alexander the Great until his defeat at Gaugamela. After this defeat Darius III was killed by a local chieftain who was trying to win over Alexander’s favor however that backfired worse than the chieftain probably realized it could have, the author states “Alexander – acting as the new Great King – had the chieftain executed for treason.” (Cole, Symes, Coffin, and Stacey 90).
After that devastating defeat at Illus had completed his tour of conquest in Asia Minor. Syria and Palestine surrendered to the will of Alexander the Great he implemented the same tactics of Cyrus the Great which the authors explain as, “…a policy of offering amnesty to cities that submitted peacefully-but dealing mercilessly with those that resisted.” (Cole, Symes, Coffin, and Stacey 90). The merciless example was provided at the city of Gaza on the Egyptian border where Alexander killed the men and enslaved the women and children, even going to the extreme of dragging the defeated commanders body through the streets of the freshly sacked fortress.
The conquest of Egypt was much easier on Alexander’s army mainly because he was unopposed, the authors even go as far as to state, “He was welcomed as a liberator: Egypt had been governed as a Persian satrapy since 525 B.C.E.” (Cole, Symes, Coffin, and Stacey 90). Alexander was actually so welcomed in Egypt he obtained the “double crown” as it were by being crowned pharaoh of Upper and Lower Egypt. It was in Egypt where Alexander the Great was proclaimed as the son of Ammon, a god identified with Zeus, and a god himself. It was from here that Egypt was named as the capital in the empire. The authors state, “…it was in Egypt that he would build his shining new city of Alexandria.” (Cole, Symes, Coffin, and Stacey 90). Unfortunately he would not live to see the completion of this city, his return to this city was in his sarcophagus.
Alexander also pushed deeper into the far reaches of Persia including his defeat of the warlord Porus at the Battle of Hydaspes in what is modern day Pakistan. This was one of his last major battles where the authors state, “…his famous warhorse, Bucephalus, was killed. And it was here Alexander’s exhausted army refused to go on, thousands of miles and eight years from home.” (Cole, Symes, Coffin, and Stacey 91). Forced to turn back he headed for the Arabian Sea, when he reached Susa he indicated to combine armies with Persia and have them fight in the hoplite formation. He even arranged a mass marriage with his officers to Persian noblewomen and adopted the dress code of the Persian Empire.
Alexander tried to continue his conquest but began to show the signs of malarial fever and diminishing signs of health. The authors however go as far to say I was feasible that, “…he was poisoned; his closest companion, Hephaistion, had died the year before at Ecbatana, leaving Alexander without his most vigilant bodyguard.” (Cole, Symes, Coffin, and Stacey 92). He refused to take the advice of his physician however, so the malarial fever does seem like the more likely of the two to have taken his life. Alexander eventually died in Babylon in Hammurabi; he never reached thirty-three years of age.
Alexander the Great is one of the most told about, and written about Kings of the ancient world. Through his military prowess and tactics he was able to conquer much of the know territories but still did not live to see his dreams. There is no shortage of information on Alexander the Great as long as you know where to look, and don’t use the Colin Farrell movie. Upon researching for this paper it is no wonder why he comes second only to Jesus Christ in written down tales of his life, adventures, and conquests.
Cole, Joshua , Carol Symes, Judith Coffin, and Robert Stacey . Western Civilizations Brief Third Edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2012. Print.
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