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Who Was Alexander The Great?

written by: Noreen Gunnell • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 3/10/2014

What was it that made Alexander the Great so... well... great? Learn more about this mighty commander and general of ancient times.

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    A Study Guide

    Review the material you've learned about Alexander the Great in school with these questions and answers about his life.

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    Who?

    • Who did Alexander the Great marry? AlexanderTheGreat from Wikimedia Commons 
      • Alexander the Great married Roxanne, the daughter of a Sogdian baron. Alexander had conquered a mountain fortress held by the Sogdians along the Silk Road and, according to legend, became infatuated with Roxanne when he saw her dancing at a festival. Sogdia was a province of the Persian Empire located near the Oxus River in what is now Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
      • In a mass marriage at Susa in 324 BC, Alexander married Darius' daughter Stateira and Hephaistion married her sister. Around 100 of Alexander's officers took Persian or Median brides in this ceremony.
        • Roxanne would kill Stateira after Alexander's death, and Roxanne was murdered along with her son in 313 BC.
    • Who did Alexander the Great study with as a boy? Alexander & Aristotle: from http://www.socialstudiesforkids.com/graphics/alexander_aristotle.jpg 
      • Alexander was sent to study with Aristotle. It was then that Alexander began a lifelong dedication to philosophy. Aristotle gave Alexander his copy of The Iliad which Alexander carried with him throughout his life.
    • Who did Alexander the Great kill?
      • Of course, Alexander killed many in battle. He also had known and suspected traitors tortured and killed. But in a drunken rage, he personally killed Cleitus, also known as Black Cleitus, who had served under Alexander's father, King Philip, and was a commander in Alexander's army. His sister had been Alexander's childhood nurse, and Cleitus had saved Alexander's life at the battle of the river Granicus. On the day of Cleitus's murder, Alexander appointed him the new satrap of Bactria, a fallen Afghan city. A celebration was held and a besotted Alexander began boasting about his superiority to Philip. Eventually, Cleitus answered "all your glory is due to your father." (Wood, Michael. In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great; University of California Press, 1997, pg. 162.) An enraged Alexander was held back for a time but soon stabbed Cleitus with a javelin.
    • Who was Alexander the Great's father?
      • Alexander’s father was King Phillip of Macedon. Philip defeated the southern Greek states in 338 BC and brought Greece under his rule. He was murdered the following year and Alexander the Great became King.
    • Who was Alexander the Great's mother?
      • Alexander's mother was Olympias. She was native of Epirus, a border area with Albania. She was an emotional woman who believed in unusual cults. Olympias also worshiped Dionysus (god of ecstasy and possession) and handled snakes.
    • Who was Alexander the Great's hero?
      • Achilles, Homer's hero from The Iliad.
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    What?

    • What city in Egypt was founded by Alexander the Great?
      • Alexandria was founded by Alexander in 331 BC. It sits on Egypt's Mediterranean coast and would become the crossroads of the world at that time, forcing Ancient Egypt to shift its focus outward to foreign lands and the world at large.
    • Did Alexander the Great have children?
      • Yes.Alexander the Great had two children with his wife Roxanne, and a son, Heracles, with his mistress Barsine. (Read more about Barsine in this article.)
    • Did Alexander the Great ever lose a battle?
      • Yes. Alexander's forces met a major setback at Samarkand around 328 BC. He had sent his general Menedemus to block Spitamenes, a former officer of Bessus and one of those that betrayed him. Spitamenes was from Sogdia and able to assemble a fierce resistance to Alexander. At Samarkand, Alexander's troops were out-maneuvered and ambushed. The Macedonians lost their leaders, 300 cavalry, and approximately 2,000 infantry. The survivors were told by Alexander to hide the losses or lose their lives.
      • Spitamenes was able to challenge Alexander until he was murdered in 327 BC. He was killed by his own people, maybe even his wife who was jealous of Spitamenes's love affairs.
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    When?

    • When was Alexander the Great born?
      • Alexander the great was born in 356 BC in Macedon.
    • When did Alexander the Great die?
      • Alexander died in 323 BC at the age of 33. Some believe he was poisoned, others that malaria killed him, and still others that Alexander the Great destroyed his liver with excessive drinking.
    • When did Alexander the Great get married?
      • Alexander married Roxanne, "the most beautiful girl in Asia," in 327BC. She was the daughter of a Sogdian baron.
      • He married Stateira in 324 BC at Susa.

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    Where?

    • Where did Alexander the Great die?
      • In Babylon, the capital of his empire.
    • Where did Alexander the Great come from?
      • Alexander was born a royal prince in Macedon or Macedonia.
    • Where did Alexander the Great turn back and why?
      • Alexander was forced to turn back at the river Beas in India. His men refused to go on and at a meeting with his officers, senior officer Coenus bravely put forth their position. After three days of brooding, Alexander had the army's seer conduct a sacrifice for the river crossing. The signs were bad and the shrewd Alexander declared they would turn around.
    • Did Alexander the Great conquer Afghanistan?
      • Yes. Alexander the great pursued Bessus, Darius III's kinsmen and one of his murderers, into the lands of modern Afghanistan. Bessus had declared himself successor and enemy to all invaders of Persia. Afghanistan was part of the Persian Empire which, with the defeat of Darius, belonged to Alexander's Empire.
      • Eventually, some of Bessus's commanders would turn him in to Alexander. However, Alexander continued to meet resistance from these men, especially Spitamenes. He and his resistors were defeated over time and all of the Persian provinces fell to Alexander.

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