Empire Of Alexander The Great Great Empires of the Past

Empire Of Alexander The Great Great Empires of the Past

(Parte 1 de 7)

Empire of Alexander the Great

Great Empires of the Past: EMPIRE OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT Copyright © 2005 Debra Skelton and Pamela Dell

History Consultant: Eugene N. Borza, emeritus professor of ancient history, Pennsylvania State University

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Skelton, Debra. Empire of Alexander the Great / Debra Skelton and Pamela Dell. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-8160-5564-5 (HC) 1. Greece—History—Macedonian Expansion, 359-323 B.C. 2. Alexander, the Great, 356-323 B.C. I. Dell, Pamela. I. Title. DF234.S58 2005 930'.0971238—dc22 2004056430

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Introduction 5 PART IHISTORY

CHAPTER 1The Beginning of Alexander’s Empire15 CHAPTER 2The Empire at Its Largest31 CHAPTER 3Final Years of the Empire49

CHAPTER 4Society in Alexander’s Empire65 CHAPTER 5Living in Alexander’s Empire79 CHAPTER 6Art,Science,and Culture Across the Empire97

Epilogue 113

Time Line120 Resources 121 Bibliography 123 Index 124

IN 336 B.C.E., A PROUD, INTELLIGENT, AND SUPREMELY ambitious young man rose to the throne of Macedonia, a kingdom on the northern border of modern-day Greece. Only 20 years old, he was already bristling to rule the mighty Persian Empire to the east. The fact that he accomplished this feat and much more, despite the wealth, power, and, often, the huge military strength of his foes—and in just under 12 years—illustrates his extraordinary gifts as a leader and military strategist. It has also kept his name in the forefront of legendary “action figures” even into the 21st century, more than 2,300 years later. He is still known throughout the world as Alexander the Great.

Born to Greatness

Alexander I of Macedon (356–323 B.C.E.) was the son of King Philip I of Macedon (382–336 B.C.E.) and Olympias of Epirus (c. 376–316 B.C.E.) (in what is now modern-day Albania), daughter of King Neoptolemus I. Alexander’s birth, which some historians say probably occurred in the month of July, was accompanied by various unusual events. One of these was the burning down of the Temple of Artemis, the goddess of the wilderness, wild animals, and the hunt. Soothsayers (those who foretold the future based on signs) consulted by King Philip prophesied that these events indicated his son’s great destiny. Whether or not the prophecies were legitimate, the fact remains that Alexander became the most successful warrior in the history of the world.

From the age of 20 until his death at only 32, Alexander and his armies swept across a vast region that included Persia, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt. He traveled thousands of miles with his troops and ultimately

Introduction oppos ite

Heroic Figure Alexander the Great, as British artist James Sherwood Westmacott imagined him in 1863. Alexander’s legendary life has inspired artists and writers for thousands of years.

ruled an empire that stretched approximately 2 million square miles over three continents. In his conquest of the known world, he overcame armies far more powerful than his by being smarter, more resourceful, and more determined than his enemies.

One consequence of this conquest was that the culture of Greece, over which Alexander also ruled, was introduced into Egypt and Asia, altering the course of history. The spread of Greek culture, government, language, art, and ideas laid the groundwork for civilizations that continue to this day.

After Alexander’s death, his huge empire quickly fell apart, but his legendary status increased as tales of his deeds were told, passed down, and retold. His life was instructional for many other great conquerors and rulers as well, including Julius Caesar, Queen Cleopatra VII, and Napoleon Bonaparte.

The young prince had the best possible background for someone with great ambitions. King Philip I was an aggressive leader who set an example for his son by conquering neighboring lands when Alexander was just an infant. As he grew up, Alexander spent much of his childhood among the soldiers of his father’s army. Another important influence on the young prince was his teacher Aristotle (384–322 B.C.E.), one of the greatest Greek philosophers ever to have lived. Aristotle, who wrote or edited several hundred books, taught the young prince geography, botany, zoology, logic, and many other subjects.

Greek Decline

Alexander came of age just after the so-called Golden Age of Greek civilization, which was at its height between 500 and 400 B.C.E.The Greeks were renowned as statesmen, philosophers, builders, poets, dramatists, and sculptors.

But by the time Alexander was born, Greek civilization had begun to decline. Even so, the Greeks were justifiably proud of their knowledge, language, and refinement, and their customs and ideas still had powerful influence in the world. They thought very highly of themselves—and not so highly

Like Father, Like Son Philip I was an aggressive leader who set a bold example for his son. This sculpture was made around 350 to 390 B.C.E.

of their neighbors to the north, the Macedonians. In fact, although the Macedonian kings claimed that the royal family was descended from the Greek heroes Heracles and Achilles, for the most part the Greeks considered the Macedonians to be uncivilized barbarians living on the fringes of Greece. But these tough frontiersmen became effective soldiers under the leadership of Philip I.

At the time, Greece was divided into many separate city-states, each of which had its own army. Some of them relied on mercenaries (paid soldiers) for protection. The city-states often fought among themselves. Philip took advantage of this disunity by taking control of the Greek city-states one by one, through a combination of diplomacy and force. Eventually, Philip’s success transformed the minor kingdom of Macedonia into a dominant power that ruled all of Greece. His son later surpassed this surprising military and political achievement by making Macedonia, for a brief time, the most powerful kingdom in the world.

