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Portrait of Alexander

"Touched by the hand of God, youth immortalized, wearing his golden crown of glory. A symbol of strength and power for his Macedonian comrades-in-war. His military genius too great to be wasted on Europe, he looked east, to conquer Persia, the greatest kingdom of all. More than a conqueror, an intellectual with a team of all the finest minds in the world. Visualizing a universal empire for all, he left the legacy of the greatest empire the world has ever seen."

 Introduction | Early Life |  Alexander on the Macedonian Throne - The Crash of the Greek Resistance
 The Battles of Granicus and Issus |  Alexander in Egypt |  The End of the Persian Empire
Alexander in India |  Alexander's Marriage |  Alexander's Death

Introduction

Greek propagandists claim that the King of Macedonia, Alexander the Great, was in fact, Greek, despite the universal acceptance of historians and scholars that Alexander was indeed Macedonian. Furthermore, Alexander and the ancient Macedonians were not regarded as kinsmen by the Greeks, nor did they view themselves as Greek. The following will prove that Alexander the Great and the Ancient Macedonians were Macedonian.

The following are excerpts from Macedonia FAQ 1

Early Life

Alexander the Great's Macedonian Empire

Alexander the Great (356-323 BC), the king of Macedonia that conquered the Persian empire and annexed it to Macedonia, is considered one of the greatest military geniuses of all times. He is the first king to be called "the Great."

Alexander is supposed to have been fair skinned, with a ruddy tinge to his face and chest. Plutarch stated that he had a pleasing scent. Like all Macedonians, Alexander liked his liquor; his fondness for wine also caused some of his outbursts of rage. Alexander liked drama, the flute and the lyre, poetry and hunting bur what he truly wanted in his life, was a glory and valor, rather than easy living and riches. He was not fond of athletic contests, according to Plutarch.

Alexander, born in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedonia, was the son of Philip II, king of Macedonia, and of Olympias, a princess of Epirus. Philip and Olympias wanted nothing less than the best for their son, so when he was 13, his parents hired Aristotle to be his personal tutor. Aristotle gave Alexander a thorough training in rhetoric and literature and stimulated his interest in science, medicine, and philosophy, all of which became of the utmost importance for Alexander in his later life. The two later became estranged, due to their difference of opinion on the status of foreigners; Aristotle saw them as barbarians, while Alexander sought to merge Macedonians and foreigners.

In 340 BC, when Philip went to Byzantium to fight rebels, Alexander, a mere 16 years old, was left in charge of Macedonia as regent, with the power to rule in Philip's name in his absence. That Alexander was given such a position at such a young age indicates that he was already accomplished in battle. But Alexander never got along well with his father, although Philip was proud of Alexander for the Bucephalus incident. Alexander had always been closer to Olympias than to Philip. Philip and Olympias also did not get along all that well, owing primarily to Olympias' "barbarian" heritage of Epirus, now Albania.

The family essentially was split apart irreparably when Philip married a woman named Cleopatra, a Macedonian. At the wedding banquet, Cleopatra's father made a remark about Philip fathering a "legitimate" heir, i.e., one that was pure Macedonian. Alexander took exception and threw his cup at the man, and some sources say Alexander killed him. Enraged, Philip stood up and charged at Alexander, only to trip and fall on his face in his drunken stupor. Alexander, rather upset at the scene, is to have shouted:

"Here is the man who was making ready to cross from Europe to Asia, and who cannot even cross from one table to another without losing his balance."

When Philip divorced Olympias Alexander fled. Although allowed to return, he remained isolated and insecure until Philip was assassinated (some think that Olympias may have even had a role in Philip's murder), in the summer of 336 BC.

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Alexander on the Macedonian Throne - The Crash of the Greek Resistance

Bust of Alexander the GreatAlexander ascended to the Macedonian throne when his father died. Once on power, he disposed quickly of all conspirators and domestic enemies by ordering their execution. Then he descended on Thessaly, where partisans of independence had gained ascendancy, and restored Macedonian rule. Before the end of the summer of 336 BC he had reestablished his position in Greece and was elected by a congress of states at Corinth.

