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8 Surprising Facts about Alexander the Great

8 Surprising Facts about Alexander the Great


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1. He was taught by Aristotle but had famous run-ins with other philosophers.

Alexander’s father, Philip II of Macedon, hired Aristotle, one of history’s greatest philosophers,, to educate the 13-year-old prince. Little is known about Alexander’s three-year tutelage but presumably by the end of it Aristotle’s wise but worldly approach had sunk in. According to legend, while still a prince in Greece, Alexander sought out the famed ascetic Diogenes the Cynic, who rejected social niceties and slept in a large clay jar. Alexander approached the thinker in a public plaza, asking Diogenes if there was anything he in his great riches could do for him. “Yes,” Diogenes replied, “stand aside; you’re blocking my sun.” Alexander was charmed by Diogenes’ refusal to be impressed, stating, “If I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes.”

Years later, in India, Alexander paused his military conquests to have lengthy discussions with the gymnosophists, “naked philosophers” from the Hindu or Jain religions who eschewed human vanity—and clothing.

2. In 15 years of conquest Alexander never lost a battle.

Alexander the Great’s military tactics and strategies are still studied in military academies today. From his first victory at age 18, Alexander gained a reputation of leading his men to battle with impressive speed, allowing smaller forces to reach and break the enemy lines before his foes were ready. After securing his kingdom in Greece, in 334 B.C. Alexander crossed into Asia (present-day Turkey) where he won a series of battles with the Persians under Darius III. The centerpiece of Alexander’s fighting force was the 15,000-strong Macedonian phalanx, whose units held off the sword-wielding Persians with 20-foot-long pikes called sarissa.

3. He named more than 70 cities after himself—and one after his horse.

Alexander commemorated his conquests by founding dozens of cities (usually built up around previous military forts), which he invariably named Alexandria. The most famous of these, founded at the mouth of the Nile in 331 B.C., is today Egypt’s second-largest city. Other Alexandrias trace the path of his armies’ advances through present-day Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Pakistan. Near the site of the battle of the river Hydaspes—the costliest victory of his Indian campaign—Alexander founded the city of Bucephala, named for his favorite horse, which was mortally wounded in the battle.

4. When Alexander met his future wife Roxanne, it was love at first sight.

After his spectacular capture in 327 B.C. of Sogdian Rock, a seemingly impregnable mountain fortress, the 28-year-old Alexander was surveying his captives when Roxanne, the teenage daughter of a Bactrian nobleman, caught his eye. Soon after, in a traditional wedding ceremony, the king sliced a loaf of bread in two with his sword and shared it with his new bride. A few months after Alexander’s death, Roxanne gave birth to the couple’s only son, Alexander IV.

5. Alexander even smelled great.

Plutarch’s “Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans,” written 400 years after Alexander’s death, reports that “a most agreeable odor” exuded from Alexander’s skin, and that “his breath and body all over was so fragrant as to perfume the clothes which he wore.” The olfactory detail was part of a tradition, begun during Alexander’s lifetime, of ascribing godlike attributes to the conquering king. Alexander himself openly called himself Son of Zeus during a visit to Siwah in 331 B.C.

6. After defeating the Persians, Alexander started dressing like them.

After six years of ever-deeper incursions into the Persian empire, in 330 A.D. Alexander conquered Persepolis, the longtime center of Persian culture. Realizing that the best way to maintain control of the Persians was to act like one, Alexander began to wear the striped tunic, girdle and diadem of Persian royal dress—to the dismay of cultural purists back in Macedonia. In 324 he held a mass wedding in the Persian city of Susa, in which he forced 92 leading Macedonians to take Persian wives (Alexander himself married two, Stateira and Parysatis).

7. The cause of Alexander’s death remains one of the greatest mysteries of the ancient world.

In 323 B.C. Alexander the Great fell ill after downing a bowl of wine at a party. Two weeks later, the 32-year-old ruler was dead. Given that Alexander’s father had been murdered by his own bodyguard, suspicion fell on those surrounding Alexander, most notably his general Antipater and Antipater’s son Cassander (who would eventually order the murders of Alexander’s widow and son). Some ancient biographers even speculated that Aristotle, who had connections with Antipater’s family, may have been involved. In modern times, medical experts have speculated that malaria, lung infection, liver failure or typhoid fever may have done Alexander in.

