Alexander der Grosse
Alexander wept when he heard from Anaxarchus that there was an infinite number of worlds; and his friends asking him if any accident had befallen him, he returns this answer: “Do you not think it a matter worthy of lamentation that when there is such a vast multitude of them, we have not yet conquered one?” Plutarch
On the night of Alexander’s birth, tradition alleged, the temple of Artemis was burnt down. The local Persian Magi interpreted this as an omen of further disasters to come. They ‘ran about beating their faces and crying aloud that woe and great calamity for Asia had that day been born’, a firebrand that was destined to destroy the entire East. The night before her wedding, similarly, Olympias dreamed she was penetrated by a thunderbolt, so that fire gushed out of her womb, spreading far and wide before it was extinguished. A month or two later Philip also had a dream: he was sealing up his wife’s vagina, and the wax bore the stamped device of a lion. Some of the palace seers took this to mean that Philip should keep a closer watch on his wife. But Aristander of Telmessus* - who afterwards accompanied Alexander to Asia - had a more acceptable explanation: Olympias was pregnant, and with a spirited, lion-like son. One did not, he told Philip, put a seal on an empty jar. Peter Green, Alexander of Macedon, Penguin. *Aristander of Telmessus (in Caria) was Alexander's favorite seer.
The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus was destroyed by Herostratus in order to become famous. The legend says that Artemis did not protect her temple, because she wanted to be present at the birth of Alexander the Great which took place that same night.
Was Alexander the Great really Great? Did not Daniel say “The male goat magnified himself exceedingly: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken; and instead of it there came up four notable horns toward the four winds of the sky” ? So had Alexander to fulfill the prophecy? Is Alexander Alexander?
Alexander at the age of 30, artistic image of the Azara herm (Louvre Paris) found in Tivoli. It was presented by the Diplomat Don Jose Nicholas de Azara, a diplomat and archaeologist to Napoleon. (Image Source)
Alexander III ( 20.7. 356 BC Pella - 10.6. 323 BC Babylon), The Great (actually a man of 1.60 m to 1.65 m according to Plutarch). Some suppose that he died in Babylon from Malaria, coming from the words “Mala Aria” or bad air as the Romans described the cause of this disease. Other say he died from encephalitis by the West Nile virus. The Macedonians were considered a kind of semi-barbarians by the other Greeks, but finally Alexander helped to expand the Greek civilization that was already weak after so many wars.
All mortals should live like one, united, and peacefully working towards the common good. You should regard the whole world as your country, a country where the best govern, with common laws, and no racial distinctions. I do not separate people, as many narrow-minded others do. I am not interested in the origin or race of citizens; I only distinguish them on the basis of their virtue. For my part, I consider all, whether they be white or black, equal. Alexander The Great.
. The whole history is told by the expression of the faces of Alexander and Darius.
Darius leaves with horror the battlefield. He cannot believe that his huge army cannot resist the small army of the young Alexander. What is less known is that Alexander had to fight against Greek mercenaries fighting for Darius. From a Lecture: “The battle opened with Alexander leading the heavy cavalry over the river and charging the left wing of the enemy. This furious assault caved in that section of the Persian line and caused them to waver. Alexander received a deep thigh wound in the process. Meanwhile, other parts of the Macedonian line were not doing as well. The phalanx entered the river under a hail of spears, and upon reaching the opposite bank it was assailed from above by the Greek mercenaries of the Persian center. But Alexander’s assault had carried with it the right portion of the phalanx and when the Macedonian center could not make contact, the phalanx broke in two. The Greek mercenaries pushed forward in the furious fighting and forced the Macedonians back into the river. The outcome of the battle was momentarily in doubt until Alexander was able to clear the left and wheel his cavalry to strike the Greek mercenaries in flank and rout them.“ Many Athenians, Thebans, or Greek mercenaries of the Persian army who were againsts Alexander the Great died. The most famous was Demosthenes.
