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The Life of Conquest is The Life of Alexander The Great

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From “conquering” troublesome horses during childhood to taking over entire empires at the young age of 20, Alexander’s life was that of conquest. Although his land was split up after his death, Alexander had also started the Hellenistic Era, which could be considered a Greek cultural conquest of North Africa, West Asia, and parts of Europe. As you will read, Alexander’s life was one of conquest, through and through.

Alexander was born in July, 356 BCE and was the son of King Philip of Macedon and his wife Olympias. Alexander had a good relationship with his parents, but he was “fearful at an early agenda that the shadow cast by his father would eclipse his own ambitions.” This was because his father was King Philip of Macedon, the man who managed to conquer all of Greece and hold it. Alexander set out to establish his own footing in the world, and an example of this would be the taming of his horse, Bucephalus. Bucephalus was a horse that King Philip wanted to buy, yet no one could tame him. Thus, Philip was going to send him away when Alexander offered to try. By taming this horse, the young Alexander could really leave a positive mark on not only his father, but all the others watching on (since his father was King, these people would most likely be people of high regard and status). Alexander was able to tame the horse and it soon became one of his good companions. Bucephalus was Alexander’s horse for most of his campaigns, and when he perished, “Alexander named a local city, Bucephala, after him.”

For his education, Alexander was tutored by one of the greatest philosophers in human history, Aristotle. Aristotle fueled Alexander’s love for Greek culture and ideas immensely. He also played a role in “Alexander’s penchant for biology, botany, and zoology” as “he was careful to send unusual and exotic specimens back from Asia to his old master in Greece.” This act would also strengthen the knowledge of the Greeks on their outside world and its various inhabitants as they would be learning about all sorts of new animals and plant life during Alexander’s conquests abroad. By no means was Alexander an intellectual in the sense of someone like Aristotle however, as he focused move on being “a doer” rather than being a “thinker” like Aristotle. It was also during this young age Alexander got his first taste at ruling, sixteen to be exact. While his father was away on a campaign, he was left in charge as the regent of Macedon. It was during this time Alexander embarked on his first campaign which happened to be against the Maedi’s in the east. He defeated them soundly and “founded a new Greek style city on the site of their capital.”

After the assassination of his father, Alexander now had the full course meal of ruling at the younh age of 20.In order to ensure the loyalty of his army and other government officials, he killed “anyone questioning his claim to rule.” He then conquered Greece and made sure the Greeks recognized “him as Phillip’s legitimate successor.”

With Greece his, Alexander set his eyes on the long time foe of Greece, Persia. However, this was not the same Persia of old. This Persia was in a much more weakened state and this fact was observed by a soldier named Xenophon. Xenophon was one of many Greek mercenaries who fought for Cyrus the Younger against the Persian Empire. Xenophon saw that “It was clear to anyone who paid close attention to the size of the king’s empire that it was strong in terms of land and men, but weak on account of the great distances and the dispersal of its forces, if someone made a quick military strike against it.” This meant that although the Persians were massive (in both land and population), that hurt them more than help them in the long run seemingly. Alexander could not invade Persia for no reason however, so he “justified his attack on Persia by claiming to be the champion of Greek culture against barbarian values and the instrument of Greek revenge for Xerxes’ invasion in 480.”

The first battle between the two empires was the Battle of Granicus in 334 BCE. The battle was a one determined by Alexander’s exploits. The Persians had made an error before the battle, they located “their calvary on the river banks causing the calvary to be a stationary unit as their infantry was located behind them.” Alexander took advantage of this sedentary quality of the Persian cavalry and attacked right away.

Alexander began his attack by “attacking the Persian left flank and drawing the center and weakening it.” He did this so he could get an opening, and once he did he “ordered a direct attack of his companion on the right flank, followed by his entire army.” Eventually, the Persians were overrun and beaten.

Alexander and the Persian ruler, Darius III, met in the legendary battle at Issus in 333 BCE, located in the southwestern portion of Anatolia. This was the second major battle of Alexander’s conquest of Persia. In the battle, Alexander and his forces were outnumbered as Darius’s “army was more than twice the size of Alexander’s”.4 However, this did not seem to faze Alexander. To start the battle, “Heavy Persian cavalry pushed on Alexander’s left flank.” Showing how truly unfazed he was, “Alexander personally led a headlong cavalry charge that broke through Darius’s bodyguard and forced the Persian emperor to flee”.

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