8. Alexander’s body was preserved in a vat of honey.

Plutarch reports that Alexander’s body was initially treated in Babylon by Egyptian embalmers, but leading Victorian Egyptologist A. Wallis Budge speculated that Alexander’s remains were immersed in honey to stave off decay. A year or two after Alexander’s demise, his body was sent back to Macedonia only to be intercepted and sent to Egypt by Ptolemy I, one of his former generals. By controlling Alexander’s body, Ptolemy aimed to be viewed as the successor to his empire.


15 Interesting Facts About Alexander The Great

The 15 startling facts about Alexander The Great will make you understand why he is, till this very day, addressed as the greatest conqueror of all times. The legacy of Alexander still lives on in our hearts and this great man has always found mention in the books of history ever since we broadened our horizons to the bygone past. Born to Macedon’s King Philip II and Queen Olympia, Alexander won many a battles without being defeated even once. He captured a vast territory of earth and succeeded the throne when he was merely 20 years of age. Let’s just read about these surprising facts and know this conqueror a bit more than we usually do.

1. Alexander The Great never lost a battle in his journey of conquests

Alexander was an undisputed warrior who never lost one battle in a career spanning 15 years. Though, he faced many a hurdles and strong enemies, yet, there wasn’t a single soul who could defeat him on the war grounds. He had a unique military tactical knowledge which he put to use to win battles. He won his first war at the age of 18 and fought under King Philip II’s command. In these 15 years, Alexander conquered the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean.

2. Alexander The Great became an emperor at the age of 20

Alexander’s accession to the throne at age 20 makes everyone believe in his legacy. But, how could a boy as young as 20 become a great warrior of all times? Alexander was bestowed with a unique sense of militia know how, courage only possessed by a fierce lion, and a never ending lust for conquering uncharted territories. He took over the throne from his father King Philip II of Macedon when the latter was assassinated by Pausanias. The assassination took place at the wedding ceremony of Alexander’s sister Cleopatra in 336 BC at Aegae. Immediately after Philip’s death, Alexander was betrothed to the throne as the new king.

3. Mysterious death of Alexander The Great

Till this date, no historian or archaeologist has been able to confidently say as to what caused Alexander’s death. Some say that he died of malaria, while other stories hint towards a political murder. However, most historians believe that Alexander died of high fever that resulted from a night’s indulgence in alcohol. In 323 BC, Alexander returned to Baghdad and partied with his close friend all night. Midway, the warrior started feeling sick and retired to bed with high fever. After almost nine days of suffering, he died.

4. Alexander The Great defeated the Persian King Darius III in three mighty battles

There are many facts about Alexander The Great that testify his immense courage and extreme fierceness. One of these being the fact that he defeated the Persian Emperor Darius III in the three successive battles that ensued between him and the Persian king. All the three battles were monumental with the Persian king’s army being one of the world’s largest. With a shrewd military tactical knowledge, Alexander was able to defeat Darius in the battle of Gaugamela.

5. Alexander The Great was a lover of Philosophy

Alexander was a courageous general no doubt, but, many of you will be startled when we reveal a fact that he was an avid lover of philosophical pursuits too. He was taught by none other than Plato’s disciple Aristotle who tutored him about life and philosophy. He was impressed by an ascetic called Diogenes who made the warrior understand life from a deeper level. When Alexander conquered India, he was fascinated by the sermons and preaching of Indian monks and hermits. So much was the impact that the great general paused his conquest campaigns and spent time engaging in discussions with the sages.


21 Interesting Facts About Alexander The Great

You need a world map to talk about Alexander The Great as he dreamt of conquering the whole world. He followed his dream with tactics and valor, which is evident from his quote- “I am not afraid of an army of lions, I am afraid an army of sheep led by a lion.” Alexander the great’s legacy is alive to this day and has a subtle influence on modern day historians. The conqueror of lands successfully carved out of one of the largest empires in the ancient world. His empire stretched from Greece to modern-day Pakistan. He was truly a military genius and a harbinger of valor. Alexander is a legendary hero whose name has been carved in golden letters in the pages of history. Let’s explore some interesting facts about Alexander the great:

