Alexander the great story summary of his life and analysis



Alexander the great story summary of his life and analysis


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Alexander the great story summary of his life and analysis


Alexander the Great’s military expedition brought many Greeks and Macedonians to the East through the Persian Empire and into India.  The men in his army, families, historians, philosophers, poets, scientists and others traveling with Alexander carried their Western customs with them and he made sure to place Greek and Macedonian people in charge of his conquests along the way.  As a result, Western culture mixed with Eastern culture to create a new cultural phenomena throughout Alexander’s Empire.  Through commerce, trade, and travel, contact had existed between the East and West for centuries, but Alexander’s conquests facilitated integration and assimilation on a grand scale.  Some historians examining the period after Alexander’s death known as the Hellenistic Age argue that Alexander intended to create a cultural syncretism, while others claim that it was merely a natural consequence of his actions.  It is clear that Alexander set out to create a unified empire including Greeks and non-Greeks.  However, there is insufficient evidence to support a policy of racial fusion and cultural syncretism. 
Literary and archeological evidence from the Hellenistic period illustrate that Greco/Macedonian customs flourished in Eastern regions.  Moreover, Hellenistic cities architecture, education, and religion provide proof for new cultural norms combining elements from East and the West.   Historians agree that cultural assimilation marks a distinct feature of the Hellenistic Age.  In addition, few argue the notion that Alexander the Great and his conquest, in large part, facilitated this significant cultural transition.  The question arises as to whether Alexander intended to create a culturally intertwined empire. 
It is important to note that although considerable intermixing occurred between the Greeks and the Persians, the Hellenistic world should not be viewed as a cultural melting pot in the modern sense.  After Alexander died his empire broke down into three separate kingdoms, one in Egypt under the rule of the Ptolemies, Asia controlled by the Seleucids, and Macedonia and Greece ruled by Antipater.  Wars took place over land and succession of the kingdoms, yet these three spheres of influence remained the political landscape throughout the Hellenistic Age until the dawn of the Roman Empire.  While some Persians and other Easterners had some local control within their provinces, Macedonians essentially ruled these kingdoms.  In addition, it is impossible to ascertain how much intercultural activity occurred among the majority of the population living in rural agricultural areas.  The acknowledgment that cultural assimilation studied during this time refers mainly to findings from thriving cities and political administrations helps to keep the notion of cultural syncretism in perspective. 
The best way to determine the nature of Alexander’s motivations and intentions is to examine his behavior and actions.  The primary sources for Alexander including Diodorus Siculus, Quintus Curtius Rufus, Arrian, and Plutarch are useful, however they are all writing after Alexander died.  Due to the nature or intent of the primary authors, their assertions as to Alexander’s motivations differ depending on what kind of portrayal they set out to create.  Nevertheless, the primary documentation significantly contributes to our understanding of Alexander’s behavior and decisions.  Historians exploring cultural syncretism and Alexander tend to focus on the following issues; his inclusion of Persians in his army and political administration, personal adoption of Persian dress, arrangement of mixed marriages at Susa, and Alexander’s prayer for harmony between the Persians and Greeks at Opis.
N. G. L. Hammond wrote an article entitled, “Alexander’s Non-European Troops and Ptolemy’s Use of Such Troops.”   Hammond divides Alexander’s recruitment of Persian troops into two categories, infantry and cavalry.  The first kind of infantry, referred to by Hammond as native infantry, were trained within their satrapy or local region and initially served under the command of their satrap.  Eventually, Alexander summoned these units to join the main army.  Both Arrian and Curtius provide evidence of summoned infantry, “Alexander was also joined … by further reinforcements from the coast in charge of Syria and if Asclepiodorus, the provincial governor,” and “From Lydia had come 2,600 foreign infantry.”   Hammond asserts that Alexander had local troops trained with the responsibility of policing and defending their satrap.  Alexander could not spare members of his army to accomplish this task every time he liberated a city from Persian rule.  Accordingly, local infantrymen trained under their local leader and Alexander called upon them when he needed their support in battle.  
The other group of infantry aside from the ethnic units comprises a large group of young Persian soldiers who were trained together for four years in Macedonian combat and Greek literature.  Alexander referred to the 30,000 young men as his Epigoni translated as inheritors.  “Alexander had formed this unit from a single age group of the Persians which was capable of serving as a counter-balance to the Macedonian phalanx.”   According to Diodorus Siculus, Alexander summoned his Epigoni because his own army had mutinied at the Ganges River and were in general somewhat unmanageable.  Since the “inheritors or successor” came from various regions and had no real ties to any satrapy, they would fight displaying all their loyalty and dedication to their King.
Alexander incorporated ethnic cavalry units into his army from Lydia, Lycia, Syria, and other Asian satraps.  By the end of his reign, several Asian cavalry units served alongside Macedonian elite cavalry troops.   Were the Epigoni and elite Asian cavalry a foreshadowing of Alexander’s vision for a unity of Persians and Greeks or was this strategically motivated for Alexander to maintain a loyal army who would follow Alexander’s orders unconditionally? 
From a strategic standpoint, it would be foolish for Alexander not to utilize troops from conquered regions.  The creation of the Epigoni, coupled with the elevation of Persian troops to serve alongside the Macedonian elite illustrate that Alexander went a step further than simply calling on the Persians for support.  An argument could be made that Alexander’s motives went beyond strategy.  On the other hand, as time went on Alexander increasingly encountered difficulty galvanizing his Macedonian troops.  Historians such as Bosworth and Worthington, argue that Alexander’s military decisions regarding the Persians served to counterbalance his army.  In other words, the Persians provided loyal service and while the Macedonians resented the Persian soldiers, they strived to maintain their military status among the ranks. 
Diodorus’ states that the guard was divided into two bodies, one armed Macedonian style and the other melophoroi.   Other primary documentation confirms that although the Persians and Macedonians fought next to each other in the latter part of Alexander’s campaign, they never mixed completely to form one body of soldiers. 
Another issue to consider is Alexander’s decision to adopt the Persian style of dress.  Plutarch explains this decision and offers possible motivations behind it,
“From this point he advanced into Parthia, and it was here during a pause in the campaign that he first began to wear barbarian dress.  He may have done this from a desire to adapt himself to local habits, because he understood that the sharing of race and of customs is a great step towards softening men’s hearts.  Alternatively, this may have been an experiment which was aimed at introducing the obeisance among the Macedonians, the first stage being to accustom them to accepting changes in is own dress and way of life.  However he did not go so far as to adopt the Median costume, which altogether barbaric and outlandish, and he wore neither trousers, nor a sleeved vest, nor a tiara.  Instead he adopted a style which was a compromise between Persian and Median costume, more modest than the first, and more stately then the second.”

Plutarch was a philosopher living from 46A.D. to about 120A.D.  He wrote his biography of Alexander in the context of the Roman Empire under emperors such as Hadrian.  As a philosopher and Roman citizen he creates a unique picture of Alexander, attributing philosophical virtues to him that other primary authors do not.  To complicate things further, Plutarch is inconsistent in his portrayal of Alexander.  He argues that Alexander’s mission was to bring Greek language and culture to the barbarians, yet in other passages Alexander’s intention was to mix the two cultures together.  These two ideas conflict as the former would result in the domination of Greeks over Persians and the latter a unified ruling class.   Nonetheless, this passage shows that even the ancient sources were uncertain as to Alexander’s motives.  Like his military decisions, Alexander’s dress can be viewed as a symbol of cultural syncretism or an action of strategic motivation. 
The timing of this decision is an important factor to consider.  Curtius, Plutarch, and Diodorus all agree that Alexander began to adopt Persian style dress in the autumn of 330 during a rest period in Parthia.  During this time, Alexander learned that Bessus had claimed sovereignty over the Persians after the death of Darius.  The news of a Persian challenger to the thrown could have motivated Alexander to further exert his influence over Persia.
The sources tell us that Alexander married a Persian woman Roxanne and later at Susa in 324 B.C.  He organized a mass marriage ceremony in which he married about eighty of his Macedonian soldiers to Persian women.   Alexander included himself in this ceremony and married the oldest of Darius’ daughters Barsine and possibly another Persian woman.  Alexander’s ceremony may have been a step toward creating a unified culturally mixed people.  The children of these couples would indeed embody both Macedonian and Persian blood.  Curtius offers a passage in which Alexander addresses his troops on this issue,
That is why I married the daughter of the Persian Oxyartes, feeling no hesitation about producing children from a captive.  Later on, when I wished to extend my bloodline further, I took Darius’ daughter as a wife and saw to it that my closest friends had children by our captives, my intention being that by this sacred union I might erase all distinction between conquered and conqueror … Asia and Europe are now one and the same kingdom.  Foreign newcomers though you are I have made you established members of my force, you are both my fellow citizens and my soldiers … Those who are to live under the same king should enjoy the same rights.

It is important to keep in mind that there is no way of knowing if Alexander really said

this and the former passage represent Curtius’ perspective of Alexander’s motives.  If he

is accurate, Alexander’s mass marriages can be viewed as a tool used to obliterate the

friction between the races and make all of Alexander’s subjects equal under his rule. 

While Alexander wanted his subjects to be equal, the passage does not show that he

wanted them to mix together as a unified culture.

It is a common custom for rulers and kings to solidify power and influence

through marriage.  Alexander definitely needed the support of the Persians to maintain

control over his empire and to continue on his conquests.  Arrian tells us that Alexander’s

purposely married the most prominent soldiers in his army to members of Darius’ family

or women related to Persian satraps.   It is important to note that the marriages were one-

sided.  Alexander aligned the noblest daughters and sisters of the Persian Empire to

Macedonians commanders.   The fact that Alexander did not marry any Greek or

Macedonian women to Persian men does not support a policy of racial fusion, but rather

may be interpreted to reflect the contrary. 

Arrian tells us about a prayer and banquet given by Alexander after the attempted mutiny at Opis in 324B.C..  “To mark the restoration and harmonoia, Alexander offered sacrifice to the Gods accustomed to honor, and gave a public banquet which he himself attended, sitting among the Macedonians, all of whom were present.  Next to them the Persians had their places, and next to the Persians distinguished foreigners of other nations; Alexander and his friends dipped their wine from the same bowl and poured the same libations, following the lead of the Greek seers and the Magi.  The chief object of his prayers was that Persians and Macedonians might rule together in harmony as an imperial power.”    
Whether Alexander actually said these words and whether he had ulterior motives for asserting this claim is source for debate.  But assuming the prayer is authentic, Alexander is here advocating a fusion of solely the ruling class rather than unification on a civic or provincial level.  The fact is, Alexander’s empire never came close to developing a joint ruling class during or after his reign.  He is said to have appointed eighteen Persian satraps, and of those eighteen only three remained at the time of Alexander’s death.  Two of the Persian satraps died, one retired, two remain unaccounted for, and ten were either removed or executed for treason and replaced by Macedonians.
Aside from the prayer at Opis, there is little evidence to support efforts made by Alexander to achieve this goal, which underscores the proposition that Alexander’s prayer was more for appearance than reality.  Alexander did appoint Persians as satraps in Babylon, Susa, Media, and a few other regions.  But each place Alexander appointed a Persian satrap he divided the power into three categories civil, military, and financial.  In Babylon he appointed a Persian Mazaeus to satrap, however he put a two Macedonians in charge of military and financial affairs.  In fact, Alexander never delegated military control of satrap to a Persian.  
Almost all historians examining Alexander’s legacy agree that his conquests, in large part, facilitated cultural assimilation of the Greeks and non-Greeks.  As stated earlier, the debate surrounds Alexander’s motives and objectives.  Historians such as Bradford Welles, W. M. Rollo, and Moses Hadas acknowledge Alexander’s influence but explicitly avoid taking a side.  For example, Hadas states, “In any case, whatever Alexander’s personal motivations may have been, he is the great catalyst for the Hellenistic melting pot.  Intercourse between east and west had antecedents, as we have noticed, but what had been a trickle now swelled into a flood.”  
W.W. Tarn’s “Alexander The Great and The Unity of Mankind,” remains the

prevailing argument for attributing Alexander with the idea and purpose of melding Greeks and Persians.  Tarn traces the use of the Greek concept of Homonoia meaning concord and unity and tries to find its origin.  Isocrates, a Greek living during Alexander’s time conceptualized homonoia as unity among Greeks only.  Like Aristotle, Alexander’s mentor, Isocrates viewed the non-Greek or “barbarian” as the inferior enemy.  The stoics of the third century B.C. did not determine the value of man according to his origin, but instead they divided men into the worthy and unworthy.  Zeno, one of the founders of stoicism, put forth the idea that the worthy were men with all virtues and no vices.  Tarn asserts that a writer Theophrastus, who studied under Aristotle and taught at his school in 322 B.C., wrote, “All men were of one family and were kin to one another.”   Along the same lines, a man named Alexarchus, brother of Cassander, created a mini kingdom on the Athos peninsula called “City of Heaven” and minted coins in which the people are referred to a “Children of Heaven.”  Tarn argues that Theophrastus and Alexarchus must have had a common source for the ideal of unity for mankind.  It was not Isocrates or Zeno, so it had to be Alexander.  
Tarn’s argument differs from the others, as he does not analyze Alexander’s behavior or actions to gain insight of his motives.   He briefly mentions four examples from the primary sources in the beginning of the essay.  The thrust of his argument is spent exploring an emerging philosophical notion of time and, by process of elimination, attributing it to Alexander.    It seems problematic to assign the creation of a major philosophical ideal by default to Alexander without examining his actions during his lifetime.  In addition, it is distinctly possible that Theophrastus and Alexarchus were inspired by ideas emerging from Isocrates, stoics of the time, and the outcome of Alexander’s conquest.  Tarn does not show direct evidence to prove that they inherited the concept of unity of mankind from Alexander.
On the other side of the spectrum, A. B. Bosworth and Ian Worthington argue that Alexander’s motives contained no cultural ideal or philosophical vision whatsoever.  In regards to the examples in which Alexander appears to include Persians or intermingle Persians and Greeks, both historians claim a motive of calculated strategy.  Bosworth goes so far as to claim that Alexander had no intention of intermixing the races, but instead the evidence leans toward a policy of division.   The evidence definitely does not support a purposeful division of the cultures, but the Macedonians did comprise the ruling class, dominate most aspects of Alexander’s Empire, and Macedonian women did not marry Persian men. 
Bosworth presents a narrow and calculated view of Alexander’s intentions.  Bosworth offers sound arguments in favor of strategically motivated decisions, such as the reasons for the marriages at Susa and why Alexander adopted Persian dress when he did.  However, by taking each event and providing various tactical rationale for Alexander’s behavior, Bosworth fails to capture the complexity of Alexander’s character as a whole. 
Arguments for Alexander’s intentional cultural fusion are based primarily on the following: his prayer at Opis, facilitation of mass marriages at Susa, inclusion of Persians in his army and administration, and a number of passages from the primary sources some of which are ambiguous.  These issues and passages provide fragmentary evidence for the nature of Alexander’s actions but they do not take into account the inconsistencies of his actions towards the Persians.  For example, at Opis Alexander elevated noble Persians declaring them equal with that of the Macedonians.  However, Alexander also burned the Persian city of Persepolis.  Arrian tell us that Alexander ordered the destruction of the Persian palace and city for revenge against the Persians for invading Greece years earlier.  Other primary sources like Diodorus and Curtius claim that Alexander was in the midst of a drunken rage before he decided to burn and loot Persepolis.  Regardless of his motive, the point is that in this instance he treated the Persians as a conquered enemy and brought destruction upon them.  The events at Persepolis and other instances in which Alexander used brutal tactics against his Persian enemies distinctly contrast his behavior in the Opis affair and during the Susa marriages.  The inconsistencies in Alexander’s actions towards the Persians considerably diminish arguments for a concerted policy of racial integration. 
Accordingly, instead of analyzing specific incidents the argument should focus on gaining a broader perspective on Alexander and his economic, political, and cultural legacy.  As stated earlier, much of the cultural fusion that took place in Hellenistic times emerged in populated and bustling ancient cities.  In general, Alexander seems uninterested in creating cities and civic institutions.  Alexander names many conquered areas after himself, but he hardly played a role in developing these areas into metropolises. 
Alexandria in Egypt serves as the exception to the rule.  The sources reveal Alexander’s eagerness and participation in the planning of this prosperous city.  Alexander’s buried his dearest friend and companion Hepheaston in this city and Alexander himself was laid to rest in Alexandria.  In regards to why Alexander took the time to orchestrate this civic endeavor, Historian C. A. Robinson offers the explanation that because of its location Alexandria secured the safe arrival of reinforcements and supplies from the West.   It may have served that purpose during Alexander’s reign, however after his death the city of Alexandria developed into a cosmopolitan mecca for intellectuals, poets, scientists, and philosophers from various regions of the Empire.  At the center of this cross-cultural meeting place was a Museum and library which attracted scholars from many regions across the Hellenistic kingdoms.  It is highly unlikely that Alexander had this end in mind because it was his successor Ptolemy I who founded the library and museum which enabled Alexandria to become a center for education and science in the Hellenistic World and it was Ptolemy’s successors who continued to enhance and expand the facilities.   
Aside from Alexandria in Egypt, Alexander spent most of his life in camp with his men setting up towns with forts and garrisons along the way. Arrian provides an example of a temporary fortification along the Tanais River which Alexander set up specifically to guard trade routes and house Greek mercenaries or invalid Macedonian soldiers.   For the most part, Alexander authorized these types of settlements as opposed to full-scale cities.    P. M. Fraser in his book The Cities of Alexander notes, “The construction of numerous forts and temporary garrisons was a recurrent feature of operations throughout Alexander’s campaign and is frequently referred to by the historians.”  
Most of the cultural syncretism in the Hellenistic Age occurred in cities of which Alexander had little to no involvement.  After Alexander’s died in 323 B.C., the inhabitants abandoned most of his new foundations for their homeland or another city.  The fact that the majority of cities founded by Alexander dissolved shortly after his death is evidence that Alexander devoted little time and resources towards city building and development.
In order to keep a culturally diverse Empire together, it would have been crucial to implement a cohesive economic plan.  Alexander adopted the Attic standard of coinage and distributed it throughout the Empire.  Alexander’s adoption of Athenian coinage occurred right after the assassination of his father Philip.  Tarn points out the distinct possibility that Phillip may be credited with this coinage decision.   Alexander appointed financial supervisors throughout the Empire, with a corrupt man named Harpalus as the chief superintendent of financial matters.   Aside from the infractions of Harpalus, several Persian satraps acquired local monetary support to raise private armies.  Furthermore, a surviving document from antiquity provides details regarding the corruption of Alexander’s financial officials.   Concerning the coinage, Persian mints began using the Attic standard at Alexander’s insistence, however he still allowed the minting of old coinage in Phoenicia, Cilicia, and Babylon.  His approval to mint non-Attic standard coins would undermine the concept that he envisioned a unified economic plan.
The fact that Alexander affected change in the economy is unquestionable.  As a result of his massive mobilization and colonization eastward, trade routes between east and west became more safe and accessible.  Furthermore, his conquests boosted the Greek economy by enhancing their foreign market and thereby increasing exports.   However, he failed to create a system that would ultimately unify his people.  As a result, after Alexander’s Empire fragmented the Seleucids continued minting coins according to Alexander’s standard, however the Ptolemies changed to a lighter standard used by the Phoenecians.  
So far it is apparent that most of Alexander’s economic and civic reforms were

