Alexander the Great

Alexander III of Macedon (20/21 July 356 – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great (, Aléxandros ho Mégas from the ), was a King (Basileus) of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon– Alexander the Great: “Youths of the Pellaians and of the Macedonians and of the Hellenic Amphictiony and of the Lakedaimonians and of the Corinthians… and of all the Hellenic peoples, join your fellow-soldiers and entrust yourselves to me, so that we can move against the barbarians and liberate ourselves from the Persian bondage, for as Greeks we should not be slaves to barbarians.” Pseudo-Kallisthenes, Historia Alexandri Magni, 1.15.1-4 – Alexander the Great: “Now you fear punishment and beg for your lives, so I will let you free, if not for any other reason so that you can see the difference between a Greek king and a barbarian tyrant, so do not expect to suffer any harm from me. A king does not kill messengers.” Historia Alexandri Magni of Pseudo-Kallisthenes, 1.37.9-13 – Alexander the Great addressing his troops prior to the Battle of Issus: “There are Greek troops, to be sure, in Persian service — but how different is their cause from ours! They will be fighting for pay – and not much of at that; we, on the contrary, shall fight for Greece, and our hearts will be in it.” Anabasis Alexandri by Roman historian Arrian, Book II, 7 – Alexander’s letter to Persian king Darius in response to a truce plea: “Your ancestors came to Macedonia and the rest of Hellas (Greece) and did us great harm, though we had done them no prior injury. I have been appointed leader of the Greeks, and wanting to punish the Persians I have come to Asia, which I took from you.” Anabasis Alexandri by Arrian; translated as Anabasis of Alexander by P. A. Brunt, for the “Loeb Edition” Book II 14, 4 – Alexander the Great: “If it were not my purpose to combine barbarian things with things Hellenic (Greek), to traverse and civilize every continent, to search out the uttermost parts of land and sea, to push the bounds of Macedonia to the farthest Ocean, and to disseminate and shower the blessings of the Hellenic justice and peace over every nation, I should not be content to sit quietly in the luxury of idle power, but I should emulate the frugality of Diogenes. But as things are, forgive me Diogenes, that I imitate Herakles, and emulate Perseus, and follow in the footsteps of Dionysos, the divine author and progenitor of my family, and desire that victorious Hellenes should dance again in India and revive the memory of the Bacchic revels among the savage mountain tribes beyond the Kaukasos.” On the Fortune of Alexander by Plutarch, 332 a-b – Alexander addressing the dead Hellenes (the Athenian and Thebean Greeks) of the Battle of Chaeronea: “Holy shadows of the dead, I’m not to blame for your cruel and bitter fate, but the accursed rivalry which brought sister nations and brother people, to fight one another. I do not feel happy for this victory of mine. On the contrary, I would be glad, brothers, if I had all of you standing here next to me, since we are united by the same language, the same blood and the same visions.” Historiae Alexandri Magni by Quintus Curtius Rufus – Alexander I of Macedon, ancestor of Alexander the Great, member of the Argead dynasty: “Tell your king (Xerxes), who sent you, how his Greek viceroy of Macedonia has received you hospitably.” Herodotus, Histories, 5.20.4, Loeb – Alexander I of Macedon, ancestor of Alexander the Great, member of the Argead dynasty, when he was admitted to the Olympic games: “Men of Athens… In truth I would not tell it to you if I did not care so much for all Hellas; I myself am by ancient descent a Greek, and I would not willingly see Hellas change her freedom for slavery. I tell you, then, that Mardonius and his army cannot get omens to his liking from the sacrifices. Otherwise you would have fought long before this. Now, however, it is his purpose to pay no heed to the sacrifices, and to attack at the first glimmer of dawn, for he fears, as I surmise, that your numbers will become still greater. Therefore, I urge you to prepare, and if (as may be) Mardonius should delay and not attack, wait patiently where you are; for he has but a few days’ provisions left. If, however, this war ends as you wish, then must you take thought how to save me too from slavery, who have done so desperate a deed as this for the sake of Hellas in my desire to declare to you Mardonius’ intent so that the barbarians may not attack you suddenly before you yet expect them. I who speak am Alexander the Macedonian.” Herodotus, Histories, 9.45 (ed. A. D. Godley) – Ian Worthington, English historian and archaeologist: “Not much need to be said about the Greekness of ancient Macedonia: it is undeniable.” Ian Worthington, Philip II of Macedonia, Yale University Press, 2008 – Ulrich Wilcken: “When we take into account the political conditions, religion and morals of the Macedonians, our conviction is strengthened that they were a Greek race and akin to the Dorians. Having stayed behind in the extreme north, they were unable to participate in the progressive civilization of the tribes which went further south.” Ulrich Wilcken, Alexander the Great, p. 22 – Strabo: “And Macedonia, of course, is a part of Greece.” Strabo. VII, Frg. 9 (Loeb, H.L. Jones) – Herodotus: “Now that these descendants of Perdiccas (Perdiccas I of Macedon, King of Macedonia from about 700 BCE to about 678 BCE) are Greeks, as they themselves say, I myself chance to know and will prove it in the later part of my history.” Herodotus, Book 5, Ch. 22, 1 (Loeb) – Josephus: “And when the book of Daniel was showed to Alexander the Great, where Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended; and as he was then glad, he dismissed the multitude for the present.” Josephus 11.8.5 – Arrian: “There a man appeared to them wearing a Greek cloak and dressed otherwise in the Greek fashion, and speaking Greek also. Those Macedonians who first sighted him said that they burst into teers, so strange did it seem after all these miseries to see a