It being my purpose to write the lives of Alexander the king, and of Caesar, by Pompey was destroyed, the multitude of their great actions affords so large a. be the same with tbe historian of Alexander the Great. This appears in the memoir left by Suetonius of cele brated orators *, which time has reduced to·a. Free PDF, epub, site ebook. By Jacob Abbott. Chapters include; His Childhood And Youth; Beginning Of His Reign; Crossing The Hellespont; Campaign In.
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Historians typically identify Alexander the Great as brilliant military tactician and commander and, accordingly, it is his own military actions which receive the. Wherever he went Alexander the Great would spread the ideals of limited Philip II – King of Macedon and father of Alexander who united Greece under his . “Pierre Briant is a scholar of the highest international standing. His book is set apart from the plethora of biographies of Alexander the. Great by its focus on his.
The general populace was poor and lived in mud or sun-dried brick huts. There were temples dedicated to the gods, inhabited by a priestly caste. And above all there were three huge palaces and government centers at Babylon, Susa, and Persepolis. Rulership in the British Empire varied radically.
Hedonism, eroticism, and self-indulgence on the part of the elite were common characteristics of such soft empires. The Roman Empire, in contrast, was hard-core. Only two languages—Greek in the East and Latin in the West—were recognized. Every effort was made to impose Greco-Roman culture and religion on the peoples of the Roman Empire. In spite of the failures of the communication network of the time, the Roman Empire was controlled centrally from Rome, through governors who behaved in a demanding and often rapacious manner.
Before Alexander invaded Persia, his route of conquest took him from Tyre in Lebanon—which he captured and leveled after a long siege—to Gaza and Egypt.
Along the way he encountered Jerusalem, then a city of perhaps 15, people. The rest were comfortable as craftsmen and small merchants, and they remained in Iraq, where their descendants lived until about The high priests came out of their city and brought him gifts.
There is no indication that Alexander tried to visit the sanctuary of the Holy of Holies in the Second Temple, which was still in the course of being built with a subsidy offered by Cyrus I.
This was the great port, today partly under water, that Alexander founded, the only really successful Alexandria among the seven cities by that name that he established. Jewish merchants and scholars enlivened the city. They were a Greekspeaking minority; few of them could read Hebrew. Around BC the Hebrew Bible was translated into a Greek version called the Septuagint, after the seventy sages who supposedly worked on it.
This was the biblical text used by the Greek Jews of Alexandria. He was what we today would call a Reform Jew, preaching and writing in Hellenistic Greek. It is not known whether he even read Hebrew.
Alexander would have loved the Alexandrian Jews. Alexandria remained the great center of Reform Judaism until around AD , when the Jewish community there was reduced and impoverished by Christian pogroms. After that only Orthodox Talmudic Judaism prevailed in the Jewish world. Reform Judaism did not reappear in Germany and the United States until the mid-nineteenth century. They spoke Greek as their daily language; they translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek; their leading scholar, Rabbi Philo, sought a synthesis between Judaism and Platonism.
Here is the origin of what became Jewish mysticism, the kabbalah, in Western Europe in the thirteenth century. These Jews had thoroughly absorbed Hellenistic culture. More than anyone else, the Alexandrian Jews achieved a union of Greek language and culture and Judaism, but by AD it had all vanished under Christian persecution. The Alexandrian Jewish community partly revived in the twelfth century under Muslim rule, this time under the leadership of an Orthodox rabbi, Maimonides.
Writing in the Roman Empire in the early second century AD, the Greek historian and biographer Plutarch, in his very popular book Parallel Lives, tried to compare Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, who lived three hundred years later. It must be borne in mind that my design is not to write histories, but lives.
Therefore as portrait-painters are more exact in the lines and features of the face, in which the character is seen, than in the other parts of the body, so I must be allowed to give my more particular attention to the marks and indications of the souls of men, and while I endeavour by these to portray their lives, may be free to leave more weighty matters and great battles to be treated of by others.
Alexander inherited a throne and a superb army and did not need to meddle in politics as Caesar did; he aimed instead at pure military glory.