inconsistent and in any event died along with him.  The collapse of his Empire after 323

B.C. underscores the temporality of Alexander’s consolidation efforts.  As stated before

Alexander’s vast empire quickly transformed into three separate monarchical kingdoms. 

These kingdoms remained separate, with a few territorial changes, until Romans

conquered and reunited the region under one rule.           During his reign Alexander spent

most of his time fighting for more territory to add to his Empire.  His father Philip set the

stage for Alexander’s initial goal of invading the Persian Empire to avenge Greece.  After

Alexander succeeded in overthrowing Darius and taking over his empire, he continued

east across the Hindu Kush.  He desperately wanted to continue his conquest eastward,

but his army refused forcing Alexander to backtrack through his Empire.  Although

Alexander died in Babylon on his way back, there is sufficient evidence that he intended

to continue his conquests through the western Mediterranean  regions such as Carthage,

Spain, and Italy.  Some said that he also intended to circumnavigate Africa.  Curtius tells


His ambitions knowing no bounds, Alexander had decided that, after the subjugation of the entire eastern seaboard, he would head from Syria towards Africa, because of his enmity to the Carthaginians.  Then, crossing the Numidian deserts, he would set his course for Gades, where the pillars of Hercules were rumoured to be; afterwards he would go to Spain.  Then he would skirt past the Alps and the Italian coastline, from which it was a short passage to Epirus

It is most likely that we will never know with certainty what Alexander’s plans were before he died.  Nonetheless, it is clear that his thirst for conquest had not been satisfied.          
On balance, it appears that Alexander’s compulsion for conquest overshadowed any plans for consolidation.  Uniting his subjects could not have been his main concern because Alexander made little effort to enhance the infrastructure and improve the stability of his Empire.  The only thing keeping Alexander’s Empire together was Alexander himself, which brings us to a crucial factor in understanding his real motivation the fact that Alexander purposely avoided securing an heir to his throne.  Since he made no effort to consolidate or name a successor, it is safe to assume that Alexander’s intentions were not focused on his empire at all. 
Alexander slept with Homer’s Iliad under his pillow every night.  He desired to be a great hero and conqueror like Achilles.  According to Arrian, Alexander traveled two hundred miles to visit the shrine of Zeus Ammon at Siwah.   Alexander claimed that oracle greeted him as son of Ammon.  Some historians argue that this journey served as a propaganda tool for maintaining sovereignty over his subjects.  But his countless dedications and sacrifices to the Gods along his conquest seem to validate his piety.  Alexander was motivated by his divine destiny to conquer the world.  He was after glory and wanted to be elevated to a divine and heroic status along with Zeus and Achilles.
It is evident that Alexander respected and sometimes admired those he conquered.  He did try to include some Persians in his army and administration.  He did what he had to do in order to secure his sovereignty and continue his quest. The force driving Alexander’s was a heroic call to action and conquest not the unification and assimilation of mankind.  Ironically, one man’s destiny became the catalyst for massive cultural rebirth and assimilation. 
In the final analysis, Alexander aspiration for eternal glory became a reality.  In modern times, over twenty-three centuries after his death, military leaders still admire him and study his strategies.  Alexander continues to influence literature, film, and music of our popular culture.  There is no other person in history whose name is always followed by the words “the Great.”  That in it of itself defines the measure of the man his lasting impact on civilization.  Alexander conquered most of the known world before his thirty-third birthday which is amazing by anyone’s standards.  In the end, Alexander has joined his hero Achilles in the mythology of mankind. 




Bosworth, A. B.  “Alexander and The Iranians.”  The Journal of Hellenistic Studies,
1980, 1-21


Cohen, Getzel M.  The Hellenistic Settlements in Europe, the Islands, and Asia Minor
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995

Fraser, P. M.  Cities of Alexander the Great.  Oxford University Press, 1997.


Grant, Frederick C.  Hellenistic Religions: The Age of Syncretism.  New York: The
Liberal Arts Press, 1953.


Green, Peter.  Hellenistic History and Culture.  Berkeley: University of California Press,

Hadas, Moses.  Hellenistic Culture.  New York: Columbia University Press, 1959.


Hammond, N.G.L.  “Alexander’s Non-European Troops and Prolemy I’s Use of Such
Troops.”  BASP, 1996, 99-109. 


Rollo, W.M.  “Nationalism and Internationalism in the Ancient World.”  Greece and
Rome, 1937, 130-143


Robinson, C. A. Jr. “The Extraordinary Ideas of Alexander the Great.”  The American
Historical Review, 1957, 326-344


Rostovtzeff, Michael I.  “The Hellenistic World and its Economic Development.”  The
American Historical Review, 1936, 231-252. 


Shipley, Graham.  The Greek World After Alexander.  London: Routledge, 2000. 


Tarn, W. W.  Alexander The Great and The Unity of Mankind.  London: Oxford
University Press, 1933.

Alexander The Great.  London: Oxford University Press,1948


Welles, C. Bradford.  Alexander and the Hellenistic World.  Toronto: A.M. Hakkert
LTD., 1970.

“Alexander’s Historical Achievement.”  Greece and Rome, 1965,


Worthington, Ian.  “How Great Was Alexander?”  The Ancient History Bulletin, 1999,




  Cohen, 1995; Grant,1953; Green, 1993; Shipley, 2000


Arrian 4.7

Curtius 6.6.35

Hammond, 1996, 100

Diodorus Siculus 17.108.2-4

Arrian 3.19; 7.6 and Curtius 6.6.35; 7.10.12

D.S. 17.27.1

Plutarch 45.1-2

For discussion concerning the inconsistency of Plutarch see Welles, 1965, 218

Bosworth, 1980, 6-7

Arrian 7.4

Arrian 7.4

Arrian 7.9

Tarn, 1948, 137

Tarn, 1948, 52; Worthington, 1999, 53

Hadas, 1959, 21

Tarn, 1933, 140

Tarn, 1933, 123-148

Bosworth, 1980, 14

Robinson, 1957, 330

Arrian 4.4

Fraser, 1996, 171

Tarn, 1948, 130

Ps. Arist. Oec II, 31; 33-4; 38-9 as cited in Tarn, 1948, 129

Rostovtzeff, 1936, 234-5

Welles, 1970, 172

Curtius 10.1.17-18

Arrian 3.4


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Alexander the great story summary of his life and analysis






[After visiting Troy] Alexander made an accurate count of the forces he commanded.  He found their numbers to be as follows.  Of infantry, there were 12,000 Macedonians, 7,000 allies, 5,000 mercenaries, all under Parmenio’s command.  7,000 Odrysians, Triballians, and Illyrians accompanied him, together with 1,000 Agrianians and archers, so that the total of infantry was 32,000.

Of cavalry, there were 1,8000 Macedonians commanded by Philotas, son of Parmenio; 1,800 Thessalians, commanded by Callas, son of Harpulas; 600 from the Greek allies led by Erygyius; and 900 Thracians, Scouts and Paeonians under Cassander, making a total of 4,500 cavalry [actually 5,100].

This was the number of men who crossed to Asia with Alexander.  The soldiers left behind in Europe, under the command of Antipater, totalled 12,000 infantry, and 1,500 cavalry.



(a)  Alexander disbands his fleet

Alexander decided to disband his fleet, since at that time he was short of money; he saw too that his fleet was no match for the Persian and he had no wish to risk defeat even with a portion of his force.  Moreover, he considered that as he now controlled Asia Minor with his army he no longer needed a fleet; by taking the coastal cities he would destroy the Persian fleet, for they would have nowhere to get fresh crews from and no port to put in at.
(Arrian 1.20)


(b)  Alexander’s mistake before Issus

Alexander was still at Mallus when it was reported to him that Darius with his entire force was encamped at Sochi, a place in Syrian territory about 2 days’ march from the Assyrian Gates.  He summoned his Companions and communicated to them the news about Darius and his army, whereupon they urged him to lead on immediately.  He then thanked them and dismissed the assembly, and on the following day advanced against Darius and the Persians.  On the second day he passed the Gates and encamped near the city of Myriandrus, but during the night a violent storm broke out with rain and gales, confining Alexander to camp.
Meanwhile Darius remained where he was with his army.  For he selected a very extensive plain in Syria that was large enough for his large army and suitable for cavalry fighting.  Amyntas, son of Antiochus, the deserter from Alexander, advised him not to leave his position; the broad plains, he said, favoured the numbers and the equipment of the Persians.  So Darius remained where he was.  But Alexander’s long delay in Tarsus after his illness, his lengthy stay at Soli, when he sacrificed and held a parade, and his extensive campaign against the Cilician hillmen, all these made Darius doubt his decision.  He was easily led to adopt the course of action that he found most agreeable … and the worse counsels prevailed.  Moreover, it was perhaps some divine power that led him into a position where he could gain little advantage from his cavalry or the number of his men, their javelins and arrows, and where he was unable to display even the very splendour of his army, but presented Alexander and his force with easy victory.  For it was fated that the Persians should be deprived of the sovereignty of Asia by the Macedonians, just as the Medes had lost it to Persians, and the Assyrians even before that to the Medes.

So Darius crossed the mountains by the Amanian Gates, as they were called, and advancing towards Issus got in Alexander’s rear without being noticed.  Once in possession of Issus, he cruelly tortured and killed all the Macedonians who had been left behind there because of illness.  On the following day he advanced to the river Pinarus.

Alexander heard that Darius was in his rear but he did not believe the report; so he sent some of his Companions in a thirty-oared ship back to Issus to find out if it was true.  They sailed back and discovered, all the more easily because there was a large bay there, that the Persians were encamped there.  They returned to Alexander and reported to him that Darius was in fact at hand.
(Arrian 2.6-7)


(c)  Alexander’s speech at Tyre

When Alexander received the news from Tyre [that the Tyrians refused to let him sacrifice to Hercules (Melcarth)], he angrily sent the envoys back and, calling together his Companions and the generals, the battalion and squadron commanders, he made the following speech:

“Friends and allies, while the Persians control the sea, I do not see how we can safely advance against Egypt.  Nor is it safe to pursue Darius leaving in our rear the neutral city of Tyre and Egypt and Cyprus under Persian rule.  It would be particularly dangerous in view of the situation in Greece; for if our forces advanced against Babylon and Darius, the Persians might regain control of the towns on the coast and with a larger expedition transfer the war to Greece where the Spartans are our declared enemies and the city of Athens is kept loyal for the present more by fear than by goodwill.

But if Tyre were destroyed the whole of Phoenicia would be in our hands and the Phoenician fleet, the largest and best part of the Persian navy, would in all probability come over to us.  For if their cities are occupied, the Phoenician oarsmen and marines will not put up with risking danger at sea for the sake for others.  After this Cyprus will either join us of its own free will or it will easily be captured by a naval attack.  Then, if we sail with the Macedonian ships and those of Phoenicia, after Cyprus is taken, our command of the sea will be secure and our expedition to Egypt will thus be an easy matter.  Finally, when we have brought Egypt over to our side we shall have no reason left for disquiet about Greece and our own country, and we shall make our expedition against Babylon with security at home , with greater prestige, and with the Persians excluded both from the sea at all points and from the territory west of the Euphrates.
(Arrian 2.17)


(d)  Why Alexander marched through Gedrosia.

Most of those who have written about Alexander’s campaigns state that not even the total of all the hardships endured by Alexander’s army in the march through Asia deserves to be compared with those they suffered in Gedrosia.  It was not because he was not aware of the difficulty of the journey (Nearchus alone maintains this) that Alexander chose this route, but because he had heard that no one had previously crossed this desert with an army, apart from Semiramis on her headlong retreat from India.  And even she, according to the natives, had escaped with only twenty of her whole force; Cyrus, so of Cambyses, they said had got through with only seven.  For Cyrus did come into these regions with the intention of invading India, but before he could do so he lost the bulk of his army because of the barren and difficult terrain.  These stories made Alexander seek to outdo Cyrus and Semiramis.  It was for this reason, then, and also to keep in contact with the fleet and supply it with provisions that, according to Nearchus, Alexander chose this route.
(Arrian 6.24)



Darius’ army was arranged as follows.  (Aristobulus tells us that a document setting out Darius’ order of battle was afterwards captured).  On his left wing were the Bactrian cavalry supported by the Dahae and Arachotians;. Next to them were the Persians, infantry and cavalry mixed, then the Susians and Cadusians; this was the order of the left wing as far as the centre of the whole phalanx.  On the right were the soldiers from Hollow Syria and Mesopotamia, then the Medes.  The Parthians and the Sacae, the Tapurians, Hyrcanians, Albanians and Sacesinians, right up to the centre.  In the centre, where Darius was, were drawn up the “Kinsmen of the King” and the Persians with the golden apples on their spear-butts, followed by the Indians, the so-called “transplanted” Carians, and the Mardian archers.

