Alexander the Great is one of those figures from Greek history that almost every young person – and some older people too – can instantly recognize.


Alexander the Great
His famous exploits, including being the first male to sail the seas, have made him an icon. But what’s more, apart from his exploits on the sea, Alexander the Great also served a significant role in Greek politics, was named one of the seven Muscovites (Mousetraps), was the commander of his army, and was the commander of all the forces assembled around the Greek capital of Athens. Thus, Alexander the Great is not only remembered by Greeks and by people from other lands, but he also has a unique place in the hearts of his countrymen.

Alexander III of Macedon, also known as Alexander the Great, was a ruler of the great ancient Greek city-state of Macedon and a part of the early Argead Dynasty. He was born in Pella, a town on the northern coast of the Acropolis. It is believed that Alexander the Great was born to a merchant family on the left bank of the river Acroterus which flows through modern day Athens. Young Alexander was very close to his older sister Alexandra, who married a certain Hippias of Cyprus. They were closely related and when Hippias was killed in the war against Persia in 401 B.C., Alexander the Great became very close to his sister who carried on his father’s traditions.

When he was thirty years old, Alexander began to invade the Greek realm of Macedonia, but was stopped by his new bride, Roxane, with her husband and future son-in-law Olegaras. He refused to leave, however, and the warlord Olegaras was killed in battle. Alexander then invaded the area again, this time capturing the town of Thermopolia (the modern day Larnaca) and eventually capturing the entire Greek nation.

Alexander, being a young and inexperienced king, depended heavily on the Persian military, composed mostly of his army of levy troops. With the exception of a small number of Persian archers and a few horse warriors, all of the Greek soldiers were recruited into the Persian army. Alexander relied on the Persians for most of their arms and armor, while the Greeks paid the local marauders for their services.

The Persian army, under the command of the Persian king porus, consisted mainly of light troops. Alexander chose to attack the Greeks at a place called Plataea (the crossing of the plate), where the two armies would meet. Plataea was chosen because it was not only well defended but had a low cost to enter and because it provided a point of convergence for the army that would defeat the Persians at the Battle of Marathon. Alexander, being aware of the Greek hatred for heavy equipment, opted for a light force and sent his trusted officers to try and defeat the Greek army at Plataea. These officers, including porus, managed to defeat the Greek forces at Plataea.

Alexander then turned his attention to the Greek cities that were not part of his original empire. He gathered together a large amount of Greek troops, who numbered in the thousands. Although some of these troops had been recruited from the locally recruited Greek citizens, most of them came from the middle and upper classes of both the Greeks and the barbarians. Although they numbered in the thousands, the majority of them were from the Macedonian Empire.

Alexander chose to attack the cities that had not previously been subject to a Greek monarch, but were now independent, such as the Thracian town of Melos. Alexander knew that the towns possessed gold and silver, which were essential necessities for the aggrandizement of his military success. Although he knew of a general named Maratus, who possessed thirty thousand drachmas, still thought of making a payment in terms of “favors” to friends and acquaintances, with the proviso that their terms should be kept secret. Alexander put this message into writing in a letter to Trajan, whom he had also sent some Persian affairs. As a result of this, Alexander was able to defeat the Persian general named Xerxes, and later on conquer the entire Persian Empire.

Not only was Alexander responsible for the survival of his own life, but of those of his soldiers as well. It was thanks to him that the city of Troy, situated on the left bank of the river Agra, which had been desirous of giving up to Alexander the favor of putting up a statue of himself in the city, was won over by his power and influence. All this is discussed in detail in the book called “The Agra Poem,” a poetic rendering of Alexander’s campaigns.