Who was Alexander the Great?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Alexander the Great was one of the greatest conquerors and military leaders in history.  He was born in 356 BC in Macedonia.  His father was Philip II, one of the greatest kings of Macedonia.  Alexander was to outdo his father and become much more famous.

Alexander was famously tutored by the great philosopher Aristotle while he was a child growing up in Macdeonia.  Among his companions during the time that he was being tutored were many youths who became generals of his during his conquests.

Alexander became king of Macedonia when he was only 20.  He reigned for about 12 years before dying.  In those 12 years, he accomplished great things militarily.  He is famous for conquering an empire that stretched from Egypt and Macedonia in the west to the edges of India in the east.  In doing so, he destroyed the Persian empire.

Alexander died in 323 BC, his death is believed to have been caused by a combination of wounds, excessive drinking, and an illness.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Alexander the Great was the heir to King Philip II's growing empire. Born in Macedonia, Alexander the Great conquered not only Greece but expanded his empire as far east as India. In short, he was the most accomplished leader the world had ever seen.

Alexander had a true liberal arts education under the tuteledge of Aristotle. He studied literature, the sciences, history and military tactics. He applied his knowledge and understanding of people to his conquests. Alexander was responsible for a great deal of cultural diffusion.

Alexander the great died mysteriously in Babylon in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There is not enough room here to fully answer this question.

Alexander was the son of Philip II, King of Macedonia. Olympias, his mother, was not Macedonian. So when Philip married a second wife, named Cleopatra, who was, it was feared that his life might be in danger. Indeed, at the wedding feast, Cleopatra's father made a comment about Philip's finally being able to have a legitimate heir. Olympias and Alexander left Macedonia and stayed away until Philip's death.

When Philip died, Alexander returned to Macedonia and secured his place on the throne by killing Cleopatra and her baby son. Almost immediately he had to go to war against the city-states that had supported his father but were unsure of him as a ruler. He conquered Athens, Thebes, and most of Greece. He then traveled to Egypt, where he was welcomed. He ordered the building of Alexandria, which became Egypt's new capital and was a center for culture and learning.

In his final campaign, Alexander went to war against the Persian Empire and defeated King Darius. Alexander is called "the Great" because it seemed that he could not lose. Wherever he went, he took the Greek language and culture with him, which we call today Hellenization, for the Greek name of Greece.

Alexander's death at age 33 is mysterious and unsolved. Some think he was poisoned; others believe he contracted an intestinal virus or other disease.

Visit the sites below for more information.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

who was   Alexander the Great:

Alexander of Macedon, also known as Alexander the Great, was the son of Philip II of Macedon and inherited the Kingdom from him when Philip was assassinated. Philip had taken pains to see that Alexander was prepared to rule, and had arranged for him to be tutored by Aristotle. Aristotle taught Alexander about Greek culture and literature; an influence which Alexander retained for the remainder of his life. He ruled Macedon as Philip's regent from the age of sixteen and fought at the Battle of Chaeronea when he was eighteen. This early exposure to battle prepared him for life as a soldier.

Philip had planned an invasion of Persia before his death; and Alexander took up the project when he succeeded his father. He invaded Asia Minor and took with him philosophers and scientists to study the area. Before reaching Persia, he invaded Egypt where he visited the Oracle of Zeus-Amon. No one but Alexander entered the Oracle, and when he exited, he informed his aides that he was the son of Zeus. Whether he believed this or not, it did seem to inspire him and his troops.

When Alexander reached Persia, he destroyed the capital of Persepolis, and continued on through Asia to the Indus River in India. He had hoped to continue; but his troops threatened to mutiny and he was forced to change directions. Thereafter he invaded Arabia and reached Babylon where he died at age 33.

Because of his claim to be descended from a God, many depictions of Alexander show him as youthful and god-like. In fact he was neither tall nor physically attractive. He was bent to long instances of drunkenness; in fact during one such incident, he killed an advisor who dared disagree with him by suggesting that Alexander should not be modest in denying his own greatness.

Throughout his adult life, Alexander kept a male lover known as Hephaestus. Hephaestus died before Alexander, and he was inconsolable. He was in the process of building a magnificent mausoleum for his dead friend when he himself died, scarcely six months later. After his death, his Empire was divided between three of his commanders. Ptolemy took Egypt; Antigone took Greece, and Seleucid took Persia.

Among his accomplishments, Alexander was responsible for the spread of Greek culture throughout the Western world. The city of Alexandria in Egypt is named for him. So pervasive was his influence that the rule of Alexander is commonly known as the Hellenistic Age.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on