Surprisingly his death probably was helpful in that his idea of a Universal Culture would reduce the influence of Greek culture. Philip II Macedon asked Aristotle when he was 39 years old to be the teacher of Alexander. Aristotle was not only one of the greatest scientists ever, he had also a great influence indirectly on Alexander; even if Alexander was 13 years old when Aristotle started his work as his teacher. I believe that in the 3 years which Aristotle remained in Macedonia he was able to influence his student before he returned back to Athens where he established his own Academy, the Lyceum. Alexander understood that science and knowledge is not only important for the strength of his army. Alexander therefore included in his army also scientists, engineers and historians. According to Plutarch Alexander had a violent thirst and passion for learning, which increased as time went on…He was a lover of all kinds of reading and knowledge, and it was his delight, after a day of marching or fighting, to sit up half the night conversing with scholars and scientists. Alexander provided financial support (and protection) for Aristotle's Lyceum that he opened returning back in Athens. Did Aristotle tell Alexander that the Persian Empire was so weak because it was only necessary to kill Darius, the Persian Emperor, to conquer Persia?
With the advent of World War II, yet another transformation took place. The scientist, who had before only concerned himself with the development of advanced equipment, then started to involve himself in operational matters, advising soldiers on how operational problems should be handled. This was the beginning of what came to be called operational research, or operational analysis, which grew in such a tremendous fashion since the development of the electronic computer which allowed the mathematical testing of virtually any complex situation, real or unreal, provided it can be set out in qualitative terms. This concept seems, however, to be another one of those ancient ideas which have disappeared from view. There are some that consider the philosophers who accompanied Alexander the Great in his conquests to be the precursors of today's operational analysts. Ulysses R. Gotera Impacts of Science and Technology on War
Alexander the Great at an age of 20 started 334 BC the war against Persia. 35000 Macedonian and Greek “professional” soldiers in battles at the Granikus, Issus defeated the Persian armed forces of Darius III. Alexander stormed the fortified city port of Tyre in modern Lebanon, seizing the city after a siege of seven months (Alexander had a dream that Heracles invited him into Tyre and Aristander's interpretation was that to take Tyre it requires a Herculean effort). The punishment of the population was terrible: 8000 men killed (2000 crucified on the beach and left to decompose) 30000 women and children taken as slaves.
Darius offered Alexander 10000 talents and territory to Alexander to stop the war. Parmenion a friend of Alexander said “I would accept if I were Alexander”. Alexander's reply: “So would I, were I Parmenion”. Alexander captured Gaza and in quick succession occupied Egypt.
Cyrene, the capital of the ancient North African kingdom of Cyrenaica, submitted to Alexander soon afterwards, extending his dominion to the lands of the city of Carthage, where his troops set up a ruling aristocracy (and from whom ultimately the great General Hannibal would emerge to test the Roman Empire some 200 years later)
Alexander drew up reinforcements and with an army of 40000 infantrymen and 7000 cavalry, marched on Babylon. Crossing the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers, he met the Persian King Darius once again, who had drawn up a new army outnumbering Alexander's forces.
At the Battle of Gaugamela, on 1 October, 331 BC, Alexander once again beat Darius, who fled and was killed by two of his own generals. The city of Babylon then surrendered and Alexander occupied the Persian capital city of Persepolis. Within three years, Alexander had occupied a huge stretch of land, and all resistance crumbled before his ruthless Nordic army. His empire extended along and beyond the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, including modern Afghanistan and northward into central Asia.
The basic unit, or speira, in Alexander's army. The 256 men are ranked in close order, 16 deep. In a charge, the spears, “sarisa”, of the first five ranks projected forward to break the enemy ranks - the rest of the men held their spears skywards to deflect arrows or other projectiles. Image from P. Connolly, The Greek armies, 1978 Alexander also used a cavalry of 2000 men divided in groups of 250, each heavily armed. The commander of this army was Black Cleitus. It was reported that small army's move faster and the army of Alexander the Great did over forty miles a day during the pursuit of Darius in 330 BC. Armies as large as Arrian records - assuming they could survive at all - would have been incredibly slow. King Darius marched from Babylon to his base camp near in Issus within three months - a distance of 1200 kilometers or 750 miles at least. It seems that Napoleon somehow succeeded to move his army so fast that this was one of the most important reasons for his military success. A Greek soldiers carried 60-70 pounds on his back. With soldiers carrying one-third the load that would be normally hauled by animals, an army of 50000 men required 6000 fewer pack animals than it would have needed, along with 240 fewer animals to haul the feed for the other animals. By requiring the soldier to carry his own equipment and food, Alexander created the lightest, most mobile, and fastest army the world had ever seen. In eleven years Alexander's army covered 11000 miles.
