Complete Biography of Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great ( Alexander III the Great , ancient Greek; presumably July 20/23 or October 6/10, 356 BC – June 10/13, 323 BC) – king Macedonia from the Argead dynasty (from 336 BC ), an outstanding commander, creator of a world power that collapsed after his death. Ascending the throne at the age of 20 after the death of his father, Philip II , he suppressed the uprising of he Thracians and re-subdued Greece, where the rebellious The bes were destroyed . In 334 BC. e. Alexander crossed over to Asia Minor , thus starting a war with Persian power. Under Granicus, he defeated the satraps , and under Issus (333 BC) – the king Darius III himself , after which he subdued Syria , Palestine and Egypt . In 331 BC. e. under Gaugamela in Mesopotamia, Alexander won a decisive victory.


Darius was later killed; Alexander, having occupied the interior regions of Persia, took the title of “king of Asia”, surrounded himself with representatives of the eastern nobility and began to think about conquering the world.In three years (329-326 BC) he conquered Central Asia. Having invaded India, the king began to gain victories there, but his army, tired of a long march, rebelled, so that Alexander had to turn back. In 324 BC. e. he arrived in Babylon, which became his capital. The very next year, while preparing for acampaign in Arabia, Alexander died at the age of 32.


The power created in the course of the conquests soon disintegrated, divided between the king’s generals – the diadochi . Nevertheless, thanks to the campaigns of Alexander, the spread of Greek culture in the East began, which laid the foundation for Hellenism .


Even in ancient times, Alexander was recognized as one of the greatest military leaders in history. His name was actively used in political propaganda. In the Middle Ages, one of the most popular books in Europe and a number of regions of Asia and Africa was “The Novel of Alexander “, which filled the biography of the title character with fictional episodes; in the Muslim tradition, Alexander began to be identified with Dhu-l-Karnain . During the Baroque era , the Macedonian king became a popular character in theater and painting.


In Western historiography, the king is known as Alexander the Great .


Biography of Alexander the Great




Alexander belonged to the Argead dynasty, which ruled Macedonia from the beginning of its history. Ancient authors rank this dynasty as Heraclides; according to legend, Temenides Karan (the younger brother of King Fidon of Argos and a descendant of Hercules in the eleventh generation) or his son Perdiccas in the 7th century BC. e. moved from the Peloponnese to the north, where they founded their kingdom. The son of Perdikkas Argay gave his name to the dynasty.Alexander III became his distant descendant .


Biography of Alexander the Great


Until the 4th century BC. e. Macedonia was a small and weak kingdom, suffering from the invasions of the Thracians and Illyrians from the north, from the Hellenic expansion from the south; although the Macedonians apparently spoke one of the dialects of the Greek language, the Greeks considered them to be barbarians . The grandfather of Alexander Amyntas III , who belonged to the younger branch of the dynasty and seized power by killing his predecessor, retained his position only thanks to maneuvering between the different states of Hellas. His son Philip IIwas able to dramatically increase state revenues, create a strong army, subjugate the princes of Upper Macedonia, defeat the northern neighbors and begin to conquer the Greek city-states one by one. Philip’s wife and Alexander’s mother was Epirus princess Olympias is the daughter of King Neoptolemus I of the Pyrridian dynasty , whose origin was traced back to Achilles . Thus, Alexander, both in male and female lines, was considered a descendant of the gods and the greatest heroes of antiquity. Awareness of this fact significantly influenced the formation of his personality .


Philip II was married a total of seven times, and lived with all his wives at the same time . Alexander’s full sister was Cleopatra . In addition, Alexander’s half-brother were Arrhidaeus (from Filin of Larissa ) and consanguineous sisters: The ssalonica (from Nikesipolidy from Fer ), Keenan (from Illyrian princess Audaty ), Europe (from Cleopatra ). Arridey was a year older than his brother , but suffered from dementia, so Alexander was considered the only possible heir to his father .


Birth and childhood of Alexander the Great


Alexander was born in 356 BC. e. in the Macedonian capital Pella . According to legend, this happened on the night when Herostratus set fire to the temple of Artemis of Ephesus , one of the “Seven Wonders of the World”, and the Persian magicians immediately interpreted this fire as a sign of a future catastrophe for their state … Hegesius of Magnesia later gave another explanation for this coincidence: “There is nothing surprising in the fact that the temple of Artemis burned down: after all, the goddess was at that time busy helping Alexander to be born . ” King Philip , who was besieging Potidaea at the time, according to sources, received news of the birth of his son on the day of the capture of the city; other messengers on the same day informed him of the great victory of the Macedonians in the battle with the Illyrians and that his racehorse was the fastest at the Olympic Games . But, since all kinds of signs have always accompanied the birth and life of the great people of antiquity , scientists recognize information about all these coincidences as legendary .


Alexander’s exact birthday is unknown. Plutarch writes about “the sixth day of the month of Hecatombeon , which the Macedonians call loi .” Many historians take July 15 as 1 day of the hecatombeon, and the birth of Alexander is dated July 20, respectively, but there are opinions in favor of 21 and 23 numbers . At the same time, Aristobulus from Cassandria reports that the king lived 32 years and 8 months ), which means he was born in the fall; according to Demosthenes , the Macedonian month of Loy corresponded not to Hecatombeon, but to Boedromion , that is, it fell on September-October.Therefore, there is another estimated date of birth – the period from 6 to 10 October …


The child was named after his ancestor Alexander I , nicknamed “Phyellinus” (“friend of the Greeks”) , and there could be political overtones here . Throughout the prince’s childhood, his father was constantly on campaigns, so that the child spent most of the time with his mother. She was a woman of “heavy temper”, “jealous and quick to anger” and felt a strong dislike for her husband ; she probably often criticized Philip in the presence of her son, which is why Alexander formed an ambivalent attitude towards his father: Philip aroused his admiration and at the same time was unpleasant to him .


The first mentor of the prince was a relative of Olympias Leonidas from Epirus, who treated Alexander very severely (nevertheless, Alexander retained his affection for him for the rest of his life). Another educator, Lysimachus from Akarnan , was subordinate to Leonidas ; it is known that he called the prince Achilles, and himself – Phoenix . In the company of aristocratic peers, Alexander began to receive education typical of his era, which included teaching reading, counting and writing, gymnastics, music, the study of classical literature

(primarily Homer’s poems ), geometry, and the beginnings of philosophy .


The child was very quick-tempered and sensitive, but at the same time showed curiosity and diligence . The sources contain a number of stories showing the extraordinary abilities of the young prince . So, once Alexander received the Persian ambassadors in the absence of his father and “did not ask a single childish or insignificant question, but asked about the length of the roads, about the ways of traveling deep into Persia, about the king himself – what is he like in the fight against enemies, and also about what are the strengths and might of the Persians “; the surprised ambassadors saw in the boy” the greatness of plans and aspirations. ” Another time, Alexander was able to drive around the indomitable horse Bucephalus because he realized that he was simply afraid of his own shadow. After that, Philip, according to Plutarch, exclaimed: “Seek, my son, the kingdom by itself, for Macedonia is too small for you!” …


In 343 or 342 BC. e. Philip decided to send his son along with other noble youths to the city of Mieza – possibly to separate him from his mother . From that time until 340 BC. e. Alexander’s mentor was the philosopher Aristotle , linked by ties of friendship with the Macedonian royal house .


The sources do not give clear information about what Aristotle taught the prince . Presumably Alexander studied philosophy, rhetoric, geometry, medicine, zoology, geography . He is thoroughly acquainted with Greek literature : it is known that Alexander loved and often re-read ” The Iliad ” of Homer, attaching great importance to its origin from Achilles through the mother , a well-known ‘ Anabasis ‘ Xenophon, the tragedy of Euripides , poems of Pindar , Stesichorus , Telesto , Philoxenus and other poets , ” History” By Herodotus .


Youth of Alexander the Great


No later than 342 BC. e. Philip officially recognized his son as heir to the Macedonian throne . In the spring of 340 BC. e. Alexander, then sixteen years old, was summoned by his father to Pella; the king set out to besiege the Greek cities of Propontis , and left his son in the capital as regent , but under the supervision of experienced generals Antipater and Parmenion .


At this time, revolted against Macedonian Thracian tribe ; the prince defeated the rebels and founded the city of Alexandropol in their lands (by analogy with Philipopolis , which his father named after himself) .


Two years later, Alexander was next to his father, who invaded Central Greece. In the decisive battle at Chaeronea, he (apparently, again under the tutelage of Antipater and Parmenion) commanded the Getaira cavalry on the left flank and led the attack that decided the outcome of the battle: he managed to destroy the Theban Sacred Detachment , and then defeat the entire right flank of the enemy . After the conclusion of peace, Alexander led a delegation that brought the ashes of the dead soldiers to Athens .


Despite all this, the relationship between the prince and his father in those years left much to be desired. Researchers write about the psychological alienation associated with communication deficits and Olympic stance; this may be evidenced by the fact that Alexander considered Leonid’s tutor to be his adoptive father. In relation to Philip, the prince felt jealousy and envy, complaining to his friends after each victory of Macedonia: “Father will have time to take over everything, so that together with you I will not be able to accomplish anything great and brilliant.” Even with the status of heir to the throne, Alexander was far from state affairs, and many nobles and military leaders did not support him as a half-epic by blood, under the influence of a foreign mother.


The situation became threatening for the prince when Philip married for the seventh time – to a noble Macedonian woman Cleopatra . A hypothetical son born in this marriage would be a purebred Macedonian, and therefore the

ideal heir to his father; an open statement about this sounded already at the wedding from the mouth of Attal , the bride’s uncle :




Attalus … drunk during the feast, began to urge the Macedonians to pray to the gods that Philip and Cleopatra would have a legitimate heir to the throne. Enraged by this, Alexander cried out: “So, scoundrel, do you think I am illegitimate, or what?” – and threw the bowl at Attalus. Philip rushed to his son, drawing his sword, but luckily for both, anger and wine did their job: the king stumbled and

fell. Alexander, mocking his father, said: “Look, people! This man, who is about to cross from Europe to Asia, stretched out, crossing from bed to bed. “


– Plutarch. Alexander, 9.




After this skirmish, there was an open break. The prince went with his mother to Epirus, to his uncle Alexander , and from there to the Illyrians , the sworn enemies of Macedonia. It is known that Olympias urged her brother to start a war with Philip; perhaps her son made the same proposal to the Illyrians. Philip soon sent a confidant to Alexander and secured the return of his son to Pella , but the final reconciliation between them never happened .


Once again, father and son quarreled over negotiations with the satrap of Caria Piksodar (337 BC). This ruler offered Philip an alliance and his daughter Ada as a wife for one of the princes; he chose Piksodara Arridey as his son-in-law, and Alexander perceived this as an infringement of his rights. He sent his friend Thessal to Caria with the message that he himself was ready to marry Ada. Philip, upon learning of such a turn, immediately interrupted the negotiations, and scolded his son, “calling him a base man, unworthy of his high position, since he wants to become the son-in-law of a Carian, subject to the king of barbarians. ” Many friends of Prince Nearchus ,Ptolemy , Harpalus , Erigyius , Laomedon – were expelled, and Thessal was chained .


In 336 BC. e. Philip tried to neutralize his brother-in-law, Alexander of Epirus, by marrying his daughter from Olympias, Cleopatra. On the day of the wedding in Egah , in the presence of Alexander, the king was stabbed to death by his bodyguard Pausanias . There are no exact data on the murderer’s motives: according to the official version, Pausanias took revenge for his personal insult, but there were rumors that Alexander and Olympias were aware of his plans or even made him their weapon . The participation of the tsarevich in the conspiracy is considered probable, but unprovable .The Macedonian army, who knew and saw Alexander well in battles, proclaimed him king (probably at the behest of Antipater) .


The beginning of the reign of Alexander the Great


Alexander used the death of his father in order to deal with all potential sources of threat to his power. Two Linkestids (representatives of the princely family from Upper Macedonia), Arrawey and Geromen , were crucified on crosses at the grave of Philip . Amynta , Alexander’s cousin and son-in-law, was killed ; one source reports about the brother of King Karan , who was also killed ; Attalus was executed on charges of treason. , and his fate was shared by all the closest male relatives.Finally, Olympias forced the last of Philip’s wives, Cleopatra, to commit suicide, and ordered her newborn daughter to be killed. As a result, Alexander had no potential enemies inside Macedonia . To know and the people the new king won over to his side by the abolition taxes, not paying attention to the empty treasury and 500 talents of debt .


