-- The Book of Daniel Chapter 2, verses 31-35
Alexander the Great was the greatest conquerer that probably ever lived up to our time. The young man started at ninteen who managed to turn the Persian Empire into a world in which Greek Culture and European Values was spread over Southeast Asia and into Africa. But where do we begin in this tale? This essay presents Alexander the Great as fodder for Gaming. Although no primary sources of Alexander the Great's conquests exist that we know of, we typically rely on Secondary Sources to tell his tale.
Actually, the story of his tale begins with Sargon of Akkad -- one of the prototypes for Heracles/Hercules, and Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon in Daniel's and Eziekiel's time. Sufficeth to say, though, we are going to skip these two monarchs and even the Persian Empire. It's enough to say that Sargon of Akkad founded Nineveh, Babylon, and most likely Ur. And that Nebuchadnezzar had a dream which showed the destiny of our Earth's Empires.
Alexander's Empire concerns itself with the belly and thighs of Bronze of that wonderful figure. For it is the Hellenic Empire, with its six kingdoms.
Alexander the third of Macedon is more commonly known as Alexander the Great. He was a king of Macedon who at the age of 19, led the armies of the Greeks into Persian lands and conquered the Persian Empire over the course of ten years. Wanting to see the ends of the Earth, Alexander the Great invaded India but was forced to turn back.
Alexander the Great died in Babylon in 323 B.C., the city where he had planned to establish as his capital. He had plans to start campaigns in Arabia and in Western Europe, but all of these were cut short. In the years after his death, his empire was torn apart into six kingdoms through a series of civil wars.
Alexander's legacy includes the cultural diffusion his conquests engendered, such as Greco-Buddhism. He founded some twenty cities that bore his name, most notably Alexandria in Egypt. Alexander's settlement of Greek colonists and the resulting spread of Greek culture in the east resulted in a new Hellenistic civilization, aspects of which were still evident in the traditions of the Byzantine Empire in the mid-15th century and the presence of Greek speakers in central and far eastern Anatolia until the 1920s. Alexander became legendary as a classical hero in the mold of Achilles, and he features prominently in the history and myth of Greek and non-Greek cultures. He became the measure against which military leaders compared themselves, and military academies throughout the world still teach his tactics. (<- from the Wikipedia)
Philip of MacedonEditAlexander's tale actually begins with his father, Philip of Macedon. A man of many wives, given to drunkeness, and a shrewd general. The story starts with his capture. Philip of Macedon was, to put simply, a youth who was fostered during the later City State Era of Greece. A chance at an united Greece was felt when an alliance of Athens and Sparta fought the Persians at Thermopolyae. Athens fought by Sea, while the Spartans fought by land. That was the stand of the Three Hundred Spartans, where the Spartans fought to the last man against the Persians.
Now the Age of the Polis was waning as the Delian League was finally coming to a close. Philip of Macedonia was fostered in Thebes -- although he was really held hostage. Still, his captors saw to it that he received an education. He received an education from Epaminondas, became an eromenos of Pelopidas, and lived with Pammenes.
Epaminondas gave the young Philip an education in military affairs as well as international politics. Pelopidas was a Theban statesman who used Philip II sexually (the details of the relationship is "muddy". It's unknown if it was simple sexual abuse or it was a mutual relationship). And finally, Pammenes was a supporter of the Sacred Band of Thebes -- a crack commando unit made up of homosexual couples. In this environment, young Philip was molded. All this happened circa 368 B.C. and 365 B.C.
Accession to the Throne of MacedonEdit
In 364, Philip II came back from Thebes. He was educated in matters of Statecraft and Military matters. Probably his elder brothers didn't recognize him. However, upon the death of his elder brothers -- Alexander II and Peridiccas III, Philip became Regent for his nephew Amyntas IV -- who was the son of Peridiccas. Using guile, Philip II took the throne for himself.
Philip's military skills and expansionist vision of Macedonian greatness brought him early success. He first had to re-establish a situation which had been greatly worsened by the defeat against the Illyrians in which King Perdiccas himself had died. The Paionians and the Thracians had sacked and invaded the eastern regions of the country, while the Athenians had landed, at Methoni on the coast, a contingent under a Macedonian pretender called Argeus.
