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One of history's greatest battlefield commanders, Alexander III of Macedon (356 B.C.–323 B.C.) became known as Alexander the Great due to his military exploits and cultural advancements in the lands he conquered. The son of King Philip of Macedon in ancient Greece, Alexander became king at the age of 20 following his father's assassination.
Alexander was descended from both Hercules and Achilles, and was the son of Olympias, one of Philip's many wives. One legend tells of Olympias's seduction by the god Zeus, and that Alexander was their offspring. When he was 10, Alexander received the gift of his famed horse, Bucephalus, who was unable to be tamed or ridden by anyone but young Alexander. At the age of 13, Alexander began his tutelage under the great Greek philopher, Aristotle, and Philip presented them as a classroom the Temple of the Nymphs at Mieza. Here the other children of Macedonian nobles--known as the "Companions"--joined Alexander, including Ptolemy and Cassander. Alexander received a thorough education in the arts and sciences, developing a love for the writings of Homer.
At the age of 16, Alexander put down a rebellion by the Thracians while Philip was at war with Byzantium. Philip gave his son an army of his own, with which Alexander defeated the Illyrians. Philip made Alexander his second in command at the age of 18, where Alexander successfully joined in victories at Thermopylae and Chaeronea. Alexander was forced into exile after a disagreement with his father when Philip married Cleopatra Eurydice; the birth of a son would have robbed Alexander of being heir to the throne. Nevertheless, upon Philip's death, it was Alexander to whom the army turned, and Alexander quickly ridded himself of potential rivals to the throne, making him one of the world's most powerful men at the age of 20.
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