Alexander the Great born in 356 BC in Pella was the king of Macedonia, conqueror of the Persian Empire, and one of the greatest military intellectual of all times. Even at an early age, Alexander had the potential to become a great leader. Through all his victories and conquests, he has become a great hero and has had a large impact on history.. Alexander’s tutor, Aristotle, taught him from age 13 to 16 and stimulated his interest in science, medicine, and philosophy. He was well prepared to take over the throne. In the summer of 336 BC Philip was assassinated, and Alexander ascended to the Macedonian throne. He soon showed his power when the large city of Thebes revolted in 335. He stormed the city with mighty force and took 30,000 people as slaves.
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Alexander’s next attempt was to defeat Persia. He could never be the dominant force in his area as long as the Persian ruler Darius was still living. After beating Persia the second and final time in 332, Darius, who managed to survive, fled to the mountains. He died in the mountains when one of his own noblemen killed him. With Darius dead, Alexander was crowned King of Persia and became known as the king of all Asia. Babylon surrendered after Gaugamela, and the city of Susa with its enormous treasures was soon conquered. Then, in midwinter, Alexander forced his way to Persepolis, the Persian capital. After plundering the royal treasuries and taking other rich booty, he burned the city during a drunken binge and thus completed the destruction of the ancient Persian Empire. His domain now extended along and beyond the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, including modern Afghanistan and Baluchistan, and northward into Bactria and Sogdiana, the modern Western Turkistan, also known as Central Asia. It had taken Alexander only three years, from the spring of 330 BC to the spring of 327 BC, to master this vast area. In order to complete his conquest of the remnants of the Persian Empire, which had once included part of western India, Alexander crossed the Indus River in 326 BC.
India, in Alexander’s time, meant the land of the Indus – not necessarily the area where the modern country of India stands. The Greeks, who had limited knowledge of the geography of central Asia, knew almost nothing of the Indian subcontinent or China. India, to the Greeks, meant the area in western Pakistan, particularly the Punjab and Sind territories.
The invasion of India began in the summer of 327 B.C. Alexander proceeded as he had in his Persian conquest, vanquishing city by city. Many cities surrendered without a fight; those that did not were usually massacred without mercy. Alexander soon gained the support of Ambhi, the ruler of Attock. Alexander and his troops rested for a couple of months in the capital city of Taxiles as they prepared to meet Ambhi’s enemy, Porus.
In response to Alexander’s request that he submitted Porus assembled his army and prepared to meet Alexander on the bank of the Hydaspes River. When Alexander arrived, he found that Porus had the fords guarded with elephants, which made a crossing impossible. Moreover, whenever Alexander moved along the river, Porus mirrored him on the opposite side. To confuse his foe, Alexander divided his army into several units and spread them along the bank. This splitting up also gave Alexander a chance to search for other possible fords farther down; indeed, a suitable one was found seventeen miles upstream. The question was whether Alexander could keep Porus from following him all the way to that crossing point.
Once again Alexander devised a plan to confuse his enemy. For several nights, he sent the cavalry to various spots along the bank and instructed them to make noise and raise war cries. Porus, of course, followed them the first few times, but eventually stopped responding to Alexander’s bluffs. On the night planned for the attack, Alexander divided the troops into three groups. One would remain in the original spot to keep Porus off guard, while a second group prepared for a crossing that would take place only if Alexander succeeded in clearing the fords. Alexander himself led the third group, consisting of about 15,000 infantry and 5,500 cavalry. Porus sent an initial group of about 2,000 cavalry, led by his son, to attack the Macedonians while they were crossing and to drive them back into the river. However, the Indians did not make it in time to have the early advantage, and Alexander easily defeated the troops.
Porus was therefore forced to march against Alexander with full force, leaving only a small detachment to face the second crossing group. The fact that Porus’s front line consisted entirely of elephants prevented Alexander from using his cavalry, as the horses would not charge in face of the elephants. Once again, Alexander succeeded with a brilliant strategy. He kept a segment of his cavalry hidden, allowing Porus to think that he was winning. When Porus advanced to exploit Alexander’s apparent weakness, the hidden cavalry emerged and caused confusion among the already exposed Indians. The battle culminated in the surrounding of the Indians, and Porus was finally prevailed upon to surrender. The victory had not been easy, however. The Macedonians were particularly troubled about the elephants, which had brutally trampled and mangled their soldiers. Nevertheless, it was Alexander’s last major battle and one of his greatest.
After his officers convinced him to return to Persia, so Alexander led his troops down the Indus River and was severely wounded during a battle with the Malli. After recovering, he divided his troops, sending half back to Persia and half to Gedrosia, a desolate area west of the Indus River. By 323 B.C., Alexander was head of an enormous empire and had recovered from the devastating loss of his friend Hephaestion. Thanks to his insatiable urge for world supremacy, he started plans to conquer Arabia. But he’d never live to see it happen. After surviving battle after fierce battle, Alexander the Great died in June 323 B.C. at age 32. Some historians say Alexander died of malaria or other natural causes, others believe he was poisoned. Alexander the Great is revered as one of the most powerful and influential leaders the ancient world ever produced.
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