Alexander the Great

This intrepid and ambitious soldier was the son of Philip, king kin of Macedon, a small territory adjacent to the Grecian states, from which it had originally received a knowledge of arts and learning. Alexander was born in the year 356 B.C., and by his father was committed to the charge of the philosopher Aristotle to be educated; a duty which was faithfully fulfilled. By the assassination of Philip, Alexander was called to the throne of Macedon while yet only twenty years of age, and immediately had an opportunity of displaying his great warlike abilities in conducting an expedition into Greece, which was attended with signal success, and procured for him the honor of succeeding his father as commander-in-chief of the Grecian states. He now carried out a design which had been formed by Philip, to subdue Persia and ether countries in Asia. In the spring of 334 B.C., he crossed over to the Asiatic coast, with an army of 30,000 foot and 5000 horse, thus commencing the most important military enterprise which is narrated in the pages of ancient history. Alexander marched through Asia Minor, and in successive encounters completely conquered the armies of Persia; but the whole history of his progress is but an account of splendid victories. During a space of about seven or eight years, he conquered Persia, Assyria, Egypt, Babylonia, and, in fact, became master of nearly all the half-civilized countries in Asia and Africa. It does not appear that Alexander had any motive for this wide-spread overthrow of ancient and remote sovereignties, excepting that of simple ambition, or desire of conquest, with perhaps the indefinite idea of improving the social condition of the countries, which he overran. From various circumstances in his career, it is apparent that he never contemplated the acquisition of wealth or of praise, except such as could be shared with his soldiers, for whom he displayed a most paternal affection.

The extraordinary career of Alexander was suddenly cut short by death. At Babylon, while engaged in extensive plans for the future, he became sick, and died in a few days, 323 B.C. Such was the end of this conqueror, in his thirty-second year, after a reign of twelve years and eight months. He left behind him an immense empire, which, possessing no consolidated power, and only loosely united by conquest, became the scene of continual wars. The generals of the Macedonian army respectively seized upon different portions of the empire, each trusting in his sword for an independent establishment. The greedy struggle for power finally terminated in confirming Ptolemy in the possession of Egypt; Seleucus in Upper Asia; Cassander in Macedon and Greece; while several of the provinces in Lower Asia fell to the share of Lysimachus.