Greek, and to hear Greek spoken.” Arrian: Anabasis Alexandri: Book VIII (Indica) – Titus Livius: “The Aitolians, the Akarnanians, the Macedonians, men of the same speech, are united or disunited by trivial causes that arise from time to time; with aliens, with barbarians, all Greeks wage and will wage eternal war; for they are enemies by the will of nature, which is eternal, and not from reasons that change from day to day.” Titus Livius, Liber XXXI, 29, 15 – David H. Levinson: “It should be noted that there is no connection between the Macedonians of the time of Alexander the Great who were related to other Hellenic tribes and the Macedonians of today, who are of Slavic Origin and related to the Bulgarians.” Encyclopedia of World Cultures (1991), by David H. Levinson, page 239. – Nicholas Hammond: “Philip was born a Greek of the most aristocratic, indeed of divine, descent… Philip was both a Greek and a Macedonian, even as Demosthenes was a Greek and an Athenian… The Macedonians over whom Philip was to rule were an outlying family member of the Greek-speaking peoples.” Nicholas Hummond, Philip of Macedon, Duckworth Publishing, 1998 – Nicholas Hammond: “All in all, the language of the Macedones was a distinct and particular form of Greek, resistant to outside influnces and conservative in pronunciation. It remained so until the fourth century when it was almost totally submerged by the flood tide of standardized Greek.” Nicholas Hummond, A History of Macedonia Vol ii, 550-336 BC – Nicholas Hammond: “As members of the Greek race and speakers of the Greek language, the Macedonians shared in the ability to initiate ideas and create political forms.” Nicholas Hummond, The Miracle that was Macedonia, 1992, p. 206 – M. Opperman, The Oxford Classical Dictionary 3rd ed. (1996) – Macedonia, Cults, page 905: “Nowadays historians generally agree that the Macedonian ethnos form part of the Greek ethnos; hence they also shared in the common religious and cultural features of the Hellenic world” – Robin Lane Fox: 1) “Alexander was still the Greek avenger of Persian sacrilege who told his troops, it was said ‘that Persepolis was the most hateful city in the world’. On the road there, he met with the families of Greeks who had deported to Persia by previous kings, and true to his slogan, he honoured them conspicuously, giving them money, five changes of clothing, farm animals, corn, a free passage home, and exemption from taxes and bureaucratic harassments.” p. 256,2) “To his ancestors (to a Persian’s ancestors) Macedonians were only known as ‘yona takabara’, the ‘Greeks who wear shields on their heads’, an allusion to their broad-brimmed hats.” p. 104,3) “Alexander was not the first Greek to be honoured as a god for political favour.” p. 131,4) “In spirit, Alexander made a gesture to the Lydians’ sensitivities, though his Greek crusade owed them nothing as they were not Greeks.” p. 128. Robin Lane Fox, Alexander the Great, Penguin Books, UK, 1997 – Katheryn A. Bard: “The Macedonians were originally one of several Greek tribes living on the northern frontier of the Hellenic world.” Katheryn A. Bard, Encyclopaedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, Taylor & Francis, 1999, p. 460. – Benjamin Ide Wheeler: “That the Macedonians were Greek by race there can be no longer any doubt. They were the northernmost fragments of the race left stranded behind the barriers.” Benjamin Ide Wheeler, Alexander the Great: The Merging of East and West in Universal History, Elibron Classics, 2011 and a member of the Argead dynasty. Born in Pella in 356 BC, Alexander succeeded his father, Philip II, to the throne at the age of twenty. He spent most of his ruling years on an unprecedented military campaign through Asia and northeast Africa, until by the age of thirty he had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, stretching from Greece to Egypt and into northwest India. He was undefeated in battle and is considered one of history’s most successful military commanders. During his youth, Alexander was tutored by the philosopher Aristotle until the age of 16. When he succeeded his father to the throne in 336 BC, after Philip was assassinated, Alexander inherited a strong kingdom and an experienced army. He had been awarded the generalship of Greece and used this authority to launch his father’s Panhellenic project to lead the Greeks in the conquest of Persia. In 334 BC, he invaded the Achaemenid Empire, 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 First Persian Empire. At that point, his empire stretched from the Adriatic Sea to the Indus River. Seeking to reach the “ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea”, he invaded India in 326 BC, but was eventually forced to turn back at the demand of his troops. Alexander died in Babylon in 323 BC, the city he planned to establish as his capital, without executing a series of planned campaigns that would have begun with an invasion of Arabia. In the years following his death, a series of civil wars tore his empire apart, resulting in several states ruled by the Diadochi, Alexander’s surviving generals and heirs. Alexander’s legacy includes the cultural diffusion his conquests engendered, such as Greco-Buddhism. He founded some twenty cities that bore his name, most notably Alexandria in Egypt. Alexander’s settlement of Greek colonists and the resulting spread of Greek culture in the east resulted in a new Hellenistic civilization, aspects of which were still evident in the traditions of the Byzantine Empire in the mid-15th century and the presence of Greek speakers in central and far eastern Anatolia until the 1920s. Alexander became legendary as a classical hero in the mold of Achilles, and he features prominently in the history and myth of Greek and non-Greek cultures. He became the measure against which military leaders compared themselves, and military academies throughout the world still teach his tactics. He is often ranked among the world’s most influential people of all time, along with his teacher Aristotle.

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