Alexander the Great, Greek Military Leader

Aristotle teaches Alexander the Great
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Alexander the Great was the son of King Philip II of Macedonia and one of his wives, Olympias, a daughter of the non-Macedonian King Neoptolemus I of Epirus. At least, that's the conventional story. As a great hero, there are other more miraculous versions of the conception.

  • Name: Alexander III of Macedon
  • Dates: c. 20 July 356 B.C. - 10 June 323.
  • Place of Birth and Death: Pella and Babylon
  • Dates of Rule: 336-323
  • Parents: Philip II of Macedonia and Olympias
  • Occupation: Ruler and military leader

Alexander was born around July 20, 356 B.C. Being non-Macedonian made Olympias' status lower than the Macedonian woman Philip later married. As a result, there was much conflict between Alexander's parents.

As a Youth Alexander was tutored by Leonidas (possibly his uncle) and the great Greek philosopher Aristotle. During his youth, Alexander showed great observational powers when he tamed the wild horse Bucephalus. In 326, when his beloved horse died, he renamed a city in India/Pakistan, on the banks of the Hydaspes (Jhelum) river, for Bucephalus.

Our image of Alexander is youthful because that is how his official portraits depict him. See Photos of Alexander the Great in Art.

As Regent

In 340 B.C., while his father Philip went off to fight rebels, Alexander was made regent in Macedonia. During his regency, the Maedi of northern Macedonia revolted. Alexander put down the revolt and renamed their city after himself. In 336 after his father was assassinated, he became ruler of Macedonia.

The Gordian Knot

One legend about Alexander the Great is that when he was in Gordium, Turkey, in 333, he undid the Gordian Knot. This knot had been tied by the legendary, fabulously wealthy King Midas. The prophecy about the Gordian knot was that the person who untied it would rule all of Asia. Alexander the Great is said to have undone the Gordian Knot not by unraveling it, but by slashing through it with a sword.

Major Battles

  • Battle of the Granicus - 334 B.C. (western Turkey) against Persian satraps with Greek mercenaries.
  • Battle of Issus - 333 B.C. (Hatay province of Turkey) against King Darius of Persia.
  • Battle of Gaugamela - 331 B.C. (northern Iraq) against King Darius of Persia.
  • Battle of the Hydaspes (Jhelum) - 326 B.C. (northern Punjab, in modern Pakistan) against King Poros, who ruled a small kingdom, but had war elephants. Near the end of Alexander's expansion. (Although Alexander had intended to go further, and was soon thwarted by his own men, he thought he was near the edge of the earth.)


In 323, Alexander the Great returned to Babylonia where he became ill suddenly and died. The cause of his death is unknown. It could have been disease or poison. It might have had to do with a wound inflicted in India.

Alexander's successors were the Diadochi


Alexander the Great's wives were, first, Roxane (327), and then, Statiera/Barsine, and Parysatis.

When, in 324, he married Stateira, daughter of Darius, and Parysatis, daughter of Artaxerxes III, he did not repudiate the Sogdian princess Roxane. The wedding ceremony took place in Susa and at the same time, Alexander's friend Hephaestion married Drypetis, Stateira's sister. Alexander provided dowries so that 80 of his companions could also marry noble Iranian women.

Reference: Pierre Briant's "Alexander the Great and His Empire."


  • Herakles, son of Alexander's wife/mistress Barsine [Sources: Alexander the Great and His Empire, by Pierre Briant and Alexander the Great, by Philip Freeman]
  • Alexander IV, son of Roxane

Both children were killed before they reached adulthood.


  • Alexander the Great- Children

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Your Citation
Gill, N.S. "Alexander the Great, Greek Military Leader." ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, Gill, N.S. (2020, August 28). Alexander the Great, Greek Military Leader. Retrieved from Gill, N.S. "Alexander the Great, Greek Military Leader." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 26, 2021).

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