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, and invaded the Punjab region, following the footsteps of the Indo-Arians of some 1200 years previously.
Alexander's army rebelled and refused to go any further, seeing no point in marching endlessly on, getting further and further away from their homes without any respite in sight. Sensing that he had to get his men home quickly, Alexander then pulled off another incredible feat. He constructed a fleet of ships then and there and sailed down the Indus river, reaching its mouth in September 325 BC. He then sailed with his army to the Persian Gulf and returned overland across the desert, arriving in Babylon in 323 BC.
Alexander the Great, as King of Egypt and Horus
Alexander probably was responsible that also his generals did support science. Before in 332 BC Alexander founded a new city in Egypt - which he called Alexandria. This city would later became the literary, scientific, and commercial center of the Greek world. After the Macedonian conquest the center of learning shifted from Greece to Alexandria. There, where Middle Eastern and Greek culture overlapped, Babylonian astronomy and Greek philosophy interacted to produce the sophisticated science of the Hellenistic Age. (Alexander in Egypt)
And out of the remarkable Panhellenic campaign,
We, the Alexandrians, the Antiocheans,
In 146 BC, Macedonia and Greece became direct Roman provinces after a short-lived rebellion by the Macedonians, and in 64 BC, the Seleucid empire was conquered by the Roman general Pompey and became a Roman province.
Alexander was responsible that the Greek language become a common language (koine). The Bible was first written in Greek and this probably helped in the expansion of the Christian religion.
"Alexander the Great honors the Work of Homer", from Raphael's Parnassus (Apollo and the Muses) Painting of the Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican Palace. A Greek stamp for Alexander 2300 years after his death
Quotations and some stories
Alexander asked his teacher Menaechmus an easy method to learn geometry. Menaechmus response: O king, through the country there are royal roads and roads for common citizens, but in geometry there is one road for all.
A similar response was given to Ptolemy I from Euclid: There is no royal road to geometry.
Did Alexander cut the Gordian knot or did he solve the knot?
Gordius, a Phrygian peasant, was chosen king of Phrygia in Asia Minor when he was the first man to drive his wagon up to the temple of Zeus, this being the condition proposed by the oracles for selecting a new king... Gordius] tied the knot and presumably could untie it, but the oracle-priests were impressed by the fact that none of them could comprehend its construction, so their amazement and respect must have come from an intellectual rather than practical base. The story marks the superiority of the mind of a man who can devise a knot that nobody else can untie, and this knot is taken to be of such original inventive quality, that the simple shepherd immediately is made king... There can be only one reason for this: Gordius represents a new level of thinking, which is symbolized by the invention of the special knot, which the state cannot comprehend, and hence accepts as proof of leadership. William Harris, Man the Inventor of Tools
When Alexander reached Gordium, he was seized with a longing to ascend to the acropolis, where the palace of Gordius and his son Midas was situated, and to see Gordius’ wagon and the knot of the wagon’s yoke:. Over and above this there was a legend about the wagon, that anyone who untied the knot of the yoke would rule Asia. The knot was of cornel bark, and you could not see where it began or ended. Alexander was unable to find how to untie the knot but unwilling to leave it tied, in case this caused a disturbance among the masses; some say that he struck it with his sword, cut the knot, and said it was now untied - but Aristobulus says that he took out the pole-pin, a bolt driven right through the pole, holding the knot together, and so removed the yoke from the pole. I cannot say with confidence what Alexander actually did about this knot, but he and his suite certainly left the wagon with the impression that the oracle about the undoing of the knot had been fulfilled, and in fact that night there was thunder and lightning, a further sign from heaven; so Alexander in thanksgiving offered sacrifice next day to whatever gods had shown the signs and the way to undo the knot. Lucius Flavius Arrianus, Anabasis Alexandri, Book II, c.150 AD
Silver Tetradrachm of Alexander the Great, a) head of Heracles b) Zeus Olympios, Archaeological Museum Dion
There is an ancient Greek folktale still very popular in Greece today that there is a mermaid that constantly plows the wide seas and asks every captain whether Alexander the Great is still alive. If the captain dare answer "No, he died long time ago," the mermaid immediately raises a storm and sinks the ship.
