Alexander the Great has to be one of the most famous Greek rulers who fought in many ancient Greek battles and won some famous victories. Here we take a look at the man and some of his battles.
Alexander the Great was born in Pella Macedonia in 356 BC. He was the son of Philip II of Macedon and Olympias his wife. Alexander’s education was looked after by Aristotle who was a famous Greek philosopher. He also learned how to ride, hunt, play the lyre and fight. The latter being the one great skill Alexander was to become famous for. From the age of sixteen Alexander was looking after the kingdom in the absence of his father who was away fighting wars. He also engaged in campaigns along with his father, while in 336 BC Philip was assasinated and Alexander succeeded his father and took the throne.
Alexander III of Macedon
As soon as Alexander became ruler he dealt swiftly with his enemies asserting his authority for all to see. His ambition was always to invade Persia and take over the lands and its people. Alexander led his armies to victory taking over many lands including Syria, Egypt and Asia Minor, all this without one defeat became recognised as an awesome achievement. The victory acknowledged as his greatest was the Battle of Guagamela in 331 BC. This is a territory that is now known as the north of Iraq, while Alexander became King of Persia at the young age of twenty five.
The Battle of Guagamela
The Battle of Guagamela took place between Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia. This battle was one of the most important in Alexander’s campaigns as it eventually led to the fall of the Persian Empire. Alexander had already taken over the Mediterranean Coast and Egypt and was advancing on Darius and his troops. The Persians amassed over two hundred and fifty thousand men against Alexander’s forty seven thousand, meaning the Greeks were vastly outnumbered.
Darius even offered to give Alexander half of Persia in order to avoid the battle but Alexander was sure of his armies and refused point blank, as all of Persia and no less would do. Many of Alexander’s generals were in favour of attacking at night to surprise the Persians. Alexander would not agree to this and in a twist of fate Darius kept his men awake assuming a night attack was on the cards. Consequently the next day Darius’s men were far from lively as they had been awake all night.
Another fact that gave Alexander an advantage over the Persians was that the Greek warriors were far superior to their enemies in terms of fighting prowess, fitness, training, weaponry and guile making the Persian superiority in numbers useless. Alexander also was able to gain information from captured Persian soldiers as to Darius’s tactics which became crucial to his own campaign tactics. Alexander out manoevred Darius on all fronts and as the Persians began to retreat Alexander pursued them slaughtering all in his path.
The death toll for the Persians was over three hundred thousand, while the Macedonians suffered far less casualties of five hundred although numbers do differ from narrative to narrative. Darius did survive the campaign only to be murdered by his own cousin. Alexander rested his weary troops then marched on to capture the heart of Persia.