The Uxians, Babylonians, Sitacenians, and those people who lived along the Persian Gulf were posted in depth in the rear.  In advance of the left wing, opposite Alexander’s right, had been drawn up the Scythian horsemen, about 1,000 Bactrians, and 100 scythe-bearing chariots.  The elephants and some 50 chariots were stationed beside the Royal Squadron of cavalry.  The Greek mercenaries, since they were thought to be the only troops who were a match for the Macedonian phalanx, were drawn up on either side of Darius and the Persians around him opposite the phalanx.

Alexander’s army was marshalled in this manner.  On the right rode the Companion cavalry led by the Royal Squadron under the command of Cleitus, then came successively the squadrons commanded by Glaucias, Ariston, Sopolis, Heracleides, Demetrius, Meleager, and, finally, that led by Hegelochus.  Philotas, Parmenio’s son, had general command over the Companions as a whole.  Of the infantry phalanx, the shock troops (agema) of the Guards (hypaspistai) were stationed next to the cavalry with the remainder of the Guards, under the command of Nicanor, son of Parmenio, on their left.  Next came, in succession, the battalions commanded by Coenus, Perdiccas, Meleager, Polyperchon, and Amyntas – this last being led by Simmias, since Amyntas had been sent to Macedonia to recruit troops.  The left of the phalanx was held by the battalion of Craterus, who commanded all the infantry on the left.  TO his left was the allied cavalry, led by Erigyius, and then extending to the extreme left the Thessalian cavalry, commanded by Philip.  The entire left wing was under the command of Parmenio who was surrounded by the Pharsalian horsemen, the best and most numerous of the Thessalian cavalry.

This was the arrangement of Alexander’s front line, but he posted a second line so that his phalanx could face both front and rear.  The commanders of this reserve force had been instructed, if they saw their own troops being encircled, to face about and meet the enemy.  In case it should prove necessary to extend or close up the phalanx, Alexander had stationed on the right of the Royal Squadron and at an angle to the main line half of the Agrianians under Attalus together with the Macedonian archers under Brison and next to the archers the so-called old mercenaries led by Cleander.  In front of the Agrianians and the archers were drawn up the Scouts (Prodromoi) and the Paronians led by Aretes and Ariston; and in the very front rode the mercenary cavalry under Menidas.  Half of the archers and [half of] the Agrianians together with the javelin-men of Balacrus – this last unit was drawn up opposite the scythed chariots – had been stationed in front of the Royal Squadron and the other squadrons of the Companion cavalry.  Menidas and his cavalry had received instructions, in the event of an outflanking movement by the enemy, to wheel round and take the enemy in the flank.

This was Alexander’s arrangement on the right.  On the left, again at an angle to the front, he had stationed the Thracians under Sitacles and next to them the allied cavalry and the Odrysian cavalry led by Coeranus and Agathon respectively.  In this sector he had placed the foreign mercenary horse led by Andromachus in the van of all.  The Thracian infantry had been posted to guard the baggage animals.  Alexander’s whole force consisted of about 7,000 cavalry and 40,000 infantry.

The armies were now advancing to meet each other and Darius and the troops around him … were clearly visible stationed opposite Alexander and the Royal Squadron.  Alexander led his trips slightly to the right and the Persians, who had a very considerable overlap on their left, moved to counter this.  The Scythian cavalry, riding parallel to Alexander’s line, were already in contact with the units stationed in front of it; but Alexander still continued to advance to the right and was nearly at the edge of the area that had been levelled by the Persians.  Darius, fearing that once the Macedonians reached the rough ground his chariots would be useless, ordered the mounted troops in advance of his left wing to ride round the Macedonian right where Alexander was in command and prevent them from extending any further to the right.  Whereupon Alexander ordered Menidas and his mercenary horse to charge them.  The Scythian cavalry, and those Bactrians who were brigaded with them, counter-attacked and, being superior in numbers, drove back Menidas’ troops.  This led Alexander to send in Ariston’s Paeolnians and the mercenaries, who forced the enemy to give way.  However, the remaining Bactrians, engaging the Paeonians and the mercenaries, succeeded in restoring the fugitives to the battle and a close-fought cavalry engagement developed.  In this Alexander’s men suffered heavier casualties, since they were outnumbered and the Scythians and their horses were better protected by their defensive armour.  But even so the Macedonians did not give way before their attacks; indeed, by vigorous charges, squadron after squadron, they broke the enemy formations.
Meanwhile, the Persians launched their scythed-chariots against Alexander himself, with the intention of throwing his phalanx into confusion.  But in this they were bitterly disappointed.  For as soon as the chariots came within range the Agrianians and Balacrus’ javelin men, who had been stationed in front of the Companion cavalry, launched a hail of missiles, while others seized hold of the reins, dragged the drivers to the ground, then surrounded the horses and cut them down.  Some chariots actually passed through the Macedonian lines but did no harm, for the Macedonians did as they had been instructed and deliberately made gaps in their lines through which the chariots passed; and this was the chief reason why the chariots were undamaged and their targets unharmed.  But these too were dealt with by the grooms of Alexander’s army and the Royal Guard.

Darius now set in motion his entire line and Alexander ordered Aretes to attack the enemy who were riding round his right flank with the intention of encircling the Macedonians.  For some time Alexander continued to advance in column; but when the Persian cavalry, who had been sent to the assistance of their horsemen attempting to outflank the Macedonian right, had caused a gap in the Persian line, he promptly wheeled round and made for the opening and, making a wedge of the Companion cavalry and the heavy infantry in this sector, raised the battle-cry and led them at the double straight at Darius.  For a short time it became a hand-to-hand struggle.  But when the cavalry with Alexander and Alexander himself made a vigorous assault, shoving their opponents and thrusting at their faces with their spears, and the Macedonian phalanx in close order with a bristling hedge of pikes had now joined in, Darius,   who had long been terrified and now saw terrors all round him, was himself the first to turn and flee.  The Persians who were trying to outflank the Macedonian right were put to flight by the vigorous attack of Aretes and his men.

In this sector the Persians were in full flight the Macedonians were in hot pursuit and cutting down the fugitives.  But Simmias and his battalion were unable to join Alexander in the pursuit; they halted and continued to fight where they were, because news had come in that the Macedonian left was in difficulties.  At this point where the Macedonian line had been broken, some Indian and Persian cavalry galloped through the gap and penetrated to the Macedonian baggage animals.  There the fighting was fierce; for the Persians boldly attacked men who were mainly unarmed and had not expected that anyone would cut their way through the double phalanx and force their way up to them, while the barbarian captives, when the Persians attacked, themselves joined in  the fighting against the Macedonians.  But the leaders of the reserve phalanx soon learned what was happening, and, facing about as they had been instructed, appeared in the Persian rear, and killed many of them as they crowded around the baggage-animals; others gave way and made off.

The Persians on the right wing, who had not learned of Darius’ flight, galloped round Alexander’s left and were attacking Parmenio and his troops in the flank.  At this point the Macedonians were caught between two fires, and Parmenio sent a messenger with an urgent dispatch to inform Alexander that his troops were very hard pressed and needed assistance.  When the king received this information, he refrained from further pursuit, wheeled round with the Companion cavalry and galloped at full speed towards the Persian right.  He countered first the enemy cavalry who were in flight, the Parthians, some of the Indians, and most numerous and best of the Persians.  This cavalry engagement developed into the hardest fought in the whole battle.  The barbarians, who were drawn up in squadrons and therefore in depth, rallied and met Alexander’s troopers head-on.  The hurling of javelins and manoeuvring of horses, usual in a cavalry battle, were abandoned; instead, each man tried to break through on his own, regarding this as his sole chance of escape, giving and receiving blows without counting the cost, since he was no longer fighting for another’s victory but for his own survival.  About 60 of Alexander’s Companions were killed there; Hephaestion himself, Coenus, and Menidas were wounded.  But Alexander was victorious here too.  All those who managed to break through Alexander’s men fled at full gallop.

Alexander was now ready to engage the enemy right, but in the meantime the Thessalian horse had distinguished themselves in the fighting and had proved themselves not at all inferior to Alexander’s troops.  For the enemy right was already in flight, when Alexander came into contact with it.  So Alexander wheeled round and started off again in pursuit of Darius, and continue while the light lasted.  Parmenio and his troops followed, pursuing their immediate opponents.  On crossing the River Lycus, Alexander encamped there, to give his men and horses a brief rest.  Parmenio took the enemy camp with the baggage, elephants and camels.
(Arrian 3.11-15)



(a)  On the following day, although he had received a sword-wound in his thigh, Alexander visited the wounded; he collected the dead and gave them a magnificent funeral with the whole arm assembled in full military equipment.  He spoke in praise of all those he knew from personal observation or from reliable report had performed some outstanding deed in battle and honoured each man by a money payment corresponding to his merit.
(Arrian 2.12)


(b)  At this point it seems right to mention one of Alexander’s noblest actions … the troops were marching through the desert, and the sun was already blazing down on them, since they were forced to march on until they reached water, which was still some distance off.  Alexander himself was tortured by thirst but continued (though with greatest difficulty) to march along at the head of his troops.  So the soldiers, as generally happens in such cases, endured their hardships more readily because they saw them being equally shared.  Meanwhile some of the light-armed troops who had detached themselves from the main body in search of water found some – a miserable, little trickle – that had collected in a shallow gully.  They scooped up the water with difficulty and hurried back with their marvellous find to Alexander; and when they were near they poured the water into a helmet and carried it to the king.  Alexander took it, praised the men who had brought it, and tipped it out onto the ground in full view of everyone.  This action so heartened the entire force that one would have thought that everyone had drunk the water that Alexander had poured out.  This deed of Alexander’s I commend more than any other as proof of his endurance and his leadership as well.
(Arrian 6.26)


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Alexander the great story summary of his life and analysis

The Story of Alexander the Great – Overview

356 BC

Early life:
Stories about his childhood

340 BC

Alexander left as regent in Macedonia while Philip went on campaign

338 BC

Battle of Chaeronea

Marriage of Philip and Eurydice

337 BC

Alexander recalled to Pella

336 BC

Murder of Philip

Hellenic League at Corinth

335 BC

Thrace, Illyria and Thebes

334 BC

Campaign in Asia Minor:



333 BC



332 BC



331 BC

Oracle of Ammon at Siwah

Foundation of Alexandria in Egypt

The Conquest of the Persian Empire:

Alexander in Babylon

330 BC

Darius found murdered near Hacatompylus

The ‘conspiracy of Philotas’

329 BC

Campaign in  the Hindu Kush and Bactria:
Alexander sends home veterans

328 BC

The death of Cleitus

Defeat and death of Spitamenes

327 BC

Capture of the Sogdian Rock


The ‘Pages’ Conspiracy’; Callisthenes

The ‘Dionysus episode’

326 BC

Invasion of India:
Battle of the Hydaspes against Porus

Death of Bucephalas

Mutiny at the River Hyphasis (Beas)

325 BC

The Return home:
The Gedrosian (Makran) Desert

Harpalus/purge of the Satraps

324 BC

The mutiny at Opis

The marriages at Susa

The Exiles’ Decree

The Deification Decree

Death of Hephaestion

323 BC

Death of Alexander


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Alexander the great story summary of his life and analysis

Alexander the Great
    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. 


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Alexander the great story summary of his life and analysis

Alexander and the Greeks

Historical Relationship

Greek City States

  • Shared characteristics: Citizenship, slavery, political exclusion of women
  • Athens Democracy
    • Power
      • Defeated Persians
      • Navy
    • Weaknesses
      • Relied on neighbours for infantry
  • Spartan Oligarchy
    • Infantry strength
      • Way of maintaining control over neighbouring conquered territory
      • Infantry training incorporated into everyday life
    • Weaknesses
      • Unable to compete in naval battles

By 365BC Greece was a nation of independent unallied Greek city states. Breakdown of Grecian unity and mistrust between Athens and Sparta left Greeks open to Macedonian Domination

The Relationship

  • Greek perception:
    • Demosthenes: Phillip a “barbarian” and his marshals “slaves”
    • Macedonians more interested in drinking, brawling, hunting than sophisticated appreciation of theatre and intellects. Greeks superior
  • Macedonian perception
    • Different and superior to Greek cousins
    • Begrudging respect borne of Athens and Sparta military prowess

Rise of Macedon

  • Attacks of neighbouring tribes
  • Hostility of Chalcidian League
  • Weakness of Internal Government

Philip’s Solutions:

  • Created 800 new Companions and Royal Pages – attach outlying cantons to central government
  • Developed unmatched army in Greece
  • Conquered Chalcidean League
  • Made use of natural resources

Turned attention to Greece

  • Expansion of territory:
    • Chalcidian Peninsula, Thrace, Byzantium, Perinthus, Scythians
  • Battle of Chaeroneia 338BC
  • By 338BC had most of mainland Greece except for contained Sparta
  • Hamilton – “Philip’s policy, it seems likely, was aimed primarily at securing the advancement of Macedon and for this he found Greeks to be useful, perhaps essential.”

League of Corinth

  • All Greek states forced to join the league.
  • States elected & sent representatives to council, in proportion to military strength.
  • Decisions made on a voting basis and were binding.
  • Under military leadership of Philip – Hegemon, made all military & foreign policy decisions. Also Strategos Autokrator in military matters. Constitutionally a servant, effectively a master.
  • Council also had judicial powers to try offenders & impose sentences.

Aims of the League

  • Invasion of Persia under Macedonian leadership - to avenge sacrilege of the Persians in 480BC.
  • Also to secure settlements of disputes between Greek states; forge unity


  • Didn’t join. Although they weren’t strong, didn’t submit to Philip, & weren’t invited to join L.O.C
  • Philip occupied surrounding territory, weakening them

Benefits to Alexander

  • Gave him control of mainland Greece & access to the Athenian fleet, more troops, political support, pro-Macedonian constitutions and unity.
  • Gave Alexander the security to go ahead with his invasion.


  • If the Greeks had free choice, most of them would not have stayed in the League – Hamilton.
  • Didn’t stop revolt of Agis; although Sparta wasn’t in the League, gained support within the L.O.C
  • Didn’t stop Greeks becoming Persian mercenaries, many exiled by Pro-Macedonian rulers

Machinery of the League:

  • Prohedrion: 5 councillors, offices in Corinth, day-to-day business of the League
  • Synhedrion: council, judicial powers
  • Hegemon: hereditary, complete control

Murder of Philip
What happened:

  • Philip attending daughter Cleopatra’s wedding to the King of Epirus, Olympias’ brother in Aegae
  • Elaborate games were arranged
  • Philip entered the theatre escorted by Alexander and his son-in-law
  • Pausanias stabbed him in the chest and escaped
  • However, his horse tripped and he was cut down by Alexander’s bodyguards
  • Account given by Diodorus, Plutarch, Justin and Aristotle

Pausanius’ Motive

  • Pausanias A was a Macedonian noble who was Philip’s bodyguard and ex-lover:
  • Pausanias B attracted king’s attention, so Pausanias A insulted him
  • Pausanias B then committed suicide
  • Pausanias B’s friend Attalus invited Pausanias A to party, drunk & given to grooms & raped
  • Pausanias A approached Philip for justice
  • Philip did not do anything, as Attalus was powerful and the uncle of his wife
  • Instead, he gave Pausanias A gifts and a promotion, but he was unsatisfied

Why is his motive doubtful?

