Alexander the Great was king of Macedonia and one of the greatest generals in history. He conquered much of what was then the civilized world. Alexander brought Greek ideas and the Greek way of doing things to all the countries he conquered. This great general and king made possible the broadly developed culture of the Hellenistic Age.
As a boy Alexander was fearless and strong. He tamed the beautiful and spirited Bucephalus, a horse that no one else dared to touch or ride. Later, this famous steed carried him as far as India, where it died. Alexander then built the city there in memory of his beloved horse. Philip was so proud of Alexander's power over the horse that he said, "O my son, seek out a kingdom worthy of thyself, for Macedonia is too little for thee."
Alexander was twenty when he became king of Macedonia. The Greek other states had grown restless under Macedonian rule. While Alexander was away making war on some barbarian tribes in the north, someone spread a story that he was dead. The people in the city of Thebes revolted and called upon the people of Athens to join them. Alexander soon appeared before Thebes with his army. His soldiers stormed the city. Every building in Thebes was destroyed. About 30,000 inhabitants were sold into slavery. Alexander's action broke the spirit of rebellion in the other Greek states.
The ambitious young king then turned his thoughts to conquering Persia. This had been part of his father's plan before him. He crossed the Hellespont with an army of 35,000 soldiers. After a three year siege, the whole region then submitted. Alexander next went to Egypt. The Egyptians welcomed him as a deliverer, because they hated their harsh Persian rulers. Alexander founded the city of Alexandria here and it became a world center of commerce and learning. He set out for and reached the rich plains of India where he defeated an Indian prince, Porus.
Alexander had vast plans, including his governmental reorganization. To achieve his goal, Alexander encouraged intermarriages, setting an example by marrying a Persian princess himself. He placed soldiers from all the provinces in his army. He introduced a uniform currency system throughout the empire and promoted trade and commerce. He encouraged the spread of Greek ideas, customs, and laws into Asia. When he heard that some of his provincial officials ruled unjustly, he replaced them. To receive recognition as the supreme ruler, he required the provinces to worship him as a god.
He was taken seriously ill with malaria at Babylon. The simple remedies of the day did not help him. He died on June 13, 323 B.C. His body was placed in a gold coffin and taken to Memphis, in Egypt.
Later it was carried to Alexandria, and placed in a beautiful tomb.
Alexander the Great
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