Alexander the Great - World History

Alexander the Great - World History
Posted on 30-12-2022

Alexander the Great ( 337 ) Alexander the Great conquers Persia.

Philip II of Macedonia had taken care to provide his son Alexander with the best education, and it seems that he took full advantage of it. The king must have been very pleased with Aristotle's work since he appointed him governor of Stagira, his hometown, and it seems that he did his work well since his anniversary was declared a public holiday ever since. . Alexander once wrote to Aristotle: "My dream, more than increasing my power, is to perfect my culture." But the young man not only satisfied his philosophy teacher. His literature teacher, Lysimachus, was able to verify that Alexander had memorized the Iliad, and Leonidas managed to make him an excellent horseman, fencer, and hunter. His personality was complex. There was some vanity: On a certain occasion he was invited to participate in the Olympics, but his response was "he would do it if the other participants were kings."He was excessively sensitive: it was said that he often cried when he heard an emotional song. They say that he was capable of writing long letters to an absent friend because of a trifle. He liked challenges and risks to the point of foolishness. It is said that he himself tamed what would become his horse simply because he was told that all those who had tried it had failed. He called him Bucephalus, because it had a mark on its head that looked like an ox. She again met a lion and fought him with no other weapon than a dagger. He was a teetotaler, and claimed that a good walk gave him an appetite for breakfast, and that a light breakfast gave him an appetite for dinner. He was also handsome, athletic and full of enthusiasm. From the age of sixteen Alexander was at the head of Macedonia, while his father besieged Byzantium, and he knew how to keep the bordering barbarians at bay. At eighteen he participated in the battle of Chaeronea, and it was he who led the final charge. The soldiers admired and adored him. His father was also proud: They say that when he tamed Bucephalus his father cried:"My son, Macedonia is too small for you."

But the royal house suffered some shocks. Philip II was a womanizer, and his wife Olympias had too strong a character to accept it discreetly. Instead, he dedicated himself to participating in Dionysian rituals (ie, orgies). On one occasion, the king found her sleeping next to a snake, and Olympias explained to him that she was an incarnation of Zeus, and that he was the true father of Alexander. Philip II did not say anything about it, since it is not clear if he was more afraid of the gods or his wife, and since then the rumor began to circulate that Alexander was an illegitimate son. This cooled relations between Alejandro and his father.

In 337, just as his plans to lead Greece to the conquest of Persia were beginning to get under way, Philip II decided to divorce Olympias and marry Cleopatra, the daughter of one of his generals, Attalus, who was pregnant with a son. King's son (later turned out to be a daughter). At a banquet, Attalus is said to have proposed a toast to the king's legitimate son , underlining "legitimate." Alejandro threw a chalice at him, saying: "Well, what am I? A bastard? " "Look," said Alejandro, "he can't stand up and wants to reach the heart of Asia."

Perhaps Philip II saw that Olympias could bring him trouble if he had the support of his family, the royal house of Epirus, so he tried to win it over to himself. The king had a daughter by her, Alexander's sister, and offered her hand to her brother-in-law (her uncle), Alexander of Epirus, which he accepted. The wedding took place in 336, and Philip II was assassinated at the ceremony. There is no doubt that Olympias must have planned it, perhaps with the complicity of Alexander. In addition, the king's testament was not found, so Alexander, barely twenty years old, was acclaimed by the army as the new king of Macedonia. He was Alexander III, but his later exploits would make him known as Alexander the Great.

The Persian king Arses was assassinated, and the throne fell into the hands of a distant relative, Darius III, under whom the period of anarchy that had been unleashed by the death of Artaxerxes III ended. However, the character of the new king was far from possessing the energy of his predecessors, and which would have been so necessary to Persia in the following years.

Alexander had everyone who could dispute the throne executed. Among them were Cleopatra, Philip II's second wife, his newborn half-brother, and even his cousin, who had reigned as Amyntas IV until his father deposed him. Meanwhile the Greek cities dissolved the confederation that Philip II had organized in Corinth. Demosthenes organized parties in Athens and even proposed awarding a prize to the murderer of Philip II. But Alexander was soon ready to march on Greece, though the Greeks hastened to send representatives to Corinth to hail him as a general and reconstitute the confederation before he arrived.