At the time of Alexander’s coming to power, the Macedonian kingdom was a large territorial power: it included not only Lower Macedonia, but also Upper Macedonia, as well as Thrace, part of Illyria and the entire northern coast of the Aegean Sea, previously controlled by independent Greek city-states. In a dependent position were Epirus (where Philip’s brother-in-law and son-in-law ruled, who owed him the throne), the Thessalian Union (Philip was his tag ) and the Corinthian Union , which included all the rest of Greece , except Sparta, and recognized Philip as his hegemon with broad powers . The Greeks formally obeyed not Macedonia, but its king, and after the death of the latter they considered themselves independent.The enemies of Macedonia in Athens openly rejoiced at the murder of Philip, and Thebes and Ambrakia tried to drive out the garrisons left by Philip .


In this situation, Alexander acted decisively. He quickly moved south with the army, secured his election as the tag of Thessaly, and then entered Central Greece and camped near Thebes. The Greek city-states, who did not expect this, expressed humility and sent their delegates to Corinth , where the agreement concluded after the Battle of Chaeroneus was confirmed. While maintaining formal independence, all Hellas (except Sparta) was now subordinate to Alexander, the hegemon of the Corinthian Union and the strategist-autocrator in the upcoming campaign against the Persians; many policies admitted Macedonian garrisons .


Before returning to Macedonia, Alexander met in Corinth with the cynic philosopher Diogenes . According to legend, the king invited Diogenes to ask him what he wants, and the philosopher replied: “Do not block the sun for me” . The king was so struck by the pride and greatness of the philosopher, who treated him with such disdain that on the way back he said: “If I were not Alexander, I would like to be Diogenes” . Later Alexander also visited Delphi; he demanded from the pythia to predict his fate, and he heard “You are invincible, my son!” …


Meanwhile, in the north, the Illyrians and the Triballs were preparing for war . The king decided to strike a preemptive blow: in the spring of 335 BC. e. he moved an army of 15,000 to Istra . In the battle at Mount Emon, Alexander defeated the Thracians, who occupied a strong position on the hill, and then won a victory over the tribals. Ruler last Sirma took refuge on in Istria. On the northern bank of the river, the troops of the Getae tribe gathered , and Alexander considered it a challenge: on improvised floating means, he ferried the army across Istres, defeated the Getae and thereby deprived the tribals of the last hope of success … Having accepted the surrender of this tribe, Alexander moved to Illyria. There he laid siege to the fortress of Pelion, was surrounded by enemies, but was able to break through, and then deceived the Illyrians from the hills to the plains and defeated .


During this campaign (March-May 335 BC), Alexander demonstrated an extraordinary talent for leadership, the ability to improvise, and the equally important ability to reliably control sufficiently large and diverse military contingents. P. Fore even calls this campaign “perhaps the most brilliant and impetuous” in the biography of Alexander. The king was able to completely secure the northern borders of Macedonia for the following years, replenished his army with Thracian, Illyrian and Tribal warriors, and seized valuable booty. But in Greece, due to his long absence, there were rumors that Alexander had died. Believing this news, the Thebans revolted and laid siege to the Macedonian garrison under the command of the Frurarch Filota inCadmea. ; the Athenians who supported them began negotiations for an alliance with the Persians, and the policies of the Peloponnese moved

their troops to Isthmus . Alexander learned about this in Illyria and immediately moved south: it took him only 13 days to reach Boeotia …


Upon learning that the king was alive, the Peloponnesians and Athenians immediately ceased their hostile actions; only Thebes remained, who did not want to surrender. In September 335 BC. e. Alexander, who received the support of the rest of Boeotia’s policies, laid siege to this city. The Thebans were defeated by a combined blow from outside and from Cadmea , and a real massacre took place in the streets, in which 6,000 citizens died. Alexander left it to his Greek allies to decide the fate of the city. They decided to destroy Thebes, leaving only Cadmeus, divide the land between neighbors, and turn the population into slavery. A total of 30 thousand people were sold;with the money raised (about 440 talents), Alexander fully or partially covered the debts of the Macedonian treasury … No one else resisted Macedonia. The Greeks, amazed at the quick victory of the king and the

fate of the ancient city, in a number of cases themselves brought politicians who had called for an uprising to trial. Alexander confined himself to demanding that the Athenians expel one orator and returned to Macedonia, where he began to prepare for a campaign in Asia .


Eastern campaign: from Granicus to Cilicia


The idea of ​​an offensive war with Persia was expressed in the Greek world from the beginning of the 4th century BC. e. ( Gorgias , Aeschines , Isocrates ). Both the Greeks and the Macedonians were interested in this in connection with the prospect of conquering new lands and capturing rich booty. In addition, the Greeks could bring new colonies to the conquered territories and thus get rid of the surplus population, oppositionists and troublemakers; Macedonia, having led the united army in the eastern campaign, would have consolidated its power over Hellas. In addition, Persia openly opposed Philip II when he was besieging Perinth., and was ready to

support Philip’s enemies in Greece. Therefore, the king, shortly before his death, sent a part of the army led by Attal and Parmenion to Asia Minor. The official goal of the war that began in this way was to take revenge on the

Persians for the burning of the Greek sanctuaries in 480 BC. e. In reality, it was planned to subjugate the cities of the Eastern Aegeid and, apparently, conquer all of Asia Minor. Alexander, having come to power, stopped the

advancement of this corps, but continued preparations for a large march to the East .


In the early spring of 334 BC e. the king moved on the Persians. In Macedonia, he left the experienced commander Antipater as governor , who received 12 thousand infantry and 1500 horsemen under his command. With Alexander went another 12,000 foot Macedonians (9,000 Phalangists and 3,000 Hypaspists ), 1,500-1800 Getaira, 9,000 warriors of the Balkan tribes, 5,000 Greek mercenaries. 7 thousand hoplites and 600 horsemen

were exposed by the Greek policies, which were in the Corinthian Union, another 1800 cavalrymen – Thessalians.In total, Alexander’s army consisted of less than 40 thousand soldiers, and after meeting with the corps, which had crossed into Asia under Philip, it should have grown to 50 thousand. It is known that the tsar did not trust the Greeks; the core of his army were Macedonian units .


The moment for the start of the campaign was chosen very well: in the spring the Persian fleet was still in the ports of Asia Minor and could not interfere with the crossing . In May, Alexander overcame the Hellespont , landing in Asia Minor in the region of the legendary Troy . According to legend, swimming to the shore, the king threw a spear towards Asia. It was a symbolic act showing that all this land would belong to Macedonia … Nothing is known exactly about Alexander’s goals at this stage of the war; scientists only make assumptions about which strategy he should have chosen.At that time, there was practically no money in the Macedonian treasury (the king collected 800 talents of debt, preparing for his first campaigns), and the Macedonian fleet was clearly inferior to the Persian one, while the superiority of Alexander’s infantry over the enemy was obvious. In this situation, Alexander was interested in his army moving as quickly as possible, occupying fortified cities, striking the enemy in the field and seizing prey in the rich Asian lands .


Memnon , the commander of the Greek mercenaries in the Persian service , who was familiar with the Macedonian military system and personally with Alexander , proposed to the Asia Minor satraps his plan of repelling aggression. He assumed the rejection of land battles, the “scorched earth” tactics (including the destruction of cities on the way of the Macedonians), active operations of the fleet and strikes behind enemy lines in Greece. But this plan, which was extremely dangerous for Alexander, was rejected: the satraps did not want to plunder their lands. In addition, they were confident in the strength of their cavalry. On the fourth day after the landing of the Macedonians on the river Granicusnear Troy , the first big battle took place. , in which the cavalry fought mainly. Alexander himself led the attack of the Getaira and showed miracles of bravery: he killed his son-in-law Darius III in single combat , one of the enemy soldiers cut his helmet. Having lost a thousand people killed, the Persian cavalry fled, and the Greek mercenaries serving the Persians refused to flee and were killed. The Macedonians lost just over 100 people .


This victory dramatically changed the

situation: it was now clear that the Macedonian cavalry was stronger than the

enemy, so that the expanses of Asia Minor were open to the army of

Alexander. The Achaemenid rule in this region collapsed. Phrygia voluntarily

submitted to the king, and her satrap Arsitus committed suicide; commandant of

the impregnable Sard Mihran surrendered the city along with the richest

treasury; Greek cities one by one overthrew the Persian-oriented oligarchic

regimes and opened the gates for the Macedonians. Alexander, who in Balkan

Greece, like his father, supported the oligarchy, in the new conditions approved

the democratization of the political system.He abolished the taxes imposed on

the Greeks by the Persians, but at the same time introduced a special

contribution and united the formally “liberated” Greek cities into a special

district, at the head of which he put his own man . For the rest, Alexander

retained the Persian system of government in the conquered territories. He

appointed Macedonians, Greeks or Persians loyal to him as satraps .


For the first time after Granicus, the

Macedonians met resistance in Miletus , whose garrison was headed by the

Greek Hegesistratus . Alexander

laid siege to this city from land, and from the sea his fleet approached

Miletus, only a few days ahead of the ships of the Persians. With the help of

siege machines, the Macedonians destroyed the walls and took the city by

storm; the Persian fleet, finding itself without food and water supplies,

retreated . After that, the Persians had only one base of support on the western

coast of Asia Minor – Halicarnassus . Memnon took refuge there with the

surviving Greek mercenaries, the satrap of Caria, Orontobat, and a number of

noble Macedonian emigrants. From the sea side, Halicarnassus defended a huge

fleet of 400 ships. At the same time, the queen of Caria Ada supported Alexander

(some scholars even believe that she adopted him ) .


The defenders of Halicarnassus fiercely

defended themselves, undertaking sorties and burning the siege towers of the

Macedonians. After protracted battles, Alexander still managed to break through

the fortress walls; then Memnon set fire to the city, and evacuated his troops

to Kos . Having occupied Halicarnassus, the Macedonians finally destroyed it by

order of the king (September 334 BC) . From that moment on, the nature of the

war changed radically. Memnon, appointed commander-in-chief in this war

(possibly even during the defense of Halicarnassus ), moved the fighting from

the Asian mainland to the Aegeis, to the rear of the Macedonians.Alexander

dismissed his ships, realizing that the Persians are in any case stronger at

sea, and not having enough money to finance the fleet. Now his task was to

occupy the entire Mediterranean coast in order to deprive the Persian ships of

their bases. Thus, both opponents operated behind each other’s lines .


From Halicarnassus, Alexander moved east

and, without encountering much resistance, occupied the coastal regions

of Lycia and Pamphylia . Then,

already in the winter of 334/333 BC. e., he briefly went north, to the interior

regions of Asia Minor. The king occupied Gordion , where, according to legend,

he tried to untie the famous Gordian knot (it was believed that

whoever untied it would rule the whole of Asia). Having failed, Alexander cut

the knot with a sword . He later occupied Cappadocia , accepted signs of

allegiance from the Paphlagoniansand hastily returned to the south, as he

learned that Darius had gathered a large army in northern Syria; the king was

afraid that the Persians would occupy the mountain passes connecting Asia Minor

with Syria. His fears did not materialize. The Macedonians freely

entered Cilicia and occupied Tarsus , where Alexander was very seriously ill: in

hot weather, he threw himself into the icy water of the Kidn River and caught a

cold, so for some time his position was considered hopeless. However, with the

help of a trusted doctor Philip of Acarnania , Alexander quickly recovered .


From Issa to Egypt


During 333 BC. e. important events took

place in the Aegeis. Memnon won a series of victories in the region and began

negotiations for an alliance with Sparta and Athens, but in May, during the

siege of Mytilene, he died suddenly. His successor, Pharnabaz, turned out to be

a less capable military leader, so that the actions of the Persians in this

region were no longer a threat to Alexander. Darius recalled some of the Greek

mercenaries who served under Pharnabazus, and included them in his army, which

was concentrated in Northern Syria. In October or November 333 BC. e. in the

highlands near Issus, Alexander, moving from Cilicia to the south, faced this

army;according to sources, the Macedonians were several times smaller than their

enemies, but the latter were trapped in a narrow gorge between the sea and the

mountains and could not use their numerical advantage .


