Alexander the Great - Loudoun County Public Schools before Alexander the Great’s conquests,...

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  • Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE)

  • Long before Alexander the Greats conquests, Greeks had discovered great opportunities for conquest in the East

    In 401 BCE, a Persian prince, Cyrus, had raised a force of 10,000 Greek mercenaries to fight his older brother for the throne.

    Although the Greeks defeated a huge Persian army, the prince was killed in the first major battle.

    Trapped in the middle of the Persian Empire, the mercenaries were forced to march 1,500 miles through hostile territory until they reached Byzantium.

    The expedition, recounted in Xenophons Anabasis, demonstrated to the world the strength of Greek armies and their phalanx formations.

  • Two generations after that expedition, the kingdom of Macedonia took advantage of Greek military power

    The Macedonians were Greek themselves, although the rest of Greece looked down upon them

    The country was still wild, controlled by various tribes or clans

    A hereditary king, with religious and military power, ruled over them in theory

    Macedonia (aka Macedon) remained a backwater until Philip II became king

    Philip II had, as a youth, spent time at the court in Thebes and observed the efficient government and army of Epaminondas at first hand

  • Philip II was a vigorous man. He tamed the local warlords in Macedonia. He also subjected all free men to


    He made soldiers serve as royal troops under his officers.

    He adopted the Greek phalanx but combined it with light infantry and heavy cavalry.

  • He conquered the rest of Greece. He was successful for several reasons Money. In Philips rule Macedonia had many

    large gold mines Manpower. Macedonia had a large peasantry. He had a superior army completely loyal to

    him. Greek city-states, in contrast, relied increasingly on mercenaries, who were expensive

    The Greek city-states were divided. Philips patience, cunning, treachery, bribery,

    dishonesty Support from some in Athens like the orator

    Isocrates, who called upon Philip to lead an anti-Persian alliance

  • Philip conquered Greece in 338 BCE. He then decided to conquer Persia. Key victory- Chaeronia, where Macedon defeated Thebes and Athens. 18-year-

    old Alexander leads Philips cavalry in this battle.

    To conquer Persia, Philip and Alexander realized they needed the assistance of other Greek city-states.

    To win their active support, Philip and Alexander:

    1. appealed to myths and legends of conquests in the East, such as the story of Hercules and the Iliad

    2. They cherished pride in Greek victories in the Persian War

    3. They called for vengeance against the Persians, who still controlled some Greek city-states in Asia Minor

    4. They promised that enormous wealth could be won in the East

    5. League of Corinth was formed by Philip in 337 to further his aims. A military alliance, its aims were similar to those of the Delian League of 150 years earlier.

    - The Greeks had other reasons to join Philip:

    1. A war of conquest to the east would defuse internal violence

    2. A war in the east would open new areas for expansion and colonization. Carthages rise in the Western Mediterranean made expansion there less likely.

  • The Macedonians did not persuade all Greeks to join them

    Some Greeks hated the Macedonians more than the Persians

    Other Greeks feared the Macedonians more than the Persians since the Persians were further away while the Greeks were closer

    Other Greek cities preferred neutrality

    Some Greeks served the Persians as mercenaries or were under direct Persian control

  • After Philip was assassinated in 336 BCE at his daughters wedding by one of his bodyguards, Pausanius, Alexander launches the invasion in 334 BCE Although he was only 20 at the time, Alexander

    had long been preparing himself for the task

    Alexander first consolidated his power in Macedon and Greece; he destroyed Thebes in 335 when it revolted

    In the next 10 years, Alexander quadrupled the world known to the Greeks

    1. He overthrew the Persian Empire

    2. He made conquests from Libya to Afghanistan and Pakistan

    3. He created an empire that moved Greeks and Greek culture throughout the East

    4. His empire also absorbed aspects of these civilizations to create an eclectic new civilization known as Hellenism

  • How did Alexander do it?

    The Persian ruler, Darius II, was not a forceful individual, the Persians had little central control, and their commanders bickered among themselves

    Alexander was a charismatic leader

    Alexander was open to new ideas and cultures

    Macedonians had superior training and leadership

    Alexander received support from local rulers

  • What did Alexander accomplish?

    Founded a huge, multinational empire

    Spread Greek civilization to the east

    Attempted a reconciliation between Greek and Persian, East and West

    Established greater trade between East and West

  • Alexander the Greats Legacy?

    Alexanders generals set up several successor kingdoms after his death

    The Romans caused all of them to come to an end, at different times

    Hellenistic civilization flourished (shift from polis to cosmopolis, new mystery cults (Serapis), Stoicism and Epicureanism, Greek math, science and medicine)