There is a famous anecdote about the arrival of Alexander in Corinth. They say that he met Diogenes, who was over seventy years old at the time, and was sunbathing outside his barrel. Alejandro asked him if he wanted any favors from him. Diogenes looked at the most powerful man in Greece and answered: "Yes, don't block the sun from me." Alexander turned away and said: "If I were not Alexander, I would like to be Diogenes."

in 335Alexander had to rush north, learning that Illyria was planning to invade Macedonia. The Illyrians were wiped out in no time. Meanwhile, in Greece, rumor spread that Alexander was dead, so Thebes rebelled against the Macedonian garrison, which he ended up beheading, while Demosthenes reorganized his party with Persian gold. But Alexander returned, his army faced the Theban, who soon fled. The Macedonians pursued the Thebans, and they say they entered the city at the same time. Alexander commanded the destruction of all the houses of Thebes one by one, except the temples and the one that was the home of Pindar. With Athens, on the other hand, he was lenient and did not retaliate. It seems that Alexander felt a certain inferiority towards the Athenian culture. They say that once, when two Athenian friends visited him in Pella, he told them"You who come from there, don't you have the feeling that you are among savages?" The fact is that Alexander arrived at Corinth, where the confederation was rebuilt once more. The Greeks were eager for him to leave for Asia, to see if he would die there, so they did not bargain with the twenty thousand men that he requested as a reinforcement of his own ten thousand infantry and five thousand cavalry.

At this time, many Chinese princes begin to grant themselves the title of king, thereby showing that they stopped abiding by the authority of King Cheu.

In 334 Alexander marched towards Asia. He left a third of his men in Greece, under his general Antipater, for he had already had occasion to see the kind of loyalty he could expect from the Greeks.

Aristotle had returned to Athens. There he finally fulfilled his project of creating a school in the style of Plato's Academy. He placed it next to a temple dedicated to Apolo Liceo (Apollo the killer of wolves), which is why it ended up being known as El Liceo,and it turned out to be tough competition for the Academy. Aristotle wrote about 400 books, of which about 50 have survived. If Plato was the first great philosopher, Aristotle was the first great scientist. He did not write dialogues, but treatises and essays. He did not let his imagination caress interesting ideas, but rationally analyzed the facts and reached the most sensible conclusions. He dismantled the theory of his teacher's ideas, and in their place his metaphysics became a framework for the rational study of the world. In particular, he dismissed the paradoxical theories about the impossibility of movement and changes, or the unreality of the sensible world, defended by Parmenides and Zeno. It may be objected that his physical and astronomical theories were less accurate from a modern point of view than those of some of his contemporaries (for example, he ruled out the atomism of Democritus, or the heliocentric theories of Heraclides), but it should also be noted that in the At that time there were no grounds for considering such theories as more than mere fantasies or vain speculations.

Aristotle created a physics very different from the modern one, but without a doubt the most sensible for his time: matter is continuous, bodies tend to occupy their natural place: the earth below, then the water, above the air and, above the fire. That is why the stones fall and the smoke rises, etc. To the four classical elements, he added a fifth, the Aether, of which Plato had already spoken, which constituted the celestial bodies. Aristotle believed that a body left to its own devices ends up stopping, which is why he postulated the existence of an "immobile motor",that is, something capable of providing movement to the universe (to the stars, to the wind, etc.) but that exceptionally did not need anything to move it. Where he could best demonstrate his great gifts as a scientist was in biology. He carefully studied and classified the different species that he found. He was the first to observe the way in which dolphins gave birth, which led him to affirm that they were not fish. Aristotle was not interested in mathematics, but instead he was the first to systematize logic. Before developing a theory, Aristotle was concerned with specifying the meaning of the terms he used, distinguishing between definitions, premises,..., collected and analyzed previous works, etc. Perhaps he was the first "professor" in the modern academic sense. Naturally, he also wrote about ethics, politics, etc. In politics he was in favor of a Timocracy, a moderate mix of aristocracy and democracy, but still thinking in terms of city-states, a structure that was already collapsing at the time.

In the mornings he taught his students, but he did not do it from the chair, but walking, which is why his students were called peripatetic, or walkers. In the afternoons he opened the doors to the profane, giving talks on more elementary topics.

Going back to Alexander, the main rival he would have to deal with was not Persian, but Greek. His name was Memnon, of Rhodes, and was in charge of the Greek mercenaries hired by Persia. Memnon had fought with some success against Philip II and knew the Macedonian army. He suggested letting Alexander go ahead and then cutting off communications by sea, while stirring up revolts in Greece. No doubt he knew what he was saying, but the local satraps were not willing to let Alexander pass through their provinces. They thought that he would be one of the Greeks who had passed through there: that he would wander a bit and leave. The important thing was that he did it for the neighboring provinces and not his own, for which he had to face him.