In battle, the Macedonian

king again led the cavalry attack on the right flank. He defeated the enemy’s

left wing and struck in the center, trying to fight Darius. He fled, although

the outcome of the battle was still uncertain (his Greek mercenaries were able

to stop the onslaught of the Macedonian phalanx for a while). Upon learning of

the flight of their king, the Persian cavalry also preferred to leave the

battle, and the Greeks after that were mostly killed (8 thousand Greeks managed

to escape and later joined the anti-Macedonian movement in Greece). The victory

of the Macedonians was complete; in the enemy camp, they captured a huge booty,

including 3 thousand talents of gold, as well as a son, two daughters, wife and

mother Darius. Sources say that the noble captives were preparing for the worst,

but Alexander treated them very generously. Other treasures of the Persian king

were seized later in Damascus . Thanks to this, Alexander no longer experienced

a lack of funds .


This victory was of great importance for

the entire war: its consequence was the demoralization of the Persians, their

loss of the entire western part of the kingdom and potential allies in the Greek

world. Alexander could now choose between two directions – the east, where

Darius fled, and the south. He chose the latter to deprive the Achaemenid fleet

of its bases (primarily in Phenicia ). Arad , Byblos and Sidon obeyed him

without resistance, while Tire tried to take a neutral position and was

besieged … The Macedonians faced enormous difficulties: Tire was on an island

and was practically inaccessible.At first, Alexander tried to build a dam

between the mainland and the island, but, convinced of the laboriousness of this

task, ordered his new Phoenician subjects to provide their ships for the

siege. The Tyrian fleet was defeated, the siege engines were at the walls of the

city and were able to punch holes. After six months of siege in July or August

332 BC. e. Tyr fell . Alexander ordered 2 thousand of his defenders to be

crucified on crosses, the rest (about 30 thousand people) were sold into

slavery .


At this time, Darius sent ambassadors to

Alexander with a proposal to make peace. He was ready to marry one of his

daughters, Statyra , to the Macedonian king , and to cede land “from the

Hellespont to Galis, ” that is, the western half of Asia Minor. Parmenion

advised to accept these conditions, starting with the words “If I were Alexander

…”, but the king cut him off with the words: “I would also accept these

conditions if I were Parmenion!” Darius’s proposal was rejected, and Alexander,

thus demonstrating for the first time his desire to conquer all of Persia,

continued south. It was resisted by another large city, Gaza in Palestine, but

it was also taken by storm after a two-month siege. … Alexander ordered men to

be killed, and women and children sold into slavery . From that moment on, the

king controlled the entire coast of Asia Minor ; the Persians, who lost their

naval bases, had to disband their fleet, which by that time had already

decreased due to the Phoenicians returning home. Thus, the western threat no

longer existed .


In the south, only Egypt remained

insubordinate . The local population hated the Persians, and part of the troops

of the satrap Mazak was destroyed at Issus, so Mazak surrendered without a

fight. Alexander was greeted as a liberator and immediately proclaimed pharaoh ,

after which he returned the local priests to their former privileges. Having

stayed in Egypt for 6 months (December 332 – May 331 BC), the king made a

pilgrimage to the oracle of Amun in the Siwa oasis in the Libyan desert , and

sources say that the soothsayer turned to Alexander as the son of God .Near the

Canopian mouth of the Nile, the king founded the city of //Alexandria

of Egypt //, which soon became

one of the main cultural centers of the ancient world and the largest city in

Egypt .


The defeat of the Persian state (331-330



In May 331 BC. e. Alexander moved north

from Egypt, towards Mesopotamia, where Darius was gathering a new army. In July,

the Macedonians crossed the Euphrates , and in September, the Tigris . The next

battle that decided the fate of Persia took place on October 1 at Gaugamela ,

not far from Nineveh . In it, Alexander was opposed by an army, numbering,

according to clearly inflated sources, up to 1 million people and assembled,

unlike the army that fought at Issus, exclusively in the eastern satrapies.It

had first-class cavalry and war chariots with long knives attached to the spokes

of the wheels, but in general, the quality of weapons, training and experience

of the Macedonians, who numbered about 47 thousand, were superior to the enemy .


The chariot attack was

repulsed. Alexander, at the head of the Getayrs, was able to wedge himself

between the center and the left wing of the Persian battle line and almost made

his way to Darius, who again fled from the battlefield, despite the still

uncertain outcome of the general battle … At the same time, the left flank of

the Macedonians was forced to retreat under the onslaught of the enemy, and in

one area the Persians even broke through to the wagon train. The commander of

this flank, Parmenion turned to the king for help. Alexander had to stop

pursuing Darius: he attacked the enemy’s right wing from the rear and ensured

its complete defeat. The Macedonians captured the Persian camp, but Darius

managed to escape the pursuit .


This victory was a fatal blow to the rule

of the Achaemenids (the victory at Megalopolis , which Antipater won over the

Spartans in the same year with incomparably large losses, was called by

Alexander the “mouse fuss” ). From

that moment on, the satraps of Darius lost faith in him and were ready to go

into the service of Alexander, and the main centers of the Persian state were

defenseless. In the same October 331 BC. e. The Macedonians

occupied Babylon without a fight , the inhabitants of which met Alexander as a

liberator and proclaimed their monarch – “the king of everything” and “the king

of the four cardinal points.” In December, Susa opened their gates, and there

the Macedonians captured 40 thousand talents of gold and silver. Then Alexander

moved to Persepolis , the center of the indigenous Persian lands, having

conquered on the way the tribe of Uxians, headed by a relative of the Achaemenid

royal house, Madat . The local satrap Ariobarzanes resisted him; unable to break

through directly , the king with part of the army undertook a detour, and in

January 330 BC. e. the city, despite the voluntary transfer of the treasury by

the city governor Tiridates , was taken and plundered. The booty captured there

was colossal: 120 thousand talents of gold and silver.The Macedonian army rested

in the city until the end of spring, and before leaving, they burned the

Achaemenid palace. Some sources blame hetero Thais of Athens for the incident,

which provoked a drunken Alexander and his friends, others report that the king

burned the palace, because he made a deliberate decision to avenge the invasion

of the Persians in Greece .


In April or May 330 BC. e. Alexander

moved north to Media , where Darius was gathering a new army. Approaching

the Ecbatans , he learned from the son of Artaxerxes, Och Bisthanes , that

Darius, who had not received the expected help from the Scythians and Kadusis ,

fled to the east . The Ecbatans were occupied without a fight, and at the head

of the most mobile unit of his army, Alexander began to pursue the

enemy. Already outside the Caspian gates, the satrap of Bactria Bessus conspired

against Darius and arrested him, and later killed him;Alexander, finding a body

near Hecatompilus in Parthia , imbued with sympathy for the deceased and ordered

to bury him in Persis, in the royal tomb. On that moment From, the head of the

anti-Macedonian resistance was Bessus, who himself proclaimed king Artaxerxes

V .


King of asia


During the eastern campaign, the nature

of the war and the nature of Alexander’s dominion over the conquered territories

changed significantly. In 330 BC. BC, finding himself in Media, the king sent

home the military contingents provided to him by the Corinthian Union, as well

as the Thessalian cavalry. This meant that the Panhellenic war, started to take

revenge on the Persians for past grievances, was over (its symbolic ending was

the burning of the palace in Persepolis) and Alexander’s personal war began for

power over Asia, for the transformation of the Argeads into the heirs of the

Achaemenids. The events in Susa, when Alexander sat on the throne of the Persian

kings, could already be a demonstration of such intentions .Having learned about

the death of Darius, the Macedonian king declared it his task to take revenge

for him to the usurper – Bessus and those who served Darius to the end received

awards and even promotions from Alexander .


Calling himself “the king of Asia” (for

the first time this title appears after the Battle of Gaugamela), Alexander

supposedly indicated the continuity of his state with the Achaemenid

empire. However, there is also the opposite opinion: he could emphasize the

difference between the new power and Persia, since he did not use such titles of

the Achaemenids as “ king of kings ” and others . In any case, after the death

of Darius, Alexander finally stopped looking at the Persians as a conquered

people and tried to rule them like their previous kings. He tried to equate the

vanquished with the victors, to combine their customs into a single whole.The

king surrounded himself with Persian nobles, began to wear oriental clothes,

started a harem, Persian ceremonies, including proskinesis , came into use at

his court – prostration and kissing the feet of the king. Representatives of the

eastern nobility were included in his cavalry, recruiting of local residents

into the infantry and their training on the Macedonian model began . The closest

friends and court flatterers accepted all this without hesitation, but many

military comrades-in-arms, accustomed to the simplicity of manners and friendly

relations between the tsar and his subjects, could not come to terms with this .


Alexander’s position was complicated by

the fact that his army was tired of a long campaign. The soldiers wanted to

return home and did not share the goals of their king to become the master of

the whole world, and from the end of 330 BC. e. their discontent began to come

out. When the Macedonian army was in Drangiana , a conspiracy was revealed, the

participants of which wanted to kill the king. The hetair commander Filota knew

about the conspiracy, but did not report, and therefore also fell under

suspicion ; he was tortured, and then Alexander obtained from the military

assembly the death sentence for Filota .The father of the executed, Parmenion,

was killed without trial or any proof of guilt, and his fate was shared by the

last of the Linkestids – . Another commander, Klit the Black , was killed by the

tsar with his own hands as a result of a drunken quarrel (in the fall of 328

BC), although he was experienced the brother of his nurse Lanika and saved him

from death at Granicus ; the reason was the words of Cletes that Alexander is

now surrounded by “barbarians and slaves who worship his Persian belt and

white tunic ” .


In the summer of 327 BC. e. the

“conspiracy of pages”, noble youths who were with the king and decided to kill

him, was revealed. The conspirators were stoned. It became known

that Callisthenes (nephew of Aristotle), a historian and philosopher who dared

to object to the king and openly criticize the new court order, called on these

young men to “show themselves as men,” and therefore he, too, was captured and

soon died in prison from a “lousy disease” or was killed by order of the

king . The philosopher looked to many as a victim of Alexander’s growing

despotism, and his death increased a secret discontent among the Macedonians.The

more frequent reports of conspiracies and extrajudicial killings during this

period, researchers associate with the aggravated paranoia of the tsar , which

was combined with the general wildness of his character and excessive

imperiousness .


In Central Asia


After the death of Darius III, the usurper

Bessus tried to gain a foothold in Bactria and made an alliance with

the Massaget tribe . Alexander,

continuing his movement to the east, without a fight

subdued Hyrcania and ; true, the last satrap Satibarzan soon rebelled, but the

king quickly suppressed this rebellion. Of the two roads that led to Bactria, he

chose the southern one, without a fight, occupying Drangiana and Arachosia , and

also subjugating the Ariaspian tribe . In the spring of 329 BC. e. Alexander

crossed the Hindu Kushfrom south to north and invaded Bactria. Bess retreated

beyond the Oaks , to Sogdiana , and there he was captured ; later his nose and

ears were cut off, after which the usurper was either crucified by the

Macedonians, or torn in half by them with the help of two trees, or cut into

pieces by the relatives of Darius III .