He was the unique hero of the ancient world. Caesar was essentially a very clever and ambitious politician who pursued a military career, and became a military hero only because it suited his political aspirations. Caesar was more detached and conscious of a separation between his political and military careers. He was welcomed by a committee of local Greeks.
They presented him with ceremonial gold wreaths. Alexander was a man dedicated to war. It is unclear exactly how they met or when they married, but it is known that the marriage was a stormy one.
Philip was at the peak of his political powers when they married and when Alexander was conceived. The day Alexander was born, his father had just taken the town of Potidaea. Philip received three messages simultaneously—one of his generals had just overthrown the Illyrians, his racehorse had won at the Olympic games, and his wife had given birth to a son.
C A N T O R that a child born on the same day as two other such successful events would be invincible. She belonged to a strange cult of snake worshippers, and she probably kept and sometimes slept with pet snakes. This snake cult was related to the orgiastic worship of Dionysus and encouraged its devotees to engage in frenzied rituals. The queen would pull large snakes out of ivy or baskets and encourage the other women to coil them around their bodies.
Philip seemed to be repelled by the fanatic zeal with which Olympias led other women in this worship, but whatever his reluctance to sanction such a religion, the couple managed to cohabit long enough to produce a son. Philip had other wives, but for a long time Olympias was his principal one.
She brought two tutors, Lysimachus and Leonidas, from her own family to Macedonia to teach and train the young prince. His education, which emphasized doing without luxuries, even necessities, stood Alexander well in his later years of deprivation, when he was traveling through the deserts in the East.
The Persian policies of Alexander the Great: from 330-323 BC
It is curious that in the last year of his life, after he ceased his Asian campaign and reestablished himself in Persia, Alexander did not send for his mother. Indeed, after he crossed the Hellespont into Asia Minor—begining a decade-long separation— mother and son never met face-to-face again.
All indications are that Alexander loved his mother deeply but did not want to be in her powerful, demanding presence. Alexander asserted his own identity. Philip conquered much of the Greek peninsula but left it to his son to organize. Philip was cautious in dealing with the noisy and resourceful cities of southern Greece.
He did not try to conquer them, except for Thebes, which lay halfway down the Greek peninsula and rebelled actively against him. Philip was the more prudent strategist, Alexander had the greater vision. Both were excessively fond of drink, but intoxication brought out different shortcomings. Philip was unwilling to rule along with his friends; Alexander exercised his rule over his. The father preferred to be loved, the son to be feared. They had a comparable interest in literature.
The father had greater shrewdness, the son was truer to his word. Philip was more restrained in his language and discourse, Alexander in his actions. The father was more disposed to thrift, the son to extravagance.
With such qualities did the father lay the basis for a worldwide empire and the son bring to completion the glorious enterprise.
In Athens the orator Demosthenes so raged against Philip and forecast the threat he posed to the Greek city-states if he was not stopped like Churchill on Hitler in the s that his speeches are a synecdoche for opposition to a tyrant. These orations are called philippics, the same term used later for the orations by Cicero against Mark Antony.
The term is still a synonym for speeches of rage and condemnation. Alexander eventually succeeded in getting Demosthenes exiled from Athens; Mark Antony had Cicero killed. He had a special inclination to be a horseman and is said to have personally broken in his horse Bucephelus, in whose saddle he rode into battle for the next twenty years until the animal died.
It stood taller than the common run of runty Macedonian horses, and it boasted a proud mane and shimmering brown coat. Philip and his grooms were about to give up on the Balkan horse as incapable of ever being broken in when Alexander, who was there, remarked that they were losing a wonderful horse simply because they were too inexperienced and too spineless to handle him.
Initially Philip remained silent, but after Alexander repeated his comment and became visibly upset, Philip asked Alexander if his criticism of his elders was due to his knowing more than his elders, to which Alexander replied that he could at least handle this horse better than they. His father then asked his son what the consequence of his impulsiveness would be, were he to not succeed in handling the horse. His answer, which was the promise to pay the price of the horse, resulted in much laughter.
He did not immediately mount the horse. Earlier, he had noticed that the horse was greatly bothered by the sight of its own shadow, and so after he took the reins, he turned the horse toward the sun. For a short while, he ran beside it, and patted it in order to calm its panting. But when Alexander returned truly pleased with himself, he was welcomed with cheers and applause.
