Why is Alexander the Great considered great

He conquered empires, defeated powerful opponents and proclaimed himself a god: Alexander the great was a superstar even in ancient times.


He conquered empires, defeated powerful opponents and proclaimed himself a god: Alexander the great was a superstar even in ancient times.

by Bettina Dobe

Alexander the Great is a legend: many wonderful stories are told about him. But the great king's adventures are not just fairy tales. He really experienced many. Alexander the Great was born on July 20, 356 BC in ancient Macedonia. This is in the north of what is now Greece. His father was King Philip II. He wanted to enlarge his small kingdom and began to conquer new territories. The young Alexander took over the government of Macedonia. At that time he was only 16 years old! Philip II was murdered in 336 BC - and Alexander was king at the age of 20. He only knew one goal: to conquer the whole world.

Was Alexander really that tall?

Alexander is not called “the big one” because he was particularly tall. It is nicknamed because it has conquered half the world - at least the part that the people of the Mediterranean knew back then. Because no one had subjugated so many countries and peoples before him, he is still called "Alexander the Great" today. But not everything Alexander did was great. So he was not squeamish about the conquest: Thousands of people died in his campaigns. On the way to world domination he destroyed entire cities, made many people slaves and had his opponents murdered.

Did Alexander have a favorite animal?

There are already legendary stories from the young Alexander: when he was around ten years old, he is said to have been a horse whisperer. A dealer had offered his father a horse. But the stallion was wild and dangerous. Nobody could ride him. It is said that young Alexander realized that the horse was afraid of its own shadow. He got on horseback and rode toward the sun. So the animal could not see its shadow and calmed down. Alexander named it Bukephalos after a spot in the fur, which means something like "ox head". Bucephalus became the most famous horse of the ancient world. Alexander led the horsemen in battles on him and even named a city after him. When the stallion died of old age, he had a huge tomb built for him.

Did Alexander like to go to school?

Of course, young Alexander learned to ride and fight in school. As a king, however, he had to be educated in other ways. Alexander therefore had a private tutor: Aristotle. The famous philosopher taught him a lot about science, politics and art. Alexander also loved books. He is said to have always had Greek legends with him on his campaigns, such as those about the Trojan War. Scholars also always accompanied him. Alexander also didn't just want more power. He also wanted to spread Greek culture throughout the world during the conquest. He partially succeeded in this. Hence the following epoch is called "Hellenism". Because the Greeks themselves called their country "Hellas.

How did he beat the mighty Persians?

Alexander first conquered the cities of Greece, such as Thebes. But that was not enough for him: he wanted to conquer the huge empire of the Persians, although they seemed to be an overpowering enemy. Alexander moved south and conquered Egypt, which was ruled by the Persians. There he untied the famous "Gordian Knot". You may have heard of it before. It is also referred to when someone is working on a tricky task. The knot is so named because it sat by King Gordios' chariot. Legend has it that Asia will only be conquered by those who can untie the artfully tied knot. Alexander didn’t spend long puzzling: he cut it in half with his sword - and the prophecy came true.

Although the Persians had a much larger army, Alexander defeated them several times, around 333 BC at Issus. He had read many books on battles and was brilliant at choosing the right tactic. So he defeated the dreaded Persian king Dareios III. From then on, Alexander called himself the Great King of Persia - and in some cases also demanded that the people at his court behave like Persians. Some of his comrades in arms didn't like that at all. Despite the unrest in the army, he moved on.

Did Alexander consider himself a god?

Alexander's mother Olympias claimed to be descended from Achilles. This is a hero from the Greek world of legends and also a son of a god. Olympias is also said to have kept a snake as a pet. She was also the beast of the highest Greek god Zeus. Alexander also believed that he was descended from a god. In Egypt he was worshiped as a pharaoh after the conquest. That was the name of the rulers in Egypt, who were revered as kings and gods at the same time. The oracle also confirmed to Alexander that he is of divine origin. Alexander also gave his name to cities so that people would not forget him.

Did Alexander get to the end of the world?

In the time of Alexander, people believed that the world would end on the Indus River. This is in the north of India. But Alexander moved to India and there defeated King Porus and his fearsome war elephants. His voyage of conquest continued as far as the Indus River and he found that the world was much bigger. Alexander wanted to move on, but his army was tired. Many soldiers were homesick after years of campaigns. India seemed very strange to them. They were also not used to the heavy rain during the monsoon season. Alexander reluctantly had to turn back.

Alexander died in 323 BC. He was only 32 years old then. Not in battle, though. According to legend, Alexander suddenly developed a fever during a festival, from which he died shortly afterwards. He is said to have been buried in a magnificent golden coffin in Egypt. But where is still not known today.

Who is telling us about Alexander?

Alexander's empire fell apart soon after his death. Nevertheless, we still know him today. One reason we know so much: Alexander took the historian Callisthenes with him on his travels. Later historians also report on the great king. But Alexander's life was so fabulous that fairytale books were written about him. Soon after his death, the first “Alexander novels” appeared, telling fantastic stories about him. New novels continued to appear well into the Middle Ages - and Alexander became a legend.