Alexander the Great is the picturesque example of a hero and served as the historical inspiration behind hundreds of hero types in ancient Greek tales and many modern protagonists.
Through his military prowess, Alexander would start his global conquest by finishing the job that his father was never able to complete.
Few historical military figures have valued the culture of his wartime enemies as much as this king of Macedonia.
Alexander’s life was a journey filled with many influential people, and his death has been shrouded in mystery for centuries.
How Tall Was Alexander The Great?
Alexander the Great has been estimated to have been about five feet tall, which was the average height for a Greek man when the Macedonian king was alive.
Alexander was one of the most influential kings of Greek culture, popularizing the idea of combining cultures rather than demolishing the pre-existing culture of a conquered land.
Nobody is exactly certain just how tall the courageous leader was, but most historians point to the story of Alexander the Great meeting King Porus of India in 326 Before the Common Era (B.C.E.). King Porus was a giant man, who was thought to have been around seven feet tall.
Alexander’s biographer Plutarch recalled his king claiming that the Indian King and his elephant were proportionate to Alexander and his horse.
When Alexander and his army went to fight King Porus, the Indian king’s army consisted of 35,000 men and 200 war elephants like the one he rode.
Alexander waited for the right moment to strike and began leading the charge when a severe thunderstorm struck.
The battle was long and bloody, but Alexander III of Macedonia reigned victorious after costing King Porus 23,000 of his men.
After Porus was captured, he was brought before Alexander and the Greek king politely asked the defeated royalty how he would like to be treated.
Porus responded with a booming, “Like a king!” This led the two kings to become friends.
As proof of their friendship, Alexander the Great gave King Porus command over his former land.
Many of the enemies that Alexander and his army faced consisted of much larger men, such as the Celtics.
When the Macedonian king and his army went to fight in the Danube and Adriatic Sea region, Alexander described the Celtic army men as “people of great stature and arrogant disposition.”
How Aristotle Influenced Alexander The Great
Since Alexander the Great was the son and heir of King Philip II of Macedon, it was important to his father that Alexander had the best education possible.
King Philip summoned none other than great Greek thinker Aristotle to tutor Alexander in 343 B.C.E.
Aristotle would be the prince’s personal teacher for seven years until King Philip II was assassinated and Alexander rose to power.
Although Aristotle may not have been his teacher when Alexander became king, the pair remained close friends and stayed in frequent contact with each other through letters.
It was Aristotle who taught Alexander the importance of being knowledgeable and cultured.
The great thinker’s influence could be clearly seen while Alexander navigated fragile diplomatic situations, despite Aristotle’s poor opinion of people from other cultures, particularly Persians.
Even while out on the battlefield, Aristotle’s influence had a firm hold over the young king.
Alexander could always be spotted with a book about art or culture whenever he wasn’t actively fighting.
Aristotle had taught young Alexander that the purpose of life was to find happiness, which could be achieved through maintaining a high level of personal excellence.
Throughout his entire reign as king, Alexander achieved his famous level of greatness through constant self-improvement and conquest.
If Alexander was to achieve happiness, he needed to show that he could be the best king possible.
One of the duties of a king was to reign over as much land as he saw fit, and Alexander wanted the entire world at his command.
Wartime was the perfect time to show off the many key skills of a king, from strategic planning to resource management.
To be a great king, Alexander III had to be just as skilled a diplomat as he was a warrior.
How Alexander The Great Became King Of Macedonia
The road to becoming king wasn’t simple for young Alexander, despite having shown impressive leadership skills since he was a child.
Alexander III of Macedonia was the son that King Philip II had with Queen Olympias in 356 B.C.E.
What first made King Philip II believe that Alexander would be the best fit for the throne was when he tamed his massive stallion Bucephalus when he was only 12 years old.
The wild horse had once been known for causing problems thanks to his aggressive nature, but Bucephalus would go on to become Alexander the Great’s nearly lifelong wartime partner.
Alexander the Great would lead his first war when he was only 16 years old after his father left him in charge of Macedonia while he was gone.