The armies met by the Granicus River, near where Troy had stood. Alexander's cavalry disorganized the Persians, and the phalanx defeated the Greek mercenaries. Then it did not take long to seize the Asian coast of the Aegean. This allowed Memnon to put his plans into practice, and he slowly set about reconquering the islands in order to control the Aegean and isolate Alexander. He might have gotten it, but he died in 333 while besieging Lesbos.

Alexander advanced inland and reached Gordion, the ancient capital of Phrygia. There they told him the legend according to which King Gordias, founder of the city, had dedicated his cart to Zeus when he elected him king, and had tied an intricate knot in it with the prophecy that whoever was able to untie it would dominate. Asia. It is difficult to know at what time this legend was created, but Alexander became interested in it and, taking out his sword, cut the "Gordian knot". This technique was not in the rules, but it was very significant.

King Darius III assembled a great army of almost a million men, many more than those who followed Alexander, but the number mattered little. The encounter took place in Isos, where the Greek mercenaries on the Persian side managed to momentarily control the phalanx, but when Alexander's men approached the Persian king's positions, he brazenly fled, and with it the Persians collapsed. Darius III sent ambassadors offering Alexander all of Asia Minor and a large sum of money if he would accept peace. They say that Parmenio, a general of Alexander, said: "If I were Alexander, I would accept", to which Alexander replied: "And me too, if I were Parmenio." Instead, Alexander demanded nothing less than the unconditional surrender of the entire Persian Empire, so the war continued. Darius III withdrew to Mesopotamia, but Alexander did not follow him. He wanted to secure the entire Mediterranean coast so that Memnon's plan could not be carried out. For this he had to conquer Phoenicia and Canaan.

The Phoenician cities did not resist. They had not long revolted against Persia and suffered reprisals from Artaxerxes III, so they saw Alexander as a liberator. The only exception was Tyre, whose king Azemilkos, precisely fearful of a new Persian reprisal, he tried to make Alexander pass by. He sent an embassy to him, accepting his sovereignty, but in exchange for Tire having autonomy in its internal affairs. In particular, when Alexander asked to introduce a contingent into the city, the Tyrian king refused. Alexander could not accept. Precisely, what interested him most was having the fleet of Tire and its port. So he started the siege.

The undertaking was difficult, because Alexander did not have a fleet, and Tire could be supplied by sea without difficulty. The situation would worsen if Tire finally received the help of Carthage. Centuries ago, it took King Nebuchadnezzar II thirteen years to take the city, and even then he had to come to a reasonable compromise. However, Alexander did not need more than nine months to achieve the total surrender of Tyre. For this, he had an 800-meter boardwalk built that linked the city to the mainland. The first attempt was frustrated by Tyrian incursions, but then Alexander set out to build a new one, wider and easier to defend. On the other hand, the ships of the Phoenician cities subject to Alexander sided with him and hindered the supply of Tire. The Tyrians were not deterred. They took out by sea as many women and children as they could and took them to Carthage. The loyal ships were gathered along the coasts and the city prepared to resist at all costs. The boardwalk was finished, the siege engines came up and destroyed the wall, and in332 the city was definitively taken. 8,000 Tyrians were slaughtered and 30,000 sold into slavery. Azemilkos was the last king the city had. Over time, the sea accumulated sand around the embankment built by Alexander, making Tire no longer an island. The rock stands today at the tip of a 1.5-kilometre-wide peninsula.

With the Phoenician fleet at his disposal, Alexander was able to continue south through Palestine. There, too, he met no noteworthy resistance, except at Gaza, the ancient Philistine citadel. Later Jews claimed that Alexander wanted to punish Jerusalem because he had refused a request for help in the siege of Tyre, but at the city gates he was met by the high priest and his retinue. Seeing him, Alexander dismounted from his horse and bowed, for, as he explained to a general, he had seen a similar figure in a dream. He then entered Jerusalem peacefully and left the Jews to govern themselves according to his own laws.