Alexander in Charge

When Alexander was only 16 years old, his father named him as regent, or temporary ruler, of Macedonia while he was away for an extended period of time. When Thrace, one of the Macedonian colonies, revolted, Alexander quickly marched troops to the area. He conquered the rebels and renamed their stronghold Alexandroupolis. It was to become the first of several cities that he founded and named after himself.

In 338 B.C.E., at the age of 18, Alexander led the left flank of the

Macedonian cavalry (soldiers who fight on horseback) in the battle of Chaeronea, northwest of Athens. This decisive battle crushed the final Greek resistance to Philip’s rule. Two years later, in July of 336 B.C.E.,

Alexander and his friends did not have any comic books, television, or movies, but they did have super heroes. They read the accounts of their heroes’ brave deeds primarily in The Iliad, an epic poem written by Greek poet Homer centuries before Alexander’s birth. (The dates of Homer’s life are not known, but he lived in the ninth or eighth century B.C.E.) In that book, Homer tells the exciting story of the Greeks’ siege of Troy and the beautiful Helen, who inspired that battle, the legendary Trojan War.

The battles of great warriors and princes such as Achilles,

Hector, Paris, and others, many of whom were believed to be descended directly from the Greek gods, may have inspired Alexander. In fact, the young king loved The Iliadso much that he memorized most of its 16,0 lines and used these super warriors as role models for his own life and values. He even slept with a copy of The Iliadunder his pillow—right next to his dagger.

Ancient Super Heroes

Alexander became king of Macedonia after Philip was murdered by one of his bodyguards. Many historians have speculated that Alexander’s ambitious and ruthless mother, Queen Olympias, conspired in the plot against his father, but no factual evidence of this has been uncovered.

Philip’s Greek “allies,” who had been forced to recognize him as their leader, saw his death—and his heir’s youth and inexperience—as an opportunity to reclaim their independence. When, in 335 B.C.E., Alexander turned his attention to fighting a group of tribes in the north who were rebelling against Macedonia, two of the more southern Greek city-states, Thebes and Athens, began their own uprising. Alexander immediately swept into Greece with his troops to assert his leadership. He offered to negotiate peace with the two city-states. When Thebes refused, the young king burned down the ancient city, sparing only its temple, killed its soldiers, and sold some 30,0 of its citizens into slavery. Athens quickly surrendered and Alexander spared that ancient city-state. Treating those who surrendered with clemency remained his usual practice for much of his life.

Alexander convinced the Greek city-states to appoint him as leader of the League of Corinth, a governing council established by his father a year before his death. The League members had appointed Philip to lead an invasion of the Persian Empire. They now agreed to put Alexander in charge of that invasion.

Ancient Enemy

The Persian Empire was Greece’s neighbor to the east. This vast empire, which stretched from Egypt and the Mediterranean to India and central Asia, had dominated the ancient world for more than two centuries. It was the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the Middle East, and a longstanding enemy of Greece—with good reason. The Persians, in an attempt to expand their empire, had started a series of wars of conquest with Greece that began in about 500 B.C.E.

Before Alexander’s time, Persian kings had been great warriors, but success had made them somewhat lazy and complacent. Their vast wealth remained, but their power was waning. In 334 B.C.E., after two years of preparation, Alexander began to put into motion the plan his father had made before his death—the invasion of the Persian Empire. He was so confident victory would be swift that Alexander set out for Persia with only enough money, borrowed from the Macedonian treasury, to pay a single month’s salary to his army. He expected to meet such expenses thereafter with the riches of the Persian Empire.

Throughout this book, and all the books in the Great Empires of the Past series,you will find Connections boxes.They point out ideas,inventions, art, food, customs, and more from this empire that are still part of our world today. Nations and cultures in remote history can seem far removed from our world,but these connections demonstrate how our everyday lives have been shaped by the peoples of the past.

Over the next three years, Alexander won three major battles against the Persians. During each of these battles he was greatly outnumbered, but through quick thinking, brilliant tactics and strategy, and bravery, he was able to exploit his enemy’s weaknesses. In both of the last two of the battles, the tide started to turn against Darius I (380–330 B.C.E.), the Great King of Persia, and he fled the battlefield. After the third battle, some of his officers murdered Darius. For some it was part of the struggle to replace him, and for others an attempt to gain favor with Alexander.

Best known as a great warrior, Alexander also had the makings of a strong leader, although he never had a chance to rule the lands he conquered. Although many Greeks considered the Persians inferior barbarians, he believed them to be the equals of the Macedonians and honored their customs and religions.

Everywhere Alexander and his army went, they established new garrison towns. He often appointed Persians friendly to him as local rulers, or allowed existing Persian rulers to remain in charge. He also explored ways to achieve harmony and equality between his soldiers and the newly conquered Persians. One way he attempted to bring this about was by organizing a mass marriage ceremony, in which he and about 90 of his officers married Persian women.

The End of the Road

Alexander is considered by many to be the greatest general who ever lived, not only because of his military genius, but also because of his ability to inspire and motivate his men. This inspiration came from many sources. Alexander was one of the last great commanders in history to lead battles in person. Risking his safety in this way, he suffered many of the same wounds as his soldiers. He treated his soldiers exceptionally well and knew many of them personally. He was also an incredibly charismatic leader.

Nevertheless, the long years away from home and the hardships the troops experienced took a toll. During the 12 years of Alexander’s reign, he and his army crisscrossed the Persian Empire, traveling 20,0 miles—a distance about six times wider than the United States—across rugged mountain ranges, raging rivers, and scorching deserts, on foot and on horseback. They conquered everything in their path, never losing a major battle.

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