But, Greek cities, like Athens and Thebes, which had pledged allegiance to Philip, were unsure if they wished to do the same for a twenty-year-old boy. Likewise, northern barbarians that Philip had subdued were threatening to break away from Macedonia and wreak havoc in the north. Alexander's advisors suggested that he let Athens and Thebes go and to be gentle with the barbarians to prevent a revolt. However, in 335 BC, Alexander campaigned toward the Danube, to secure Macedonia's northern frontier. He carried out a successful campaign against the defecting Thracians, penetrating to the Danube River. Alexander marched quickly north and drove the rebelling barbarians beyond the Danube River and out of the way. On his return he crushed in a single week the threatening Illyrians.

On rumors of his death, a revolt broke out in Greece with the support of leading Athenians. Alexander marched south covering 240 miles in two weeks. Arrian related the story of how Alexander dealt with Thebes and Athens. There were rumors in these cities that Alexander had been killed, and that the time was right for them to separate themselves from Macedonia. Instead, in the fall of 335 BC, Alexander marched up to the gates of Thebes, and let them know that it was not too late for them to change their minds. The Thebans responded with a small contingent of soldiers, which Alexander repelled with archers and light infantrymen. The next day, Alexander's general, Perdiccas, attacked the gates. Perdiccas broke through and into the city, and Alexander moved the rest of his force in behind to prevent the Thebans from cutting Perdiccas off from the rest. The Macedonians then stormed the city, killing almost everyone in sight, women and children included. They plundered, sacked, burned and razed Thebes, as an example to the rest of Greece. Only the temples and the house of the poet Pindar were spared from distraction. Athens then quickly rethought its decision to abandon Alexander. Greece remained under Macedonian control.

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The Battles of Granicus and Issus

Alexander began his war against Persia in the spring of 334 BC by crossing the Hellespont(modern Dardanelles) with an army of 35,000 Macedonians and 7,600 Greeks. He threw his spear from his ship to the coast and it stuck in the ground. He stepped onto the shore, pulled his weapon from the soil, and declared that the whole of Asia would be won by the spear. His chief officers, all Macedonians, included Antigonus, Ptolemy, and Seleucus.

Battle Scene at GranicusThe Macedonian army soon encountered the Persian army under King Darius III at the crossing of the river Granicus, near the ancient city of Troy. Alexander attacked an army of Persians and Greek hoplites (a heavily armed foot soldiers of ancient Greece) who distinguished themselves on the side of the Persians against the Macedonians. Alexander's forces defeated the enemy (totaling 40,000 men) and, according to tradition, lost only 110 men.

Then he turned northward to Gordion, home of the famous Gordian Knot. The legend behind the ancient knot was that the man who could untie it was destined to rule the entire world. Alexander simply slashed the knot with his sword and unraveled it.

Continuing to advance southward, in November of 333 BC, Alexander met Darius in battle for the second time at a mountain pass at Issus, in northeastern Syria. The size of Darius's army is unknown but although the Persian army greatly outnumbered the Macedonians, the narrow field of battle allowed Alexander to defeat the Persians. The Battle of Issus ended in a great victory for Alexander. Cut off from his base, Darius fled northward, abandoning his mother, wife, and children to Alexander, who treated them with the respect due to royalty.

In the next year, he marched down the Phoenician coast and received the surrenders of all of the major cities there except for Tyre. A seven-month siege of the city followed, and the Tyrians eventually surrendered to Alexander. Then he continued south into Egypt after he had secured the entire Aegean coast.

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Alexander in Egypt

Statue of AlexanderAlexander entered Egypt in 331 BC. When he arrived, he was welcomed, and he ordered a city to be designed and founded in his name at the mouth of the river Nile. Alexandria would become one of the major cultural centers in the Mediterranean world in the following centuries.

In the spring of 331 Alexander made a pilgrimage to the great temple and oracle of Amon-Ra, Egyptian god of the sun, whom the Greeks identified with Zeus. The earlier Egyptian pharaohs were believed to be sons of Amon-Ra; and Alexander, the new ruler of Egypt, wanted the god to acknowledge him as his son. The pilgrimage apparently was successful, and it may have confirmed in him a belief in his own divine origin.