All of this is undeniably false. Jerusalem was then an insignificant city to which Alexander would never have asked for help, and most likely he passed by without knowing it existed. Gaza was different. It had tactical importance, and Alexander was not about to leave it behind him. It was surrounded by sandy ground through which he could not transport the siege engines, so he ordered a ramp built up to the walls on the sands, similar to what he had done with Tire on the sea. He broke through the walls with the machines while his sappers dug tunnels, entered the city and made a worse slaughter than Tyre.

From Gaza he reached Egypt almost without a fight. It seems that the Egyptians had contacted Alexander at Isos asking him to liberate his country from Persian rule. Be that as it may, the fact is that he was received as a liberator. Alexander was careful to foster this favorable image he had among the Egyptians and succeeded in having them crown him pharaoh, for which he patiently followed all the appropriate rituals. He went to a highly revered temple of Amun in Libya, where he declared himself the son of Amun (whom he identified with Zeus, thereby humoring his mother). Some see in this a megalomaniac attitude,

Taranto asked Alexander of Epirus for help against the northern Italian tribes. The king willingly accepted. He was aware of his nephew's exploits in the East and perhaps dreamed of imitating her in the West. He immediately moved in with an army and began to score victories over the Italians.

In 331 Alexander was ready to enter Persia. He left the country in the hands of native authorities, except as regards taxes and the economy, which he left in the hands of a Greek from Naucratis named Cleomenes. His idea was to give an image that Egypt was ruled by natives but, at the same time, leave the money in Greek hands. Thus Cleomenes was the true ruler of the country, although he officially had no title. Before leaving, Alexander noticed a small town at the mouth of the Nile. He ordered to build a new neighborhood there to the west. The city thus extended came to be called Alexandria,although Alexander himself never got to see her. It was projected by the architect Dinocrates of Rhodes, and Cleomenes ensured that the king's will was carried out.

Darius III was waiting for Alexander. He chose a flat region located next to the city of Gaugamela, near where Nineveh had stood. He had every irregularity in the ground removed, hoping that his cavalry could prevail over the comparatively small Greek army. Apparently his plan was to drive off the Greek cavalry with his own and use his numerous infantry to slowly wear down the phalanx. It was not really a good strategy, since the plains favored the phalanx. On the other hand, the Persian army had chariots equipped with blades on their wheels. Alejandro arrived where Darío III was waiting for him. The Persian lines outflanked the Greeks on both flanks, but Alexander was content not to be surrounded. He knew Darius III and his plan was very simple: wait for the opportunity to attack him personally and provoke his flight as had happened in Isos. The fighting was driving the Greek army towards the edges of the plain. Fearing that his chariots would not be effective off the plain, Darius III released them prematurely, for Alexander's army was still perfectly organized, and he had no difficulty killing the charioteers with arrows as they came running up. The few that did arrive were let through, and the Greeks gained confidence as they pressed on. Finally Darío III got within range and Alejandro ordered the phalanx to advance directly towards him.

After the battle, Alexander reached Babylon, where he was received without resistance. At that time, Babylon was still not recovered from the destruction to which Xerxes condemned it. Marduk's temple was still in ruins. Alexander adopted the same policy as in Egypt: he declared himself a defender of native customs against the Zoroastrians, ordered the reconstruction of the temple of Marduk, and agreed to participate in as many rituals as the Babylonians deemed appropriate.

King Agis III of Sparta rebelled against Antipater. Since Alexander's departure, Agis III had been receiving Persian money, with which he managed to raise almost the entire Peloponnese against Macedonia. Only Megalopolis did not want to join Sparta. Agis III besieged it, but Antipater came from the north with a large army. The Spartans were defeated and Agis III was killed in the battle. Antipater took Spartan hostages and forced the city to pay a large sum, but he respected their independence.

At the same time Alexander prepared to leave Babylon to continue his conquest of the Persian Empire. He left the city under the rule of Harpalo,that he thought that the king would never return from his expedition, so instead of carrying out the projects that Alexander had entrusted to him, he decided to use power for his own benefit. The fact is that Alexander left for Susa, and then went to Persepolis, where he burned down the Persian palaces in retaliation for the burning of Athens ordered by Xerxes. He then advanced northward, to Pasargadae, where he visited the tomb of Cyrus. Later he learned that Darius III was in Ecbatana and sent for him, but the Persian king fled to the east. Finally, in 330, one of his satraps, Besso,who ruled over Bactria, decided to assassinate him and deliver his body to Alexander. He then had himself proclaimed king, with the name of Artaxerxes IV.

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