Image: historydiscussion.net

1. Protector of men!

The name Alexander comes from the Greek word “alexo” that means “defend” and “andr,” which means “protector of men.”
Source: biography.com

2. Good news that followed Alexander’s birth

On the day Alexander was born, King Philip got the news that his general- Parmenion had defeated the armies of Illyria and Paeonia. In addition, his horse had also won at the Olympic Games.
Source: phactual.com

3. Inauspicious beginning

Ruins of Temple of Artemis

But strangely, on the day of Alexander’s birth, the temple of Artemis, which was among the seven wonders of the ancient world, was burned down. Some historians contemplate that the temple was burned down because Artemis herself was off celebrating Alexander’s birth.
Source: phactual.com, image: wikimedia.org

4. A born Hero!

Alexander is considered to be a descendant of the Greek hero Hercules from his paternal side and Achilles from his maternal side. Alexander considerd Hercules his idol.
Source: Charles Freeman’s: Egypt, Greece & Rome

5. Taught by the Best!

Aristotle tutoring Alexander

Alexander the great was a student of an even greater philosopher, Aristotle. At the age of 13, Alexander started receiving education from Aristotle. Legends say that in return for his services, King Philip had rebuilt Aristotle’s hometown, Stageira, which he himself had destroyed.
Source: phactual.com, image: wikimedia.org

6. Feared of being disowned!

After Alexander’s father, King Philip married Cleopatra his claim at the throne had weakened because if Philip had a son with Cleopatra, their child would be considered a more legitimate heir. Alexander feared that he would be disowned by his father and hence fled the country with his mother to Epirus.
Source: Wikipedia

7. Empire Builder

Alexander managed to expand his empire to the most distant points in Asia his empire stretched from Greece to modern-day Pakistan. Alexander is also credited with spreading the Greek culture to the major part of the world.
Source: history.com, image: weebly.com

8. Never lost a battle!

Started at the age of 18 years when he had his very first taste of a military victory he never lost a single battle he fought. He used the tactics of ‘shock and awe’ in the battles. One of his incredible victories includes the battle against Darius where he defeated forces numbered 34,000 cavalry plus 200,000 infantry when his own forces were only 7,000 cavalry and 30,000 infantry.
Source: historyextra.com, image: i.ytimg.com

9. Alexander Solved the Gordian knot

Alexander cutting the Gordian Knot

According to the legends whoever untied the Gordian knot would rule over Asia. Alexander was the one to untie the Gordian knot, by slashing through it with his sword.
Source: ancienthistory.com, image: wikimedia.org

10. Celebrating the victories!

With Every land Alexander conquered from west to east, he celebrated his victories by establishing a city by his name. More than 70 cities were named Alexandria, after himself. However, there was only one city which Alexander named Bucephala after his horse. The city is in the present day Pakistan.
Source: historyextra.com, image: traveltoeat.com

11. Unique war-tactics!

Alexander the Great Refuses to Take Water

Alexander adopted a policy of employing Persians to his army while he was invading Persia. However, this wasn’t the only strategy he adopted. He also used the Persian title of “King of Kings,” and started to follow the Persian fashion. In addition, he also took the Persia practices of ‘Sajda’ and ‘Pabos.’
Source: phactual.com, image: wikimedia.org

12. Love at first sight!

When Alexander saw Roxanne, it was love at first sight. He was 28-year-old when he fell for the teenage daughter of a Bactrian nobleman, Roxanne. They got married in a traditional wedding ceremony. Roxanne gave birth to the couple’s only son, Alexander IV after Alexander’s death.
Source: history.com, image: history.com

13. Two different eyes!

Alexander had a condition known as Heterochromia, due to which his eyes were of two different colors – one was blue and the other brown.
Source: historyoftheancientworld.com, image: unrealfacts.com

14. Alexander’s Inspiration

Iliad manuscript from late 5th or early 6th century

Alexander was fond of Homer’s Iliad and read it often he even kept a copy of Homer’s Iliad with him which was a gift from Aristotle. The Iliad later became a source of inspiration to Alexander the great.
Source: historyworld.net, image: wikimedia.org

15. Unmatched military tactics

Alexander’s invasion if India

Alexander is frequently credited to be the greatest military mind and tactician the history has ever seen. With his military genius, Alexander molded his army into a skilled killing machine. His military tactics were such that even today after years of his death, they remain a subject of research.
Source: Wikipedia, image: hinduwebsite.com