It was not said amiss by Antisthenes, when people told him that one Ismenias was an excellent piper. "It may be so," said he, "but he is but a wretched human being, otherwise he would not have been an excellent piper." And King Philip, to the same purpose, told his son Alexander, who once at a merry-meeting played a piece of music charmingly and skilfully, "Are you not ashamed, son, to play so well?" For it is enough for a king or prince to find leisure sometimes to hear others sing, and he does the muses quite honour enough when he pleases to be but present, while others engage in such exercises and trials of skill. Plutarch Pericles
Once upon a time Philoneicus the Thessalian brought Bucephalus (bull-head), offering to sell him to Philip for thirteen talents, and they went down into the plain to try the horse, who appeared to be savage and altogether intractable, neither allowing any one to mount him, nor heeding the voice of any of Philip's attendants, but rearing up against all of them. Then Philip was vexed and ordered the horse to be led away, believing him to be altogether wild and unbroken; but Alexander, who was near by, said: "What a horse they are losing, because, for lack of skill and courage, they cannot manage him!" At first, then, Philip held his peace; but as Alexander many times let fall such words and showed great distress, he said: "Dost thou find fault with thine elders in the belief that thou knowest more than they do or art better able to manage a horse?" "This horse, at any rate," said Alexander, "I could manage better than others have." "And if thou shouldst not, what penalty wilt thou undergo for thy rashness?" "Indeed," said Alexander, "I will forfeit the price of the horse." There was laughter at this, and then an agreement between father and son as to the forfeiture, and at once Alexander ran to the horse, took hold of his bridle-rein, and turned him towards the sun; for he had noticed, as it would seem, that the horse was greatly disturbed by the sight of his own shadow falling in front of him and dancing about. And after he had calmed the horse a little in this way, and had stroked him with his hand, when he saw that he was full of spirit and courage, he quietly cast aside his mantle and with a light spring safely bestrode him. Then, with a little pressure of the reins on the bit, and without striking him or tearing his mouth, he held him in hand; but when he saw that the horse was rid of the fear that had beset him, and was impatient for the course, he gave him his head, and at last urged him on with sterner tone and thrust of foot. Philip and his company were speechless with anxiety at first; but when Alexander made the turn in proper fashion and came back to them proud and exultant, all the rest broke into loud cried, but his father, as we are told, actually shed tears of joy, and when Alexander had dismounted, kissed him, saying: "My son, seek thee out a kingdom equal to thyself; Macedonia has not room for thee." Plutarch, The Parallel Lives , The Life of Alexander
“Alexander was said to have paid seventy-eight thousand denarii for his horse Bucephalas (or Bucephalus) , who, when equipped for battle, would allow no other rider. Once, grievously wounded and dying from a loss of blood, the animal safely removed Alexander from the battle and then fell down dead. In his honor, a city was built and named Bucephalon (V.3).” Aulus Gellius, Attic Nights Encyclopedia Romana (Bucephalus died in the year 326 BC) (Bucephalus was considered to be a descendant of the Mares of Diomedes)
Experiments of Alexander with humans? Alexanader discovered at Ekbatana a lake of Naphtha: “The liquid kind, which they call naphtha, is of a singular nature; for it the naphtha is brought near fire it catches the fire; and if you smear a body with it and bring it near to the fire, the body bursts into flames; and it is impossible to quench these flames with water (for they burn more violently), unless a great amount is sued, though they can be smothered and quenched with mud, vinegar, alum, and bird-lime. It is said that Alexander, for an experiment, poured some naphtha on a boy in a bath and brought a lamp near him; and that the boy, enveloped in flames, would have been nearly burned to death if the bystanders had not, by pouring on him a very great quantity of water, prevailed over the fire and saved his life.” Strabo, Geography Book 16
Alexander and a Tsunami? As the Macedonian construction came within range of their missiles, portents were sent by the gods to them in their danger. Out of the sea a tidal wave tossed a sea-monster of incredible size into the midst of the Macedonian operations. It crashed into the mole but did it no harm, remained resting a portion of its body against it for a long time and then swam off into the sea again. This strange event threw both sides into superstition, each imagining that the portent signified that Poseidon would come to their aid, for they were swayed by their own interest in the matter. Diodorus Siculus http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0084;layout=;query=chapter%3D%23714;loc=17.40.1
The first European to acquire elephants was Alexander, after subduing Porus and the power of the Indians; after his death others of the kings got them but Antigonus more than any; Pyrrhus captured his beasts in the battle with Demetrius. When on this occasion they came in sight the Romans were seized with panic, and did not believe they were animals. Pausanias
Alexander and Perdiccas. When Alexander started for Asia he divided his possessions among his friends. Perdiccas asked what he had left for himself. "Hope," said Alexander. "If hope is enough for Alexander," replied the friend, "it is enough for Perdiccas also;" and declined to accept anything.
