CLS 150-01

  • Coin of Philip II in honor of his victory ot Olympics in 356BC, year of Alexander the Great’s birth
  • Alexander the Great, 356-323BC

  • no surviving contemporary sources
  • study in historiography: interpretation reflect the times; evidence fits wide range
  • groomed as successor, w/Aristtotle as tutor; steeped in Homeric tradition, esp. by mother Olympias: ATG models himself on Achilles; military glory, conquest crucial
  • commanded cavalry @ Chaironeia in 338 (age 18); acted as regent for Philip when latter as off campaigning outside Macedon
  • Falling out with Philip over latter’s marriage in 337 to “real” Macedonian woman (ATG’s mom Olympias was Molossian)
  • Philip II assassinated in 336 not long after League of Corinth declares war on Persia (ATG involved in father’s death?)
  • Army approves ATG as new king, he crushes rebellions among barbarian neighbors; destroys Thebes which had also rebelled, in 335
  • The Expedition: Battle of the Granicus River 334BC

  • Ostensibly Pan-Hellenic invasion of Asia to free Ionian Greeks & avenge Xerxes’ invasion of 480 (146 years earlier)
  • reality: left strong garrison to police Greeks; more Greeks fight on Persian side as mercenaries; only token Greek force w/ATG
  • Crosses Hellespont 334BC w/ appx. 45k troops, leaps ashore, plunges spear into land and claims Asia as “spear-won” then visits Troy & Achilles’ tomb: ATG loved making the grand gesture
  • wins first victory at Granicus River: quick win w/plunder was crucial; Greek mercenary general Memnon can’t sell scorched earth policy
  • ATG splits force: sends Parmenio east while ATG goes south to capture coast (if control ports, then distrusted Greek fleet is unnecessary), to meet at Gordion (where he cuts knot)
  • Battle of Issus, 333BC

  • unopposed, ATG heads toward Babylon where Darius III (Persian king) massing another army
  • defeats Darius (after a rare blunder) at Issus; gobs of plunder including Darius’ wife, mother & daughters; Darius escapes w/core of 10k Greek mercenaries, Babylon & eastern Satrapies (provinces) still intact
  • once beyond Greek-inhabited land no more panhellenic excuse: new Great King?
  • ATG takes Levantine coastline (long siege @ Tyre 332); “liberates” Egypt, ATG now Pharaoh
  • Founds Alexandria in Egypt, one of many cities so named
  • flying visit to consult oracle of Zeus-Ammon at desert oasis of Siwah (331): ATG = son of a god?
  • Battle of Gaugamela (aka Arbela) 331

  • routs Darius again, occupies babylon, royal city of Susa, and sacks Xerxes’ palace @ Persepolis
  • at Ecbatana dismisses veterans, including Thessalian cavalry (talent each trooper as bonus = lifetime’s pay)
  • Darius flees in disgrace, murdered by satrap (regional governor) Bessus (who declares himself new Great King) before ATG can reach him
  • ATG captures Bessus, punishes him in traditional Persian fashion as traitor
  • 3 key battles to remember:
    GRANICUS 334
    ISSUS 333
    ARBELA 331

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