16. Mysterious death

The Death of Alexander the Great

Alexander died at a very young age. The exact cause of Alexander’s death remains a mystery. Historians debate about the cause of his death attributing his death to poison, malaria, typhoid fever or other maladies. What we can say for certain is that Alexander died in June 323 BC after suffering from a high fever that had lasted ten days.
Source: eyewitnesshistory.com, image: wikimedia.org

17. Embalmed in honey

Alexander the Great returned home after his death in a container of honey. Alexander’s remains were immersed in honey to avoid decay.
Source: history.com

18. Lost Location of Alexander’s tomb

For 600 years, Alexander’s tomb was a pilgrimage for people all over the world. It was visited by Mark Antony, Julius Caesar, and Octavian when it was in Alexandria. When Octavian visited the tomb, it was already 300 yrs old. At the beginning of the 4th century AD, tomb disappeared.
Source: news.softpedia.com

19. His children were murdered!

According to sources, he had two children- Alexander IV, his son by Roxane and, Herakles, a son with his mistress Barsine. Both his children were murdered after Alexander’s death.
source: list25.com

20. Great persons have fear of cats!

What do Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, Hitler, and Napoleon, Mussolini have in common? All are reported to have suffered from ailurophobia- the fear of cats.
source: theguardian.com, image: pinimg.com

21. Fidel Castro named his sons after Alexander The Great!


Pride goeth before the fall

By adding the vast Persian realm to his Balkan kingdom, Alexander forged a Eurasian empire of unprecedented scope. Yet that wasn’t enough. He didn’t heed the Greek lesson about the danger of hubris, striving arrogantly for more than any man could realistically achieve. He subdued Bactria (in modern-day Afghanistan) and wed Roxana, the daughter of a Bactrian chief. He then invaded India in 327 B.C. and crossed the Indus River, the farthest frontier of the old Persian Empire. But monsoons made his troops feverish and mutinous in 325 B.C., they turned back.

Alexander’s genius was military, not political or diplomatic. He made fitful efforts to organize his huge empire in the style of the Persians he hired Persian officials and wed Persian princesses (as did dozens of his commanders). Many Macedonians felt he placed too much trust in people they still viewed as enemies, and Greeks consented only reluctantly to his demand to be recognized as divine like some Near Eastern monarchs. “If Alexander wishes to be a god,” Spartans observed skeptically, “let him be a god.”


Hebrew and Early Christian Imprints of Alexander

In circa 70 AD, the historian Josephus Flavius wrote that after the conquering of Tyre and the siege of Gaza, Alexander visited Jerusalem. At the entrance of the city, he met the Hebrew Archpriest, Simon the Just, and many other priests and people.

Alexander always respected the rules characteristic for the places he visited, so he descended his horse and went to greet the Jewish Archpriest. Alexander’s general Parmenion suggested that the soldiers were displeased that he greeted the Jewish Priest first. Alexander answered that he didn't greet the priest, but the God he represented. As Josephus wrote:

''And when he had said this to Parmenion, and had given the high-priest his right hand, the priests ran along by him, and he came into the city. And when he went up into the temple, he offered sacrifice to God, according to the high-priest's direction, and magnificently treated both the high-priest and the priests. And when the Book of Daniel was showed him where in Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended.''

Alexander's name was added into the genealogy of the Jewish community, giving him a divine quality. Moreover, the Greek word ‘Synagogue’ dates back to the times when Alexander gave freedom for various Jewish gatherings. The annual Hebrew Convention that used to take place in Jerusalem was also called "Synitrins", from the Greek word Συνέδριο.

Statue of Alexander in Istanbul Archaeology Museum. ( Public Domain )

In the times of early Christianity, St Vasilios the Great suggested that Alexander was a role model for Christian self-discipline. The main language of Christian texts was Greek. According to the Apostle Paul, Christians accepted Greek intellect and teachings, which became fundamental to the new religion.


7. Alexander and Roxane

Roxane (Raxana) was the daughter of a Sogdian nobleman named Oxyartes who had the responsibility of defending a mountain fortress against an invading army led by Alexander the Great himself. Alexander was in the middle of his military campaign against the Achaemenid Empire, and the Macedonians were having to fight hard to win territory. It was obvious that they needed to achieve a truce with the native population in order to gain their trust and loyalty.