Philip was said to have burst into tears of joy. Macedonia has not enough space for you. Alexander called the horse Bucephalus, and the two were devoted to each other. He loved that horse and for twenty years, until Bucephalus died on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Alexander rode Bucephalus into battle and would ride no other until the aged steed died. For Alexander the horse was much more than an instrument.
During the earlier years, Bucephalus accompanied Alexander during many of his ordeals and dangers. Only the king rode Bucephalus, as he refused all others to attempt to mount him.
He was a large horse with a noble spirit, and his distinguishing characteristic was the brand of an ox-head, for which he was given the name Bucephalus. Another story claims that, though black, he had on his head a white colored mark that resembled most of all an ox-head. There is a contemporary wall painting showing Alexander and Bucephalus encountering the Persian emperor Darius III with his scythed chariot.
It is said that Alexander and Darius met faceto-face, and proud Bucephalus helped Alexander to triumph. When Alexander was a preadolescent, Philip chose the philosopher Aristotle as his tutor. Though Aristotle had not yet entered into his stage of philosophical writings, he was nonetheless interested in a wide variety of subjects. Philip had maintained a long-standing correspondence with Plato, and when he needed a tutor for his son, he turned to Plato for advice.
It is not known exactly how long the student-teacher relationship lasted or what Aristotle and Alexander discussed, but what is known is that the years they spent together had long-lasting results.
Once the tutoring was accomplished and Alexander was on his own, they met infrequently, if at all. There is some evidence of a correspondence, but there was a falling-out in later years.
Related content in Oxford Reference
Alexander was more than a man of ambition and toughness; he had the wide armory of interests of a man of curiosity, and in the days at Mieza there had been matter enough to arouse them. The only anomaly in the case of Alexander and Hephaestion was that the two lovers were of approximately the same age.
Most aristocratic Greeks preferred young boys of around eleven or twelve. They adopted and educated these ephebes, training them in music and oratory. Each Greek aristocrat had his favorite boy, but Alexander was different. Though he had plenty of ephebes, Hephaestion was his preferred lover. Alexander often dispatched him to deal with military matters, sometimes far away, but the two lovers always remained loyal to each other.
They were bound by more than just sex. Alexander must have viewed Hephaestion as almost an alter ego. When her error was pointed out to her, she was extremely embarrassed and apologized profusely. Aelian a Roman author of the late second and early third centuries AD, who wrote in Greek says that Alexander hurled arms onto the funeral pyre, melting down gold and silver and burning expensive clothing along with the body.
According to Arrian a Greek from Bithynia who became a Roman citizen during the reign of Hadrian , he spent all day and all night prostrate beside the corpse, and others said he hanged the doctor who attended his friend for giving him the wrong medicine. Why were the Greeks bisexual, with a strong proclivity to homosexuality, preferring usually boys and sometimes cohabiting with other adult males?
One could make the argument that homosexuality was a traditional, long-standing condition of human males, practiced in antiquity not only by the Greeks but also by the Romans.
There was no social stigma attached to the homosexual relationship. As long as the man did his familial duty and begot children, he was left alone to pursue whatever extramarital relationships he wanted. It was only around AD , with the triumph of the Christian Church, that a revolution in gender relationships occurred.
The Christian bishops and priests wanted to stress the unit of the intergendered family and community. They wanted also to give an enhanced dignity to women, hitherto so badly treated in the Greco-Roman world, because women made up more than half of the membership of the church.
Furthermore, at a time of drastically declining population in the early Middle Ages, the bishops and priests sought to foster heterosexual copulation.
Another way of looking at Greek homosexuality is to see it as following from the rigorous training in military life, which in turn fostered gay relationships. The impact of homosexuality on the birthrate in some societies was drastic. In Sparta in the fourth century BC the personnel of the army declined from 10, to 1, available soldiers.
Homosexuality was responsible for at least part of this decline. In sixteenth-century Persia, where homosexuality was also increasingly practiced, there was a sharp decline in population. A prominent and pioneering biographer of Alexander, W. Philip trusted Alexander to the extent of making him regent in his absence during the Byzantine campaign. Philip was still vigorous and in the prime of his life.