There are, moreover, historic proofs that the dogs of the strongest breeds are indigenous to Asia, where we still find the dog of Thibet, the most colossal of all; in fact, in Pliny we read the following narrative: Alexander the Great received from a king of Asia a dog of huge size. He wished to pit it against bears and wild boars, but the dog remained undisturbed and did not even rise, and Alexander had it killed. On hearing of this, the royal donor sent a second dog like the first, along with word that these dogs did not fight so weak animals, but rather the lion and the elephant, and that he had only two of such individuals, and in case that Alexander had this one killed, too, he would no longer find his equal. Alexander matched this dog with a lion and then with an elephant, and he killed them both. Alexander was so afflicted at the premature death of the first dog, that he built a city and temples in honor of the animal Scientific American May 1891
What were his next plans before he died? The conquest of the West?
It was intended to build 1000 warships larger than triremes in Phoenicia, Syria, Cilicia and Cyprus for the expedition against the Carthaginians and the other inhabitants of the coastal area of Africa, Spain and the neighboring coasts as far as Sicily; to build a coastal road in Africa as far as the Pillars of Heracles, and, as required by such a large expedition, to build harbors and shipyards at suitable places Alexander's last plans
When Alexander the Great went to meet Diogenes of Sinope (412-323 BC), a cynic philosopher who lived in Corinth, he found him sitting in front of his barrel, facing the sun. As a great admirer of Diogenes, Alexander then asked him if there is anything he could give him, which today might be equivalent to being asked whether you would like to win the lottery. Diogenes thought for a while, and then asked politely if the Great King could simply... step aside, because by standing over him with his horse, he was hiding the sun from his face! This answer so impressed Alexander, that he exclaimed that if he were not Alexander, he would have liked to be Diogenes!
Before his death Alexander was asked: To whom do you leave the kingdom? and he replied: To the best!
1000 Greek Drachmae with the Issus Battle Mosaic
Alexander Sarcophagus (Istanbul Archaeological Museum ), Alexander against a Persian
Death of Alexander
Alexander against Dragons ( which look like a Walt Disney figure)
Alexander's last plans (1000 warships against the Carthaginians, roads and ports across North Africa to Gibraltar, the formation of Eurasia)
Did Aristotle learn military science to Alexander? (Russian -English Website Translation) (Automatic translation of course not perfect!)
Quicktime Movie , Alexander's army path (ca. 2MB)
http://pothos.org (More information about Alexander)
See Alexander's dreams and other signs and their interpretation by Aristander
Alexander the Great with a Globe (a flat Earth actually) divided in Europe, Asia and Africa (the so called T and O medieval map) , his feets upon a lion and a dragon ("Over the asp and basilisk you shall go, and trample the lion and dragon under foot.", Psalm 91).
About the causes of his death
Alexander the Great and West and the Nile Virus Encephalitis (PDF)
Reports of the most famous horse in history: Bucephalas
Cities founded by Alexander
Alexander's funeral carriage
The children of Alexander
Lunar Crater Alexander