Alexander the Great

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Alexander the Great was the son of Philip of Macedon (Philip II, as Alexander was Alexander III, but the earlier Philips and Alexanders were far less notable), and his wife Olympias. He was born around 356BCE, and succeeded his father on the throne of Macedon around 336BCE.

Philip had had expansionist plans for his kingdom and Alexander took these up, obtaining the overall generalship of the armies of Classical Greece, and then initiating an invasion of Asia Minor, intending to challenge the empire of Persia. Eventually he defeated Darius III of Persia and "liberated" (i.e. brought under his own sway) the Persian-conquered territories around the Mediterranean, including Egypt. From Persia, he led his armies into the Kush and extended his sway to the Indus River. In 326BCE he invaded India, but found himself unable to achieve a staying-point which would also be acceptable to his troops, by then yearning for their families and homelands and fearful of their lives in lands far beyond their ken.

Alexander died in Balylon in 323BCE, and after his death his subdivided empire fell apart in civil war. However, he had affected the three major powers of the Western World -- Greece, Persia, and Egypt -- and spread Hellenistic civilization across a broad swathe of the globe.

The mark he left on history meant that when later leaders and nations wanted a standard against which to measure their achievements, his was one of the primary contenders. Greece, Rome, Byzantium, the Carolingian Empire, and, later, its Holy Roman successor, and the great kingdoms of Spian, France, and England, were all to accept his as one of the Golden Ages, and to seek to model themselves on him, or to claim him as a forebear.

He founded at least twenty cities which bore his name (and many others) and modern-day analysts claim that his influence can still be found in ritual practices of the Buddhist faiths. His life spawned a romance which gathered legends to itself (many dubious and having nothing originally to do with Alexander), and whilst the Judaeo-Christian Bible does not overtly refer to him, the Quran mentions "the two-horned one" (Alexander later claimed a connection with the ram-horned Egyptin deity Amun), ansd ascribes to him parallel feats to those accorded to Alexander in the romance.