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His speed surprised the Greeks and by the end of the summer BC they had no other choice but to acknowledge his authority. Believing that Greece would remain calm, Alexander returned to Macedonia, marched east into Thrace, and campaigned as far as the Danube river. He defeated the Thracians and Tribalians in series of battles and drove the rebels beyond the river.

Then he marched back across Macedonia and on his return crushed in a single week the threatening Illyrians, before they could receive additional reinforcements. But now in Greece, upon rumors of his death, a major revolt broke out that engulfed the whole nation. Enraged, Alexander marched south covering miles in two weeks and appeared before the walls of Thebes with a large Macedonian army.

He let the Greeks know that it was not too late for them to change their minds, but the Thebans confident in their position called for all the Greeks who wished to set Greece free to join them against the Macedonians. They were not aware that the Athenians and the Peloponnesians, stunned by the speed of the Macedonian king, quickly reconsidered their options and were now awaiting the outcome of the battle before they make their next move. Alexander's general Perdiccas attacked the gates, broke into the city, and Alexander moved with the rest of the army behind him to prevent the Thebans from cutting him off.

The Macedonians stormed the city, killing everyone in sight, women and children included. The city where Alexander's father was kept as hostage for three years, was plundered, sacked, burned, and razed to the ground, just like Philip acted with Methone, Olynthus, and the rest of the Greek cities in Chalcidice. Only the temples and the house of the poet Pindar were spared from destruction. This was to be an example to the rest of Greece and Athens and the other Greek city-states quickly rethought their quest for freedom.

Greece remained under Macedonian rule. With the conquered territories firmly in Macedonian control, Alexander completed the final preparations for the invasion of Asia. The 22 year-old king appointed Philip's experienced general Antipater as regent in his absence to preside over the affairs of Macedonia and Greece, left him a significant force of 13, Macedonian soldiers to watch Greece, Thrace, Illyria, and protect Macedonia, and set out for the Hellespont modern Dardanelles in the spring of BC.

Alexander the Great performing sacrifice aboard Macedonian battleship. As his ship approached the Asia Minor's coast, he threw his spear from aboard and stuck it in the ground. He stepped onto the shore, pulled the weapon from the soil, and declared that the whole of Asia would be won by the Macedonian spear. Asia will be won by the Macedonian spear! In the army there were 25, Macedonians, 7, Greeks, and 7, Thracians and Illyrians, but the chief officers were all Macedonians, and Macedonians also commanded the foreign troops.

Siege equipment

Alexander's second in command was Philip's general Parmenio, the other important commanders being Perdiccas , Craterus , Coenus, Meleager, Antigonus , and Parmenio's son Philotas. There were 40, Persians and Greeks 20, each waiting for them at the crossing of the river Granicus, near the ancient city of Troy. It is important to note the number of Greeks on the both sides.


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The Greeks in the Macedonian train were mobilized by the Macedonians, and historians Peter Green and Ulrich Wilcken speak of them as hostages that would ensure the good behavior of their countrymen left behind in Greece under the watch of Antipater's Macedonian garrisons. Not surprisingly, the Greeks in Alexander's army did not have significant role in the upcoming battles, only to be discharged when convenient. But far greater number of Greeks joined the Persians brushing away the memory of the Persian invasion of Greece some years ago.

The ancient Greek historian Arrian cited the " old racial rivalry between the Greeks and Macedonians " that led to this hatred on both sides. Alexander the Great and the Macedonian cavalry crossing river Granicus. Artwork by Peter Connolly. The Macedonians defeated the Persians and put them to flight and although the Greeks held their ground and fiercely fought, the battle ended in Macedonian victory. Almost the entire Greek force was annihilated.

The Macedonians lost only men according to tradition. Campaigns in Asia Minor. Alexander then led the army south across Asia Minor. Ironically, it is not the Persians but the Greek coastal cities which gave the greatest resistance to the Macedonians. The Greek commander Memnon and his men considerably slow down the advance of Alexander and many Macedonians died during the long and difficult sieges of the Greek cities of Halicarnassus, Miletus, Mylasa.

But at the end the Macedonian army defeated the enemy and conquered the coast of Asia Minor. Alexander then turned northward to central Asia Minor, to the city of Gordium. Gordium was a home of the famous so-called Gordian Knot. Alexander knew the legend that said that the man who could untie the ancient knot was destined to rule the entire world. To that date nobody had succeeded in raveling the knot. But the young Macedonian king simply slashed it with his sword and unraveling its ends.

Battle of Issus.

5g. Alexander the Great

Describing the atmosphere before a battle, the Roman historian Curtius explained how Alexander raised the morale of the Macedonians, Greeks, Illyrians, and Thracians in his army, one at the time:. The Macedonians, who had won so many battles in Europe and set off to invade Asia They were the world's liberators and one day they would pass the frontiers set by Hercules and Father Liber.