Nevertheless, he wrote to Alexander regularly, giving advice and occasional admonitions if he thought his son was doing something wrong. The causes of this are complicated and open to conjecture. There had never been any hostilities surrounding his taking of other wives, but this time Philip repudiated Olympias on charges of adultery and implied that Alexander was illegitimate.
The wedding feast was not a happy occasion for Alexander and Olympias. During the evening, in true Macedonian fashion, a great deal of wine was drunk. Infuriated, the crown prince sprang to his feet. Attalus retaliated in kind. Philip, more drunk than either of them, drew his sword and lurched forward, bent on cutting down not Attalus who had, after all, insulted his son and heir but Alexander himself—a revealing detail.
After all, he was the reincarnation of Achilles. Perhaps, as with many royal heirs, Alexander was openly showing too much impatience about gaining the throne from the long-lived Philip.
When the new queen, Cleopatra, was delivered of her child some months later, however, it was a girl. Philip must have believed that he could not leave the country without an heir in place and with Alexander dangerous and discontented in exile. Although this was an incestuous relationship, it was approved nevertheless, and the wedding was set to take place in June.
If Olympias and Alexander were going to do anything about the succession, now was the time. Philip and his court were celebrating the wedding of one of his daughters when he was attacked with a short sword by a minor courtier. As he paused by the entrance to the arena a young man—a member of the Bodyguard itself—drew a short broad-bladed.
He then made off in the direction of the city-gate, where he had horses waiting. Then a group of young Macedonian noblemen hurried after the assassin. He caught his foot in a vine-root, tripped, and fell.
As he was scrambling up his pursuers overtook him, and ran him through with their javelins. Philip had broken off the relationship and had turned to another lover. There was a great scandal in the court about this sordid affair, and Attalus, whose niece Philip had married, decided to take matters into his own hands.
He invited Pausanias to a banquet, got him drunk, and then he and his guests gang-raped the young man. Pausanias went to Philip asking for his help, but because of the alliance with Attalus, Philip was slow to do anything about it, so the brooding courtier exacted his revenge by killing the king. The sexually abused courtier who did the terrible deed could have been put up to it by Olympias and Alexander. His father was a bold, aggressive, successful, and sexy man.
His mother was equally bold, aggressive, and sexy, and she doted on her son. But given the push of unconscious drives, the difference between Alexander and Oedipus is small. C A N T O R the arrogance of negligence, that, according to Sophocles, drove the king to kill his father and marry his mother.
An ambience of thick sexuality, and ultimately of patricide, certainly surrounds this family—Philip, Olympias, and Alexander. It pressed explosively upon them. We can only imagine the psychological pressures the young Alexander was under. He had a very strong father who raised and educated him to be heir to the throne, then appeared to reject him, at least temporarily. He had a mother who cohabited with snakes and then suffocated her son with love. Alexander rid himself of both his father and his mother and thereby resolved his Oedipal problem.
What should be remembered again is that homosexual liaisons were common, even accepted, in ancient Greece and Rome. He asked Alexander if he wanted to download the boys. This angered the king, who time and again cried out to his friends asking them what moral failing Philoxenus had ever seen in him to make him waste his time procuring such vile creatures.
In a letter to Philoxenus he roundly berated him and ordered him to tell Theodorus to go to hell along with his wares. Alexander also came down heavily on Hagnon who, with youthful exuberance, had told him in a letter that he wanted to download Crobylus, famed in Corinth for his good looks, and bring him to the king.
The prologue to most Greek celebrations was a drunken brawl featuring heavily intoxicated males supplemented by a handful of high-class prostitutes called hetairae. She was supposed to be able to recite Homer and some lines from Greek tragedies. The next morning, when he sobered up, Alexander expressed remorse that the palace was gone, but by then it was too late.
The palace at Persepolis was never rebuilt but was left for modern archaeologists to disinter. Alexander had another relationship with a concubine by whom he had a child, a daughter for whom he took little responsibility. But his generals told him it was time to get married so that he could produce a legitimate son and successor.
