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Alexander’s Conquests Essay, Research Paper The Conquests of Alexander the Great by Michael Janusa Mark D. Kuss Western Civilization Class Rm 16 April 10, 1999 Alexander was the son of King Philip II of Macedonia born approximately on July 20th in 356 BC. His mother was Olympias, a young princess from Epirus. Alexander was a remarkable person who loved to recite Homeric poetry. At age fourteen his father sent him to study science, mathematics, and philosophy with Aristotle of Stagira. Alexander looked up to Aristotle ‘like a father’, and it can later be seen that Aristotle gave Alexander the knowledge it took to be one of the greatest rulers in history. Alexander was a man of extremes and contradictions. At times he would have intense spurts of energy and then long

sulks. He showed extreme generosity and at the same time murderous cruelty against former friends. One would guess given common knowledge that his insecurities most likely were originated in his childhood; perhaps the relationship with his father. 1 After the assassination of his father, King Philip II, Alexander was in direct line to take over as ruler. Alexander was to go down in history as the “father of the Hellenic world”, “the unopposed leader of the Greek world”, and last but not least “the Great”, a title given for his numerous victories. The mobile elite was Alexander’s Companion Cavalry consisting primarily of the cream of the Macedonian aristocracy. The backbone of the army was the phalanx.2 The phalanx was six infantry brigades, capable of fighting a

compilation of different types of warfare, but specializing in set-piece battle in an eight-deep hedgehog formation with five and a half meter-long spears. The phalanx was the main weapon of warfare; yet, there were also specialist units: skirmishers, archers, and light infantry with mountain training. There were also units comprised of non-Macedonian Greeks whom, fighting for Alexander, helped justify Alexander’s claim to be the “General in Chief of the army of Hellenes”. 3 Alexander’s Army also had very important back-up units. These units carried a siege train consisting of mobile siege towers, stone-throwing catapults, and javelin throwers. Also comprised in the back-up units were engineers, bridge-builders, sappers, and surveyors. To further insure a well developed

army there needed to be non-combatant personnel as well. They comprised of doctors, scientists, botanists, astronomers, philosophers, seers, and an official historian record all of the conquests. With this unified and flawless army Alexander would be able to conquer many lands with great speed and diligence. In the same aspect that most of our armies of today say prayers for a victory in battle so was Alexander’s belief that a homage must be paid to a god for good luck. In the beginning of his journey, Alexander rode up to the city of Troy where he entered the archaic temple of the goddess Athena. Here he made a promise that if successful, he would return to little Ilion and build a gigantic temple to Trojan Athene in gratitude for her help. This visit would give him the

additional benefit of the spirits of the Ancients in his later conquests of Asia.4 Alexander and his army swiftly marched the plains along the Sea of Marmara. At the same time Darius, the King of Persia, was busily setting traps in plans to stop the pursuit of Alexander’s army. Darius had a plan to stop them, he would station several thousand Greek mercenaries near the Dardanelles. The Persian army had vast resources and great gold reserves to hire army after army to defeat Alexander’s pursuit. The leader of the Greek mercenaries, Memnon of Rhodes, decided to burn the countryside to cut off Alexander’s supplies. The Persian leaders decided against this idea and decided to fight instead. At dusk, Alexander approached the river in battle formation. On the opposite side were