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The Macedonian king Alexander (356–323 B.C.) was known as "the Great" because he conquered virtually all of the known world of his time. In effect, he ruled the world, though only for a brief time.
Alexander was the son of King Philip II (382–336 B.C.), the ruler of the Greek city-state of Macedonia. (A city-state was a self-ruling region made up of a city and its surrounding territory.) As a prince, Alexander studied athletics, war, and philosophy (the famous Greek philosopher Aristotle was his teacher). While Philip waged military campaigns to protect and expand his kingdom, sixteen-year-old Alexander ran the Macedonian government. At age seventeen he joined his father on the battlefield, commanding a part of the army as it defeated the city-state of Thebes. After Philip was assassinated by one of his bodyguards in 336 B.C., Alexander ascended to the throne. He carried on his father's campaigns, securing Greece and the Balkan Peninsula by the autumn of 335 B.C. Next Alexander and his troops, which numbered in the tens of thousands, conquered Egypt and the Persian Empire. Thereafter, Alexander pressed on, claiming Afghanistan and India. He was poised to conquer the Arabian peninsula in 324 B.C., when he died of fever at age thirty-three. According to some historians, he may have been poisoned. Alexander's former generals then divided the empire among themselves.
Further Information: Baker, Rosalie F., and Charles F. Baker III. Ancient Greeks: Creating the Classical Tradition. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997; Green, Robert. Alexander the Great. New York: Franklin Watts, 1996; Greenblatt, Miriam. Alexander the Great and Ancient Greece. Tarrytown, N.Y.: Marshall Cavendish, 1999; Halsall, Paul, ed. Internet Ancient History Sourcebook. [Online] Available http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/asbook.html, October 25, 2000; Nardo, Don. Philip II and Alexander the Great Unify Greece. New York: Franklin Watts, 2000.
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