  • Eight years between Pausanias’ ‘B’ death and Philip’s murder
  • May have been rekindled as Philip promoted Attalus and married his niece

Other Suspects:
Greeks Outside Macedonia:

  • Wanted to overthrow oppressor, had been defeated at Chaeroneia, wanted independence instead of oppression under L.O.C, and spurred on by Demosthenes.


  • Supplanted by Cleopatra as first wife. Hiding in Epirus trying to get her brother to avenge her insult. Philip had ridiculed her by marrying him with Cleopatra.


  • Disaffected by Philip. The first to acclaim Alexander as king. Had been his adviser. Alienated by Philip’s divine status – built a shrine to himself at Olympias after Chaeroneia, stature of him carried with statues of 12 gods.

Lycestian Brothers

  • Blamed by Alexander. Their father had been exiled by Philip.

Persian King

  • Wary of planned invasion. Blamed by Alexander, claimed they claimed credit.


  • Happened at an opportune time – was on bad terms, main beneficiary, with Philip when murdered, his friends killed Pausanias.

Strained Relations:

  • His claim to the throne sidelined by his mother being supplanted as first wide
  • If Cleopatra had a son, he could have taken the throne – Alexander was only ½ Macedonian

At Wedding Feast:

  • Attalus called on guests to pray for a legitimate heir
  • Alexander threw a cup saying “am I a bastard, you villain?”
  • Philip tried to attack Alexander but drunkenly fell. Alexander than said “the man who is preparing to cross from Europe to Asia cant even cross from couch to couch”
  • He fled to Illyria, leaving him mother in Epirus. Later reconciled for a short time


Pixodarus Affair

  • Pixodarus tried to become more independent after death of Artaxerxes the Persian King. Offered his daugher’s hand in marriage to Alexander’s half brother
  • Alexander felt slighted and offered himself, which delighted Pixodarus
  • Philip was enraged, and called off the plan

Accession of Alexander

  • Easy succession – was the obvious choice
  • Put Amyntas to death as he was the son of the king before Philip
  • Attalus was put to death after he was accused of conspiring with Demosthenes
  • Cleopatra & her daughter executed in 335 BC

Alexander the New King

Threats faced as King

  • Amyntas his cousin had claim to the throne. Executed.
  • Attalus corresponding with Demosthenes
  • Northern peoples about to revolt
  • Demosthenes encouraging Greek states to revolt

Alexander’s Immediate Response

  • Sped south
  • Greeks unable to oppose him, resistance collapsed
  • Called meeting of League, confirmed as General

Reassertion of Macedonian influence

  • Campaigned in North, attacking barbarian tribes
  • Campaigns in Illyria
  • Showed Alexander’s ability as General

Greek Rebellion

  • Thebes revolts. Athens promising support, Peloponnesian army advancing
  • Persia had bribed Greeks, rumours Alexander dead
  • Thebes attacked Macedonian garrisons, put men to death
  • Council votes to throw off Macedonia

Alexander’s Response

  • Sped to stop Greek’s joining together
  • Waited 3 days for Theban action, offered amnesty
  • Alexander attacks. 3000 Theban dead

Punishment of Thebes

  • Treated as breach of league. Asked them to decide on punishment, knowing members would be harsh
  • League decides to raise Thebes.
  • Alexander carries out, all survivors sold into slavery

Maintaining Control over Greek City States

Scare tactics
Destruction of Thebes

  • “It was a calculated act of terrorism on Alexander’s part… he wanted to teach the other Greek States a lesson” – Hamilton
  • That lesson as to show that any attempt to cross Alexander would lead to harsh punishment
  • Knew that LoC delegates were enemies of Thebes and would treat them harshly
  • Could have saved Thebes if he wished – directed terms of punishment


  • “300 Complete suits of Persian armour” – Arrian
    • “From Alexander, son of Phillip, and the Greeks, except Sparta
  • “The Mention of the Spartans is deliberate, to emphasise their refusal to join the league, noteworthy too is the absence of any reference to the Macedonians who had borne the brunt of the fighting. Clearly the dedication was meant for the Greek consumption” – Hamilton
  • Shrewd propaganda. Designed to appease Athenians & remind them his of position as Hegemon

Hostage Taking

  • Hostages leveraged so Alexander could get what he wants - Athenian support or neutrality, Access to Athenian navy, Soldiers for army
  • “Greek prisoners in chains” - 2000 Athenians predominantly Athenian
  • “Contravened the resolutions of the Greeks” - Alexander was within his rights to take these prisoners as they had breached the League of Corinth
  • “Alexander did not think it safe to relax his intimidation of the Greeks”
  • Why? In 333BC:
    • Persians controlled the sea
    • Darius implementing a plan for war on Greece
    • Athens had sided with the Persians before
  • Alexander uses hostages as good behaviour bonds


  • Return of the hostages
    • Athenians asked for a return of the hostages a second time in 331BC
    • Granted Request
    • Agis III of Sparta leading a revolt against Macedon. Needed to ensure Athenian neutrality
    • Perhaps rewarding Athenian loyalty. Agis III had approached Athens & was rejected

Revolt of Agis III

Agis III of Sparta in 333 BC, First Revolt

  • Wanted to replace Macedonia as dominant power
  • Had naval and infantry support from Persia
  • Defeated Macedonian general Corrhagus at Corinth
  • Lost support same year after Macedonian victory at Issus
  • Surprised Anti-Macedonian factions, became intimidated by Alexander’s apparent power

Memnon in Thrace 333 BC

  • King of Thrace
  • Support by native population
  • Was dealt to by Antipater

Revolt of Agis III

  • Darius had ordered a strong naval offensive in the Aegean. The revolt of Agis could have been his foothold in Greece
  • “He received from him ships and money” - 10 ships and 30 talents
  • “Gained control of most of the cities” - Agis brother, Agesilaus helped him coerce support from some Greek States

Preparations for Revolt

  • Alexander, Antipater busy
  • Agis negotiates money and ships from Sparta
  • Enlists 8000 of Darius former mercenaries
  • Gains support from some city states, his brother in Crete

Battle of Megapolis

  • Agis besieging Megapolis in the Peloponese
  • Antipater gathers force of 40,000 crushes rebel army


  • Sparta made to join LoC

Military Force

  • Antipater left in charge as regent
  • Each Greek State (except Athens) had a Macedonian garrison in place


  • Alexander had a vested interest in maintaining a relationship with the member states
    • Money and troops for his expansive campaign
    • Needed loyalty to resist advancement of the Persians/Spartans
  • “many of the cities, viewing with suspicion the growing power of Macedon, decided to win their freedom while Persia still remained independent” – Diodorus
  • “If they stood by and watched the complete defeat of the Persians, the Greeks would be left alone and would never be able to contemplate the recovery of their freedom.” – Diodorus
  • “The Spartans were compelled by their defeat in this great battle to make approaches to Antipater… they decided after a lengthy discussion to refer the matter to Alexander for decision. Antipater took as hostages 50 of the most eminent Spartans, and the Spartans sent envoys to Asia asking pardon for their misdeeds.” – Diodorus

Exiles Decree
The Decree

  • “Forceful request” to Greek states to restore their exiles, except those who were convicted
  • Was in direct contradiction of the principles of the LoC
    • “I shall not subvert the constitutions which existed in several Greek states when they swore oaths concerning peace”
    • In other words… according to the LoC Alexander was not allowed to meddle in the internal affairs of a member state. The decree did just that.
  • “partly to win fame” – Diodorus.     Megalomania
    • Alexander egotistical and so this was a motive for the issuing of the decree
    • How do you win fame? By broadcasting to a large crowd
      • All the exiles had met at the festival, being more than 20,000 in number
  • Problems with exiles disrupting the peace in Asia Minor. Would help to solve the problem
  • “compel such cities”
    • Not optional (Fox disagrees)
    • Antipater was given powers to “forcibly compel” Athens and the Aetolians to accept the exiles back

The Relationship

  • Little to concern himself in relation to the Greeks. If he upset Athens, Antipater could sort it out.
  • Alexander was no longer dependent on the members of the League. He was self-sufficient.

Problems of Exiles

  • Pro-Macedonian Governments set up in Greek States post Chaeroneia
  • Opposition factors had been exiled. Some had become mercenaries and fighting for the Persians
  • With defeat of Persia, many returning to Greece

Alexander and Military Matters

Philip’s Legacy

A Professional Army

  • Soldiers paid, unlike Greek states who had territorials, Macedonians could train all year long
  • Very war-like race
  • Hamilton: “The army was Philip’s greatest legacy to his son”
  • Hamilton: “Not only did constant training and campaigning forge the disparate elements into a military machine unmatched in Greece, but its almost unbroken success must have assisted materially in creating a sense of unity and patriotism in Macedonia.”
  • Phalanx with cavalry and light troops on the flank. Was more mobile than other phalanxes. Used sarissas: long spikes, greater thrusting power & denser array of spears.
  • 16 ranks deep – not as deep as the Theban phalanx but deeper than most
  • Used heavy infantry known as Hypaspists
  • Companion Cavalry – heavy cavalry, armed with a sarissa, delivered the final blow
  • Developed a tactic when held hostage at Thebes – involved an oblique attack where one wing of the phalanx was weighted and used to deliver the main attack. Used the cavalry instead.

Alexander’s Army

  • Carried 4.5m sarissa so first 5 ranks could fight. Well disciplined. Could form line, square, wedge


  • From Thrace – light arms, so very light. Could evade charge of heavily armed troops

Companion Cavalry

  • Led by Alexander, heavily armoured, 4m sarissa. Could assume any formation


  • Elite infantry, more mobile and highly trained, kept contact between phalanx and companions

Asia Minor

The Crossing

  • Left Pella 334BC
  • Philip had prepared an advance guard under Attalus, Alexander continued this with Parmenio
  • As he came ashore he symbolically threw his spear at the land, laying claim to Persian Empire
  • Visited Troy with small portion of army and completed various ceremonies

Battle of Granicus

  • Satraps of Lydia & Arsiles under Spithradates had joined Greek mercenaries under Memnon
  • Arrian – they had 40,000 troops with equal infantry & cavalry. Clearly overestimation.
  • Persians held council to discuss military response – Memnon wanted to wait for Darius’ army & burn crops to make area useless to Alexander & use naval superiority to invade Greece.
  • Persian nobles objected – didn’t want to be upstaged by Memnon or yield territory.
  • Advanced to Granicus River, set up cavalry at front of the bank. Usually would put infantry but were proud and wanted to lead from the front, not the Greek mercenaries.
  • Macedonians
  • Before battle Parmenio suggests should wait till morning (enemy would retire at night, allowing safe river crossing at dawn). Alexander wants to show might & attacks immediately
  • Adapts to battle conditions by using standard formation + a group of cavalry under Amyntas
  • Positions companions and himself to the left of the line, forcing Persians to change their plans
  • Orders Amyntas to charge diagonally to the right
  • Leads companions from front, forced way up river along bank, aimed for the weakened centre
  • Charge by Alexander puts Greek infantry on low hill surrounded by Macedonian infantry. Alexander saved by Cleitus the Black.
  • Greek mercenaries ask for terms, Alexander refuses and cuts them down to 2000. Survivors sent in chains to work in Macedonian mines


  • The governor of Miletus agreed to surrender
  • Changed his mind when realised could get support from the Persian fleet
  • Greek fleet arrived & blockaded the harbour, alienating the city thus making it an easy siege
  • 300 mercenaries escaped to the city’s citadel, and were apologised by Alexander
    • He instead employed them
    • Arrian: ‘he was moved to pity by their courage and loyalty’
    • Hamilton: he realised it would anger the Greeks if he killed them, especially in the light of the slaughter at the Granicus

Strengths at Miletus

  • Moved quickly to blockade harbour – naval awareness
  • Didn’t mind going against usual behaviour to take in 300 valuable recruits.
  • Diplomatic

Disbanding the Fleet

  • Parmenio had advised Alexander to fight at sea
  • However, Alexander rejected this advice, as by losing at sea he risked losing face and encouraging a Greek rebellion
  • He disbanded the fleet but for 20 Athenian ships, which were kept as hostage
    • Probably wasn’t because he was short of money although Arrian believes he was
    • More likely that he recognised the strength of the Persian fleet; there was no point risking a loss
    • Arrian: Believed that if he controlled the coast he would not need a fleet


  • Hamilton; a calculated risk that the Persian fleet would be inactive over winter
  • Was indeed a risk, as Memnon tried to carry the war into Greece an unopposed fleet could prove devastating
  • Could have been used to effect at Hallicarnassus, where Alexander was forced into a 12 month siege as the city was supplied by Persian ships
  • Alexander ordered a new fleet to be built in 333 BCE, possibly an admission of ineptitude
  • It was not until Issus that Persian naval activity ceased
  • Arrian: “Alexander decided to disband the fleet, since at no time he was short of money, he saw too that his fleet was no match for the Persian and he had no wish to risk defeat even with a portion of his force… by taking the coastal cities he would destroy the Persian fleet, for they would have nowhere to get fresh crews from an no port to put in at”

The Gordium Knot

  • A legend said that the first King of the Phrygians had arrived on a wagon
  • The wagon still existed, but was tied to a pole with a complex knot which no-one could undo
  • It was rumoured that whoever could untie the knot would rule Asia
  • Alexander failed, so according to Arrian he cut the knot
    • Plutarch says he took out the pin that was holding it
  • An example of Alexander’s propaganda
  • Were he to walk away from Gordium would effectively walk away from being King of Asia.
  • Gave his conquest a sense of being ordained by the gods
  • His men could put their faith in his ability to lead them through battle with the knowledge that he was meant to be the King of Asia.





Battle of Issus

The Prelude

  • Alexander’s reconnaissance failed
  • Poorly informed of Darius’ movements, & entered Phoenicia through the Cicilian Gates, taking part of his army to subdue the coast
  • Parmenio continued southwards towards the Syrian Gates
  • Darius came from the east through Amanic Gates, coming across the Macedonian sick & wounded and massacring them
  • Arrian: Upon hearing this, Alexander was so disbelieving he sent a boat to check
  • However, he turned this to his advantage, pinning Darius between the mountains and the sea so that he could not use his superior numbers


  • Darius wanted to hold Pinarus River, and placed his strong Greek mercenaries in the centre
  • Had a mass of Asiatic levies to the rear
  • A strong force of light troops on his left flank
  • Darius himself was to the rear in the centre
  • Most of the cavalry were on the right under Nabarzanes


  • Normal line with few exceptions
  • The Thessalian cavalry were moved to the left to combat the Persian cavalry
  • Parmenio was not to leave a gap between Macedonians & the sea so they weren’t outflanked
  • Mercenary infantry in the rear
  • A force of light troops were sent to the right to counteract the Persian light armed troops

       Alexander:                                                                      Persians
2100 Companions                                                            12000 Cavalry
600 Prodomoi                                                                  8000 Mercenary Hoplites
2100 Thessalians                                                              20000 Heavy Infantry
750 Greek Cavalry                                                            14000 Light Troops
300 Paeonians                                                                 50000 Levy
12000 Phalanx
7000 Greek infantry
3000 Hypaspists
6000 Thracian Peltasts
5000 Mercenary Peltasts
2000 Light troops

  • Darius deploys vast army behind a screen of cavalry & light troops between the sea & the hills.
  • As Alexander advances the screen retires to the flanks to reveal a line of Persian infantry (who are armed with hoplite weapons) and Greek mercenary Hoplites who held the centre.
  • As the foothills are unsuitable for horsemen, Darius switches bulk of his cavalry to the right wing.
  • Alexander moves his Thessalians to the left the counter this.
  • He also sends light troops into the foothills to oppose the Persians in the hills.


