Alexander the Great (*356; r. 336-323): the Macedonian king who defeated his Persian colleague Darius III Codomannus and conquered theAchaemenid Empire. There is much to be said about Alexander's career; this website offers a biography in eighteen parts and more than seventy translated sources. On this page, you can find a brief first introduction.
Alexander the Great was a king of Macedonia who conquered an empire that stretched from the Balkans to modern-day Pakistan.
Alexander was the son of Philip II and Olympias (one of Philip’s seven or eight wives). He was brought up with the belief that he was of divine birth. “From his earliest days, Olympias had encouraged him to believe that he was a descendent of heroes and gods. Nothing he had accomplished would have discouraged this belief,” writes Wellesley College classics professor Guy MacLean Rogers in his book "Alexander" (Random House, 2004). “Achilles, Alexander’s model and ancestor, had not even taken Troy …”
Yet, despite his military accomplishments, ancient records say that he failed to win the respect of some his subjects and, furthermore, he had some of the people closest to him murdered.
Alexander's father Philip had been king of Macedonia and had changed this backward kingdom in a strong state with a powerful army. In order to achieve this aim, he had embarked on an expansionist policy: every year, he waged war, and the Macedonian aristocrats benefited. To keep his monarchy intact, Philip had to continue his conquests; if he stopped, the noblemen would start to ask questions.
Alexander succeeded his father, Philip II of Macedon, to the throne in 336 BC after Philip was assassinated. Upon Philip's death, Alexander inherited a strong kingdom and an experienced army. He was awarded the generalship of Greece and used this authority to launch his father's military expansion plans. In 334 BC, he invaded Persian-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 entirety of the Persian Empire. At that point, his empire stretched from the Adriatic Sea to the Indus River.