Alexander the Great (356-323 BC), king of Macedonia, conqueror of the Persian Empire. Born in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedonia, in the ancient country of Greece. Alexander was the son of Philip II, king of Macedonia. Greek philosopher Aristotle was Alexander's tutor, instructing him in rhetoric and literature and stimulating his interest in science, medicine, and philosophy.
In 336 BC Philip was assassinated, and Alexander ascended to the throne. He quickly solidified his rule at home and then attacked Thessaly (Thessalia) to restore Macedonian rule there. In 335 BC he defeated the Thracians, penetrating to the Danube River. On his return he crushed the Illyrians before hastening to Thebes, which had revolted. He razed the city, sparing only temples and the house of Pindar, a Greek lyric poet of the 5th century BC. Other Greek states promptly submitted to Alexander's rule.
Alexander began his war against Persia in the spring of 334 BC, defeating a Persian army near the ancient city of Troy. Subsequently, all the states of Asia Minor submitted to him. Advancing southward, Alexander defeated the main Persian army, commanded by King Darius III, at Issus, in northeastern Syria in 333 BC. He then took Tyre in 332 BC. Alexander next captured Gaza and traveled into Egypt. He secured control of the entire eastern Mediterranean coastline and founded, at the mouth of the Nile River, the city of Alexandria, which later became the literary, scientific, and commercial center of the Greek world.
Alexander next reorganized his forces and started for Babylon. In 331 BC he again defeated Darius, and Babylon surrendered. Alexander then forced his way to Persepolis, the Persian capital, and plundered it. By 327 BC his domain extended along and beyond the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, into much of central Asia.
In 326 BC Alexander invaded the Punjab. At this point the Macedonians rebelled and refused to go farther. Alexander spent about a year organizing his dominions and completing a survey of the Persian Gulf in preparation for further conquests. He arrived in Babylon in the spring of 323 BC, but then he contracted a fever and died.
Alexander was noted as a brilliant military tactician and troop leader. He founded a number of cities, most of them named Alexandria. These cities were well located and settled by Greek veterans from his army. Thus, Greek culture was spread and the Greek language became widely known.
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