While in Egypt, Alexander spontaneously decided to make the dangerous trip across the desert to visit the oracle at the temple of Zeus Ammon. On the way, he was blessed with abundant rain, and he was guided across the desert by ravens. At the temple, Alexander spoke to the oracle about matters that are unclear to most historians. Many sources, however, speculated that the priest told Alexander that he was the son of Zeus Ammon and that he was destined to rule the world.

He was then made pharaoh voluntarily by the Egyptians, who despised living under Persian rule. He exchanged letters with Darius while he was in Egypt, and the Persian offered a truce with Alexander with a gift of several western provinces of the Persian Empire, but Alexander refused to make peace unless he could have the whole empire. In the middle of 331 BC Alexander marched back to Persia to find Darius.

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The End of the Persian Empire

Alexander reorganized his forces at Tyre and started for Babylon with an army of 40,000 infantry and 7000 cavalry. He conquered the lands between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates and found the Persian army which, according to the exaggerated accounts of antiquity, was said to number a million men at the plains of Gaugamela (near modern Irbil, Iraq). The Macedonians spotted the lights from Persian campfires one night, and they encouraged Alexander to lead his attack under cover of darkness. He refused to take advantage of their situation because he wanted to defeat Darius in an equally matched battle so that the Persian king would never again dare to raise an army against the Macedonians. The two armies met on the battlefield the next morning on October 1, 331 BC, and the Macedonian forces swept through the Persian army and slaughtered them. Darius fled as he had done at Issus to the mountain residence of Ecbatana, while Alexander occupied Babylon, the imperial capital Susa, and Persepolis. Henceforth, Alexander was proclaimed king of Persia, and to win the support of the Persian aristocracy he appointed mainly Persians as provincial governors. After four months, the Macedonians burned the royal palace to the ground thus completing the end of the ancient Persian Empire.

Yet a major uprising in Greece had Alexander so deeply worried, that after hearing that the rebellion had failed, he proclaimed the end of the Hellenic Crusade and discharged the all Greek forces.

Alexander continued his pursuit of Darius for hundreds of miles from Persepolis. When he finally caught up to him, he found the Persian king dead in his coach, assassinated by his own men. Alexander had the assassin executed and gave Darius a royal funeral.

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Macedonian Nobles Resistance and the Macedonian Language

Alexander the Great Statue in SolunDuring the reign of Alexander the Great, the Macedonians spoke their own native language. Though Alexander spoke also Greek, loved Homer, and respected his tutor Aristotle, there is much evidence that he hated the Greeks of his day. He thoroughly destroyed Thebes. His Asian empire is correctly called Macedonian, not Greek for he won it with an army of 35,000 Macedonians and only 7,600 Greeks.

Alexander's increasingly Oriental behavior led to trouble with Macedonian nobles and some Greeks. In 330 BC a series of allegations was brought against some of Alexander's officers concerning a plot to murder him. Alexander tortured and executed his friend, Philotas (commander of the cavalry) the accused leader of the conspiracy, and several other high-ranking officials in order to eliminate the possibility of an attempt on his life. The question of the use of the ancient Macedonian language was raised by Alexander himself during the trial of Philotas. Alexander has said to Philotas:

"The Macedonians are about to pass judgment upon you; I wish to know weather you will use their native tongue in addressing them." Philotas replied: "Besides the Macedonians there are many present who, I think, will more easily understand what I shell say if I use the same language which you have employed." Than said the king: "Do you not see how Philotas loathes even the language of his fatherland? For he alone disdains to learn it. But let him by all means speak in whatever way he desires, provided that you remember that he holds out customs in as much abhorrence as our language."

The trial of Philotas took place in Asia before a multiethnic public, which has accepted Greek as their common language. Alexander spoke Macedonian with his conationals, but used Greek in addressing West Asians. Like Illirian and Tracian, ancient Macedonian was not recorded in writing. However, on the bases of about a hundred glosses, Macedonian words noted and explained by Greek writers, some place names from Macedonia, and a few names of individuals, most scholars believe that ancient Macedonian was a separate Indo-European language. Evidence from phonology indicates that the ancient Macedonian language was distinct from ancient Greek and closer to the Tracian and Illirian languages.