Alexander took his first army to fight the unbeatable Sacred Band of Thebes, which was a small army made up of entirely male lovers who fought the Macedonian army during the Battle of Chaeronea.
King Philip II would be assassinated during the Wedding of Cleopatra by one of his bodyguards in 336 B.C.E.
Despite the countless times that Alexander had proven himself worthy of the throne, there were quite a few other children of King Philip by his other two wives.
Alexander had to kill his half-siblings to claim the throne as his own.
Rebellions against his reign popped up quickly due to the murders of many other royal family members, but the 20-year-old king was just quick to stomp them out.
As soon as the dust had settled in their homeland, Alexander the Great and his victorious army continued King Philip’s quest for world domination by heading to the Granicus River.
The young king won his first war against the Persian and Greek forces.
What Areas Did Alexander The Great Conquer?
Over the course of his quest for world domination, Alexander the Great would conquer lands as far-reaching as northeast Africa to Southwest Asia.
Once a new country was conquered, Alexander would focus on improving the city.
After his first victory, Alexander the Great was ready to press himself and his army further.
Luckily, many of the war resources that the young king was going to need had previously been set up by his father, such as the League of Corinth.
The League of Corinth was a confederation of Greek cities that helped maintain control of Alexander the Great’s Greek domain and assisted in war planning.
After meeting with the council, Alexander was sent to serve as the commander for the invasion of Asia.
Alexander the Great first started the invasion in 334 B.C.E. when the king led his army to the Middle East.
Only a year later, Alexander fought against King Darius III and the Persian army in Turkey during the Battle of Issus.
It quickly became clear that Alexander and his army were going to win, which caused Darius to flee so quickly that the Persian king left behind his entire family.
Sisygambis, King Darius III’s mother, was so disappointed in her son that she disowned Darius and adopted Alexander as her son instead.
King Darius III would run away after losing battles multiple times before Alexander the Great was finally able to end the fighting in October of 331 B.C.E.
Alexander and his army had once again and Darius tried to run just as he had every time before, but his own troops were so tired of his cowardly actions that they decided to kill him themselves.
After becoming the king of Persia, Alexander the Great married two of the Persian princesses.
Who Did Alexander The Great Marry?
The journey to becoming king of Persia had been a long battle for Alexander the Great, and he knew that it would take a lot of work to bring the rival cultures together, so he decided to hold a mass wedding where he ordered his military officers to marry the princesses and other noblewomen.
At the mass wedding, Alexander the Great married King Darius III’s daughter Barsine and her cousin Parysatis, the daughter of Artaxerxes III of Persia.
However, the most famous wife of Alexander of the Great is Roxana of Bactria, who was the sister of Barsine.
There are two running stories of how the pair first met, but both stories share that it was love at first sight for Alexander the Great.
The first story claims that Alexander had taken Roxana as a captive when he conquered Bactria.
Roxana was the daughter of a relative of Darius named Oxyartes, and she was rumored to have been incredibly beautiful, with many citizens believing that she was more beautiful than the wife of King Darius III.
The secondary story of how Alexander and Roxana met claims that Oxyartes held a banquet for Alexander after killing Bessus.
When Alexander saw Roxana at the banquet, he was taken aback by her overwhelming beauty and was ready to marry her immediately.
The pair would be married in 327 B.C.E. When Alexander the Great died four years later, Roxana was expecting their first child.
To ensure that her son would claim the throne, Roxana killed both of Alexander’s other wives and their children.
Roxana then gave birth to Alexander IV, who became the crown prince of Macedonia.
Queen Olympias did the best she could to protect them as long as she was alive, but sadly, Roxana and Alexander IV were killed in 310 B.C.E.
How Did Alexander The Great Die?
Although Alexander the Great’s life has been well recorded and preserved through history, his death has remained a mystery that historians have tried to solve for thousands of years.
For the ancient Greeks, the Macedonian king was seen as some kind of deity.
After the great king had died in Babylon in 323 B.C.E., historical accounts have stated that it took his body six days to show any sign of decomposition and the slow decaying process was a sign to the Greeks that his body was unlike anything they had ever seen.