Amidst all this, while Alexander was surveying captives after breaking in through the fortress, he saw Roxane for the first time. Soon they married in a traditional wedding ceremony, at the end of which Alexander sliced a loaf of bread in two with his sword and shared it with his new bride. Roxane then went with her husband on his campaigns to India in 326 BC and gave birth to Alexander’s child shortly after his death.


35. A Pleasant Odor

In historian Plutarch’s book Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans, Plutarch reported that Alexander possessed a “most agreeable odor,” and that his breath and body perfumed his clothes. This reference to smell was part of a tradition of giving otherworldly characteristics to a conquering king.

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Ks2History

Alexander was the son of a Greek king called Philip II. Philip had started to build up an empire by uniting some of the separate city-states to the north of Greece. This empire was called Macedonia, and when Alexander grew up, he inherited control of it. It was still separate from the other Greek city-states. Although the city-states in Greece shared the same language, they had their own laws and cultures. Uniting the city-states into one empire made them stronger.

When he was younger, Alexander had been taught by a famous philosopher and teacher called Aristotle. Aristotle had given Alexander a fondness for Greek culture &ndash in fact, some historians think that Alexander saw it as his mission to spread Greek culture as widely as possible.

How did Alexander the Great become king?

Alexander took control as king of Macedonia at the age of 19, when his father Philip II died in 336 BC. Historians think that Alexander had the kind of personality to make a powerful leader. It seems that he was decisive (good at making decisions), ambitious (good at making big plans) and ruthless (willing to do whatever it takes to make his plans work). Some historians say that Alexander believed he was the son of a Greek god called Zeus and that he went into battles fearlessly, believing he could never be killed!

Very soon after he became king, Alexander conquered the rest of the Greek city-states too. Now he had united Macedonia with the rest of Greece. He had a powerful army and he dealt harshly with any city-states that made an attempt to rebel against his rule.

How did Alexander expand the Greek Empire?

After gaining control of all of Greece by the age of 21, Alexander invaded other countries nearby. He soon invaded North Africa and Asia, conquering more land for his Greek Empire with his powerful army. In 334 BC, one of his most famous victories took place. For a long time, the Persian Empire had been enemies with the Greeks. After a decisive battle (the Battle of Gaugamela), Alexander&rsquos forces killed King Darius III of Persia and took control of the Persian Empire too.

Alexander&rsquos ambitions did not stop there. In 332BC, he conquered Egypt in North Africa. He named an Egyptian city &lsquoAlexandria&rsquo after himself. Among his conquests, Alexander began to gain a reputation as a mighty ruler. Some people called him &lsquoking of kings&rsquo and others said that he had descended from the gods.

A few years later, Alexander spread his campaign even further across Asia to the Indus river (which is in modern-day Pakistan and India). He engaged in battles with Indian kings and his empire reached as far as the Himalayan mountains. He conquered many places and spread Greek culture across thousands of miles. Alexander seemed to particularly love naming cities after himself. In all, he named 70 cities after himself, and even one after his horse Bucephalus!

What brought Alexander's reign to an end?

By 323BC, Alexander was head of a large empire spanning across much of the known world. During Alexander&rsquos attempts to conquer all of India, Alexander&rsquos soldiers grew weary and the army decided to retreat to Persia for a rest. Historians think that he had plans to conquer more places, but was never able to see them through because he died in mysterious circumstances aged only 33.

In his 13-year reign, Alexander had created the largest empire in human history! After his sudden death, the Greek Empire broke up into different kingdoms, but the influence of the Greek culture that he had spread still remained strong in many of the places.

You can find a full KS2 lesson plan about the impact of Alexander the Great's rule in our Ancient Greece Resource Pack.


HEXAPOLIS

We have harped about how ancient Spartans bragged of rigorous discipline being instilled in their citizen armies. But there was another ‘lesser’ Greek kingdom on the northern periphery of Classical Greece that eventually managed to make its world-conquering claims that no other ‘civilized’ Greek city-state could ever boast of. We are of course talking about the ancient Macedonians, and how they conducted their legendary military campaigns around most of the known world – all under the brilliant leadership of Alexander III of Macedon (or Aléxandros ho Mégas). So, without further ado, let us check out ten amazing facts you probably didn’t know about Alexander the Great and his incredible army.

