Alexander III of Macedon, popularly known to history as Alexander the Great,
was an Ancient Greek king (basileus) of Macedon. Born in 356 BC, Alexander succeeded his father Philip II of Macedon to the throne in 336 BC, and died in Babylon in 323 BC at the age of 32.
Alexander was one of the most successful military commanders of all time and it is presumed that he was undefeated in battle. By the time of his death, he had conquered the Achaemenid Persian Empire, adding it to Macedon’s European territories; according to some modern writers, this was much of the world then known to the ancient Greeks (the ‘Ecumene‘). His father, Philip, had unified most of the city-states of mainland Greece under Macedonian hegemony in the League of Corinth. As well as inheriting hegemony over the Greeks, Alexander also inherited the Greeks’ long-running feud with the Achaemenid Empire of Persia. After reconfirming Macedonian rule by quashing a rebellion of southern Greek city-states, Alexander launched a short but successful campaign against Macedon’s northern neighbours. He was then able to turn his attention towards the east and the Persians. In a series of campaigns lasting 10 years, Alexander’s armies repeatedly defeated the Persians in battle, in the process conquering the entirety of the Empire. He then, following his desire to reach the ‘ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea’, invaded India, but was eventually forced to turn back by the near-mutiny of his troops.
Alexander died after twelve years of constant military campaigning, possibly a result of malaria, poisoning,typhoid fever, viral encephalitis or the consequences of alcoholism. His legacy and conquests lived on long after him and ushered in centuries of Greek settlement and cultural influence over distant areas. This period is known as the Hellenistic period, which featured a combination of Greek, Middle Eastern and Indian culture. Alexander himself featured prominently in the history and myth of both Greek and non-Greek cultures. His exploits inspired a literary tradition in which he appeared as a legendary hero in the tradition of Achilles.
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