Since his death, there have been hundreds of potential explanations throughout the medical community as to what actually caused the death of the victorious king.
One of the newest theories is that Alexander had a neurological disorder called Guillain-Barré Syndrome and claims that the reason that Alexander’s body took so long to decay was that he hadn’t been dead as long as they had thought.
This theory was written and explored by Dr. Katherine Hall of the Dunedin School of Medicine at the University of Otago in New Zealand.
Guillain-Barré Syndrome is a rare and serious autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack healthy cells in the nervous system.
The disease can be contracted through Campylobacter pylori, which was a common type of bacteria found in Babylon at the time.
As the disease spreads through the patient’s body, it can cause symmetrical paralysis and can occasionally cause confusion and lapses of consciousness.
It is likely that Alexander’s illness was only affecting him physically, allowing him to maintain his full mental capacity until he seemingly passed away.
As the body loses functionality and requires less oxygen, it can become difficult to tell if a patient is breathing.
Alexander the Great could be the most famous case of a false diagnosis of death or “pseudothanatos.”
Has Alexander The Great’s Tomb Been Found?
Yes, Alexander the Great’s tomb was recently believed to be found by Siwa’s Tourist Department in the Siwa Oasis in the Marai area.
The temple was originally found between 1995 and 1996, which historians strongly believe is consistent with what we know about Alexander the Great’s death.
Although the reports have yet to be verified, the Egyptian Tourist Department is highly confident that they have finally been able to track down the lost tomb.
For centuries, the late Macedonian king’s grave has been seen as the realistic version of the Holy Grail.
In 332 B.C.E., Alexander the Great was named the Pharaoh of Egypt and was seen as a king and a deity.
When the king died, he was sent to Memphis, Egypt in a golden sarcophagus filled with honey.
His body was then moved to his namesake city of Alexandria and stayed in the city’s Soma, which was a walled-off district where the royal tombs of Ptolemaic kings were.
His worshippers eventually carved him a tomb underneath the Soma, and his tomb began the pilgrimage destination for citizens as well as famous historical figures such as Julius Caesar and Emperor Augustus.
However, not every historical figure who visited his grave did it out of respect.
Cleopatra and Caligula were both known to have looted the grave, as many others had before.
By 199 B.C.E., the looting had gotten so bad that Septimus Severus had the tomb closed.
His son was the final person known to have visited the tomb and was also known to have looted the tomb.
For generations, archeologists have searched endlessly for the tomb, and its mystery has served as the inspiration for countless writers.
One of the most recent references to the hunt for Alexander the Great’s tomb was featured in Marvel’s new Disney+-exclusive series Moon Knight.
Was Alexander The Great An Alcoholic?
Alexander the Great may be best known for the 15-year victorious streak that allowed him to conquer most of the world that the ancient Greeks knew existed, but he is also known for his potentially excessive love of alcohol.
There are many historians and medical professionals who believed that the late Macedonian king could have even been an alcoholic.
Although medical professionals are uncertain if the king drank wine constantly, he did have a history of getting pathologically intoxicated by undiluted wine.
Some believe it was the immense pressure from his royal parents that drove him to drink.
One of Alexander the Great’s most infamous tales of alcoholism was the drinking contest he held in which all 42 contestants who entered died.
The drinking contest was part of an Olympics held by Alexander in India to honor a late friend of the king’s.
In 324 B.C.E., the Macedonian king was visiting the city of Susa to see his friend, gymnosophist Calanus.
Calanus was 73 years old at the time and beginning to suffer from medical problems that took him away from his travels.
Disheartened by the state of his health, Calanus told Alexander that he decided that he wanted to commit suicide before his medical problems worsened.
Alexander tried his best to convince his friend to stay alive, but Calanus ended up killing himself by self-immolation.
To honor his late friend, Alexander the Great decided to hold the Olympics in Susa but quickly realized that the Indian citizens weren’t familiar with Greek sports.
Rather than having to teach an entire civilization a variety of sports, Alexander decided to have a wine-drinking contest.
However, the Indian contestants weren’t used to drinking wine, and 41 of them ended up dying of alcohol poisoning that day.
The winner died four days later.