‘My boy, you must find a kingdom big enough for your ambition. Macedon is too small for you’, the words of King Phillip II of Macedon were prophetic as he addressed his son Alexander after he had tamed a fearful horse at the age of just 10.
Alexander would grow up to be one of the world’s most legendary military commanders. Born into an era of petty tyrants and brutality, Alexander the Great used the exceptional education he received – from, among others, Aristole – and used it to marshal his forces in nearly impossible battles. He emerged victorious over the course of 13 years of battles from which was forged one of the largest empires the world has ever seen.
Alexander the Great was born in 356 BC to King Phillip II of Macedon and his wife Olympias. Following his father’s assassination, Alexander succeeded him to the Macedonian throne and the 20-year-old King ruthlessly murdered all his rivals to the crown. This ruthlessness would contribute to Alexander conquering most of the known world with an empire that stretched for 10,000 miles and encompassed the Mediteråranean, most of Europe and touched the borders of India. Alexander the Great was prone to fits of savage tempers and in later life he succumbed to megalomania
Although not exactly what one would call a diplomat, he was a military genius who used guile, ingenuity, and lateral thinking to defeat often vastly superior forces. His greatest victory was at the Battle of Gaupamela in 331 BC in what today is Iraq.
The Greek language was another tool that Alexander the Great wielded with great purpose. Prior to the expansion of his empire, there were hundreds of spoken languages; but by imposing the use of Greek, he ensured a single common language and thereby fostered the expansion of culture, commerce and hegemony amongst the conquered lands.
Above all, Alexander the Great was a commander, controlling through charismatic dominance and driven by sheer bloody minded arrogance. His confidence in his own superiority was unshakeable, firmly believing he was a direct descendent of Achilles – a belief instilled in him from an early age by his father and his tutors at school, chur,ch and in the military.
When he died in 323 BC, in suspicious circumstances at the age of just 32, he left behind a huge empire in which a cultural revolution had started but which was always on the brink of falling into chaos.
Review by Patrick Boniface.