The Battle

  • Alexander moved forward with Companions across river, followed by first two battalions of phalanx
  • Remaining battalions couldn’t force way across the river, opening gap in Macedonian line
  • Darius’ mercenaries attacked the gap, and a fierce battle ensued
  • However, Darius fled as the Companions approached
  • Persian cavalry gained some success against Parmenio, til saw flight of Darius & broke ranks
  • Alexander swings left after Darius, and a bitter struggle ensues around his chariot.
  • Alexander is wounded in the thigh.
  • Darius, sensing that the Macedonians are gaining the upper hand, flees the field.
  • His Greek Mercenaries are giving the Phalanx a hard time, but the Companions wheel into them.
  • The Persian right, seeing Darius run, also breaks. Panic spreads and there is a wholesale rout.

The Aftermath

  • Darius’ tent, baggage train, treasure and royal family captured
  • 450 Macedonians killed, 4500 wounded
  • 10,000 Persian cavalry killed a 100,000 foot soldiers – obviously propaganda from Callisthenes
  • However, five Persian commanders were killed
  • Only 2000 mercenaries remained with Darius, 4000 deserted for Agis
  • It was the first time Alexander had faced Darius and, despite far smaller army, won
  • Stopped the Persian naval offensive
  • Quietened Macedon’s detractors in Greece, particularly Demosthenes
  • League of Corinth sent Alexander envoys of congratulations
  • Left Alexander free to subdue Phoenicia, particularly Tyre and Gaza


Siege of Tyre

Opposing forces:

  • Entire force if he needed it. Thessalian engineer. Inhabitants of neighbouring villagers. Timber resources of Old Tyre.


  • Fortified island complex. At least 30,000 citizens

Build Up

  • Alexander asked to sacrifice to Heracles. Only the Great King could do so. His was of asking for submission & recognition of authority.
  • Tyrians refused. Didn’t recognise Alexander’s authority. Riled Alexander and siege preparations began
  • Siege part of Alexander’s strategy to secure Asia Minor coast to halt supplies of Persian fleet.

Situation at Tyre

  • Island 800m off shore
  • Little or no land between water’s edge and walls – 150ft high in places
  • Tyrians able to access supplies via water so couldn’t be starved out.


  • When harassed by Tyrians, built the highest siege towers in antiquity
  • Used siege engines on ships that were supplied by Phoenician navy


  • Until now it has been pitch battles, now he has to change warfare method – does so with considerable ease and ingenuity
  • When Tyrians tried to burn siege towers, he covered in war hide to nullify flames
  • When they tried to destroy the tower from the sea, he had the mole widened to compensate


  • Patience and Persistence – 7 months with many difficulties
  • Compassionate – understood his men & allowed them to massacre 8000 Tyrians
  • Wisdom – realised Tyrians withholding could encourage others – similar to treatment of Thebes


  • Underestimated the determination of the Tyrians
  • Allowed Darius time to regroup
  • Disbanding the fleet cost them 7 months

Second Embassy from Darius
Darius offered to

  • Pay a ransom of 10,000 talents for his family
  • Give Alexander all his territory west of the Euphrates
  • Give Alexander his daughter’s hand in marriage

However, this was rejected by Alexander                                               

  • The countries west of the Euphrates and their treasures were already his for the taking
  • He would marry Darius’ daughter with or without permission

Callisthenes: when Parmenio advised Alexander should accept the offer, Alexander replied ‘if I were Parmenio I would also accept it’

  • Could possibly be a later attempt by the ‘official’ to blacken Parmenio’s name and justify his eventual murder



Conquest of Egypt

  • Alexander continues down coast of Egypt, faced second siege at Gaza along the way
  • Egypt conquered without fight, Alexander crowned Pharoah (was seen as a liberator)
  • Troops rewarded with games

Egypt under the Persians

  • The Persians had controlled Egypt for 200 years since it was occupied by Cambyses
  • The Egyptians had successfully rebelled in 400BCE, but in 343BCE they were defeated
  • The Persians had desecrated Egyptian temples, and roasted the sacred Bull of Apis

Alexander’s Reception

  • Alexander was therefore welcomed with open arms
  • The Egyptian governor surrendered immediately
  • He was crowned Pharaoh at Memphis, becoming a living god and son of Ammon
  • He treated the Egyptian religion with respect and tolerance, and made sacrifices to Egyptian gods


  • Visited the west of the Nile delta, accompanied by a group of guards and the Royal Squadron
  • He laid out plans for a huge city
    • Not a fort
    • Replace Tyre as the regional centre of commerce
    • Arrian: could also be used as a base for a future invasion of the Black Sea
  • The Rhodian architect Deinocrates laid out the city
    • Wide streets
    • Rectangular houses
    • Well selected harbour, it was sheltered by the Pharos Island and unlikely to be silted up

Leaving Egypt

  • Alexander held games in Memphis, with athletics and literary competitions
  • Famous Greek athletes took part
  • Was a reward for the hard work of Alexander’s men
  • Cleomenes was left in charge of the Egyptian treasury
  • Alexander returned to Tyre, where he was told of the rebellions in Greece and agreed to release the prisoners from the Granicus


Darius’ Preparations

  • Had assembled a massive army, made up of troops of many different nations
    • Scythed chariots, elephants and camels
    • Indians, Scythians, Bactrians
    • Immortals
    • Greek Mercenaries (far less than at Issus)
    • Asiatic levies
  • Levelled the ground, making it easier for his chariots
  • Wanted to wait for Alexander to move first
  • His men stayed up all night before the battle in case of a night attack
    • The Persians had to wait a nervous night while the Macedonians slept
    • Arrian; this was the main reason for Alexander’s victory

Persian Battle Line

  • Stretched out across the plain of Gaugamela
  • Hoped to use his numbers to outflank Alexander

Alexander’s Preparations

  • Had made painstaking reconnaissance
  • Interrogated prisoners, giving him the order of the Persian battle line
  • Alexander personally led a cavalry reconnaissance
    • Confirmed there were no cavalry traps
    • Discovered that Darius had flattened the ground
  • Alexander made sacrifices, praying for help as the son of Ammon
    • Great propaganda value; increased the faith of his troops’ in him
  • Ordered his men to rest


Alexander’s Battle Line

  • Was concerned at being outflanked by the superior Persian numbers
  • Placed a Greek phalanx to protect the rear
  • Placed Allied cavalry to protect the flanks

Alexander                                                                Persians

2100 Companions                                                                   2000 Royal guard infantry
600 Prodomoi                                                           2000 Mardi light troops
2100 Thessalians                                                       50000 Levy
750 Greek Cavalry                                                     35000 Cavalry
300 Paeonian Cavalry                                                200 Chariots
500 Thracian Cavalry                                                 15 Elephants
300 Asian Cavalry
400 Mercenary Cavalry
12000 Phalanx
3000 Hypaspists
7000 Greek Phalanx
8000 Mercenary Infantry
6000 Thracian Peltasts
1000 Illyricum Light Troops
1000 Agrianians
1000 Cretans


  • Darius clears a battlefield for his cavalry
  • Alexander takes up his oblique formation and edges diagonally right off the cleared area
  • Bessus tries to outflank him
  • Macedonian right is pushed back by heavy cavalry
  • Darius realises he is moving off cleared ground & orders left to attack, sends chariots forward
  • This is disrupted by light troops, some chariots pass through the phalanx but destroyed behind


  • Companions charge the weak spot created by Bessus stretching leftwards
  • Darius flees
  • Phalanx charges frontally and the centre crumbles
  • Mazaues launches his cavalry at Parmenio & 2 units of the phalanx become detached and some Persians ride through to the baggage train
  • Killed by the Greek reserves
  • Alexander finally wheels left to help Parmenio
  • Collided with retreating Persian cavalry, who fought bitterly
  • 60 companions are killed
  • Alexander and Parmenio emerge victorious

After the Battle

  • Instead of heading north to pursue Darius, headed south into the economic heartland of Persia
  • He declared himself ‘King of Asia’
  • He made for the cities of Babylon, Susa and Persepolis






The Persian Heartland


  • Mazaues, who had fought at Gaugamela, was the satrap of Babylon
  • When Alexander approached, Mazaues surrendered the city, possibly realising what had happened at Thebes and Tyre. The Babylonians had also been insulted by the Persians, who had committed sacrilege at the Temple of Marduk
  • Alexander treated Babylon well. He rebuilt the Temple of Marduk, gained respect and popularity
  • Mazaues was reappointed Satrap of Babylon. Represented policy of fusion.
  • Reappointing satraps became common
  • His power was limited, as he still collected taxes & governed as normal but had no military power

Susa and Persepolis

  • Susa also surrendered
  • Alexander took 50,000 talents from its treasury
  • At Persepolis, Alexander found 120,000 talents, putting him in a very strong economic position
  • Troops were paid, and money was sent to Antipater to assist him against Agis III

The Burning of Persepolis

  • When arrived in Persepolis, let his awestruck & war-weary men loot the city – little choice
  • Persepolis was a complex of palaces, treasuries & theatres, Persian capital in 480BCE - Xerxes
  • Because original purpose of expedition was to punish Persians for 480BCE invasion, made sense to treat Persepolis harshly
  • After three months in Persepolis, Alexander set fire to the palace
  • The Official Version (published by Callisthenes and Ptolemy)
    • It was to punish the Persians for the sacrilege committed in Greece
    • Propaganda to show that the campaign to punish the Persians had been successful
    • The symbolism would have pleased the Greeks
      • But…
    • Persepolis was effectively Alexander’s own palace
    • Intended to rule the empire under policy of fusion, had already started to implement
    • If he intended to burn Persepolis, why do it three months after his invasion?
  • The Vulgate Version (published by Cleitarchus, Plutarch and Diodorus)
    • The fire came at the end of a drinking party
    • A Greek prostitute, the mistress of Ptolemy named Thais was present
    • Gave a speech encouraging Alexander to burn it as punishment for Persian invasion
    • Said that as a woman she would start the fire to show that women could perpetrate greater revenge on Persia than all the Greek generals
    • Alexander and his companions raced through the palace, setting fire to everything
    • Plutarch says Alexander changed his mind and ordered the blaze to be extinguished

Bactria and Sogdia


  • Creating concept of “winged soldiers” to take Sogdian Rock


  • Changes army to fit new type of Guerilla warfare

Clever Strategist

  • Strategy to take Sogdian Rock
  • Recognised strategic necessity of taking Rock of Aornus – threatened communication lines

Positives of leadership

  • Ability to come up with solutions
  • Determined to succeed
  • Looks after welfare of troops
  • Winged soldiers volunteers, not forced


  • Doesn’t understand the harshness of Winter – troops suffer. Army saved by local tribes
  • Could have been defeated if Sogdians realised how few troops there were.


New Strategy

New Strategy

  • Capture of Persepolis was the end of the War of Revenge
  • Now it was a War of Conquest to establish his own empire
  • Greeks who accompanied him under the L.O.C could return home or continue as mercenaries

The Murder of Darius

  • Alexander pursued Darius northwards after leaving Persepolis
  • Received news that Darius had been arrested by Bessus, covered 250 miles in less than a week
  • However, only 60 Companions were able to keep up with him
  • As they saw Alexander approach, Nabarzanes and Barsaentes stabbed Darius and fled
  • Darius was buried with honours befitting a king, and announced himself Darius’ heir
  • Bessus and Barsaentes were punished for regicide
    • Part of Alexander’s policy of fusion; punishing the murderers of his predecessor

New Terrain
Failure to Understand

  • Didn’t appreciate the severe nature of the northern winter
  • He crossed a mountain pass from Arachosia to Paropamisos in 329 BCE
    • His men suffered from cold, frostbite and snow-blindness
    • Many animals died or were eaten for food
    • Could have been far worse if not for the help of local tribes
Changes to the Army
  • Alexander crossed into Sogdia in 328 BCE
  • He reorganised his army into five smaller columns
  • There was no longer the fighting against large opponents
  • They were fighting a guerrilla style war against tribes with superior local knowledge, often in impregnable hill forts
  • The phalanx was no longer of any use, and the sarissa was abandoned
  • Each column acted independently
  • Alexander still pushed ahead
  • The army travelled through deep snow, and much of the land had been laid to waste by the retreating Bessus
  • Bessus was captured in 328 BCE, and tried and executed in Persian fashion
  • Alexander’s main foe was Spitamenes
  • Coenus’ column defeated him, and local tribe, decapitated him and sent his head to Alexander

Sogdian Rock

  • Sogdian Lord Oxyartes took refuge in a hilltop fort, with sheer rock on all sides
  • It was well provisioned with food and water and could therefore withstand a siege
  • The Sogdians mocked Alexander, saying he would need ‘winged soldiers’ to capture them
  • Spurred on Alexander, who called on 300 troops to climb to fort, 30 of whom died on the way
  • Alexander called on the fort defenders to look up and see the soldiers
  • Unaware of how few soldiers there were, the Sogdians surrendered
  • Alexander entered the fort and married the daughter of Oxyartes, Roxane
    • Apparently fell in love at first sight
    • Also politically motivated

Massacre at Massaga

      • There was a massacre of 7000 Indian mercenaries who had been fighting against Alexander
      • The Official Version (told by Arrian):
    • The Mercenaries had agreed to join Alexander but were planning to desert
    • Alexander therefore had grounds for their execution
      • The Vulgate Version (told by Diodorus):
    • When local tribes defeated, Alexander gave permission for the mercenaries to leave
    • However, Alexander had tricked them, and then surrounded them and massacred them


Rock of Aornus

  • A hill fort that commanded the Indus River
  • Threatened Alexander’s communication lines
  • Legend that Herakles had failed to conquer the fort; Saw this as an opportunity to outdo him
  • It was on a large, flat topped ridge, with the only access being cross a deep ravine
  • Constructed a causeway to cross it in three days, while archers & slingers kept the enemy at bay
  • On the completion of the causeway, Alexander took the fort

Battle of Hydaspes



  • Alexander arrived at the river, but it was swollen due to the monsoon
  • It was too deep to cross on horseback, and Porus’ 200 elephants was scaring the cavalry

Alexander’s Strategy

  • He lulled Porus into a complacent mood
    • Feinted attempts at crossing
    • Each time, the Indians came out to meet him
    • Porus became tired and instead waited in his camp for a messenger
  • He then crossed the river upstream without Porus knowing
    • Planned to leave a small portion of his army behind under Craterus
    • Those left behind would pretend to be whole army - light campfires, make lots of noise

The Crossing

  • Alexander waited for a stormy night, so that lightning and thunder would conceal his crossing
  • He dropped Meleagar partway up the river with a small force at a ford
  • He then continued upstream so that he could cross while concealed by an island
  • However, they landed on an island in the middle of the river
  • Fortunately, they found a ford but had to cross neck-deep


The Battle

Alexander:                                                                             Porus:
2100 Companions                                                                                 30000 Infantry
600 Prodomoi                                                                         4000 Cavalry
2100 Thessalians                                                                    300 Chariots
750 Greek Cavalry                                                                  90 Elephants
300 Paeonian
500 Thracian Cavalry
300 Asian Cavalry
400 Mercenary Cavalry
14,000 Phalanx
3000 Hypaspists
9000 Greek Mercenaries
6000 Light troops, including mounted archers