Using diplomacy, Philip pushed back Paionians and Thracians promising tributes, and crushed the 3,000 Athenian hoplites (359). Momentarily free from his opponents, he concentrated on strengthening his internal position and, above all, his army. His most important innovation was doubtless the introduction of the phalanx infantry corps, armed with the famous sarissa, an exceedingly long spear, at the time the most important army corps in Macedonia.
Later, Philip took Audata for wife. She was the great grand-daughter of Bardyllis, who is king of Illyria at that time. However, this did not prevent him from marching against them in 358 and crushing them in a ferocious battle in which some 7,000 Illyrians died (357). By this move, Philip established his authority inland as far as Lake Ohrid and the favour of the Epirotes.
Marriage to Olympias, birth of AlexanderEditIn 356 B.C., Philip of Macedon took the Epirate Princess Olympias to wife as a result of a marriage of alliance with the Mollossians. She was the daughter of king Neoptolemus I of Epirus, and Philip's fourth wife. Also, in 356 B.C., Philip made a stunning victory at the Olympic Games -- which he had given his fourth wife the name of Olympias in memory thereof. A devout worshipper in the orgaistic cult of Dionysius, it was said that Philip of Macedon discovered his fourth wife in bed with a snake.
356 B.C. was also the year that Alexander was born. It was said that Alexander was born under an omen, which affected his upbringing. Then a baby boy with infinite possibilities before him, Olympias named him Alexandros and King Philip of Macedon accepted him as his son and his heir.
Their marriage was very stormy, Philip's volatility and Olympias' jealous temper had led to a growing estrangement. Things got even worse in 337 BC, when Philip married to a noble Macedonian woman, Cleopatra, who was niece of Attalus and after the marriage changed her name to Eurydice. This caused great tensions between Philip, Olympias and Alexander. Olympias went into voluntary exile in Epirus, staying at the Molossian court of her brother Alexander I who was the king at the time, along with her son Alexander who sided with her.
Philip was involved in the Third Sacred War which had begun in Greece in 356. During the summer of 353 he invaded Thessaly, defeating 7,000 Phocians under the brother of Onomarchus. The latter however defeated Philip in the two succeeding battles. Philip returned to Thessaly the next summer, this time with an army of 20,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry including all Thessalian troops. In the Battle of Crocus Field 6,000 Phocians fell, while 3,000 were taken as prisoners and later drowned.
This battle granted Philip an immense prestige, as well as the free acquisition of Pherae. Philip was also tagus of Thessaly, and he claimed as his own Magnesia, with the important harbour ofPagasae. Philip did not attempt to advance into Central Greece because the Athenians, unable to arrive in time to defend Pagasae, had occupied Thermopylae.
Hostilities with Athens did not yet take place, but Athens was threatened by the Macedonian party which Philip's gold created in Euboea. From 352 to 346 BC, Philip did not again come south. He was active in completing the subjugation of the Balkan hill-country to the west and north, and in reducing the Greek cities of the coast as far as the Hebrus. To the chief of these coastal cities,Olynthus, Philip continued to profess friendship until its neighboring cities were in his hands.
In 349 BC, Philip started the siege of Olynthus, which, apart from its strategic position, housed his relatives Arrhidaeus and Menelaus, pretenders to the Macedonian throne. Olynthus had at first allied itself with Philip, but later shifted its allegiance to Athens. The latter, however, did nothing to help the city, its expeditions held back by a revolt in Euboea (probably paid by Philip's gold). TheMacedonian king finally took Olynthus in 348 BC and razed the city to the ground. The same fate was inflicted on other cities of the Chalcidian peninsula.
Macedon and the regions adjoining it having now been securely consolidated, Philip celebrated his Olympic Games at Dium. In 347 BC, Philip advanced to the conquest of the eastern districts about Hebrus, and compelled the submission of the Thracian princeCersobleptes. In 346 BC, he intervened effectively in the war between Thebes and the Phocians, but his wars with Athens continued intermittently. However, Athens had made overtures for peace, and when Philip again moved south, peace was sworn in Thessaly.
