Alexander the Great

He was the ruler of Greece in the fourth century B.C. He was one of the greatest military geniuses of all time. He was born in Macedonia, the son of Phillip II, King of Macedonia. He received his military education from his father and was tutored by Aristotle, the great philosopher, and other great teachers of his time. By the time he was sixteen Alexander was left in charge of the kingdom when his father was away for any extended period of time and once led the army to put down a rebellion in one of the colonies of Macedonia. His father was assassinated when he was twenty and he ascended to the throne.

The Macedonian kingdom was in disorder when he came to power and he responded by ruthlessly executing his enemies and crushing rebellions. However, he could never be the dominate force in Asia Minor unless he conquered the Persian empire, which he did after a series of battles, in 332 B.C. In a period five years he had conquered the entire eastern Mediterranean coastline, including Gaza, Egypt, Afganistan, and Western Turkistan due to his brilliance as a military tactician and leader.

Part of the greatness of Alexander was that while he started out as an avenging warrior he became a man of vision as well and took as his goal to spread the institution of Greek Democratic thought and ways of life throughout his empire. He founded towns planned on the Greek pattern with market squares, schools, offices, shops, temples, theaters, gymnasiums, and introduced Macedonian methods of farming and military tactics to thenative inhabitants of the conquered regions.

He instituted new methods of government, military, and financial administration, and adopted Greek as the universal language throughout the empire which made financial and business transactions possible between countries thereby creating a growth in trade and commerce throughout the region. He envisioned vast building projects - dockyards, harbors, irrigation systems, lighthouses, and the founding of new cities, and he cherished a dream for uniting the East and the West into a "world brotherhood of all men". This dream fed into his ambition of further conquest to increase the extent of his empire further yet.

In 326 B.C. he and his troops crossed the Indus River into India and continued to the banks of the Hyphasis River, where his troops rebelled and refused to go any further. He then constructed a fleet and they sailed down the Indus River to the Persian gulf and from there returned overland across the desert back into Persia.

In June of 323 B.C., in Babylon, at the age of 33, Alexander contracted a "fever" and died. There are theories that his was not a natural death, that he was possibly poisioned, but the acual cause of his death will never be known. The extent of Alexander's accomplishments should not be underrated. The spread of Greek civilization and the Greek language made it possible for the exchange of good and ideas, strengthening the economic ties and adding to the storehouse of knowledge in mathematics, science, and astronomy, and it is also believed that the spread of Christianity would not have occurred as rapidly as it did because, when the gospel was written in Greek it was able to reach a much wider public.