The Beginning

  • Porus’ scouts spotted Alexander, but Porus’ thought it only a small detachment
  • He therefore only sent a small army of chariots under his son
  • The chariots were stuck in the mud, and Alexander easily won the skirmish.
  • Alexander reaches the Hydaspes to find Porus blocking the ford.
  • After many feints he decides to cross behind an island.
  • He moves by night during a storm leaving Craterus & a force of 2000 cavalry & 9000 infantry at the ford, and dropping off Meleagar with 1000 cavalry and 16000 infantry en route.
  • Embarks with remainder, accidentally lands on an island & struggles ashore across the swollen river, while boats pick up the phalanx.
  • Cavalry, with screen of mounted archers, moves off while Porus sends his son to intercept them.
  • Alexander realises Porus isn’t following them, & cavalry overwhelms Indian chariots stuck in mud.
  • Porus’ son is skilled here.
  • Porus moves his army to confront Alexander whose cavalry manoeuvres in front of his infantry giving them time to form up.
The Main Battle
  • Porus’ infantry is screened by elephants.
  • Alexander’s cavalry moves to the right, while Coenus makes a circling move to the left.
  • When the Macedonian horse hits the Indian left, Porus switches his right wing to support.
  • Coenus chases them; Alexander charges and they take refuge among the elephants.
  • Greek light troops hurry them and the remaining Indian cavalry is pushed by Alexander when they try and wheel on the light troops.
  • Reunited, Alexander’s cavalry attacks the infantry as the Phalanx moves in.
  • The elephants run amok; the cavalry is crushed and surrounded by Craterus’ force which has now crossed the river.
  • Porus is defeated and his losses are catastrophic.
  • Arrian: the Indians lost 20,000 infantry and 30,000 cavalry while Alexander lost 80 infantry, 10 archers, 20 companions and 200 cavalry
  • Diodorus: the Indians lost 12,000 while Alexander lost 700 infantry and 280 cavalry

The Aftermath

  • Alexander sent Taxiles to pursue Porus, who almost killed him
  • Eventually Porus was captured
  • Alexander asked him what Porus thought he should do with him, and Porus replied he should be treated as a king
  • Alexander restored Porus as satrap and added to his territory
  • Two cities were founded on the site of the battle


The Malli

Mutiny at the Beas

  • Alexander’s men refused to go any further
  • Following the mutiny Alexander travelled south down the Indus
  • He constructed a fleet of 800 boats commanded by Nearchus
  • Craterus travelled along west bank of Indus, Hephaestion along east, subdued opposition as went
  • It was a very fierce campaign

The Mallian Town

  • This was the hardest fought battle of the campaign
  • The defenders were easily pushed back from the wall, and took refuge in the citadel
  • Alexander’s men were hesitant in going up the scaling ladder, demonstrating a moral decline
  • Alexander put his army to shame by scaling it himself, accompanied by only three others
  • The ladder broke under the weight of his troops as they scrambled up behind him
  • Alexander and only three others reached the wall, one died immediately
  • Alexander was shot through the lung and almost died until his army reached him
  • A massacre ensued

Positive Attributes

  • Men not wanting to climb ladder so…
    • Alexander climbs first, leading from front, doesn’t expect men to do something he would not do
  • Ensured Macedonian victory, Army morale
  • Encouraged others to ask for peace

Negative Attributes

  • Put self in harms way – real chance of death (almost died!) – would possibly end Macedonan dominance





The Gedrosian Desert

Why did he cross the desert?

  • To set up supply depots for the fleet
  • Outdo King Cyrus and Queen Semiramis, who had failed to cross before
  • Restore his aura of invincibility after the Beas
  • Conquer the desert and defeat the local Oreitae
  • Explore the desert
  • Suggested by Justin that he did so to punish his men, but this is unlikely


  • Shortage of food – even had to eat horses. Soldiers broke the royal seal and distributed food – it was so desperate that Alexander didn’t punish them
  • Excessive heat – many died from exhaustion
  • Lack of water – Arrian: some men found some water and gave it to the king. He poured it out in front of them, declaring that if he men were thirsty he would be too
  • Flooding – one night a flash flood carried away many men and animals
  • Sandstorms
  • Poisonous snakes and plants
  • Difficult terrain – carts got bogged down, animals died due to overexertion
  • Lack of geographical knowledge – guides lost their way, planned to stay on the coast but a mountain range forced them to trek inland

Alexander’s Return

Alexander’s Return

  • Celebrated with athletic and artistic games
  • Diodorus; he celebrated a weeklong Dionysia
    • Travelled in a cart with his companions, laden with wine
    • His drunken soldiers followed, playing flutes and lyres. This may be an exaggeration

Misconduct by Officials


  • Alexander reached Carmania after escaping from Gedrosia
  • He had been away from Persepolis for over five years
  • A revolt had started in Dragania
  • Satraps had been acting independently, enlisting their own armies, abusing their subjects and plundering temples
  • Had dropped their guard in the absence of Alexander
  • Was mainly Alexander’s Median generals, namely Heracon, Agathon, Sitacles and Cleander, Coenus’ brother
  • The generals and 6000 of their troops were arrested
  • Cleander and Sitacles were put to death
  • Arrian: this was to set an example
  • Heracon was acquitted but later killed for plundering the temple at Susa
  • 600 followers were also killed
  • All satraps were ordered to disband their mercenary armies
Why so harsh?
  • Alexander was fearful of plots against him
  • Was concerned at the overall loyalty of these men
  • Hamilton: They had carried out the murder of Parmenio, making Alexander feel guilty
  • Questioned Alexander’s invincibility
  • Went against Alexander’s desire to see a policy of fusion; these generals were treating Persians as second class citizens


Harpalus and Cleomenes

  • Was the treasurer in Babylon
  • Had seriously overspent
  • On Alexander’s return, Harpalus, despite being a boyhood friend of Alexander, fled after seeing the treatment of the Median generals
    • Took 6000 men and 5000 talents
  • Was given Athenian citizenship as he helped them through a famine
  • However, the Athenians stripped him of his force and arrested him, taking 700 talents from him
  • He escaped to Crete with his army but was murdered by his own men
  • Was a Greek who had usurped the Egyptian satrap of Egypt
  • Had been an oppressive ruler
  • However, Alexander pardoned him, so long as he built shrines to the dead Hephaestion

Alexander and the Macedonians
When Alexander crossed the Hellespont into Asia Minor he could do no wrong. He was the golden boy of the army. Totally infallible. That was in 334 BC. For the next four years he conquered Asia Minor, the Phoenician Coast, Egypt and finally the Persian heartland.
It is not hard to see how, with such success, his men would follow him with such obedience. However, after 330 BC things changed. By 326 BC, just 4 years later and thousands of kilometres to the east, we get a very different impression. The feeling of the men toward Alexander is no longer blind belief, but they stand up to him. Two years down the track, in 324 BC at Opis, they are openly hostile towards him. So what happened over the time that changed their hearts so greatly?


Factors leading to deterioration of relationship
Policy of Fusion

  • Didn’t destroy Persian rule, but replaced it with his own
  • Fused two kingships by:
    • Using Persian satraps as his governors
    • Introduced Persians into the army, a whole army of Persians trained as Macedonians
    • Enjoyed the luxury of Persian royalty
    • Married foreign wives
    • Persian lords brought into Companions
    • Showed respect for Persian kings e.g. rebuilding the tomb of Cyrus
    • Punished Bessus for regicide
    • Adopted Persian dress: diadem, robe and sash
    • Adopted Persian customs, e.g. Proskynesis
  • Some believed as a defeated people, Persians shouldn’t be treated like this
  • Believed as Macedonians they were a superior race & offended by Alexander’s actions
  • Alexander employed these customs sparingly, and for the most part kept to his existing practice, fearing to offend the Macedonians. - Diodorus

Nature of Kingship
The Macedonian King

  • First among equals
  • Nobles could joke, laugh and argue with him, join him for drinking parties
  • They wore the same clothes
  • Nobles gave support and loyalty; in return he asked advice

The Persian King

  • Had an exalted status
  • Not divine but God’s representative on earth
  • His court embodied luxury and splendour. Attended to by ushers, bodyguards, eunuchs & a harem
  • King travelled in luxury, even on campaign
  • Access to the King controlled by the Vizier

Son of Ammon

  • After his visit to Siwah, strongly held the belief he was the son of Zeus-Ammon
  • May have had a propaganda motive
  • Alienated him amongst his men, especially those who had fought under Philip
  • He was no longer first among equals

War Weariness

  • The campaigns before Persepolis had included great battles and magnificent booty
  • The following 4 years had been a weary grind
  • The war had turned from a war of revenge to one of conquest so Alexander could satisfy his own ambitions – not necessarily shared by his men

Philotas and Parmenio

What happened?

  • Macedonian Dimnus invited lover Nicomachus to join a plot to kill the king, but instead told his brother Cebalinus
  • Cebalinus and Nichomachus tried to warn Philotas of the plot, but he told them the king was too busy to hear them
  • Cebalinus eventually told Alexander, who killed Dimnus and tortured Philotas
  • Philotas confessed under torture and was stoned to death

Was he guilty?

  • Only proof of guilt was failing to arrange a meeting
  • Claimed he hadn’t taken the plot seriously and Cebalinus was being over-cautious
  • Alexander possibly wanted to be rid of Philotas and Permenio
  • Ptolemy – Philotas had plotted against Alexander before but was forgiven
  • Philotas had become very boastful and excessive, conflict with Hephaestion, Coenus and Craterus
  • Had objected to policy of fusion, boasted that his father was greater than Alexander
  • However, Alexander probably believed in Philotas’ guilt
  • Increasingly suspicious of plots on his life, possibly reminiscent of Philip’s treatment of him
  • Increased by unfavourable reception of policy of fusion
  • Plutarch – Alexander’s belief had been exacerbated by Craterus, Hephaestion and Coenus


  • Had been left at Ecbatana to secure communication with a sizeable force
  • Dangerous to leave him in this position: Popular with troops, Might have decided to avenge sons death, Had opposed Alexander’s policy of fusion
  • Alexander sent orders for murder before he learnt of sons death
  • Philotas himself had admitted that he had heard of some kind of plot being prepared against Alexander, but had been convicted of keeping silent about this to Alexander, although he visited Alexander’s ten twice a day.  Philotas was shot down by the Macedonians’ javelins together with his fellow conspirators. – Arrian

Shows Alexander is:
Ruthless – not afraid of killing some of his once most trusting generals
Brutal – Violence is his first solution to dealing with Parmenio
Suspicious – fearful of plots

Murder of Cleitus
Murder of Cleitus
What happened?

  • Alexander invited Cleitus to eat with him. Cleitus was in the middle of a sacrifice, but left
  • Alexander ordered for a sacrifice to be made for Cleitus – none made
  • Drinking party later took place. A song sung that mocked Macedonians’ defeated by local tribe
  • Older members insulted but Alexander and his friends enjoyed it
  • Triggered an argument between Cleitus and Alexander: Alexander threw an apple, Cleitus reached for a dagger but it had been removed by a bodyguard. Alexander declared an emergency, Cleitus ushered out of the tent. Cleitus returned, quoting Euripides, lamenting the power of the king. Alexander snatched a spear from one of his guards & ran Cleitus through. Almost killed himself, but was stopped by his bodyguard

Why was Cleitus angry?

  • Vented complaints bottled up for 3 years
  • Shows the resentment of the older generation
  • Angry the fallen Macedonians being mocked by ‘natives and enemies’. Persians and Bactrians at the court – some did not consider them as equals
  • Claims of divinity – no longer ‘first among equals’
  • The older generation felt their achievements overshadowed
  • It was not right, he shouted, for Macedonians who were much superior to those who mocked them, even if they had met with misfortune, to be insulted before natives and enemies. - Plutarch

Reaction – Alexander

  • Remorseful – tried to kill himself. Refused to eat/drink for 3 days
  • Had thought highly of Cleitus – had saved Alexander at the battle of Granicus, sister had been Alexander’s nanny, had been appointed satrap of Bactria
  • Was still determined to go ahead with policy of fusion

Reaction – others

  • Many Macedonians showed no resentment to Alexander.
  • Some condemned Cleitus, wanted to deny him a burial
  • Plutarch – Cleitus had been unpopular




  • A traditional Persian practice for those who entered the presence of the Great King. Prostration
  • PERSIANS: a sign of respect and acknowledgement he was superior. Not a sign of worship
  • GREEKS: proskynesis associated with religious cults. Degrading, barbaric and abhorrent to prostrate before a human
  • Proskynesis furthered Alexander’s policy of fusion
  • Wanted a uniform court procedure when Macedonian/Greeks & Persians met on formal occasions
  • He couldn’t forbid Persians to use proskynesis – they wouldn’t think he was a real king
  • Tried to convince Macedonians/Greeks the ceremony did not involve worship & expected Macedonians/Greeks to practice Proskynesis only when Persians were present
  • However, it would have appealed to his megalomania

What happened

  • Alexander had previously instructed Hephaestion to train some of his court officials, Callisthenes and others had agreed
  • One evening after dinner each member of the party made a libation with wine at the altar, drank from the cup and prostrated themselves before Alexander who kissed them in Persian fashion
  • Callisthenes objected, as it was alien to him
  • He was the only one who refused & Alexander refused to kiss him
  • Later, Callisthenes fell into a trap where he was challenged to criticise Macedonians & he did, enraging them.
  • Indeed, he was the only person to voice openly his disapproval of what all the best and oldest of the Macedonians resented in their hearts.  By preventing the introduction of this practice, he save the Greeks from great disgrace and Alexander from a greater; but he brought about his own downfall, being thought to have forced the King to abandon it rather than to have persuaded him. - Plutarch

Pages’ Conspiracy
Conspiracy of the Pages
What happened

  • Alexander had been on a long hunt with his pages
  • Hermolaus (page) killed a boar before Alexander
    • This was an insult & Hermolaus was whipped and deprived of his horse
  • Hermolaus conspired with the other pages to kill the king
  • The conspiracy was discovered and all pages put to death
  • Motives
  • Hermolaus’ motives couldn’t have been purely personal – punishment wasn’t excessive
  • Readily found support amongst other pages to kill Alexander
  • During the trial, they claimed Alexander’s policies were intolerable
    • Policy of fusion
    • Claim of divinity

Callisthenes’ involvement

  • Ptolemy and Aristobulus say Callisthenes had spurred the boys on
  • Relations between Alexander and Callisthenes already strained after Proskynesis
  • Plutarch – Callisthenes had become arrogant & was acting as “if he had put down a dictatorship”
  • Upon the discovery of the plot, many accusations were put down against Callisthenes
  • Accusations were made that Callisthenes had answered the boys in asking “how can one become famous” that they should kill someone who is famous
  • His guilt is questionable
  • Even under torture the pages do not implicate him
  • And yet not one of the conspirators, even under the cruellest tortures incriminated Callisthenes. – Plutarch
  • However, Callisthenes is arrested
  • It is likely his previous behaviour was too much
  • Ptolemy – he was hanged
  • Chares – he was carried for 7 months ands died from being overweight
  • The Greeks world reacted with anger, however the army seemed unperturbed – many disliked Callisthenes for his notorious arrogance
  • Events surrounding the plots against Alexander and the deaths of leading Macedonians and Greeks highlight the extent of the opposition to the policy of fusion, the determination of Alexander to proceed with his policies and to suppress opposition, and his ruthlessness and megalomania.

Mutiny at Beas
Mutiny at the Beas/Hyphasis 326BC
What happened?