In BC he married a Bactrian Uzbekistani princess, Roxane, reputed to be the most beautiful woman in the empire—but legends always say that about queens. Plutarch describes the episode in this way: And then there was the matter of Roxane. His actions were motivated by passion—he had noted her beautiful and comely looks when he saw her participating in a dance during the after-dinner drinking—but the situation was not disadvantageous to what he had in prospect.
The barbarians were heartened by the partnership this marriage represented, and they were very fond of Alexander because he showed exceptional self-control and would not presume to touch the only woman who captured his heart unless the law permitted it. When Alexander died in , Roxane was pregnant. She then delivered a son who appeared to assure the future of the Macedonian line. Such was not to be, however. Cassander was not related to Philip; he was, in effect, a usurper.
Nonetheless his dynasty lasted until BC, when Macedonia was conquered by the Romans. These marriages occurred at Susa near Babylon in BC, when Alexander was trying to persuade his generals to take Persian wives. He set an example for them by marrying the daughters of the late emperors. Before the weddings Alexander would not let himself gaze upon the wife, daughter, and granddaughter of the emperor.
He sent someone else to deal with them and inform them after his second battle with Darius III. When the Persian women were captured, Alexander saw to it that they would be treated with the respect, dignity, and comfort suitable to their rank. But the young Alexander, who was around 13 at the time, intervened, imploring his father not to pass up such an opportunity.
Alexander was quite clever, and he realized the horse was only jumpy when it caught sight of its own shadow. So Alexander simply led the horse into the sun and, once it was calm, skillfully mounted it. This horse was named Bucephalus — and became one of the most famous animals in history. Everyone, including his father, was astounded. In an effort to keep things relatively calm, however, Philip invited Alexander to the wedding banquet, where everyone proceeded to drink, according to custom, vast quantities of wine.
When a guest offered to toast the happy couple and the prospect of a new heir, Alexander, in a drunken rage, threw his cup across the table. Philip drew his sword, but, with a belly full of wine, promptly fell to the floor. To escape the situation, Alexander and his mother fled to her homeland in the mountains of Epirus.
Happily, however, mediation efforts were successful, and they soon returned. Remarkably, Alexander began his ambitious rule at just 20 years of age. Eager to make a name for himself, Alexander dreamt of picking up where his father left off. This meant invading Persia and putting an end to their meddling in Greek affairs. But first he had business to take care of at home: there were some rebellious southern Greek states that needed a swift silencing.
The southern city of Thebes had a particularly rebellious leader who declared Alexander a tyrant. So, to set a violent example and keep others from thinking they could get away with such behavior, Alexander had the city destroyed, killing 6, Thebans in the process. This brutality had the desired effect; all other Greek cities quickly abandoned thoughts of rebelling. With this taken care of, Alexander was now free to launch his military campaign against Persia.
So, with a huge army behind him, Alexander left Macedonia in the spring of BC. That May, his first major battle against the Persians took place near Troy, on the banks of the Granicus River. His most experienced general, Parmenion, had advised him against using this battlefield, since the river could break up his tightly formed army.
Alexander the Great Summary
But Alexander managed to use it to his advantage. Even though the Persians gained an early foothold, Alexander got the upper hand by striking the enemy from multiple sides with two wings of cavalry. Alexander had no interest in wasting time with victory celebrations.
He quickly moved on to take the cities of Sardis and Ephesus before reaching the ancient city of Miletus, in what is now southwestern Turkey. And, since the city initially offered a surrender, it seemed like it would be taken with ease.
But word soon came that a Persian fleet was fast approaching, and another battle began. Once again, Alexander prevailed by defying the advice of Parmenion. While forming a plan of attack, they noticed an eagle perched upon one of their ships. Parmenion saw this as a sign that the gods favored a naval attack and advised to first attack the Persian navy, and then storm the city of Miletus. But Alexander interpreted the sign differently.
Since the eagle was facing landward, he decided to take the city first and then deal with the Persian navy. This resulted in a decisive victory. The city fell so quickly that the Persian navy was never even able to dock its ships.
After taking Miletus, Alexander made a curious decision that historians have been debating ever since: he disbanded the Greek navy. Alexander continued to defy conventional military wisdom by refusing to rest and pushing his campaign forward through the harsh winter of BC, continuing his streak of victories. Alexander also used unusual methods to take the port city of Telmessus. With a little help from inside the city, he managed to sneak a group of female dancers past the gate to perform for the Persian soldiers.