Alexander’s army, meeting no resistance,

reached the Yaxart River , along

which the border between the Persian state and the lands of the nomads

passed. The tsar founded here the fortified point of Alexandria Eskhata and

even briefly crossed to the right bank of the river in order to drive off the

Massagetae and thus consolidate the success. However, soon after, in September

329 BC. e., the population of Sogdiana rebelled against the conquerors, outraged

by the robberies that began with the Hellenic colonization and Alexander’s

unwillingness to make compromises. The rebels were led by the local

aristocrat Spitamen …It was mainly a partisan war, in which not large-scale

hostilities prevailed, but minor clashes: the rebels, supported by nomads,

attacked individual garrisons, raided and immediately retreated, while the

Macedonians destroyed entire villages in revenge . In 329 BC. e. Spitamen

besieged the citadel of Marakanda and defeated a large Macedonian force at

the Battle of Politimetus , in 328 he made a relatively successful foray into

Bactria. This war turned out to be the most difficult for Alexander in all the

years of his eastern campaign.The tsar initially underestimated the threat, but

later took over the leadership of the hostilities and tried to establish

contacts with the aristocracy of Sogdiana and Bactria. The death sentence for 30

members of the local nobility was canceled, the privileges of large landowners

were confirmed. Abandoned by many of his adherents, Spitamen fled to the

Massagetae, but they preferred to conclude peace with Alexander: in the winter

of 328/327 BC. e. they sent the head of the fugitive to the king .


In the spring of 327 BC. e. Alexander

suppressed the last pockets of resistance in Sogdiana – these were the mountain

fortresses of Ariamaz and Khorien. By marrying Roxana , the daughter of a local

nobleman Oxyartes , he strengthened his alliance with the Sogdian

nobility . Having thus conquered Central Asia, the king began preparations for a

campaign in India .


Indian campaign


Alexander thought about going to India,

starting from 328 BC. e. Then Sisikott , satrap of the Persian possessions in

this country, expressed obedience to the king, and Raja Ambha (the Macedonians

called him Taxil )

offered his help in case of an invasion. Taxil hoped to use Alexander to defeat

his rival Pora , who ruled eastern Punjab. ; for his part, the king wanted,

relying on local allies, to conquer all of India. In the summer of 327

BC. e. Alexander again moved through the Hindu Kush (this time in a southeast

direction), conquering local tribes on the way. In the spring of 326 BC. e.he

crossed the Indus, taking possession of his friend Taxila; the latter gave him

200 talents of silver, many livestock and a military contingent, including

elephants. Soon the ruler of the mountain Indians (the territory of

modern Kashmir ), Abisar, submitted to Alexander . Then he gathered an army to

meet the Macedonians with weapons in their hands .


The battle with Porus took

place in May 326 BC. e. on the Hydasp river . The Macedonian cavalry once again

proved to be stronger than the enemy; Alexander’s warriors faced a new threat

for them, with many war elephants, but they were able to turn the animals to

flight when they began to chop their legs and trunks with axes. Pora’s army was

utterly defeated, and he himself was captured . Alexander left Pora as king and

even expanded his domain, so as not to over-strengthen Taxila . The Macedonians

continued their movement deep into India: they easily took 37 cities in the

lands of the Glavganiks or Glavsand

went to the Gifasis River … Standing

at this line, Alexander learned about the existence on the banks of the Ganges

of a vast and rich kingdom, which could put up an army of 200 thousand, and also

that the Ganges flows into the ocean, which is the eastern border of

the ecumene . This news strengthened the king in his desire to reach the ocean,

thus conquering the entire inhabited world .


But the Macedonians were too tired from

the endless campaign and many battles, besides, they suffered from tropical

rains, poisonous snakes and unusual food. In November 326 BC. e. they refused to

go further , and the important role was played by the fear of meeting the huge

Indian army and its war elephants. Alexander had to abandon his plans. In the

place where his army stopped, he erected 12 altars, made sacrifices to the gods,

played games, and then with a specially built fleet moved south, down along the

Hydasp and Indus. On the way, the Macedonians conquered the neighboring tribes,

and in some places they faced fierce resistance; in the battle for the city

of mull(January 325 BC) Alexander was seriously wounded in the chest by an

arrow. In the Lower Indus, he faced a whole chain of uprisings and resorted to

the most brutal measures – mass executions and the sale into slavery of all

residents of certain settlements . Diodorus of Siculus reports that during this

campaign 80,000 “barbarians” were killed .


In the summer of 325 BC. e. the

Macedonians arrived in the Indus Delta. Here they were divided into three parts,

which had to reach Babylon in different ways: the fleet led by Nearchus – the

sea, part of the army led by Craterus through Arachosia, and the other part, led

by Alexander himself, along the coast. The 60-day journey through the deserts

of Gedrosia turned out to be more difficult than the battles – a significant

part of the army died from heat and thirst . In December, the king arrived in

the capital of Gedrosia, Puru, where he gave rest to his people. Finally,

in Carmania, Alexander met with Crater, and in March or April 324 BC. Susa

there was a meeting with Nearh’s fleet .


The last year of life of Alexander the



Arriving in Susa, Alexander put the army

to rest after 10 years of continuous wars and set about building up his vast

empire. At that time, some satraps (in Susiana, Persis, Carmania) clearly abused

their power, and the king removed and executed them, appointing people loyal to

him to the vacated positions. In Bactria there was an uprising of several local

garrisons ; satraps in this remote region did not always obey the central

authority, and Indian vassals generally behaved as independent rulers .


To strengthen the state, Alexander started

a grand wedding , at which 10

thousand Macedonians took Asians as their wives. The king himself

married Statira , the eldest daughter of Darius III, and Parysatid , daughter of

Artaxerxes III . His closest friend Hephaestion married Statira’s own

sister Drypetida , and Crater married his cousin, Amastrina. Another 87 ghetaira

entered into marriage with noble Persians and Medians (in

particular, Seleucus married Spitamen’s daughter Apama ).The wedding was played

according to the Eastern rite, all newlyweds received gifts from the king .


In the summer of 324 BC. e. a new stage

in the reform of the army began: 30 thousand Asian youths, armed and trained in

the Macedonian manner, were brought to Susa, who were to take the places of the

retired Macedonians in the phalanx. In addition, from the Persians were formed

elite units of “silver shield” and “foot ghetaira”, and the cavalry of the

ghetaira also received a Persian replenishment. In August 324

BC. e. Dissatisfied with these innovations, the Macedonian infantry

revolted. The Falangists said: “Let the king recognize all Macedonians as

useless and let them all go, since he has these milk-sucking dancers with whom

he intends to conquer the world” … Alexander did not make concessions.He

executed 13 major troublemakers without trial, and the rest soon turned from

rioters into supplicants. In the end, 11,000 Macedonian soldiers left for their

homeland, and the farewell feast held in Opis in September or October marked

their final reconciliation with the king .


In November 324 BC. e. Alexander visited

Ecbatana to arrange business in Media. His closest friend Hephaestion died

there, which was a terrible blow: the king declared mourning throughout the

empire, sent people to the oracle of Ammon with the question of whether the

deceased should be honored as a hero or as a god, and arranged a grand funeral

in Babylon . His winter campaign against the Kassites in the Zagros mountains

was considered by his contemporaries “a funeral offering to Hephaestion.” Having

ended this war, which became his last, Alexander went to Babylon , which,

according to many researchers, wanted to make the capital of the state .


The king was planning new wars of

conquest. Work on the construction of a new port in the Persian Gulf and

preparation of the fleet show that Alexander wanted to conquer Arabia in order

to control the entire sea coast from India to Egypt ; Diodorus of Siculus tells

that the king planned to conquer the Mediterranean . Until the ships were ready,

he built harbors and canals, formed troops from recruits, received

embassies . Serious changes took place in the circle of the king at this time:

after the death of Hephaestion, who held the unique post

of chiliarch , Perdiccas and Eumenes from Cardia came to the fore .Crater

and Polyperchon Alexander sent to Macedonia, and from there to the East summoned

Antipater; but the latter did not have to go anywhere because of the sudden

death of the king .


Death of Alexander the Great


5 days before the start of the campaign

against the Arabs, Alexander fell ill. After 10 days of severe fever on 10 or 13

June 323 BC. e. the king died in Babylon at the age of 32, leaving no orders for

heirs .


In modern historiography, the version

about the natural death of Alexander is generally accepted . At

the same time, the cause of his death has not yet been reliably

established. Most often, the version is put forward about malaria , which

attacked the body of the king together with another disease – either pneumonia,

or fleeting leukemia (leukemia) . According to another version, the king fell

ill with West Nile fever . In addition, it has been suggested that Alexander may

have died of leishmaniasis. or cancer. However, the fact that none of his

companions got sick anymore reduces the credibility of the version of an

infectious disease.Historians pay attention to the more frequent by the end of

the conquests of Alexander’s drinking with the generals, which could undermine

his health . There is also a version about an overdose of a poisonous hellebore

by the king , which was used as a laxative . According to the modern opinion of

British toxicologists, the symptoms of the disease from which Alexander died –

prolonged vomiting, convulsions, muscle weakness and slowing of the pulse –

indicate his poisoning with a drug made on the basis of white hellebore ( Latin veratrum

) – a poisonous plant

used by Greek doctors for medicinal purposes .Greek

doctors gave a drink made from white hellebore with honey to drive out evil

spirits and induce vomiting. Finally, even in antiquity, versions were expressed

about the poisoning of the king by Antipater, whom Alexander was going to remove

from the post of governor of Macedonia, but no evidence of this appeared .


Alexander’s urban planning policy


During the Eastern campaign, Alexander

founded a number of cities named after him by the Alexandria . According

to F. Schahermayr, the first of these cities could appear near Issa in 333

BC. e. ; other historians, however, are skeptical about this assumption. In 331

BC. e. not far from the Canopian mouth of the Nile, Alexandria of

Egypt appeared , and the king personally chose a place, determined where the

city walls should be built, and where the agora should be located . The new city

quickly became the largest commercial and cultural center in the Mediterranean .


All the rest of Alexandria was founded in

the interior of the former Persian empire east of the Tigris. Plutarch claims

that the king founded 70 cities in total, but researchers for the most part

consider this an exaggeration: in some cases, it could be about creating only

minor strongholds or about unfulfilled plans. Various scholars write about 34,

16 or 13 Alexandria. The sources mention the Caucasus Alexandria at the foot of

the mountain, where, according to myths, Prometheus was

crucified (near Bagram or on the site of the present Charikar ); Alexandria

Tanaisskaya , built in 17 days; Alexandria Margianain the satrapy of the same

name (in the Merv oasis); Alexandria Oksiana (in the area of ​​modern Kulyab )

and Alexandria Eskhata (presumably on the site of Khujand ) in

Sogdiana; Alexandria Bactriana , Alexandria Ariana , Alexandria Arachosia (on

the site of Kandahar ). In India, Alexander built the cities of Nicaea and

Bukefala on different banks of the Hydasp, and Hephaestion with Perdiccas –

Orobatida. Four Alexandria were founded in the Indus basin (all of them perished

during the conquests of Chandragupta ), two in Gedrosia, one in Carmania .


Opinions about the goals of the tsar’s

urban planning policy differ: it could have been the protection of trade routes,

the consolidation of power over the conquered territories, Alexander’s attempt

to make his empire more culturally homogeneous, creating in the East the centers

of Hellenic civilization … As a rule, the city was founded not far from the

already existing small settlements. The army erected walls and moved on, and the

rest of the buildings were occupied by the colonists. Very little is known about

the composition of the original settlement of these cities.Accurate information

has survived only about two Alexandria, in one of which the king settled 7

thousand veterans-Macedonians, and in the other – a certain number of Greek

mercenaries, Macedonians who were considered unfit for military service or

“rebellious”, and “barbarians “from those around territories. Presumably, in all

cases, Greeks also settled in the new city, both Macedonians and barbarians, so

that the composition of the population was initially extremely variegated. For

many residents, the status of a colonist was a heavy punishment, as it meant de

facto eternal exile; known about a number of settler uprisings, the purpose of

which was to return home to the Balkans .


After death of Alexander the Great


Section of the empire


Alexander died without leaving orders for

successors. According to legend, before his death, he gave his ring with the

seal to Perdikka , who was to become regent under the pregnant Queen Roxanne and

her future son. A month later, Roxanne actually gave birth to a son named after

his father Alexander . But the supreme power of the regent soon began to be

challenged by other military leaders ( diadochi ), who sought to independently

rule their satrapies. In 321 BC. e. it came to an open conflict in which

Perdiccas died. The wars of the Diadochi went on almost continuously until 281

BC. e., when the last commanders of Alexander died.Their descendants reigned in

several states, formed on the site of a once huge power. …


All Argeads fell

victim to a power struggle. Alexander’s brother Arridey, who for some time

became a puppet king under the name of Philip III, was killed in 317 BC. e. by

order of Olympias, like his wife Eurydice (his and Alexander’s own

niece); Olympias herself a year later fell victim to Cassander, the son of

Antipater; Alexander’s sister Cleopatra died in 308 BC. e., and the Diadochus of

Antigone was blamed for her death. Finally, in 309 BC. e. Cassander ordered to

kill Roxana and Alexander IV, and at the same time the

diadoch Polyperchon killed Hercules , Alexander’s son

by Barsina’sconcubine . This marked the end of the Argead dynasty .