  • Came late in Alexander’s reign
  • After 4 years of harsh campaigning in Bactria and Sogdia
  • After his victory at the Hydaspes, Alexander continued east
  • The weather was bad and the fighting was fierce
  • At the river Beas/Hyphasis his  men refused to go any further
  • Alexander saw that his troops were worn out with their constant fighting.  They had spent almost eight years among hardships and danger. - Diodorus


  • They had travelled a long way. Had been 8 years from home.
  • Had to endure the Bactrian campaign
  • Just experienced the horror of Porus’ elephants
  • Had to undergo the burning heat and monsoon rains
  • Were homesick
  • Macedonian clothes gone – had to wear Indian clothes
  • Hooves of horses had worn out
  • Rumours of even greater armies beyond the Ganges
  • War of revenge was long over
  • Didn’t know how far they were going and doubted if even Alexander knew

Alexander’s Reaction

  • Gave a long speech, promising wealth across the river
  • Coenus pleaded to return home and so did many of his officers
  • Alexander was furious and like Achilles shut himself up in his tent for 3 days
  • Men did not change their mind
  • Made a sacrifice to the Gods but the omens to cross were unfavourable
  • Alexander therefore decided to turn back to great delight
  • At first Alexander, depressed and angry, shut himself up in his tent and lay there, not at all grateful for what the Macedonians had achieved if they did not cross the Ganges, but construing turning back as an admission of defeat. – Plutarch


  • Sailed down the river to the Indian ocean
  • Plutarch – left a number of very large pieces of armour on the side of the river to ward off invading armies
  • Erected 12 towers for the Olympians
  • Assigned the territory around the river to Porus
  • Built the city of Buchephela in honour of his horse
  • Built a fleet of 800 ships
  • Coenus died and Alexander staged a massive funeral for him

Susa Weddings
The Susa Weddings

  • Then he held weddings at Susa, both his own and for his Companions. – Arrian
  • After his return from the east, Alexander was free to continue his policy of fusion
  • Held a mass wedding at Susa
  • Fusing Macedonians and Persians into one race
  • Hamilton – this was the culmination of the policy of fusion
  • The ceremonies lasted 5 days, with entertainers from all over the Greek world
  • They were held in a luxurious tent – 0.5 mile radius
  • Alexander, Hephaestion and 90 leading Macedonians and Greeks married in Persian fashion into noble Persian and Median families
  • Alexander married Darius’ daughter and Artaxerxes’ daughter
  • Hephaestion married Darius’ younger daughter so their children could be cousins
  • Craterus, Perdiccas, Ptolemy, Eumenes, and Seleuccus also married
  • Alexander gave the Persian women dowries & wedding gifts to the 10,000 Macedonian grooms
  • Signalled the transfer of power
  • Alexander was now Great King of Persia and Greece
  • However, many of the Susa husbands later divorced their wives (except Seleuccus)

Mutiny at Opis

What happened

  • 30,000 young Persians recruited and trained as Macedonians
  • Arrived in Susa wearing Macedonian clothes, with Macedonian equipment and speaking Greek
  • They performed an impressive display of skills and discipline for the Macedonian soldiers
  • Part of Alexander’s policy of fusion, but also the necessity for more soldiers
  • At Opis, Alexander summoned his troops and announced those too old or disabled would be released from service with a great booty
  • At this announcement his men mutinied
  • At Opis Alexander summoned [a meeting of] his Macedonians and announced that he was releasing from the army those who, because of old age or disablement, were no longer fit for service, and was sending them home. – Arrian


  • They were convinced Alexander was trying to get rid of him
  • Alexander’s adoption of Persian dress offended them
  • They taunted him to dismiss them all and carry on with the support of his ‘father’, Zeus Ammon
  • They had been annoyed, indeed, throughout the whole campaign by many other actions of Alexander; he had offended them by his adoption of Persian dress, by equipping his Oriental “Successors” in the Macedonian fashion, and by including foreign cavalry in the ranks of the Companions. – Arrian

Alexander’s Reaction

  • Ordered his officers to execute 13 ringleaders
  • Reprimanded his troops for their ingratitude
  • Reminded them he had outshone his father, they had gained wealth and glory because of him, he had suffered with them, he had cared for their dead and families fittingly
  • Shut himself away for 2 days
  • On the 3rd, threatened to allow Persians into the C.C, only kiss his Persian ‘kinsmen’
  • This produced the desired effect – Macedonians rushed to the palace, begged Alexander’s forgiveness
  • Accepted their apologies, called them all his kinsmen and feasted with Persians and Macedonians


  • Craterus led the veterans home
  • Meant Hephaestion could be appointed Grand Vizier without the opposition of Craterus, who had opposed the policy of fusion
  • Men given the gift of one talent
  • Craterus replaced Antipater and Antipater joined Alexander in Persia

Alexander and Religion

Bosworth Summary

  • Prior to Alexander, mortal men had rarely been proclaimed as Gods
  • 3 Levels of Alexander’s belief in his divinity
    • Aware of his heroic ancestors
    • In some sense the son of Zeus Ammon
    • God among men
  • Had been clear separation of God and Man – mortality/immortaility
  • After deaths, heroes may have had “Hero Cult”, honouring their achievements by offerings
  • Pindar suggests man could come close to the divine through “greatness of mind or nature”
  • Suggestion tyrants may raise their position to the divine
  • Aristotle suggests hypothetical situation where a man could appear to as a God among men
  • Lysander, after battle of Aegospotami appears to be honoured as a God while he was alive
  • By time of Phillip, climate of thought that an outstanding ruler was a God among men
    • Evidence Phillip received divine honours
  • Alexander deeply believed in heroic ancestors & wanted to surpass their feats
  • Early in his reign, Alexander came to believe he was the son of Zeus – stories that he sprung from a thunderbolt/snake – only after he came to power did these stories come about as it was important to be Phillip’s son to ascend.


  • “Hero could acquire divinity through his achievements & be translated to heaven, avoiding death”


  • Reconciliation of ideas (Herakles/Melcarth the same)


  • Arrian + Curtius: Suggest introduction was based on divine honours – surpassed his ancestors and deserved to be treated as a God
    • Callisthenes voiced opposition “received with open approval” and the concept was dropped

Alexander’s Attitude to Religion

Attitude to the Gods

  • Pious, makes sacrifices to Gods often
  • But knew the value of good propaganda

Attitude to Religious customs

  • Asked to enter city to sacrifice to Melcarth
  • BUT political move to get them to accept him as Great King


  • Persians had desecrated temples
  • Alexander favourable to local Gods, sacrificed to Apis Bull


  • Temples desecrated
  • Alexander ordered temples to be rebuilt


  • Renamed Shiwa to Nysa (Dionysus’ nurse) because region had ivy leaves
  • People allowed to remain autonomous
  • Met gymnosiphists – naked wise men, fascinated with wisdom, one returned with him to the West
  • Before departing, sacrificed to the Gods of the Indus River



Visit to Troy

  • Visited in 334BC
  • Re-enacted the landing of Troy – approached from the same spot as the Greeks had landed. Jumped in the water & threw his spear into the soil – Asia was “spear won land”.
  • Sacrificed at tomb of Protesailus (1st Greek soldier to land)
  • Visited because Illiad was favourite book, rivalry with Achilles, and propaganda for the expedition
  • Made sacrifices to Athena – Goddess of war, Troy and Athens
  • Given an ancient shield supposed to be from the Trojan War
  • Placed a wreath on Achilles’ grave, Hephaestion a wreath on Patroclus’ grave
  • Sacrificed to Priam to avert his anger as a descendent of Achilles
  • Set up altars to Zeus, Athena and Heracles
  • Sacrificed to Poseidon in the middle of the stream
  • “Congratulated Achilles for having found a trusty friend in life and a great poet to proclaim in death” - Plutarch

Oracle at Siwah

  • Greek God identified with Ammon was Zeus
  • Visited the Oracle in 331BC
  • Two experiences on the way to Siwah:

Callisthenes interpreted these as divine assistance

 Gods sent them rain
    • Birds guided them
  • Reasons Alexander went to Siwah
    • Pothos to consult the oracle
    • Imitating Heracles and Perseus who had consulted the oracle
    • Wanted to learn about his relationship with Zeus
    • Wanted divine approval for building Alexandria
  • Divine status confirmed when he was crowned Pharaoh and greeted as son of Ammon
  • Knew the propaganda value of being validated as ‘the son of the god’

 “Alexander was seized by a passionate desire” – Arrian
“said to be infallible because it had been consulted by Perseus and Heracles” – Arrian
“and the snakes led them to the oracle and back again” – Arrian
“not to use such language, since no mortal was his father” - Plutarch

Death of Hephaestion

  • Identified with Achilles as a descendent and considered himself as equal if not better.
  • Relationship mirrored Achilles and Patroclus
  • Hephaestion was Grand Vizier, second in command & commander of Companions
  • Alexander mourned Hephaestion’s death:
    • Hanged his doctor
    • Razed Asclepius (God of Medicine and Healing)’s temple to the ground
    • Lay for 3 days without food or water
    • Decreed a mourning throughout the empire
    • Cut his hair to emulate Achillies
    • Sacred fires extinguished throughout the empire
      • Only done at the death of the king
    • Erected memorial at Babylon
    • Cult of Hephaestion
    • Funeral Games (3000 competitors)

Request for Deification

  • Why would he request?
  • Believed he had transcended mortality by his actions and his divine power
  • Propaganda – increased support for future expeditions
  • Maybe as a king of such a large empire he felt he warranted it
  • Maybe felt that he had outdone Heracles and deserved it
  • Maybe thought as the son of Zeus-Ammon he deserved it
  • Did he request?
  • Hamilton suggests he did because Greek envoys came from many Greek states; unity between them is not strong. Difficult to see them come together with a mutual decision to honour him.

“As Alexander wants to be a God, let him be a God” – Plutarch records response of Spartans
Alexander and the Heroes


  • His tutor Lysimachus encouraged this relationship
  • Descended through Olympias’ side
  • Propaganda value
  • Illiad was his favourite book
  • Emulated:
    • Relationship between Achilles and Patroclus
    • Bravery in battle was equal


  • Descendent through Philip
  • Emulated:
    • Went to Siwah
    • Heracles was the mortal who achieved immortality through suffering
    • Heracles failed to capture the Rock of Aornus, Alexander did


  • Descendent through Philip
  • Emulated:
    • Trip to Siwah


  • Dionysus advanced through the East, Alexander wanted to go further
  • Olympias the devotee of the Dionysus cult
  • Aristobulus explains the invasion of Arabia motivated by their refusal to worship Alexander as a 3rd god alongside Uranus and Dionysus
  • Vulgate – celebrated escape from Gedrosia with a week long Bacchanalia, imitating Dionysus

Cyrus and Semiramus

  • Cyrus was the founder of the Achaemid dynasty – Alexander founder of new dynasty in Persia
  • Wanted to outdo them by leading a large army through Gedrosia

Gordium Knot

  • Legend said whoever untied the knot would be the ruler of Asia
  • Either drew his sword and cut the knot or withdrew the pin holding the know


  • Dionysus advanced through the East, Alexander wanted to go further
  • Olympias devotee of Dionysus cult
  • Aristobulus explains the invasion of Arabia motivated by their refusal to worship Alexander as a 3rd God along side Uranus and Dionysus
  • Vulgate: Celebrated escape from Gedrosia with a week long Bacchanalia, imitating Dionysus


“if there had been no other competition, he would have competed against himself” – Arrian


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Alexander the great story summary of his life and analysis

Alexander the Great Dates/People/Stats

Relationship with Greeks:
Used: Scare tactics
Hostage Taking
Military force – Garrisons at Thebes/Corinth/Chalcis

338 -   Battle of Chaeronea / League of Corinth
Philip had captured: Thrace, Thessaly, Epirus, Chalcidian peninsula
Came down into central Greece, excuse was quarrel in the Delphic Council
1000 Athenians died, 2000 hostage

336 -   Murder of Philip
Marriage of Philip’s daughter Cleopatra to the King of Epirus
Pausanias killed Philip. Attalus (general0 not punished for abusing Pausanias. Philip married Cleopatra, Attalus’ niece
Guards who killed Pausanias were Perdiccas and Leonnutus, friends of Alexander.
Lyncestian brothers – father had been exiled by Philip

335 -   Theben revolt / Campaigns in Illyria (north)
Demosthenes thanksgiving for death of Philip. Came south, Greeks unable to oppose.
North to Illyria fought barbarian tribes.
Persians bribed Greeks. Demosthenes accepted 300 talents
13 days he covered 250 miles from Illyria to Thebes.
6000 Thebans killed, Asked Synhedrion to decide punishment.
Razed to ground: 30,000 people sold into slavery raising 440 talents.
Priests, temples and allies of Macedonia were spared (descendents of poet Pindar, who wrote poems for Macedonian kings 150 years before)

334 -   After Granicus sent 300 suits of armour offering to Athena
333 -   Athenian request for release of 2000 hostages denied

333-1 - Revolt of Agis III of Sparta
Memnon in Thrace 333: Antipater arranged a settlement with the ‘best terms he could’
Agis III – 10 talents, 30 ships from Persia. Enlisted 8000 of Darius’ mercenaries (from Issus) Army totalled 30,000 men. Athens didn’t help
Antipater force of 40,000. Turned against Agis who was besieging city of Megalopos
Result: 5300 dead including Agis III. League asked Alexander what to do.
Sparta forced to join LOC. 50 Spartan nobles taken hostage

331 -   Athenian request for release of 2000 hostages granted, Return of statue of the Tyrannicides stolen by Xerxes from Babylon
To gain good favour of Athens, and reward them for not supporting the revolt. At Tyre after Egypt

324 -   Exiles Decree
Nicanor set to Olympic games. He gave announcement to 20,000 exiles
Didn’t want exiles causing problems, becoming mercenaries or joining Harpalus, the treasurer at Babylon who fled to Athens with 6000 men and lots of money, after he was guilty of serious misconduct and overspending.
Athens had conquered Samos, expelling all its inhabitants. Had to let them back
Military Matters:

32,000 Infantry
5,100 Cavalry

Thessalian Cavalry (Parmenio), Phalanx (Coenus, Craterus), Hypaspists, Companion Cavalry (Alexander, Philotas), Other Cavalry
15ft Sarrisa – Phalanx
12ft Sarrisa – Companion Cavalry

334 -   Granicus
Arrian: 40,000 Persians 50:50 infantry cavalry. Overestimate
Memnon led Persians. Ran to river with cavalry
Amyntas led cavalry between Hypaspists and Companions
Spithridates almost killed Alexander, but stopped by Cleitus the Black
Cut down Greek mercenaries except for 2000

334 -   Miletus
Persian Fleet – 400 ships
Greek Fleet – 160 ships
Governor changed his mind about surrender. Persian fleet near
Greek fleet arrived first and blockaded harbour with 4,000 Thracians and mercenaries
300 mercenaries escaped to citadel. Alexander eventually pardoned
“moved to pity by their courage and loyalty” A.  Didn’t want to anger Greeks more.

334 -   Halicarnassus
Able to withstand long siege, supplied by the Persian fleet.
Strong city with 3 fortresses, high brick wall and moat 45 feet wide and 22 feet deep.
Memnon escaped. Citadels held out for 12 months. Alex left 3000 mercenaries and 200 cavalry to siege them and garrison the country

333 -   Gordium Knot
Once capital of Phrygian Kingdom. First King, Midas, arrived with wagon
Cut the knot so would be “ruler of Asia”
Aristobulus: “he withdrew the pin holding the knot

333 - Issus
A – came down through Cilician Gates moved down to Syrian Gates
D – moved north, grown tired of waiting at Sochi. Came through Amanic Gates into plane of Issus. Came across sick
A – sent boat to check D was there. Disbelief
D – got as far as narrow coastal plane, could not use his superior numbers. Wanted to hold river Pinarus
Between sea and hills. D puts cavalry on right (can’t use hills) A moves his Thessalians to left. A light troops on hills.
A – outflanks Persian left and routs it. Gap develops in line, but it holds. Swings left after Darius, who flees seeing the imminent defeat. Panic spreads = rout

Size: D 300,000-600,000, A 75,000
Deaths: Diodorus and Curtius say Macedonias 450 killed 4500 wounded
Persian unknown. 10,000 horse and 100,000 foot obviously propaganda
Only 2,000 mercenaries remained with D (of maybe 20,000)

332 -   Tyre
½ mile offshore. 150 foot high walls
A built two wooden towers 150 feet tall to protect workers on mole
Mounted with catapults and covered with rawhide
Harassed workers with arrows, missiles from ships and burning barges
Made mole wider
7 months – Phoenician navy came over to Alexander.
Breach in South side: 30,000 sold into slavery.
Sacrificed to Melcarth inside side
2nd embassy from Darius: 10,000 talents and all territory west of Euphrates. Marry his daughter in exchange for family. Parmenio thought yes. Alexander said no

332 -   Egypt
Seen as liberator more than conquerer , crowned Pharaoh, troops rewareded with games. Founded Alexandria
Persians had desecrated temples, roasting the sacred Bull of Apis
Great respect for religions – sacrificing to Apis and other Gods
He was treated as “son of Ammon”

331 -   Gaugamela
Near Arabela. A – reconnaissance, slept at night
“I will not demean myself by stealing victory like a thief” Arrian
More flank protection, rear phalanx = not outflanked
Darius: left commanded by Bessus. Chariots and elephants front line, cavalry on right were commanded by Mazaeus
A – 40,000 foot 7000 cavalry; outnumbered 5:1
Helped Parmenio – lost 60 companions. Chased D to Arabela – then decided more important to go to heartland of Persia - south

331- Persepolis
Babylon – Mazaeus surrendered and made Satrap
- treated them well, rebuilt temple of Marduk (Persians sacrilege)
Susa – A gained 50,000 talents from treasury
Persepolis – Gained 120,000 talents
Burning (330): Palace of Xerxes after 3 months set fire
Official: to punish Persians for sacrilege. Propaganda for Greeks
Problems: why wait 3 months, changed his mind had fires put out, started Policy of Fusion. It was his now
Vulgate:  Thais, prostitute, encouraged A to set fire.

