Alexander the Great brought under his control of vast territories and dominated lands from west of the Nile to the east of the Hindus in just 12 years. During that period, he conquered much of the Middle East, Egypt, and the Persian empire. Alexander was the son of Phillip II of Macedonia and Olympia’s. Phillip II believed that his son would someday succeed him, therefore he decided to prepare Alexander for a political and military future. The Greek philosopher, Aristotle educated Alexander not only based on military and politics but also expanded his interest in other fields such as science and medicine. At the age of twenty, Alexander became the king of Macedonia after his father had been assassinated. As mentioned, Alexander was groomed from his childhood age and was given control of cavalry an important battle of Chaeronea. The moment Alexander sat on the king’s throne, he focused on securing Macedonia’s frontlines, putting down the Greek rebellion, and then to conquer the rest of the world. This paper outlines the conquests of Alexander and analyzes the legacy of his empire including the cultural implications of his conquests.
Alexander the Great began his campaign by entering Asia minor with 37,000 men of which 5,000 were cavalry. He had his first confrontation and victory at a battle at the Granicus River, against the Persian Empire (James, 2018). The battle almost cost Alexander his life. By the following spring 334-335 BCE, Alexander brought under his control at least half of the west of Asia minor. At the battle of Issus, Alexander and his battalion troops were outnumbered by the Persian troops. However, Alexander successfully won the war because the battle was in a narrow field. After conquering the western half of Asia Minor, Alexander turned his focus to the south (James, 2018). By the winter of 332 BCE, Alexander had brought Egypt, Syria, and Palestine under his control. In Egypt, he took the title of the Pharaoh and founded Alexandria city which is one of the most important cities within the Mediterranean.
The great Alexander invaded Mesopotamia the now called Iraq in 331 B.C and eliminated Darius III from the region. He later proclaimed himself as the “King of Babylon” after he dominated the Mesopotamian capital, Babylon. Despite having fled from the battlefield, Darius III was later murdered by his provincial governors known as the satraps. The satraps did this with the hope to gain favor from Alexander to spare them during the battle. Alexander spared them and he also married the daughter of one of the satraps. Having eliminated the major threat, Alexander conquered the lands near the Caspian Sea. He further continued his quest down towards Afghanistan, across the Indus river, and into western India (James, 2018). However, Alexander’s battalion troops stopped him from continuing his quest further as they believed that they would never see home again if at all they proceeded into regions past western India.
Alexander the great next entered the Persian homeland. The Persian’s capital, Susa surrendered to Alexander and his troops, therefore he did not destroy the city. However, he destroyed the great palace city of Persepolis to revenge the destruction that Persians had made in Athens. At Susa, Alexander organized a marriage ceremony between thousands of his battle men and Persian women. His goal was to fuse the Macedonian, Greek and Asian people into one universal empire. Alexander attempted to adopt some of the Persian’s customs to aid in the creation of his new Hellenistic empire (Nabel, 2018). He began to wear Persian clothing and also ordered his men to do the same. Besides, he ordered his battle men to adopt the Persians practice of lying flat on the floor when approaching him on the throne.
The great Alexander returned to Babylon in 323 B.C and declared himself as the “invincible god.” He planned to dominate and conquer North Africa and Arabia (Nabel, 2018). His dream was to build great cities across the mentioned regions and establish a great empire to support brotherhood amongst mankind (Nabel, 2018). However, Alexander’s dreams came to an end when died suddenly at the age of 33 out of fever probably malaria. During his reign, Alexander had not planned on who would succeed in his empire. Shortly after Alexander had died, his Persian wife known as Roxane gave birth to a son. Besides, he had a mentally incompetent half-brother. To solve the situation where no one had been chosen to inherit the empire, Alexander’s generals in Babylon reached an agreement to choose Alexander’s son and half-brother to be co-kings with one of the generals ruling in their names. What followed this decision violence that was experienced for nearly half a century. Several alliances were formed and broken, and the co-kings were murdered. At some point in the half-century violence, six Alexander’s generals in Babylon had proclaimed themselves as kings. By about 280 B.C, the violence had resulted in the formation of three kingdoms across Alexander’s empire. These kingdoms included one in Egypt, one in Macedonian and another in Southwest Asia.
Although Alexander’s Hellenistic empire was divided by the violence, the Greek language unified the kingdoms that had been formed. Greek became the universal language of education, science, government, and even religion. The Hellenic influence spread across every kingdom through Greek statues, architectures, and inscriptions. The Greek language introduced literature into the former Hellenistic empire, thereby influencing the philosophical thought and writing about the region. Besides, Hellenic culture was shown through coinage. Greek portraits become more realistic and the obverse of the coin was often used to commemorate an event or display a favored god. The Hellenistic culture was also spread through gymnasium centers. The centers served as physical and military training grounds, and the Hellenic culture was spread through the learning of poetry, science, philosophy, among others.
The Greek philosophy thrived in all the Hellenistic kingdoms, but the ancient religion of Greece did not thrive. Many foreigners did not accept to get converted to the Greek religion because it focused on rituals and ceremonies rather than establishing a set of rules to guide people in their lifetime (Akasoy, 2016). This resulted in the emergence of other native religions such as Judaism across the former Hellenic empire. Despite the rise of the Republic of Rome and the Roman Empire, the Greek language, philosophy, and culture manage to spread across the world. Hellenic culture has even virtually influenced every culture in today’s society.
Alexander, in his conquest across the Middle East, Persian Empire, and North Africa managed to dominate several territories and put them under his control. He managed to influence some cultures especially Persian empire culture where Alexander began to wear the Persians’ clothing and ordered his men to do the same. Alexander had an objective to create a universal empire that supported brotherhood amongst mankind, however, his dreams were shattered by his sudden death. The new Hellenistic empire Alexander had created was destroyed by the half-century violence that separated the empire into three kingdoms. However, the Greek language unified these kingdoms.
Akasoy, A. A. (2016). Iskandar the Prophet: Religious Themes in Islamic Versions of the Alexander Legend. In Globalization of knowledge in the post-antique Mediterranean, 700-1500, 167.
James, G. H. (2018). The Legacy of Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic World. Metamorphosis. Retrieved from http://metamorphosis.coplac.org/index.php/metamorphosis/article/view/128
Nabel, J. (2018). Alexander Between Rome and Persia: Politics, Ideology, and History. In Brill’s companion to the reception of Alexander the Great (pp. 197-232). Brill. Retrieved from https://brill.com/view/book/edcoll/9789004359932/BP000009.xml