Tomb of alexander


Diadoch Ptolemy took

possession of Alexander’s embalmed body and in 322 BC. e. took him

to Memphis . There the mummy was most likely kept in the Serapeion temple , and

later (probably on the initiative of Ptolemy Philadelphus ) was transported to

Alexandria . In 30 BC. e. it was touched by the first Roman emperor Octavian ,

breaking off his nose with an awkward movement . The mummy of Alexander was last

mentioned in connection with a visit to Alexandria in 215 by the

emperor Caracalla: the latter, as a sign of special respect, placed his tunic

and ring on the tomb .


There is an assumption that

the sarcophagus of Nectaneb II , found by the French expeditionary corps

of Napoleon in Egypt and transferred to the British, could have been used for

some time for the burial of Alexander . The Ptolemies often used various

artifacts of the pharaohs for their own purposes, and besides, Ptolemy I did not

have time to create a repository worthy of the great conqueror . Now this

sarcophagus is kept in the British Museum in London .


Personality of Alexander the Great


According to Plutarch, Alexander was very

light-skinned, and in places the whiteness of his skin turned red (especially on

the face and chest). Most accurately, according to the historian, the

sculptor Lysippos portrayed the appearance of the tsar , who managed to

reproduce the most characteristic features – “a slight tilt of the neck and

languid gaze” . P. Fore writes about “the gentle oval of an eternally beardless

face”, grace, eternal concern for caring for your body . The tsar did not differ

in his heroic build and was indifferent to athletic competitions, preferring

hunting, competitions of poets and musicians .


The features of a calculating politician

were combined in Alexander with a frenzied temperament (many researchers believe

that he inherited the former from his father, and the latter from his

mother). The tsar was, as a rule, gentle in his treatment of others, but at the

same time he felt an eternal need to be loved and was prone to sudden mood

swings . He strove to be the first in everything, which is why in every battle

he rushed into the thick of the fight . Plutarch lists his wounds:




Under Granicus, his helmet was cut

with a sword that penetrated to the hair … under Iss, a sword in the thigh

… near Gaza, he was wounded with a dart in the shoulder, near Maracanda,

with an arrow in the shin, so that the split bone protruded from the

wound; in Hyrcania – with a stone in the back of his head, after which his

vision deteriorated and for several days he remained under the threat of

blindness; in the area of ​​the Assakans – with an Indian spear in the ankle

… In the area of ​​the mulls, an arrow two elbows long, piercing the

shell, wounded him in the chest; in the same place … he was stabbed in the

neck with a club.


– Plutarch. About

the fate and valor of Alexander, II, 9.




This eternal craving for primacy

sometimes became the cause of conflicts between the king and his entourage. So,

Alexander ordered to whip the noble youth Hermolaus because he was the first to

hit the boar during the royal hunt, and he, in order to take revenge, led the

“conspiracy of pages.” During the eastern campaign all the more noticeable

(including due to the growing addiction to alcohol) became common unbridled

character of Alexander and his excessive authoritativeness ; some researchers

even write about paranoia .


Personal life of Alexander the Great


In his youth, Alexander, according to

Plutarch, “was indifferent to bodily pleasures” . The

hostile relationship between his parents led to the fact that the king did not

recognize female love for a long time . Before marriage, he had only one

mistress – Barsina , daughter of the Persian Artabaz . Later Alexander took

three wives – the Bactrian princess Roxana (327 BC), the daughter of Darius

III Statira and the daughter of Artaxerxes III Parysatis (324 BC). He had two

sons: Hercules from Barsina (327-309 BC) and Alexander IV from Roxana (323-309

BC).In general, the king had some respect for women …


The opinion

of Alexander ‘s bisexuality dates back to antiquity . In particular, the ancient

authors call the king’s lover his close friend Hephaestion . Alexander often

compared him to Patroclus , and himself to Achilles; however, in ancient Greece,

the two heroes of the Iliad, as a rule, were considered

a homosexual couple . During the Eastern campaign, the favorite of the king was

the young eunuch Bagoi , whom Alexander once even “threw back and kissed in full

view of the theater.” According to Athenaeus, the king “loved young men to

madness,” and this was not considered something reprehensible: the Macedonian

aristocrats often practiced relationships with men from their

youth … Relatives turned a blind eye to such relationships and usually showed

concern only if the man did not express interest in women in adulthood, which

created problems for procreation .


However, there is also other

evidence. Plutarch writes that when the military leader Philoxenus asked

Alexander if he wanted to buy two boys of “remarkable beauty,” the king “was

extremely indignant … and more than once complained to his friends, asking if

Philoxenus really thinks so badly of him that he offers him this an abomination.

” The same reception was met by Gagnon’s offer to bring Alexander the” famous

boy Krobilus in Corinth ” .


Religious views of Alexander the Great


Before the first successes in the fight

against the Persians, Alexander actively made sacrifices to the gods ,

but gradually he ceased to treat the classical Hellenic religion with

reverence. So, he trampled on the ban on visiting the Delphic oracle , and

mourning the death of his friend Hephaestion, equated him with heroes, organized

his cult and laid two temples in his honor .


In Egypt, Alexander proclaimed himself the

son of Amun-Ra and thus declared

his divine essence; the Egyptian priests began to venerate him both as a son of

God and as a god . This is usually seen as a pragmatic political move aimed at

legitimizing control over Egypt . Among the Greeks, the king’s desire to deify

himself did not always find support – most Greek city-states recognized his

divine essence (as the son of Zeus , the Greek analogue of Amun-Ra) only shortly

before his death, including with obvious reluctance , like the Spartans (they

decided: “So as Alexander wants to be a god, let him be”) . In honor of the

king, they began to hold Alexandria

All-Ionian Games like the Olympic Games, and shortly before his death, the

ambassadors of the Greek policies crowned him with golden wreaths, which

symbolically recognized his divine essence . The

desire for self-deification seriously shaken the trust in the king of many

soldiers and generals . In Greece, the victorious generals were sometimes given

similar honors, so only Alexander’s renunciation of his father and the demand to

recognize himself as an invincible god caused discontent .


A later author, Josephus Flavius, wrote

down the legend that Yahweh appeared

to Alexander in a dream , and therefore Alexander treated the Jewish high priest

in Jerusalem with great respect , and also allegedly read the Book of the

Prophet Daniel and recognized himself there .


Memory of alexander


The image of Alexander occupies a unique

place in world culture: according to researchers, no other historical figure has

become the object of such close attention from art and science figures, the hero

of so many and so diverse interpretations. On a vast territory that included all

of Europe, a significant part of Asia and Africa, for many rulers and military

leaders – from their own diadochi to Adolf Hitler – Alexander was an example to

follow. Even now, the leaders of many Afghan tribes trace their ancestry to him,

and two states, Greece and North Macedonia , argue over which of them is the

true heir of Alexander .




The name of Alexander was very actively

used in political propaganda in the first years after the death of the king. So,

Perdiccas substantiated his right to regency by the fact that it was to him that

the dying king gave his ring. Fighting for the unity of the empire, Eumenes of

Cardia , in order to keep the army under control, announced to his subordinates

that Alexander had promised him in a dream to invisibly attend all meetings of

the military council . The satrap of Persia Peukestus dedicated an altar at

Persepolis to Alexander and his father. , and the satrap of Egypt, Ptolemy,

established in Alexandria a full-fledged cult of the deceased king, under whose

protection he placed his own person.Finally, the Olympics, starting in 317

BC. e. war against Arridaeus and Cassandra, who supported him, accused the

latter of organizing the poisoning of Alexander through his brother , and

Antigonus spread the same information .


Plutarch reports that all the first

Hellenistic kings tried to prove their resemblance to Alexander – “purple

vestments, retinue, head tilt and arrogant tone”; with weapons in hand, this

similarity was proved only by the cousin of the Macedonian king Pyrrhus . “They

talked a lot about him and believed that both by his appearance and by the speed

of his movements he resembled Alexander, and seeing his strength and onslaught

in battle, everyone thought that in front of them was the shadow of Alexander or

his likeness” … Seleucides Antiochus III was compared with the Macedonian

king , who also made a great eastern campaign and received the nickname Great for

this .The tsars of Macedonia Philip V substantiated their political claims by

alleged kinship with Alexanderand Perseus , as well as Pseudo-Alexander , who

raised an anti-Roman uprising in 142 BC. e. King Pontus Mithridates VI

Evpator minted coins on which his portrait was clearly stylized as images of

Alexander, and kept the dress of the Macedonian king .


The first written sources containing

information about Alexander were “Ephemeris” (records of the court journal) and

“Hypomnemata” (notes of the king himself with plans for campaigns). Ancient

authors often quoted Alexander correspondence with friends, relatives and

officials, but most of these letters is a later forgery . Many intellectuals

participated in the Eastern campaign, and some of them subsequently published

memoirs of their great contemporary. Thus, Khares Mitylensky wrote The History

of Alexander in 10 books; it described primarily the personal life of the title

character and was not a chronologically correct story, but a collection of

anecdotes .The works were similar in the selection and design of the

material Medea , Poliklita of Larissa and . The Cynic philosopher Onesikrit from

Astypalea , who traveled with Alexander’s headquarters to India itself,

described this campaign in detail, paying special attention to India – the local

flora, fauna, and customs of the inhabitants. Despite the abundance of fables

and invented stories, in ancient times, the information on Onesikrit served as

one of the most important sources in the description of India by

geographers . Nearchus , who commanded the fleet on his return from India , also

left memories of the war .


The tsar had a staff historiographer,

Callisthenes, whose “Acts of Alexander” was conceived as an excuse for the tsar

in front of a Greek audience and, accordingly, were frankly apologetic in

nature. Already in ancient times, Callisthenes was criticized for bias and

distortion of facts . Since the historian died in 327 BC. BC, “Acts” remained

unfinished: the last of the detailed records describe the Battle of

Gaugamela … Many years after the death of the king, his memoirs were

systematized by Ptolemy, who by this time had become the ruler of Egypt. This

author largely created the image of Alexander as a genius commander.It is

assumed that, being an experienced military leader, Ptolemy gave in his essay

many precise details related to military operations. The engineer Aristobulus,

who was in his army, did not immediately write the history of Alexander’s

campaigns, who paid much attention to the geographical and ethnographic

description of the conquered lands. He began work at the age of 84, but

nevertheless accurately recorded all distances, sums of money, as well as days

and months of events . The writings of Aristobulus and Ptolemy provided the

richest factual material for the historians of subsequent eras , but have not

survived to our times, like other texts about Alexander written by his

contemporaries. Small fragments became an exception .


The composition of Klitarch , a younger

contemporary of the tsar, who probably did not participate in the eastern

campaign, but tried to put together the data obtained from eyewitnesses and from

works published by that time almost

completely lost . His work “About Alexander” consisted of at least 12 books and

was close in style to a heroic novel. In ancient times he was very popular,

although he was criticized by other historians .


All these authors positively assessed the

activities and personality of the Macedonian king. The first critics

were Peripatetics – followers of Aristotle, whose nephew Callisthenes became a

victim of Alexander. Beginning with Theophrastus , who wrote the book

Callisthenes, or On Sorrow, representatives of this trend created the image of a

monarch who received an exemplary Hellenic education under the tutelage of a

great philosopher, but as a result of his own military successes, which he owed

solely to luck, turned into an Eastern despot … Associated with this are

reports of later sources that the founder of this philosophical school,

Aristotle, was involved in the poisoning of his pupil. Cinemaswelcomed the

cosmopolitanism of Alexander, seeing in him in his last years a philosopher on

the throne, noting (like the Stoics ) his high aspirations, courage and

generosity. The rhetoricians of the Hellenistic era were actively debating

whether Alexander owed his successes to his own “virtues” or still to luck .