After much carousing, the soldiers, sleepy with drink, dropped their guard, and the dancers assassinated the whole garrison, allowing Alexander to take the city. Alexander the Great Key Idea 4: Sudden illness and death drastically changed the course of history. Alexander faced a dilemma: Continue conquering or go home?
After all, what good would his current campaign be if the Persians took over his homeland? Now it was Darius, the Great King of Persia, who had to make a decision. And with his most trusted general dead, he decided to call off his invasion of Greece and bring his troops home so that he could fight Alexander head-on. But the water was so cold that Alexander ended up becoming feverish and ill. Luckily, among the troops was a doctor named Philip whom Alexander had known since childhood.
Philip recommended a dangerous medicinal treatment, which Alexander accepted, knowing that, otherwise, he might die. Just before the treatment began, however, Alexander received a warning: Philip may have been bribed by the Persians to poison him! Alexander faced yet another dilemma: Place his trust in Philip, or risk death by not taking the medicine?
Alexander chose wisely. He took the medicine and was back on his feet in a matter of days, ready to continue his campaign. Darius hoped to face Alexander on a large, open battlefield, where his superior number of cavalry could overwhelm him. What followed would go down in history as one of the greatest battles of all time. This turned the tides of the battle, and since Alexander was now fighting across two fronts, the Persian army began to disintegrate, and Darius realized that the battle was lost.
At this point, Darius and Alexander locked eyes, and Alexander charged him. This climactic moment has been forever memorialized in a mosaic that is on display in the city of Pompeii. Despite this epic confrontation, however, Darius managed to escape the battlefield in one piece. Soon thereafter, Darius sent forth a peace treaty that proposed to give Alexander all of Asia Minor and a sizable ransom for his captive family.
It was a generous deal, and he knew his generals would advise him to accept it, but Alexander was not about to stop now. His advisors took the bait, and Alexander met no resistance in continuing his campaign to conquer all of Persia. He encountered no resistance along the way, for the local population had no love for the Persians, who had been ruling Egypt on and off for centuries.
During his time here, Alexander made sure that the Egyptians understood his intentions to rule their land as a benevolent king who would respect their way of life. After visiting the ancient pyramids of Giza, Alexander decided to found an Egyptian city that would end up serving as a permanent link to Greece.
Further inspiration came to him in a dream, in which an elderly man spoke to him of the island of Pharos. When Alexander awoke the next morning, he knew where to build the city of Alexandria: on the Egyptian coast opposite the island of Pharos.
Alexander was worried that this might be a dreadful sign from the gods, but his soothsayer, Aristander, reassured him that the birds were a glorious sign that foretold how the city would prosper and help feed the entire world. From here, Alexander spent weeks trekking across the barren Sahara to visit an oracle at the sanctuary of Ammon.
Alexander the Great
This event had a significant impact on his life. Alexander asked the oracle whether he was destined to conquer the world. The oracle then responded with a nod and told him that he would indeed end up changing the course of history.
From Egypt, Alexander set off toward the ancient city of Babylon. The battlefield was wide open. It was a huge gamble — but Alexander was indeed able to ride straight through the middle of the Persian army and directly toward Darius.
But before Alexander reached Darius, he was told that the Persians had also broken through his line of defense and were cutting down his men. Forced to let Darius escape, Alexander turned to assist his troops and defeat the remainder of the Persian army. Finally, Alexander was free to continue his journey to Babylon.What remains of them are to be found quoted or paraphrased by much later authors in their own histories of Alexander4.
As noted earlier, Cleitarchus' history was likely the basis for three of our extant historians, who offer alternative accounts to the heavily proAlexander history of Arrian. He split the invasion force into two, one half under the command of Hephaestion and Perdiccas, which was to march to the Indus via Hindu Kush and secure the main communications route, and the second under himself, which marched east through Laghman eastern Afghanistan into the Swat north of the modern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan Very soon he realized the need for social and national integration of the numerous cultures he ruled.
Kuhrt trsl , Oxford: Princeton University Press.