Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great is often said to be the greatest conqueror and best military leader to ever walk the face of the earth. He conquered many territories, creating one of the largest empires in history. He was a very kind and generous man, and he also had a good sense of humor. All of his troops respected and liked him, and almost all of his captured territories served him willingly, because he was kind to them, and protected them from any attacks. Alexander was not a pushover, however. He massacred any opposition of his rule (usually with little loss of life on his side), and he brutally silenced anyone who refused to obey him. He was not a leader like Darius of Persia, who watched his army battle from miles away, or from the very back, Alexander rode right up in front with his army, and stayed with his soldiers even in the heaviest fighting. Sadly his power crumbled after his death, because he left no successor to his empire.

On July 20, 365 BC, Olympius, the wife of King Philip the Second of Macedonia, gave birth to a son and named him Alexander. This boy would eventually become the greatest military leader in history. On the day of his birth, it is said that the temple of Artemis burned down, thus indicating a good omen for Alexanderís future greatness. The true date of his birth is unknown, but the most widely accepted one is July 20, because he centered many important events on or very near that date later in life.[1]

As a child, Alexander often became discouraged when he heard that his father had conquered another territory. He worried that nothing would be left for him. He spent much of his childhood around his fatherís army, so by the age of thirteen, he had become very mature. I think the story of how Alexander captured his prize horse, Bucephalus, at the age of thirteen demonstrates his maturity and bravery. Philip had bought an incredibly beautiful horse, but he was so fierce, no one could touch him. Just when the men were ready to give up, Alexander arrived and bet thirteen talents (a lot of money for a thirteen-year-old) that he could tame the horse. He calmly approached the horse and realized that it was afraid of its own shadow. By riding Bucephalus into the sun and slowly turning him around, he was able to ride the horse. This horse became his best friend and when he died, Alexander named a city after him.[2]

Alexanderís mother, Olympias, was a princess of Epirus (a captured city) who after seeing her city fall, fell in love with Philip, and later married him. She was said to be brilliant, hot-tempered and extraordinarily beautiful. She taught Alexander that the great Achilles was his ancestor, and that he should strive to be like him. She had Alexander read the Illiad, the story of the feats of Achilles, and to his dying day he always kept a copy of this story with him. Achilles became Alexanderís role model, and his ambition was to be as brave, kind, and mighty as Achilles. Alexanderís Father, Philip, was king of Macedonia and ruler of many territories. He was said to have once been handsome until the effects of war took their toll, scarring him horribly. He was an incredible military commander, very ambitious, and a good speaker and leader. Alexander was said to have his motherís good looks and cunning, and his fatherís ambition and military prowess. [3] [4]

Alexander parents always wanted the best for their son. They hired some of the finest tutors around, including the brilliant Aristotle, who began to teach Alexander around the age of thirteen. Aristotle taught Alexander the ways of the Greeks, which he incorporated into his life thereafter. Alexander found interest in philosophy, ethics, other countries, politics, plants animals, military, and a wide range of other subjects. After Aristotle, his parents employed Alexanderís uncle, Leonidas. Alexander hated Leonidas because he was very strict, so this tutor did not last very long. Alexanderís final tutor was a man named Lysimachus. He taught the young prince the cultural aspects of the world around him, and gave him an appreciation