1) Most Macedonians started out as poor herdsmen, until Alexander’s father trained them –

We had previously talked about the great wars of Greece and Persia. And amid such disastrous scopes and heroic deeds, Macedonia remained a relatively unimportant backwater to the greater geo-political situation – mostly owing to its lesser strategic importance (in the north). In fact, the seemingly modest origins of the so-called Macedonian state is shrouded in obscurity, with most of the population of land being rural herdsmen in 5th century BC. Consequently, the southerly urbanized Greeks regarded the Macedonian inhabitants being semi-barbarous who lived on the edge of the then-known civilized world.

However, by the later Peloponnesian Wars (fought between Sparta and Athens) in the later part of 5th century BC, Macedonian kings had already started undertaking public projects that improved the country’s economy. But it was the great Philip II (Alexander’s father) who started his reign from 359 BC, and made the incredible military reforms that was to transform Macedonia into a future superpower. One of the most iconic features of these reforms was the evolution of the Greek hoplite into phalanx – a military stratagem that emphasized better army formation over individual prowess of a soldier (a classic tactic eventually mastered by the later Romans). And interestingly enough, Philip himself was inspired by the Theban military successes of the early 4th century, as opposed to the ‘pedigree’ of the renowned Spartans and Athenians and even had grand plans to invade Persia (before he was assassinated).

In any case, Philip’s immense contribution to the organized Macedonian state and its military had been alluded to – even during his own lifetime, when then-contemporary historian Theopompus claimed “Europe had never before produced a man such as Philip”.

2) Macedonian discipline was so strict that it even forbade taking warm baths –

The phalanx as a formation demanded individual discipline and tenacity from each of its occupant soldier – with one historical anecdote from Polyaenus (a 2nd-century Macedonian author) relating to how Philip made his men march over 30 miles in a single day, with all their armaments and armor. The maintenance of such brutal military methods certainly required rigorous degrees of drilling and self-restraint. To that end, one particular scenario involved a high-ranking Tarantine cavalry officer (possibly hailing from a powerful Greek city on the west coast of Italy) who was unceremoniously stripped of his rank for just bathing in warm water. The simple enough reason was (according to Polyaenus) – “…for he did not understand the way of the Macedonians, among whom not even a woman who has just given birth bathes in warm water.”

And as if such drastic measures were not enough, each troop of the phalanx had to personally carry heavy provisions for at least 30 days during the campaigns (a practice that was also adopted by the later Roman legions). Furthermore, the mobility and self-sufficiency of the army was substantially increased by decreasing the number of servants (or camp followers) – which was reduced to one for every ten men.

3) Alexander had a group of 200 ‘personal companions’ in addition to the renowned Companion cavalry –

While Philip effectively drilled the Macedonians into an incredible fighting force, Alexander (the Great) endowed his inherited army with an air of majesty and pompousness. One of the conspicuous aspects of this ritzy nature was the induction of heavy shock cavalry into a primarily Greek force that was traditionally not known for its cavalry tactics. Known as hetairoi or ‘Companions’, these horsemen were generally derived from the Macedonian aristocracy and nobility. However, Alexander the Great went one step further by incorporating another core group of ‘companions’ within this already elite group. These chosen men were also referred to as personal friends of the king – according to many ancient sources.

To that end, the personal companions upheld the true meaning of the word – by accompanying Alexander in various scenarios, whether it be in the thick of the battle or during recreational hunting sessions. In fact, Alexander’s fascination with his own formed military brotherhood was so great that he himself often dressed in the uniform of a Companion cavalry regiment. Now of course, such ‘normal’ officer-like attires were only worn during times of peace (and planning), and were eschewed in favor of elaborate dresses during actual battles.

4) Alexander’s famed phalanx was actually composed of relatively light-armored infantrymen –

Once again, according to Polyaenus’ account of Macedonian military training, the infantrymen of phalanx were supplied with helmets (kranos), light shields (pelte), greaves (knemides) and a long pike (sarissa). So as can be gathered from this small list of items, the armor is conspicuously missing. And even after 100 years of Alexander’s death, there are accounts of his successor states’ phalanx army going without armor systems. From such literary sources, one hypothesis can be put forward – the Greek and Macedonian armies totally gave up on their heavy bronze cuirass, and instead opted for linothorax, a light armor made from glued layers of linen.