330 -   Ecbatana
Left Parmenio with force to guard communications line

329 -   Darius murdered
He covered 250 miles in less than a week after hearing Bessus had arrested D. Murdered by Nabarzanes and Barsaentes. Buried with honours of king.
Bessus and Barsaentes were killed for regicide once captured

329-    Crossed mountain pass from Arachosia to Paropamisos
Men suffered from extreme cold, frostbite, hunger and snow-blindness. Many animals died or were eaten for food

329 -   Bactria Bessus captured


327 -   Sogdia against Spitamenes,
Guerrilla - Abandoned Sarissa. Divided into 5 columns that acted independently
Spitamenes defeated by Coenus, and the local soldiers. The Massagetae cut off his head and set it to Alexander

327 -   Sogdian Rock
Lord Oxyartes took refuge in hilltop fort. Rock was sheer on all sides.
300 climbed the rock. 30 fell to deaths
Sogdians surrendered unaware of how few men had made it to the top. Fell in love with Roxane daughter of Oxyartes. Married her

327 – Massacre of tribesmen
At Massaga 7000 Indian mercenaries who were fighting against A were killed
Arrian: Agreed to join A but were going to desert so killed
Vulgate: Defeated, given permission to leave, at night A surrounded and massacred

326 -   Rock of Aornus
Hill fort commanding Indus River. Herakles had failed to capture
On a large flat topped ridge. Only way to approach was across deep ravine
Builds causeway to fill ravine in 3 days protected by archers

326 -   Hydaspes
Feint attacks. Left Craterus with 2000 cavalry and 9000 infantry at camp
Secret crossing, landed on island, found ford. Porus sent chariots, defeated and son killed
Put cavalry on right meaning Porus has to support his left, weakening his right. Sent Coenus around back to flank the Indian horse. Light troops harass elephants, who cause damage to both sides.
Diodorus loses:          Porus: 12,000
Alexander: 700 foot and 280 cavalry
“Treat me as a King should be”

326 -   Mallian people
Fleet of 800 boats with Nearchus as admiral travelled down Indus river with armies on both sides
One town – took refuge in citadel. Men reluctant to go up scaling ladder. Alex goes first with 3 others. Ladder broke with further troops. Lept down inside wall to fight off attackers. Shot through lung, massacre followed
Taken to main camp by boat. Canvas removed so men saw him lift arm.
Rode his horse to his tent, dismounted and walked inside.
Hepheastion rebuked him for his stupidity


325 -   Gedrosian Desert
Mouth of Indus – sacrificed to various gods including Poseidon
Army divided between boat and desert
Why? – to supply the fleet (dig wells)
- To outdo Cyrus and Semiramis
Difficulties: food, excessive eating, hea, water, flooding, sandstorms, poisonous snakes and plants, difficult terrain, lack of geographical knowledge
Celebrated with games: athletic and artistic
Vulgate: week long bacchanalia


324 -   Arrives in Carmania and misconduct of Officials
Mercenary armies, ill-treatment of subjects, plundering of temples
Sitacles and Cleander (brother of Coenus) put to death
Major generald and 6000 troops were arrested. 600 followers killed
Harpalus (treasurer) escaped to Athens with 6000 men and 5000 talents of gold
Cleomenes in Egypt treated kinder


Attitude towards Religion:

334 -   Visit to Troy
Trojan war 1200BC. Prince Paris of Troy (son of Priam) stealing Helen, wife of Menolaos of Sparta.
Achilles and best friend Patroclus (slain by Hector, brother of Paris)
Alexander jumped into water, threw spear into sail saying “Asia: spear won land”
Offered sacrifice to Protesilaus, first Greek soldier to land in war
Sacrificed to Athena Troad (of Troy) – given ancient shield, used in war, he used now
Placed wreath on Achille’s grave – Hephaestion did on Patroclus
Sacrificed to King Priam to avert anger – as Alexander was descended from Achilles
Set up alters to Zeus, Athena and Herakles
Sacrificed a bull to Poseidon in the middle of a stream

332 -   Tyre
Asked to sacrifice to Melcarth who was equated with Herakles

332 -   Egypt
Sacrificed to Apis bull and others

331 -   Visit to Siwah, Oracle of Ammon
Ask the God’s advice – had a pothos to go.
Had been consulted by Heracles and Perseus
Went to emulate/rival Heroes to whom he was related. Learn about his relationship with Zeus, wanted divine approval for building Alexandria, perhaps ‘irrational’
March there:
Callisthenes describes in heroic style: Gods sent rain to avert thirst, Birds guided them when they got lost
Ptolemy added talking snakes when they got lost
Plutarch and the Vulgate writers claim to tell us questions:
1. Would Alexander rule the world? Yes
2. Had the murderers of Philip been punished? Yes

331 -   Babylon
Ordered temples, desecrated by Persians, to be rebuilt
Rebuilt great temple of Marduk
Priests were show great favours

326 – India
Region where Shiva was worshipped Alexander found ivy leaves (associated with Dionysus)
Region renamed Nysa, after Dionysus’ nurse and people treated very well
Remained autonomous and Bacchanalia held
Sacrificed to gods of the Indus river


324 -   Death of Hephaestion
At Ecbatana – went there for rest
Hephaestion was second in command, Grand Vizier, commander of Companion cavalry
Saw friendship as devoted as that of Achilles and Patroclus
Many different stories of after
Hard to accept: Alexander hanged Hephaistion’s doctor
He burned temple of Asclepius at Ecbatana, God of medicine and healing
Can accept:    Lay for 3 days without food or water
Decreed general mourning throughout empire
Cut his hair – emulate Achilles
Sacred fires were extinguished – action taken by Persians after death of king.
Erected huge memorial at Babylon
Instituted cult of Hephaestion.
Envoys sent to Siwah to ask if Hephaestion should be honoured as God or hero
Answer was Hero, Alexander requested that Athens establish a cult
Perdiccas made Grad Vizier and moved corpse to Babylon
Funeral cost 10,000 talents. 3000 competitors at funeral games

324 -   Request for Deification
Apotheosis - The transformation of a human being into a deity
Syncretism - The attempted combination of different systems of philosophical or religious belief or practice

Plutarch says Alexander wrote to Greeks asking for divine honours
Spartan: “Since Alexander wants to be a god, let him be a god”
Envoys (theoroi) wore crowns in 323BC
Arrian implies that they came from a number of different Greek states
Unlikely that this would have been a concerted effort if not asked

Alexander and the Heroes
Descended via his mother Olympia, Illiad was his favourite book
Tutor Lysimachus encouraged the relationship
Achilles heroic actions was equal to that of Alexander

Descended via Philip
Herakles had made the trip to Siwah
Mortal who achieved immortality – through much suffering and toil (like Alexander)
Alexander captured the rock of Aornus, which Herakles failed to do

Descended via Philip. Had also made trip to Siwah

Olympias was a devotee of the cult of Dionysus
Dionysus had advanced far to the East, Alexander wanted to go further
Aristobulous:  says Alexander invaded Arabia because their refused to worship his as a third God alongside Uranus and Dionysus

Cyrus and Semiramis:
Wanted to outdo them by leading an army through the Gedrosian desert

Zeus: Legend that Zeus had begotten Alexander while disguised as a snake
Relationship with Macedonians and Persians
Reasons for deterioration of relationship:

Policy of Fusion:
Idealist: Didn’t want to destroy Persia, but combine the kingships of Macedonia and Persia

  • Used Persians as Satraps in provinces
  • Persians used in army
    • An entire army of Persain youths was trained and equipped as Macedonians; know as ‘the successors’
    • Enjoyed Persians luxuries
    • Marriage between Macedonains and Persians
    • Persian Lords included in Companion Cavalry
    • Respect for past Persian kings
      • Rebuilt tomb of Cyrus the founder of the Achaemenid Persian dynasty
      • Punished Bessus
    • Adopted the diadem (Persian white robe and sash of King) – not barbarian trousers
    • Attempted to introduce Proskynesis

Nature of Kingship:
Macedonians:            First among equals; same clothes, drink, laugh and argue, frank, easy terms
Persians:         Exalted status; representative of god on earth, oriental luxury and splendour including while on campaign, extravagant dress, subjects performed proskynesis
Son of Ammon:
Put him in elevated position
Implied a rejection of his father; many had fought under Philip
War Weariness:
After Persepolis – weary grind through barren mountains of Sogdia and Bactria
Instead of revenge – Alexander to satisfy his own ambition

330-29 - Philotas and Parmenio:
Dimnus invited his lover Nicomachus to join in a plot against Alexander
Nicomachus rejected and told his brother Cebalinus
They told Philotas of the plot and asked to speak to King – he said too busy
Tried again – failed
Cebalinus got to Alexander through a page in charge of armoury
Dimnus arrested and killed resisting
Philotas arrested and tortured for treason – confession; stoned to death

Didn’t like Philotas:
- arrogant and boastful about new wealth
- Made enemies of Hephaestion, Coenus and Craterus
- Rejected policy of fusion
- 2 years earlier boasted about achievement of father while drunk, belittling Alexander. Craterus told Alexander

Parmenio was in Ecbatana with sizable force to secure communication line (important)
Sent orders to mercenary commander to kill Parmenio before he could find out about his son
Too dangerous – also opposed fusion




328 -   Murder of Cleitus at Samacrand
Drinking party
Argument took place because a song mocked Macedonias who were defeated by natives at Sogdia and Bactria. Cleitus was offended
Alexander threw apple – reached for his dagger, but hit had been removed by bodyguard
Called to trumpeter to sound the emergency alarm – order refused
Cleitus ushered out, but came back reciting a verse of Euripides lamenting “the power of the king”
A took spear and killed him – bodyguard stopped Alexander killing himself
Fusion: Two courts; Persian court had eunuchs, harem and aura surround king
Mocking Macedonians; by enemies present
Resentment at ‘Son of Ammon’
Young vs Old

3 days refused to eat or drink
Commended the trumpeter who disobeyed him
Alexander though highly of him; saved his life at Granicus, sister had been Alexander’s wet nurse, had been appointed to succeed Artabazus as Satrap of Bactria

327 -   Proskynesis
Each member of party made a libation with wine at altar, drank from cup, prostrated themselves before king, who kissed them (acknowledging him as equal)
Callisthenes refused, Alexander refused kiss
Callisthenes; official historian, Aristotle’s nephew, Greek not Macedonian
Greeks only prostrated themselves before gods; barbaric custom
Did Alexander want worship? Or fusion?

Callisthenes praised for impromptu speech giving praise to Macedonians
Alexander asked him to criticise Macedonians to show his eloquence
Did, Alexander said it was proof of his ill will towards Macedonians

327 -   Pages Conspiracy
Pages attended the King on a hunt. Young Macedonian nobles, closest young attendant sof the King.
Hermolaus killed a wild boar before the king, was whipped and deprived on his horse; traditional punishments
Hermolaus conspired to kill King; detected and put to death
Ptolemy and Aristobulous – Callisthenes urged pages to kill king
Even under torture Pages didn’t implicate him
Ptolemy: Callisthenes was arrested tortured and then hanged
Chares: carried around in captivity and died of natural courses after 7 months

Greeks reacted with anger



326 -   Mutiny at River Hyphasis (Beas)
After Hydaspes, fighting fierce battles against the people of the Punjab, weather bad
Refused to go any further
Alexander gave long speech about plans to cross river and conquer lands beyond
Coenus pleaded to be allowed to return home – met with applause by all
Other officers agreed
Why? - travelled for 8 years a long way; exhausted, homesick
- endured rigours of the Bactrian campaign
- horrors of Porus’ elephants
- burning heat followed by 30 days of monsoon rain
- Macedonian clothes gone and forced to wear Indian clothes
- Horses ineffective; hooves had worn out
- Rumours of great armies beyond river with thousands of elephants
- War or revenge long over, didn’t know how far they were going

  • furious; shut himself in tent for 3 days, like Achilles
  • Offered sacrifice to gods, asking for their blessing to cross the river
    • Omens were unfavourable so god “did not want Alexander to advance further east”
  • Announced he would turn back


  • Left some large pieces of armour on bank; marking his territory
  • Erected 12 towers as a memorial to his victory; for each of the Olympians
  • Built the city of Bucephala
  • Fleet of 800 ships transported army south
  • Coenus died; given magnificent funeral; Alexander forgiven him

324 -   Susa Weddings
“The culmination of Alexander’s policy of fusion”
Lasted 5 days, entertainers came from all over the Greek world
Held in luxurious tent ½ mile in circumference
Alexander, Hephaestion and 90 other Macedonians and Greeks married in Persian fashion to the nobles of Persian and Median women.
Alexander married Basrine, eldest daughter of Darius III

Gave large dowry to Persian brides
Gave wedding gifts to 10,000 Macedonians who had previously married native women
- not fusion, but improve relations with troops

After death of Alexander; most Macedonians divorced (unpopular)

324 -   Mutiny at Opis
30,000 Persians recruited and trained as Macedonian soldiers ‘the Successors”
Arrived at Susa in Macedonian clothes, equipment speaking Greek. Performed dazzling display of skills and discipline before Macedonian soldiers

  • policy of fusion + needed more soldiers

At Opis:
Alexander summoned troops: those who were too old or disabled would be released from service, with a magnificent bounty. Macedonians muntinied. Shouting at him to dismiss them all and carry on with the help of his “father”, mocking Ammon


  • Convinced Alexander was trying to get rid of them and replace them
  • Offended by fusion


  • Alexander furious; lept down from platform and ordered officers to arrest and execute the ringleaders – 13 in all
  • Addressed troops: attacked their ingratitude, talked about:
    • How Philip had civilised Macedon making it master of Greece
    • His achievements were better; defeated Persians, gained wealth and glor for them, suffered wit hthem, dead received fitting honours and their dependants cared for
    • He was only going to send the unfit home, now they were all could go and tell how they had abandoned their king
  • Shut himself away for 2 days
  • 3rd day he horded Persians to be enrolled in Macedonian units


  • Macedonians rushed to palace and begged fro forgivness
  • Alexander came out weeping “I make you all my Kinsmen” Arrian
  • Great feast was help to mark endo of differences
    • 9000 present. Alexander sat with principal Macedonians, next the leaders fo Persians, and then ‘other people’
    • Alexander prayed for harmony and partnership

Craterus escorted veterans home. He was very popular, against Fusion and enemy of Hephaestion, who was made Grand Vizier of empire
Half-cast children left behind – brought up as Macedonians
Given each one talent
Craterus replaced Antipater who would join Alexander with new troops
Antipater didn’t get along with Olympias
Alexander concerned about his growing popularity


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Alexander the great story summary of his life and analysis