With key Greek city-states in submission, Philip II turned to Sparta; he sent them a message: "If I win this war, you will be slaves forever." In another version, he warned: "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city." According to both accounts, the Spartan's laconic reply was one word: "If". Philip II and Alexander both chose to leave Sparta alone. Later, the Macedonian arms were carried across Epirus to the Adriatic Sea.
In 340 BC, Philip started the siege of Perinthus. Philip began another siege in 339 of the city of Byzantium. After unsuccessful sieges of both cities, Philip's influence all over Greece was compromised. However, he successfully reasserted his authority in the Aegeanby defeating an alliance of Thebans and Athenians at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC, while in the same year, Philip destroyedAmfissa because the residents had illegally cultivated part of the Crisaian plain which belonged to Delphi.
Philip created and led the League of Corinth in 337 BC. Members of the League agreed never to wage war against each other, unless it was to suppress revolution. Philip was elected as leader (hegemon) of the army of invasion against the Persian Empire. In 336 BC, when the invasion of Persia was in its very early stage, Philip was assassinated, and was succeeded on the throne of Macedon by his son Alexander III.
The murder occurred during October 336 BC, at Aegae, the ancient capital of the kingdom of Macedon. The court had gathered there for the celebration of the marriage between Alexander I of Epirus and Philip's daughter, by his fourth wife Olympias, Cleopatra. While the king was entering unprotected into the town's theater (highlighting his approachability to the Greek diplomats present), he was killed by Pausanias of Orestis, one of his seven bodyguards. The assassin immediately tried to escape and reach his associates who were waiting for him with horses at the entrance of Aegae. He was pursued by three of Philip's bodyguards; tripping on a vine, he died by their hands. The reasons for Pausanias' assassination of Philip are difficult to fully expound, since there was already controversy among ancient historians. The only contemporary account in our possession is that of Aristotle who states rather tersely that Philip was killed because Pausanias had been offended by the followers of Attalus, the king's father-in-law.
Fifty years later, the historian Cleitarchus expanded and embellished the story. Centuries later, this version was to be narrated by Diodorus Siculus and all the historians who used Cleitarchus. According to the sixteenth book of Diodorus' history, Pausanias had been a lover of Philip, but became jealous when Philip turned his attention to a younger man, also called Pausanias. His taunting of the new lover caused the youth to throw away his life, which turned his friend Attalus against Pausanias.[clarification needed] Attalus took his revenge by inviting Pausanias to dinner, getting him drunk, then subjecting him to sexual assault.
When Pausanias complained to Philip the king felt unable to chastise Attalus, as he was about to send him to Asia with Parmenion, to establish a bridgehead for his planned invasion. He also married Attalus's niece, or daughter, Eurydice. Rather than offend Attalus, Philip tried to mollify Pausanias by elevating him within the bodyguard. Pausanias' desire for revenge seems to have turned towards the man who had failed to avenge his damaged honour, so he planned to kill Philip. Some time after the alleged rape, while Attalus was already in Asia fighting the Persians, he put his plan in action.
Other historians (e.g., Justin 9.7) suggested that Alexander and/or his mother Olympias were at least privy to the intrigue, if not themselves instigators. The latter seems to have been anything but discreet in manifesting her gratitude to Pausanias, according to Justin's report: he says that the same night of her return from exile she placed a crown on the assassin's corpse and erected a tumulus to his memory, ordering annual sacrifices to the memory of Pausanias.
Many modern historians have observed that all the accounts are improbable. In the case of Pausanias, the stated motive of the crime hardly seems adequate. On the other hand, the implication of Alexander and Olympias seems specious: to act as they did would have required brazen effrontery in the face of a military personally loyal to Philip. What seems to be recorded in this are the natural suspicions that fell on the chief beneficiaries of the murder; their actions after the murder, however sympathetic they might seem (if actual), cannot prove their guilt in the deed itself. Whatever the actual background to the assassination, it might have had an enormous effect on later world history, far beyond what any conspirators could have predicted; as asserted by some modern historians, had the older and more settled Philip been the one in charge of the war against Persia, he might have rested content with relatively moderate conquests, e.g. making Anatolia into a Macedonian province, and not pushed further into an overall conquest of Persia and further campaigns in India.