The Romans were also very interested in

the personality of Alexander. Since, unlike the Greeks, they were not defeated

by this king, nothing prevented them from admiring the scale of his deeds. In

one of Plautus’s comedies, Alexander was first called the Great (two

centuries earlier than in Greek sources), and this nickname is later found

in Cornelius Nepot and Mark Tullius Cicero . Alexander

was imitated by Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus ; the annalist Gaius Acilius

Glabrion wrote about 140 BC. BC that Hannibalduring his only meeting with

Scipio, he called the Macedonian king the greatest of all generals (while

Hannibal, according to him, would have surpassed Alexander if he had won a

victory at Zama ). Portraits of Gnaeus Pompey , who also won victories when he

was very young, and received the nickname “Great” for this, were clearly

stylized after the images of the Macedonian king, and under the influence of

this fact, Plutarch later wrote that Pompey looked like Alexander . During the

third triumph in Pompey, there was the clothing of Alexander, previously kept in

the treasury of Mithridates .


Gaius Julius Caesar saw

the Macedonian king as an example to follow; this is evidenced by a famous

episode in Plutarch :




… Reading at his leisure something

from the written about the deeds of Alexander, Caesar plunged into thought

for a long time, and then even shed a tear. When surprised friends asked him

about the reason, he replied: “Do you really think that the reason for

sadness is insufficient that at my age Alexander had already ruled so many

nations, and I still have not done anything wonderful!”


– Plutarch. Alexander,





In addition, ancient authors write about

how Caesar reproached himself for inaction when he saw the statue of Alexander

in Hades (according to Suetonius , this even pushed Gaius Julius to speed up his

political career ); about Gaius

Julius’ visit to the tomb of the king in Alexandria ; that Caesar showed concern

for the inhabitants of Ilion , imitating Alexander, and in general was an ardent

admirer of this monarch . Having won the civil war, he ordered the equestrian

statue of Alexander by Lysippos to be erected at the Julian Forum in

Rome. Caesar’s campaign against the Parthians, which did not take place due to

the success of the conspirators, was conceived in imitation of Alexander’s

campaign. Later Mark Antony actively used the image of the Macedonian king to

legitimize his power over the East; he named one of his sons Alexander .


In the literature of the Principate era,

the personality of Alexander received conflicting assessments; negative

judgments about him were largely associated with the influence of

peripatetics . Titus Livy calls the “immense greatness” of the Macedonian king

“the greatness of only one person who has had good luck for a little over ten

years,” and recalls “terrible executions, the murder of friends at feasts,” “a

vain lie about his origin ” . This historian found it necessary to devote three

chapters of his work to the argument that the Romans would surely defeat

Alexander if he attacked them . For Valery Maxim, Alexander was as great in

military affairs asSocrates in philosophy. Supporters of the Republic used the

image of the Macedonian king to criticize autocracy as such. In

particular, Lucius Annei Seneca wrote about the cruelty and irrepressible

ambition of Alexander, called his campaigns predatory, and all his activities

were a source of troubles for many nations. For Seneca, the king of Macedonia

was an unhappy man who was driven by his own passions to unknown

lands ; Alexander did not understand “how small the land is, of which he

captured an insignificant part” . Comparison of this king with a pirate, and his

empire with a gang of robbers, passed later from the works of Seneca to the

works of Lactantius andBlessed Augustine . Lucius Anneas’ nephew Marcus Anneas

Lucan in the poem “Farsalia” he called Alexander a madman, “an evil star for the

nations”, a “happy predator” whom death carried away in his prime of strength in

order to avenge a world drenched in blood .


In the following centuries, there were

regular bursts of interest in the personality of Alexander, associated with

individual Roman emperors. If the Julia-Claudia were little interested in this

topic, then for Trajan Alexander became not even an example to follow, but a

competitor who could and should have been surpassed. In his Parthian campaign,

Trajan wanted to reach India; he used the experience of Alexander, forging

relationships with subordinate communities and founding new cities. It is known

that in Babylon in 116, the emperor visited the chambers in which Alexander

died. Trajan’s activities gave impetus to a kind of renaissance of the

Alexandrian theme in the antique literature of the 2nd century ADBC: the

biography of the king was written by Plutarch, a work called ” Anabasis of

Alexander ” – Arrian .


At Caracalla (ruled

211-217), admiration for Alexander grew into a kind of mania. This emperor, in a

letter to the Senate, said that in him Alexander was reborn for a new life; he

created an army according to the Macedonian model in order to repeat the eastern

campaign with it; he wanted to burn the works of the followers of Aristotle,

because he believed that this philosopher was involved in the poisoning of the

king. Caracalla called himself “New Dionysus” and “Great”. One of the soldier

emperors Jotapian (249) claimed to be descended from Alexander . Finally, Julian

the Apostate, who revived the idea of ​​the Persian campaign, admired the

Macedonian king and took an example from him in certain situations .


Five ancient texts have survived,

describing the biography of Alexander. The earliest of these is the Historical

Library of Diodorus of Siculus (1st century BC), who relied on

Cleitarchus . Diodorus writes about “intelligence and courage”, thanks to which

Alexander “accomplished deeds greater than those that were done by all the

kings, the memory of which has been passed on to us by history,” and “acquired a

resounding fame that equated him with ancient heroes and demigods ” . Quintus

Curtius Rufus in the 1st century AD e. wrote “The History of Alexander the Great

the Great”, where he used the works of Klitarch and Megasthenes, as well as the

memoirs of a number of the king’s associates.His goal was to create an

entertaining story, and for this he regularly resorted to exaggeration and

neglect of reliability. … Alexandra Quintus Curtius calls “Great” and

describes him as a man of magnanimity and courage; but at the same time, the

historian notes the cruelty, vindictiveness and hypertrophied ambition of his

hero. In some cases, he sympathizes with the enemies of Alexander .


The epitome ofPompey Trog’s “Philip’s

history” , created by Justin , has also survived . Pompey Trogus relied on the

same Klitarchus, but presented events without strict chronological sequence. In

his portrayal, Alexander turns out to be a sharply negative character –

insidious, arrogant, causing universal fear and hatred, who imposed on many

countries the “yoke of slavery” . At the same time, Trog notes that “there was

not a single enemy that Alexander would not have defeated, there was not a

single city that he would not take, not a single people that he would not

conquer” …Plutarch included a biography of Alexander in his Comparative

Biographies, pairing it with the biography of Guy Julius Caesar (by then

comparing the two generals was a hackneyed topic ). Plutarch was most interested

not in large-scale historical events, but in the personality of the tsar,

revealed in small details ; he recognizes Alexander as a great warrior, writes

about his generosity, temperance, benevolence .


The researchers recognize the most

reliable source as “Anabasis of Alexander”, written by Arrian in the 2nd century

AD. e. For this historian, the Roman Empire was the political ideal, and

Alexander the predecessor of the Roman emperors. Arrian used a wide range of

sources (primarily the memoirs of Ptolemy) and tried to approach them

critically, but at the same time he was often biased: many facts that showed his

hero in a bad light, he lowered or relegated to the background. Together with

Plutarch, Arrian is considered to be one of the main creators of the classic

image of Alexander – a brave and magnanimous conqueror, an object of admiration

and imitation .


The formation of a cycle of fantastic

legends associated with Alexander dates back to the ancient era, although

individual legends began to appear during his lifetime . Together,

they created a tradition of truthful and fictitious information about Alexander,

which in historiography is known as the “vulgate” . At some point, “The Novel of

Alexander ” was created in Greek. The time of the formation of its final version

is unclear – it could have been the period from the reign of Ptolemy II (3rd

century BC) to the beginning of the 3rd century AD. e.The “novel” is of a

fantastic character, and it was written based on materials from historical

writings, memoirs and semi-legendary legends, and there were even more sources

than in five surviving historical works about Alexander . The author of “Roman”

is unknown; in one of the manuscripts Callisthenes is called as such, but since

this cannot be true, sometimes scientists speak of Pseudo-Callisthenes . There

is an opinion that the first versions of the text before its final processing

appeared in the East, where there was an urgent need to justify the Macedonian

conquests . The facts in the novel are often distorted, the chronology is

broken . In the classical form, the novel consisted of 10 parts, although in

earlier versions, perhaps, there were practically no topics concerning Greece .


Medieval West



Kostyukhin on the medieval perception of Alexander.


In the early Western European

Middle Ages, history is rethought and acquires a new pattern, the past

is closely related to the present and similar to it. So, Priam is called

the first king of the Franks, Alexander the Great – Greek, and Caesar –

Roman Charlemagne , they walk around the world with twelve peers and

destroy the Saracens .


During the thousand years between

antiquity and modern times, information about Alexander was mostly drawn not

from the works of ancient historians: Quintus Curtius Rufus began to be read

only in the XII century, and Arrian and the corresponding part of Plutarch’s

Comparative Biographies – in the Renaissance. The main source of information

about the king of Macedonia was “The Novel of Alexander” in various variations,

one of the most popular books of its era. This novel and the various works

created on its basis were filled with fantastic stories about how the title

character travels the world, descends to the bottom of the sea, flies through

the sky, meets with sages and listens to their stories.The tradition associated

with the “Roman” is divided into four branches: Western (based on a number of

Latin translations of the book), Byzantine , Eastern Christian (talking

about Armenia , Syria , Coptic culture ), Muslim. In the era of the Late Middle

Ages, legends about Alexander appeared among the Eastern Slavs, Ethiopians,

Mongols, and the peoples of Indochina .


In Catholic Europe, beginning in the 12th

century, The Novel of Alexander served as a source of material for a number of

knightly novels. As a result, this plot became one of the two most popular in

the literature of the time – along with the tales of King Arthur . Around

1140, Alberic of Besançon wrote a novel in Old French, and Lamprecht the

German created a reworking of this novel in German (“Song of Alexander”). A

number of fantastic innovations in the legend appeared in these works: the main

character is dressed in armor, tempered in dragon’s blood; his army reaches the

place where the sky touches the ground;along the way he encounters people with

six arms and flies the size of a dove; finally, Alexander tries to impose

tribute on the angels in paradise .


At the end of the 12th century, Walter

Chatillonsky wrote the poem “Alexandreis” in Latin (one of the sources for it

was the work of Quintus Curtius Rufus). Alexander Parissky created the most

voluminous (16 thousand verses) and one of the most popular poems about the king

of Macedonia, which had a huge impact on poetry in folk languages ​​in different

countries of Western Europe . Poems

about Alexander began to appear in England , Germany , Spain , Czech

Republic … In the 13th century, prose novels and further processing of the

text, which were very popular, appeared on their basis.In the later editions of

the Novel about Alexander, the idealized image of the tsar as a courageous but

humane commander was finally formed . For a long time this character was an

example of a ruler for European culture and was included, in particular, in the

list of nine worthy ones (other righteous pagans were Hector and Guy Julius

Caesar). In different versions of the novel, there are allusions to events

relevant to their time: for example, in the Czech poetic “Alexandreis” of the

early 14th century, there are many references to Czech reality, to the dominance

of Germans and German culture in Prague .


Along with the novels about Alexander,

there were other works that supplemented the legend about him with new fictional

details. Thus, in the XIII century, created , which is based on the popular

legend about Aristotle and Phyllis, Alexander’s mistress .


The mention of the Macedonian king in

the Bible played a special role in

the development of the tradition of Alexander in Catholic Europe . In the First

Book of Maccabees, Alexander is presented as a moderately hostile conqueror to

the Jews, one of whose successors was Antiochus IV Epiphanes , the persecutor of

Judaism . And in the Book of the prophet Daniel , which the king allegedly

read , he is not named directly, but is considered as part of the divine plan to

save the Jewish people. In this book Daniel tells Nebuchadnezzar about the

forthcoming alternation of the four kingdoms (Dan. 39-40);Christian writers

starting with Hippolytus of Rome (II century), saw in the third of them,

“copper, which will rule over all the earth”, the power of Alexander . The

fourth kingdom, “iron”, they considered the Roman Empire, after the collapse of

which the Kingdom of God was to be established. Thus, Alexander’s activity was

built into the Christian model of world history .


