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Alexander the Great, who would become the Conqueror of the Ancient World, was born at Pella, Macedonia in 356 B.C.E. His father was King Phillip II and his mother was Olympias, a deeply spiritual woman who taught her son that he was a descendant of Achilles and Hercules. From the earliest age, then, Alexander was conditioned for conquest and kingly glory. He, thus, became focused on being a great ruler.
When he was 13, Alexander became student to the great Greek philosopher Aristotle. Under Aristotle’s tutorship he gained an interest in philosophy, medicine and science. However, Aristotle’s concept of small city-state government would not have gone down well with the young prince who was bent on world domination. Aristotle did, however, cultivate Alexander’s interest in reading and learning.
At age 16 Alexander was called to Macedonia to put down a Thracian rebellion while his father was away. Distinguishing himself immediately, Alexander quelled the rebellion, stormed the rebel’s stronghold and renamed it Alexandroupolis, after himself.
In 336 B.C.E. Phillip was assassinated and 20 year old Alexander took the throne of Macedonia. Within two years he had embarked on his campaign of conquest. His army of 30,000 foot soldiers and 5,000 cavalreymen was small but efficient. Along with the army he took engineers, surveyors, architects, scientists and even historians.
Alexander now pushed further south, conquering Gaza and then moving into Egypt where the people welcomed him as a deliverer from their Persian rulers. Now Alexander turned north east, moving through Palestine towards the Tigris River. In 331 B.C.E. he met the Persians for the third time. The Battle of Gaugamela saw him defeat superior odds once more. Persian King Darius was later killed by his own people. Swiftly Alexander pushed through to take the Persian Capital at Babylon. He humiliated the Persians by burning their great palace at Xerxes. Before long the entire Persian domain was under Alexander’s control. He now crossed the Indus River and entered the region bordering the Persian province of Taxila. Here he met the feared Indian Monarch Porus who, with 25,000 men and 200 elephants nearly did what the entire Persian Kingdom could not. After fierce fighting, however, Alexander was once more victorious. Porus surrendered and became an ally.
After an eight year campaign Alexander was now ruler of a massive empire. He was keen to push further west but his men were weary and intent on returning to their families. Reluctantly he complied with their wishes.
Alexander was a caring military leader. He would visit his men after the battle, examining their wounds and praising them for their valiant efforts. He would also arrange extravagant funerals for the fallen. He would arrange games and contests for his men. The affection for their leader was what galvanized his troops.
Returning to Babylon Alexander assumed the role he had coveted for so long – The great Conqeuror. Eventually, however, he gave way to a licentious lifestyle of excessive drinking. He also gave way to fits of rage and paranoid suspicion. One night he even murdered his closest associate, Clitus, in a fit of rage. This act was to haunt for the remainder of his short life.
In June, 332 B.C.E Alexander fell victim to malarial fever. He never recovered. The man who no man could defeat died on June 13, 323 B.C.E. He was just 32 years and 8 months old.
A biography of Alexander the Great who conquered the world while in his early twenties.
Monday, November 22, 2010
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