They would subdue all races on Earth. Bactria and India would become Macedonian provinces.

Alexander the Great - Serious Science

Getting closer to the Greeks, he reminded them that those were the people the Persians on the other side who provoked war with Greece, As the Illyrians and Thracians lived mainly from plunder, he told them to look at the enemy line glittering in gold Curtius Rufus 3. Darius's army greatly outnumbered the Macedonians, but the Battle of Issus ended in a big victory for Alexander.

Ten's of thousands of Persians, Greeks, and other Asiatic soldiers were killed and king Darius fled in panic before the Macedonian phalanx, abandoning his mother, wife, and children behind. Alexander treated them with the respect out of consideration for their royalty. Sieges of Tyre and Gaza. The victory at Issus opened the road for Syria and Phoenicia. In early , Alexander sent general Parmenio to occupy the Syrian cities and himself marched down the Phoenician coast where he received the surrender of all major cities except the island city of Tyre which refused to grant him access to sacrifice at the temple of the native Phoenician god Melcart.

A very difficult seven-month siege of the city followed. In an enormous effort, the Macedonians begun building a mole that would connect the island-city with the coast.


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Tons of rocks and wood were poured into the water strip separating the island from the coast but its construction and the attacks from the city walls cost Alexander many of his bravest Macedonians. Although seriously tempted to lift the siege and continue marching on Egypt, Alexander did not abandon the project and continued the siege, surrounding the island with ships and blasting the city walls with catapults.

When the walls finally gave in, the Macedonians poured their anger over the city defenders - 7, people were killed, 30, were sold as slaves.


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Alexander entered the temple of Melcart, and had his sacrifice. Phoenician ships burning the Macedonian siege towers. Artwork by Johnny Shumate Macedonians storming the walls of Tyre. Artwork by Johnny Shumate. During the seven-month siege of Tyre, Alexander received a letter from Darius offering a truce with a gift of several western provinces of the Persian Empire, but he refused to make peace unless he could have the whole empire.

He continued marching south toward Egypt but was again held up by resistance at Gaza. The Macedonians put the city under a siege which lasted two months, after which the scenario of Tyre was repeated. With the fall of Gaza, the whole Eastern Mediterranean coast was now secured and firmly in the hands of the Macedonians.

The mainland Greeks had hoped that the Persian navy and the Greek commander Memnon would land in Greece and help them launch a rebellion against Antipater's Macedonians, transfer the war into Macedonia itself, and cut off Alexander in Asia, but the sealing of the coast prevented this from happening. Memnon fell sick and died while attempting to regain the lost Greek city of Miletus on the Asia Minor coast, and the Persian plan to transfer the war into Europe well apart.

Conquest of Egypt. Alexander entered Egypt in the beginning of BC. The Persian satrap surrendered and the Macedonians were welcomed by the Egyptians as liberators for they had despised living under Persian rule for almost two centuries. Here Alexander ordered that a city be designed and founded in his name at the mouth of river Nile, as trading and military Macedonian outpost, the first of many to come. He never lived to see it built, but Alexandria will become a major economic and cultural center in the Mediterranean world not only during the Macedonian rule in Egypt but centuries after.

In the spring of Alexander made a pilgrimage to the great temple and oracle of Amon-Ra, the Egyptian god of the sun, whom the Greeks and Macedonians identified with Zeus Ammon. The earlier Egyptian pharaohs were believed to be sons of Amon-Ra and Alexander as new ruler of Egypt wanted the god to acknowledge him as his son. He decided to make the dangerous trip across the desert to visit the oracle at the temple of the god. According to the legend, on the way he was blessed with abundant rain, and guided across the desert by ravens. At the temple, he was welcomed by the priests and spoke to the oracle.

The priest told him that he was a son of Zeus Ammon, destined to rule the world, and this must have confirmed in him his belief of divine origin.

How Alexander the Great Conquered the Persian Empire

Alexander remained in Egypt until the middle of , and then returned to Tyre before facing Darius. Battle of Gaugamela. At Tyre, Alexander received reinforcements from Europe, reorganized his forces, and started for Babylon. He conquered the lands between rivers Tigris and Euphrates and found the Persian army at the plains of Gaugamela, near modern Irbil in Iraq, which according to the exaggerated accounts of antiquity was said to number a million men.

Military Reforms of Alexander the Great

The Macedonians spotted the lights from the Persian campfires and encouraged Alexander to lead his attack under cover of darkness. But he refused to take advantage of the situation because he wanted to defeat Darius in an equally matched battle so that the Persian king would never again dare to raise an army against him. The two armies met on the battlefield the next morning, October 1, BC.