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Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great

A whole list could be dedicated to his military genius. He twice was outnumbered by at least 2:1 against the mighty Persian Empire and emerged victorious (Battles of Issues and Gaugamela ), although he was in his mid-20s at this point. By the time of his death at age 32, he had conquered most of the ancient world. He is regarded by many today as the greatest military commander of all time.

This entry should come as a surprise to no one. Alexander was born in 356 B.C. as the son of the Macedonian king, Philip II. When he was 13 years old, he was sent to Mieza to be tutored by Aristotle, with classmates such as Ptolemy, Hephaistion, and Cassander. When he was 16, he returned to Macedon to rule as regent while his father waged war against Byzantium.

It was during this time that Alexander saw his first military action by leading a small force against the Thracian Maedi, who saw the opportunity to revolt. The Maedi greatly underestimated the prince and were driven from their territory. This would be the first of many victories for Alexander. When he was 17, his father placed his son at the head of a small army, sending him to suppress revolts in southern Thrace, which he did with relative ease. Philip’s army joined his the following year and together they took the city of Elatea.

Next came the allied cities of Athens and Thebes, who met Philip and Alexander in the Battle of Chaeronea where the Macedonians used a faked retreat to win the day. With this victory, all the Greek city-states (except Sparta) surrendered, and Philip formed them into the Hellenic Alliance. Two years later, Philip was assassinated by the captain of his personal guard. The nobles and army both backed Alexander as the rightful king at the age of only 20. He began his reign quite ruthlessly, eliminating potential rivals to his throne. When news of Philip’s death reached the Greek city-states, they quickly rose up in revolt. Alexander took only 3,000 of the Macedonian cavalry to put them down. By age 21, he was preparing for his first campaign.

A whole list could be dedicated to his military genius. He twice was outnumbered by at least 2:1 against the mighty Persian Empire and emerged victorious (Battles of Issus and Gaugamela), although he was in his mid-20s at this point. By the time of his death at age 32, he had conquered most of the ancient world. He is regarded by many today as the greatest military commander of all time.

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