Another old-fashioned noble, Cleitus, was killed by Alexander himself in a drunken brawl. Heavy drinking was a cherished tradition at the Macedonian court when Alexander ran him through with a spear. Although he mourned his friend excessively and nearly committed suicide when he realized what he had done, all of Alexander's associates thereafter feared his paranoia and dangerous temper. Alexander next demanded that Europeans follow the Oriental etiquette of prostrating themselves before the king - which he knew was regarded as an act of worship by Greeks. But resistance by Macedonian officers and by the Greek Callisthenes (a nephew of Aristotle who had joined the expedition as the official historian of the crusade) defeated the attempt. The Greek Callisthenes was soon executed on a charge of conspiracy.

As the Macedonians marched into Parthia, the tone of the journey changed. Alexander had adopted the Persian style of dress, rather than his traditional Macedonian clothing, and his troops were unhappy with him.

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Alexander in India

Alexander the Great's Macedonian Empire

Map of Alexander's Empire

In the spring of 327 BC, Alexander and his army marched into India invading Punjab as far as the river Hyphasis (modern Beas). At this point the Macedonians rebelled and refused to go farther.

The greatest of Alexander's battles in India was against Porus, one of the most powerful Indian leaders, at the river Hydaspes. On July 326 BC, Alexander's army crossed the heavily defended river in dramatic fashion during a violent thunderstorm to meet Porus' forces. The Indians were defeated in a fierce battle, even though they fought with elephants, which the Macedonians had never before seen. Alexander captured Porus and, like the other local rulers he had defeated, allowed him to continue to govern his territory. Alexander even subdued an independent province and granted it to Porus as a gift.

In this battle Alexander's horse, Bucephalus, was wounded and died. Alexander had ridden Bucephalus into every one of his battles in Greece and Asia, so when it died, he was grief-stricken and founded a city in his horse's name.

Alexander's next goal was to reach the to travel south down the rivers Hydaspes and Indus so that they might reach the Ocean on the southern edge of the world. The army rode down the rivers on the rivers on rafts and stopped to attack and subdue villages along the way. During this trip, Alexander sought out the Indian philosophers, the Brahmins, who were famous for their wisdom, and debated them on philosophical issues. He became legendary for centuries in India for being both a wise philosopher and a fearless conqueror.

One of the villages in which the army stopped belonged to the Malli, who were said to be one of the most warlike of the Indian tribes. Alexander was wounded several times in this attack, most seriously when an arrow pierced his breastplate and his ribcage. The Macedonian officers rescued him in a narrow escape from the village. Alexander and his army reached the mouth of the Indus in July 325 BC and turned westward for home.

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Alexander's Marriage

In the spring of 324, Alexander held a great victory celebration at Susa. He and 80 close associates married Iranian noblewomen. In addition, he legitimized previous so-called marriages between soldiers and native women and gave them rich wedding gifts, no doubt to encourage such unions. When he discharged the disabled Macedonian veterans a little later, after defeating a mutiny by the estranged and exasperated Macedonian army, they had to leave their wives and children with him. Because national prejudices had prevented the unification of his empire, his aim was apparently to prepare a long-term solution (he was only 32) by breeding a new body of high nobles of mixed blood and also creating the core of a royal army attached only to himself. After his death, nearly all the noble Susa marriages were dissolved. He established training programs to teach Persians about Greek and Macedonian culture, and he married Roxane, a Persian.

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Alexander's Death

We will probably never know the truth, of Alexander's mysterious death, even though new theories are still coming out. Alexander the Great, the Macedonian king and the great conqueror, died at the age of 33, on June 10, 323 BC. Three days earlier, on the 7th of June, 323 BC, the Macedonians were allowed to file past their leader for the last time before he finally succumbed to the illness. Alexander died without designating a successor. His death opened the anarchic age of the Diadochi and the Macedonian Empire will eventually cease to exist.

Reference

  1. Obtained from the Macedonia FAQ website. A project of RMacedonia.org
    URL: http://faq.RMacedonia.org/

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