The first historians to use this model

criticized Alexander. Thus, Orosius writes that the Macedonian conquests became

a disaster for the whole world , reports about “a multitude of atrocities” and

the inability of the king to get enough of human blood . Later, under the

influence of “The Novel of Alexander”, the assessments become more positive: the

tsar turns into a knight without fear or reproach, an exemplary ruler and an

inquisitive researcher. World chronicles, including the story of Alexander, are

overgrown with implausible details. Thus, Otto of Freisingen (XII century), the

Macedonian king rules all lands to the end of the world, and the “Imperial

Chronicle” (also of the XII century) says that the Saxons fought on the side of

Alexander .


Eastern Christian cultures


In parallel, the story about Alexander

developed in the Eastern Christian world. In Byzantium, this development took

place on the basis of a number of Greek versions of the Roman (the latest

appeared in the 15th century); new pictorial details appeared thanks to the

dictionary of the Court , the chronicles of John Zonara and George the

Monk . Byzantium became the source of a corresponding tradition for Eastern

Europe: pagan peoples, receiving baptism according to the Eastern rite, received

an inoculation of Greek culture, so that the legends about Alexander began a new

life in new languages. The first was Bulgaria (X-XI centuries), and in the XII

or even XI centuryfirst translations of texts about Alexander appeared in Kievan

Rus … The “Serbian Alexandria” belongs to the XIV century, which played a

great role in the literature of the whole Eastern Europe . It was created

presumably in Dalmatia on the basis of one of the late Byzantine editions of the

“Roman about Alexander” with the addition of Western European motifs and was

quite a typical knightly novel ; references to ancient texts were reduced, but

the Christian component was strengthened .At the end of the 15th century, the

text of “Serbian Alexandria” was included in the Russian collection of

Euphrosynus, and in the 17th century, after temporary oblivion, it was widely

circulated in the Russian kingdom .


The novel ended up in the Grand Duchy of

Lithuania in the form of translations of Western European editions from Latin

into Old Belarusian language and immediately became one of the most popular

secular works. Later, in addition to these translations, copies of Serbian

Alexandria distributed , and then compilations appeared, in which the two

traditions were combined . Due to the popularity of the novel, some plots from

it ended up in Belarusian folk tales .


The novel about Alexander was very early

translated into Armenian (in the 5th century). Later it was translated

into Middle Persian , and at the beginning of the 7th century from this language

into Syrian. The hero of the Syrian edition of “Roman” is a stern ruler on a

great mission to create a world power; in particular, through Central Asia, he

makes a trip to China. From the Syrian language “Roman” was translated into

Coptic and Arabic, and from the latter in the 15th-16th centuries – into the

Ethiopian language (researchers note that the Ethiopian edition is more like not

a translation, but an independent work ). The Arabic version formed the basis of

the Muslim tradition about Alexander .



Muslim tradition ====


Ferdowsi . Shahnameh . Per. VVDerzhavin.


And Ardashir opened his mouth

before them:

“Hey, glorious in their knowledge,

Who have grasped the

essence of everything

in their hearts!

I know that there is not one among


Who would not have heard how Iskandar ,

a stranger, of a low birth , subjected

Us to hardships ! He cast the

glory of the ancient into darkness, The whole world is clamped in a

violent fist. <…> Remember Iskandar, who destroyed the Most Glorious,

destroyed the color of the universe. Where are

they all ? Where is their majestic shine? Only a bad name

remained about them. Not in blooming heaven – in a chilling hell They

went. Haftwad is not eternal! “


The concept of Alexander in Muslim culture

is based largely on the 18th chapter of the Koran , which

mentions Dhu’l-Qarnain . This is a

righteous man and a great king who professed faith in one God and fought with

the pagans; in particular, he built a wall that protected the civilized world

from the Yajuj and Majuj tribes . This king was often identified with Alexander,

who thus began to look like an adherent and protector of Islam, close in status

to the prophet .


The Persians after the Arab conquest had

a rather complex attitude towards the personality of Alexander. In

the Zoroastrian “Book of the Righteous Viraz,” the Macedonian king is presented

as a messenger of the ruler of evil Angra Mainyu (see the sidebar on the

right); on the other hand, court historiographers portrayed Alexander as a

descendant of the Achaemenids in order to substantiate the theory of hereditary

succession to the Persian throne , and this tradition, more positive in relation

to the king, gradually merged with the Muslim one. The poet Ferdowsi in the

classical Persian epic Shahnameh(about 1000) included Alexander among the rulers

of Iran, described his philosophical conversation with the sages in a neutral

manner, but through the mouth of King Ardashir voiced a negative assessment of

the conqueror; however, the king changes under the influence of conversations

with priests, brahmanas, philosophers and thanks to his acquaintance with the

“flourishing city” . A separate poem ” Iskender-name ” in the cycle ” Khamsa “

was dedicated to Alexander Nizami Ganjavi (end of the 12th century), depicting

the king as an ideal Persian ruler who defeated Zoroastrianism and paved the way

for the true faith …The work is built on principles close to the European

knightly novel, but Nizami consistently pursues his own philosophical line, and

Alexander conducts scholarly conversations with Greek and Indian sages. In

addition, the poem contains a utopian element: while traveling to the north,

Alexander finds a land where there is an ideal society without supreme power,

poverty and vices .


Various legends about Alexander were in

circulation throughout the Muslim world. One of the most popular stories was the

legend of Alexander’s two horns, which he carefully concealed from everyone; one

barber told this secret to the reed from which the pipe was made, and as a

result the whole world learned about the horns. The appearance of this plot was

often associated with the Greek myth of Midas , but in the middle of the 20th

century it was suggested that the legend originated in the East. … In Syrian

literature, there were several tales about Alexander, who is presented as a

rural hero-hero who, by strength and courage, got the best horse, the best sword

and the most beautiful girl.The widespread nickname “Two-Horned” there is

explained by the fact that Alexander “attached two swords to his head like horns

and struck enemies with them” . In Georgian and Tajik folklore, the name of

Alexander is associated with the abolition of the ancient custom

of gerontocide (the killing of old people who have reached a certain age) . In

Azerbaijani folklore, Alexander sets fire to the sea so that the king of the sea

would pay him tribute – miraculous gifts .


In Turkish literature, the court

poet Ahmedi was the first to use

the story about Alexander in his Iskander-name (1400). His poem was both an

imitation of the poem of the same name by Nizami , and a response to it . In

general, the fantastic and adventurous element of Ahmed is much stronger than

that of Nizami and Ferdowsi; moreover, the author was influenced by Sufism,

which was reflected in the content of the poem. There was also a more accessible

prose version of “Iskander-name” in terms of language and content, created by

Khamzavi, brother of Ahmed .


The Central Asian Turkic poet Alisher

Navoi (15th century) in his work “Iskander’s Wall” described his ideal of state

structure against the background of fantastic stories about the life of

Alexander (the search for living water, the construction of a wall to protect

against barbarians, etc.) .


New time


During the Renaissance, the perception of

Alexander within the framework of European culture changed

significantly. Various versions of the “Novel of Alexander” remained very

popular among the people, but at the same time the first editions of Arrian and

Plutarch appeared after a thousand-year hiatus. As a result, the ideas of the

most educated part of society about the Macedonian king turned out to be much

closer to historical facts than before, and it became possible for the emergence

of scientific literature on this topic. The biography of Alexander provided

material for a number of plays of the 16th-17th centuries, in which the

relationship between the main character and various women from his environment

became the plot basis.The king in these plays is portrayed as a gallant lover, a

knight without fear or reproach, who, as a rule, out of generosity sacrifices

his feelings for the happiness of others .


One of the first playwrights who turned to

this story material was Hans Sachs : in a 7-act tragedy, he described the Tsar’s

entire life (1558) . The

representative of the English “Elizabethan age” John Lily wrote the tragedy

“Campaspa” in 1584 based on the story told by Pliny the Elder (in this play

Alexander fell in love with the Theban woman Campaspa, but upon learning of the

artist Apelles ‘ s love for her , he made the couple happy). In France in the

17th century were written and staged the tragedies “Death of Alexander”

by Alexander Hardy , “Alexander the Great” by Jean Racine .The success of

Racine’s play (1665) was fueled by a benevolent attitude Louis XIV : the king,

having watched the performance, found in the theatrical Alexander a lot of

similarities with himself . The twelve-volume gallant-heroic novel Cassandra

(1642-1645) by Gauthier de Calpreneda (1642-1645) , which tells about the

rivalry between the two wives of the king, Roxana and Statira, gained great

popularity ; the same storyline formed the basis of the play “The Rival Queens,

or The Death of Alexander the Great” (1677), written by one of the foremost

playwrights of the English Restoration, Nathaniel Lee . In Spain,Lope de

Vega (1604-1608) and Calderon (1657) wrote about Alexander .


With the strengthening of absolutism in

Europe and the spread of historical knowledge, the close monarchs are

increasingly compared them with the great rulers of antiquity. Thus, the court

poets and painters of Louis XIV often depicted him in the image of

Alexander . Peter I is credited with the phrase uttered during the Northern

War : “My brother Karl imagines himself to be Alexander, but he will not find

Darius in me.” Voltaire in 1765 compared Catherine II with the queen of

the Amazons, hinting at the legendary meeting of Alexander with this queen, and

“Catherine, according to Voltaire’s logic, is so great that the roles must

change – Alexander the Great himself would have to seek Catherine’s attention” .


With all this, in the literature of the

18th century, less often than before, ancient material was used in general and

the image of the Macedonian king in particular; now Alexander regularly became

only a hero of operas. Among the librettists who paid attention to him

was Pietro Metastasio (1729), and among the composers – Georg Handel (opera Por,

1731). The figures of the Enlightenment critically examined the personality and

work of Alexander. Charles de Montesquieu first drew attention to the economic

aspects of the Macedonian conquests; Voltaire, who recognized Alexander’s

greatness as a commander and statesman, noted his serious shortcomings.Guillaume

de Saint-Croix characterizes the Macedonian king as a bloodthirsty tyrant and

questioned the very possibility of setting him up as an example to European

monarchs . As a positive literary character, Alexander rarely appeared at that

time; one such case is Friedrich Hölderin ‘s poem Alexander ‘ s speech to the

soldiers at Issus (1785), which became an emotional protest against tyranny .


In the 19th century, Alexander became the

hero of a few poetic and prose works, and all of them are of interest only to

literary historians .


In historiography


Attempts to investigate the activities of

Alexander have been made since the Renaissance, when the main body of ancient

texts was put into circulation. Systematic study began only in the 19th century

with the emergence of historical scientific schools; many scholars used the

personality of Alexander in the framework of solving political problems that

were relevant for their era. Outstanding scholars of antiquity Barthold

Niebuhr , Ernst Curtius , George Groth treated Alexander sharply

negatively . Georg Hegel adhered to other views , who ranked Alexander as one of

his “worldly acting individuals” . Hegel’s follower Johann Droysen broke the

trend in historiography, who in his “History of Hellenism” (the first volume

dedicated to Alexander, was published in 1833) drew parallels between ancient

Macedonia, which united Greece, and the Prussian kingdom, a potential unifier of

Germany . Droysen challenged the opinion prevailing since the Renaissance that

the era of Alexander was the boundary between the heyday of the ancient world

and its decline and degeneration. For this scientist, the conquest of Persia

marked the beginning of the synthesis of Eastern and Western cultures, which, in

turn, created the basis for the emergence of Christianity. Alexander, “a young

hero who creates a new world,” is opposed by Droysen to Demosthenes with his

“narrow patriotic hatred” .


Later, Alexander was often idealized,

speaking from the standpoint of extreme Eurocentrism. Thus, the author of the

History of Greek Culture, Jacob Burckhardt, saw the king as the bearer of the

great mission to spread Greek civilization among the barbarians of the

East ; for Alexander’s conquests are assessed in line with the concept of

“beneficent imperialism” and are presented as an undoubtedly progressive

phenomenon . John Magaffy , and others adhered to similar positions . For Arnold

Toynbee, Alexander was a genius who single-handedly created the Hellenistic

world. … AlexanderMikhail Rostovtsev and some other representatives of

Anglo-American historiography considered Alexander to be the herald of the

“brotherhood of peoples” . Similar views persisted later: in particular, in the

entire Greek historiography of the 20th century, Alexander, as a rule, was

presented as a bearer of high culture and the leader of Western civilization in

its eternal struggle with the East . The art of war Alexander devoted a separate

work of a US military historian , seeking to learn from the campaigns of

Alexander lessons for the present .


