Alexander\'s Empire


The ancient Kingdom of Macedonia, situated in the north of modern Greece,
was established by Perdiccas I about 640 B.C. Perdiccas was a Dorian, although
the Macedonian tribes included Thracian and Illyrian elements. Originally a
semibarbarous and fragmented power, Macedon became tributary to Persia under the
Persian kings Darius I and Xerxes I and thereafter struggled to maintain itself
against Thracians and other barbarians and against the Greek cities of the
Chalcidice as well as Sparta and Athens.
A new stage began with Archelaus (d.399 B.C.), who centralized the kingdom
with a system of roads and forts; he also fostered the Hellenization of his
people by inviting famous Greek artists, Euripides among them, to his court.
Few regions gave much thought to Macedonia. The area was so primitive that
it seemed to belong to another age- it was a rude, brawling, heavy-drinking
country of dour peasants and landowning warriors. The language was Greek, but so
tainted by barbarian strains that Athenians could not understand it. Macedonia
remained an outland. Growth of trade in the early fourth century promoted the
rise of several cities, yet when Perdiccas III, king of Macedonia, fell in 359
B.C. while fighting the Illyrians the seaboard of his state was largely under
Athenian control or in the hands of the Chalcidian league, grouped about
Olynthus.
Philip (382-36), brother of the dead king, was made regent for the infant
heir, soon set aside his nephew, and became outright king.
Once power was his, the young monarch swiftly brought order to his domain
by armed force when necessary, by diplomatic guile whenever he could, Philip set
out to make Macedon the greatest power in the Greek world.
Alexander was born in 356 to the first wife of Philip. As a teenager
Alexander was educated by Athenian philosopher Aristotle. By the year 337 all of
the Greek city-states had been conquered or forced into an alliance by Philip.
He was planning to lead their joint forces for an invasion of the Persian empire
when he was assassinated in 336. Thus at the age of 20, Alexander became king of
the Macedonians.
After Philip\'s death, some Greek cities under Macedonian rule revolted. In
335 B.C. Alexander\'s army stormed the walls of the rebellious city of Thebes and
demolished the city. About 30,000 inhabitants were sold in slavery. Alexander\'s
action against Thebes discouraged, for a time, rebellion by other Greek cities
With Greece under control, Alexander turned to his fathers plan for
attacking the Persian Empire. In 334 B.C., he led an army of about 35,000
infantry and cavalry across the Hellespont from Europe to Asia. The Persians
sent out troops that met Alexander\'s forces at the Granicus River. Alexander and
his cavalry charged across the river and won the battle. This victory opened
Asia Minor to Alexander. After marching along the southern coast of Asia Minor.
Alexander and his army headed north to the city of Gordium.
By 333 B.C., Alexander had reached the coast of Syria. There, in a fierce
battle at Issus, he defeated the king of Persia, Darius III, but could not
capture him. Alexander\'s army them marched south into Phoenicia to capture key
naval bases at port cities. Part of one such city, Tyre, stood on an island
about 1/2 mile offshore. Unable to capture the island from the sea, Alexander
ordered his engineers to build a causeway out to the island, converting it to a
peninsula that still remains today. His troops used such weapons as battering
rams, catapults, and mobile towers in their attack. The Tyrians on the island
surrendered in 332 B.C, after seven months of fighting. Alexander\'s use of huge
siege machines at Tyre introduced a new age of warfare.
Alexander next entered Egypt. The Egyptians welcomed him as a liberator
from Persian rule, and they crowned him pharaoh. On the western edge of the Nile
Delta, Alexander founded a city in 331 B.C. and named it Alexandria after
himself.
From Alexandria, the Macedonian king made a long difficult trek through the
Libyan Desert, a part of the Sahara, to the oasis of Siwah. He consulted the
oracle of the god Zeus-Ammon, and, according to legend, the oracle pronounced
Alexander the son of god.
Alexander left Egypt with an army of 4000,000 foot soldiers and 7,000
cavalry. He crossed the Euphrates and entered Mesopotamia where in 331 B.C. he
met the Persian king once more at Gaugamela, east of the Tigris River. In spite
that the fact was that his army was smaller than that of the Persians,
Alexanders superior tactics won the field, and