Interestingly, one of the accounts of Polyaenus entail how Alexander himself armed the men who had previously fled the battlefield with a hemithorakion – a half armor that only covered the front part of the body, so that the soldiers wouldn’t turn their backs on the enemy. In any case, metallic corsets would have been unnecessary for troops in the rear-end ranks of a well-guarded phalanx – a tactical advantage that must have been welcomed by the ancient commanders who were usually short in funds and equipment.

5) Alexander’s “unpaid” infantry traveled more than 20,870 miles on his Asiatic campaign –

Previously in the list, we had talked about how stringent discipline was part-and-parcel of Alexander’s Macedonian army, a quality that was rarely seen in other ancient proximate cultures. An extension of this intrinsic discipline can be comprehended from their jaw-dropping feats. To that end, according to a calculation made by historian Theodore Ayrault Dodge, the infantrymen who had joined Alexander in 336 BC and then embarked on his Asia-bound campaign, had traveled more than 20,870 miles (or 33,400 km) by the time Alexander breathed his last in Babylon (in 323 BC). So, on an average, each of these men had covered an impressive 1,605 miles (or 2,570 km) per year! And, when translated in geographical terms, many of the Macedonian veterans could have claimed to cross a multitude of rivers including the Nile (in Egypt), Euphrates and Tigris (in Iraq), Oxus (in Tajikistan), Syr-Darya (in Uzbekistan) and the Indus (in Pakistan).

It should also be noted that Macedonian kings most probably didn’t develop any means to actually pay their military forces. So, part of this monetary predicament was solved by allowing the soldiers to take part in plunders that usually involved despoiling the enemy cities. But even in such cases, the infantrymen were always given a far lesser portion of the ‘loot’ than their cavalry counterparts.


8 Surprising Facts about Alexander the Great - HISTORY

Alexander the Great was the king of Macedonia or Ancient Greece. He is considered one of the greatest military commanders in history.

When did Alexander the Great live?

Alexander the Great was born on July 20, 356 BC. He died at the young age of 32 in 323 BC having accomplished much in his short life. He reigned as king from 336-323 BC.

Childhood of Alexander the Great

Alexander's father was King Philip the II. Philip II had built up a strong and united empire in Ancient Greece, which Alexander inherited.

Like most children of nobles at the time, Alexander was tutored as a child. He learned mathematics, reading, writing, and how to play the lyre. He also would have been instructed on how to fight, ride a horse, and hunt. When Alexander turned thirteen, his father Philip II wanted the best teacher possible for him. He hired the great philosopher Aristotle. In return for tutoring his son, Philip agreed to restore Aristotle's home town of Stageira, including setting many of its citizens free from slavery.

At school Alexander met many of his future generals and friends such as Ptolemy and Cassander. He also enjoyed reading the works of Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey.

After securing the throne and getting all of Greece under his control, Alexander turned east to conquer more of the civilized world. He moved swiftly using his military genius to win battle after battle conquering many peoples and rapidly expanding the Greek empire.

  • First he moved through Asia Minor and what is today Turkey.
  • He took over Syria defeating the Persian Army at Issus and then laying siege to Tyre.
  • Next, he conquered Egypt and established Alexandria as the capital.
  • After Egypt came Babylonia and Persia, including the city of Susa.
  • Then he moved through Persia and began to prepare for a campaign in India.

Alexander only made it back to Babylon where he became suddenly sick and died. No one is sure what he died from, but many suspect poison. Upon his death the great empire he had built was divided up amongst his generals, called the Diadochi. The Diadochi ended up fighting each other for many years as the empire fell apart.


11. After invading Persia, he picked up some Persian habits

While invading Persia, Alexander began a policy of adding the native Persians to his existing army. However, this was not the only pro-Persian change he made. He also took the Persian title of “King of kings,” began dressing in the Persian fashion and began having his subordinates either kiss his hand or prostrate themselves on the ground before him. To the Greeks, these were troubling signs, especially making his subordinates prostrate themselves before him – to the Greeks, this was sacrilegious, as a person was only supposed to prostrate themselves before a god.


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