Particularly much attention was paid to

Alexander by German scholars who made the greatest contribution to the

apologetic tradition . In the

1920s and 1940s, many German researchers approached this problem from a Nazi

perspective; among them are Helmut Berve (he wrote in 1926 his fundamental work

“The Empire of Alexander on a Prosopographic Basis”) and Fritz

Schachermeir … Both of these scholars have moved away from their previous

positions after the Second World War. Schahermeir created a scientific trilogy

in which he critically examined the activities of Alexander;for him, the tsar is

a cruel and fanatical man, often succumbing to his passion for destruction,

breaking the tendency towards rapprochement between Macedonia and Greece, which

was outlined thanks to Philip II. According to Schahermayr, Alexander and his

father belonged to different types of historical figures – “unbridled” and

“rational”, respectively .


In the second half of the 20th century,

other major studies appeared that critically evaluated the activities of

Alexander. British historians Robert David Milnes and Peter Green portrayed him

as a politician driven by only cold calculation . Pierre

Briand ‘s monograph focuses on the opposition to Alexander . Among the case

studies, a two-volume work by Alfred Bellinger on Macedonian coinage with an

insight into Alexander’s economic policy stands out .


In Soviet historiography, Alexander the

Great was primarily studied by Sergei Kovalev (published a monograph about him

in 1937) , Arkady Shofman (published the two-volume History of Ancient Macedonia

in 1960-1963, a separate work, The Eastern Policy of Alexander the Great in 1976

and articles) and Gennady Koshelenko (“The Greek policy in the Hellenistic East”

in 1979, a number of articles) .


In the culture and politics of the XX-XXI



In the 20th century, the personality of

Alexander again found itself in demand in fiction . In

1905, Jacob Wasserman’s novel Alexander in Babylon published . After the First

World War, many writers actively criticized the very idea of ​​conquest, and

this was most clearly manifested in the work of Berthold Brecht . In the 1920s

and 1930s, in several poems, he criticized Alexander’s striving for world

domination and drew attention to the fact that the merits of the entire army are

attributed to one person; in the radio play “The Interrogation of Lucullus “

(1940-1941), Brecht defends the opinion that Alexander’s fame in heaven means

nothing .


Klaus Mann used

the image of Alexander to draw artistic parallels with anti-fascism (“Alexander.

Novel-Utopia”, 1929). On the other hand, the leadership of the Third Reich

appealed to this image when implementing their plans of conquest in the East

during World War II (this was not prevented by the fact that Adolf Hitler was

rather critical of Alexander, seeing an example to follow in Pericles ). In Nazi

Germany, a number of major works of art about Alexander were written, the

authors of which were Zdenko von Kraft, Paul Gurk, Hans Baumann. Accordingly,

after 1945, the attitude towards the Macedonian king became more critical .


In the 1930s, the Soviet writer Vasily

Yan created the story ” Lights on the Mounds “,

dedicated to Alexander’s wars in Central Asia. In a spirit characteristic of his

time, he described the class and national liberation struggle of the population

of Sogdiana; Alexander in this story is depicted as a complex personality . The

English writer Aubrey Menen used the image of the king for a humorous

juxtaposition of the Macedonian empire and British rule in India . Since the

second half of the 20th century, Alexandra has often been seen as a harbinger of

globalization and anti-colonialism. In the fictionalized biography of the king

“Alexander the Great, or a novel about God” byMaurice Druon there are elements

of psychoanalysis and mysticism, thanks to which she stands out among other

popular biographies of the commander. The historian Arnold Toynbee described

the hypothetical future of the Macedonian Empire if Alexander had lived 36 years

longer .


Alexander acts in Lev Oshanin ‘s poem “Water

of Immortality”, in the novels of Ivan Efremov ( “Thais of Athens” ), David

Gemmel (“The Macedonian Legion”, “The Dark Prince” – 1990-1991), Yavdat

Ilyasov (“Sogdiana”), in trilogies by Valerio Massimo Manfredi (“Alexander the

Great. Son of a Dream”, “Alexander the Great. The Sands of Amun”, “Alexander the

Great. The Limits of the World”), in the stories of Lyubov Voronkova (“Son of

Zeus” and “Through the Centuries”).The image of the Macedonian king began to be

used by writers working in the genre of fantasy and gay novel ( Gay

). In the latter

case, Mary Renaud’s books became style-forming – “Divine Flame”, “Persian Boy”,

“Funeral Games” .


The theme of homosexuality also occupies

an important place in the feature film Alexander (USA, 2004) , directed

by Oliver Stone and starring Colin Farrell . This

film is not “biographical” in the full sense of the word: the scriptwriters

missed many important moments in the biography of the title character, which

makes many of Alexander’s actions seem irrational to the audience. Overall, the

film reproduces the heroic myth of the king of Macedonia with a particular focus

on conquest. The emphasis on the king’s Oedipus complex and his fear of women

was probably intended to bring Alexander closer to the modern viewer through

well-known Freudian motifs. …Several films have also been made about

Alexander. These are the 1956 Hollywood peplum Alexander the Great (USA, 1956) ,

a 1968 television film shot in the United States and ranked 34th among the 50

worst films in the TV Guide rating , Theodoros

Angelopoulos ‘ phantasmagoria about the events of the 20th century ( 1980).


In the modern world, two states claim the

status of a kind of heirs to the Macedonian kingdom: the Slavic-speaking North

Macedonia and Greece, which includes the territorial core of Ancient Macedonia with

its capitals and the birthplace of Alexander, Pella. The first of them,

immediately after its inception in 1991, began to create the cult of Tsar

Alexander; this manifested itself in the naming of streets in cities and the

creation of a number of monuments. In December 2006, the airport in Skopje ( Aerodrom

Skopje “Aleksandar Veliki”
) received

the name of the king, in 2011 a 12-meter equestrian statue appeared in the

center of this city, implying Alexander, but since this violates interim

international agreements, the statue was named ” Warrior on horseback “… The

Greeks consider such actions of their northern neighbors a provocation,

insisting that ancient Macedonia is part of the Greek cultural tradition . At

the beginning of 2018 the Government of the Republic of Macedonia for the first

time went back down: within the framework of the settlement of the dispute on

the name of the new state , it agreed to rename the airport and named in honor

of Alexander the highway .


In the visual arts




Many images of Alexander belong to the

ancient era. Some were created during the life of the king, but researchers are

skeptical about the possibility of judging from them how Alexander looked: not

in all cases the identification looks indisputable. In addition, the artists

probably resorted to idealization, depicting not individual features, but rather

typical, in their opinion, for great rulers .


Sources report three artists being

granted the exclusive right to portray Alexander. They are the painter Apelles ,

the sculptor Lysippos and the stone carver Pyrgothel. … Lysippos, according to

Plutarch and Arrian, sculpted a number of statues of the king; one of them was

delivered around 334 BC. e. in the Macedonian city of Dion, another, part of a

sculptural group depicting the hunting of Alexander and Crater for lions, about

321 BC. e. in Delphi. Several marble busts of the king have survived, which,

apparently, are Roman copies from Greek originals (in particular, the so-called

“Herma from Azara”).Alexander is also depicted on a sarcophagus made around 325

BC. e. in Sidon and associated, apparently, with the name of the local king

Abdalonim; on one side of the sarcophagus, the royal hunt is captured, on the

other – a battle (it is unclear whether any specific battle was meant) .


Of all the works of antique painting

devoted to this topic, two have survived. One of them, created around 330

BC. e., – the image of the royal tomb hunt in the city of Vergina . The second

is the famous ” Alexandrova Mosaic ” found in Pompeii . She captured the battle

between the Macedonians and the Persians; on it, Alexander, riding a horse,

without a helmet, strikes one of the enemies with a spear, and his gaze is fixed

on Darius, who is ready to take flight .


Middle ages


For medieval artists, the most

interesting were the plots not from the historical, but from the legendary

biography of the tsar, developed in the “Novel about Alexander”; the main

character was always portrayed as a contemporary of the author. Among the most

popular subjects was the flight of Alexander with two vultures, which became the

theme of reliefs in St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice (late 11th century), in

the Romanesque churches of Basel and Freiburg (12th century). This same episode,

coupled with the story of how Alexander descended to the seabed, and several

historical subjects, became the theme for two tapestries woven at the Burgundian

court around 1460 .


Of great importance for the theme of

Alexander in art (especially north of the Alps) was the tradition of ” nine

worthy “. The sculptures of these

characters, including Alexander, appeared in the Cologne City Hall in the , at

the very end of the 14th century – on the market square of Nuremberg . In 1457

this theme was used in the murals on the walls of the weaving guild building

in Augsburg . Around the same time, a richly illustrated codex was created with

a translation of Quintus Curtius Rufus into French, which was intended for the

Duke of Burgundy, Philip the Good .



Modern and contemporary times ===


Since the 15th century, interest in the

historical Alexander has been growing in European society. At the same time, it

was not known what the Macedonian king looked like (mosaics, reliefs from Sidon

and busts were found much later), so a variety of statues and reliefs were

mistaken for his image. In the performance of artists of the early modern era,

Alexander looked devoid of individual features. So, in the painting by Albrecht

Altdorfer “The Battle of Alexander” (1529), the face of the protagonist is not

visible at all: you can only distinguish the figure of a horseman with a spear

chasing Darius’s chariot .


The 16th-17th centuries were

characterized by the creation of large pictorial cycles about the main stages of

Alexander’s biography. The most characteristic was the cycle of Charles Lebrun ,

created in the 1660s-1670s by order of Louis XIV. In a number of cases, the

painter was required to illustrate certain parallels in the fates of Alexander

and the customer. Thus, Pope Paul III, before his election, bore the name Alessandro ,

and as the head of the church he wanted to create an anti-Turkish

coalition; accordingly, in the 1540s, Perino del Vaga decorated the Castel

Sant’Angelo for him withwall paintings depicting the victories of the Macedonian

king over the Persians (the latter were supposed to symbolize the Ottomans) . On

the Villa Farnezina on the occasion of the marriage of its owner, Agostino

Chigi, the artist of Sodom decorated the bedroom with a fresco with a scene of

the wedding of Alexander and Roxana (1510s). Francesco Primaticcio, commissioned

by Francis I, depicted Alexander with his lovers (Roxanne, Timoclea, Phalestrida

and Campaspa) on the walls of the chambers of the royal mistress Anne de

Pisleux in Fontainebleau .


The most popular in this era was the plot

“Alexander and the daughters of Darius”: the artists depicted the meeting of the

king with the daughters of his enemy after the battle of Issus, when Alexander,

according to ancient authors, demonstrated his generosity. In terms of

monumentality, among the paintings dedicated to this topic, the canvases

of Paolo Veronese (1565-1570) and Charles Lebrun (1660/61) stand out. In

1779, David turned to this plot , trying to increase the drama: in his version,

Alexander meets the princesses while lying on his deathbed.Popular were also

stories about the meeting of Alexander and Diogenes (these were variations on

the theme of communication between the ruler and the subject) and about Apelles,

to whom the king ceded his beloved. The latter topic interested artists, as it

allowed them to speak about court art. …


In the 19th century, art was distancing

from antiquity: the biography of Alexander ceased to be a collection of moral

examples and remained only a source of material for historical painting. The

distance became especially noticeable in the transition to realism; Karl von

Piloti demonstrated this with his painting The Death of Alexander in Babylon

(1885). In the XX-XXI centuries, the image of Alexander is used in the visual

arts only occasionally, and this is due either to local patriotism (for example,

in the capitals of the two current Macedonians, Thessaloniki and Skopje , two

monuments to the king appeared – in 1974 and 2011, respectively), or openly

commercial interests, as in the work of Andy Warhol .

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