Alexander III of Macedon may have lived a short life, but his life was nothing short of greatness! Considered as one of the world’s most successful military commanders, Alexander led countless campaigns across Africa and parts of Asia, and was also credited for spreading Greek culture to other parts of the world. Although it’s been years since his death, he will be forever remembered as one of the greatest tacticians to have ever lived. Keep on reading to learn 50 facts about Alexander the Great.
Fact 1: Alexander the Great was King of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon.
- He was also a member of the Argead dynasty.
Fact 2: He was born in Pella in 356 BC.
- He succeeded his father Philip II to the throne at the age of 20.
Fact 3: He spent a decade leading unprecedented military campaigns through Asia and northeast Africa.
- By the time he was 30 years old, he had already created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, stretching from Greece to northwestern India.
Fact 4: He never lost a single battle in his decade of ruling.
- In fact, he is widely considered one of history’s most successful military commanders.
Fact 5: Alexander was tutored by Aristotle until the age of 16.
- Aristotle is a world-leading philosopher.
Fact 6: Alexander used his position as Greece’s general to launch his father’s pan-Hellenic project to lead the Greeks into conquering Persia.
- He then went on to conquer parts of Asia and Africa.
Fact 7: Alexander endeavoured to reach the “Ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea”.
- He invaded India in 326 BC, emerging victorious over the Pauravas at the “Battle of Hydaspes”.
Fact 8: He was forced to turn back from battle of Hydaspes, at the demand of his homesick troops, and he later died in Babylon in 323 BC.
- He planned to establish Babylon as his capital.
Fact 9: He founded 20 cities that were all named after him.
- The most famous among the cities being Alexandria in Egypt.
Fact 10: Alexander joined the ranks of Achilles, as he was also a classical hero, going on to feature prominently in the history and mythic traditions in Greek culture.
- He became the measure against which military leaders compared themselves, and military academies throughout the world still teach his tactics.
Fact 11: According to legend, Alexander once sought out the famed Diogenes the Cynic when he was still a prince.
- Diogenes would always reject social niceties and allegedly slept in a large clay jar.
Fact 12: Alexander paused his conquests in India to meet and discuss with the gymnosophists who were “naked philosophers”.
- These philosophers were from the Hindu or Jain religions who eschewed human vanity and clothing.
Fact 13: His military force consisted of 15,000 Macedonians.
- Alexander’s phalanx units held off the sword-wielding Persians with 20-foot-long pikes called ‘sarissa’.
Fact 14: He named one of his 70 cities after his horse.
- Alexander founded the city of Bucephala, named after his favourite horse, which was wounded in battle.
Fact 15: It was love at first sight when Alexander the Great met his future wife, Roxanne.
- Roxanne was the teenage daughter of a Bactrian nobleman and a citizen of Sogdian rock.
Fact 16: Alexander didn’t get to meet his and Roxanne’s daughter.
- Death got to him first not long before Roxanne gave birth to their only son, Alexander IV.
Fact 17: Alexander didn’t have to wear any perfume since his body apparently smelled very good.
- In Plutarch’s “Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans,” written 400 years after Alexander’s death, it was stated that “a most agreeable odour” came from Alexander’s skin. His breath and body were reportedly just as fragrant as perfume.
Fact 18: In 330 A.D., Alexander conquered Persepolis which at that time was the centre of Persian culture.
- But much to the dismay of his people in Macedonia, Alexander started wearing the striped tunic, girdle and diadem of Persian royals for diplomatic reasons.
Fact 19: In 324 A.D., he held a mass wedding in the Persian city of Susa.
- 92 Macedonian men were forced to take Persian wives. Alexander himself wed 2 Persian women, Stateira and Parysatis.
Fact 20: After his death, Alexander’s body was preserved in a vat full of honey.
- This was an ancient method of preventing a body from decomposing.
Fact 21: Philip II’s military reforms were crucial to Alexander’s success.
- Philip reformed the Macedonian army into the most deadly force at that time, developing his infantry phalanx, cavalry, siege equipment and logistics system.
Fact 22: On May of 334 BC, Alexander fought his first major battle against the Persians at the Granicus River.
- After much heavy fighting, Alexander’s army emerged victorious and routed the Persian force.
Fact 23: Alexander led his army to India in 327 BC.
- The young commander had the strong desire to conquer the world, not settling with his win in Persia. He crossed the Hindu Kush into ancient India in 327 BC. It would be the bloodiest of his campaigns.
Fact 24: Following the Battle of Hydaspes, Alexander’s army mutinied against him.
- Alexander’s forces fought against King Porus, King of the Pauravas in 326 BC. with Alexander emerging victorious but at a huge cost. So when he attempted to take his army across the Hyphasis river, his men refused and demanded to turn back.
Fact 25: Alexander was an alcoholic.
- He had a reputation as a big drinker, which ultimately led to him killing one of his closest friends, general Cleitus the Black.
Fact 26: His reign only lasted for 12 years, and he died at the age of 32.
- Alexander’s death was deemed premature since noble children, who made it to adulthood, often lived into their 50s, or even past their 70s.
Fact 27: His empire collapsed into civil war after his death.
- The “Wars of the Successors” that followed would last forty years in which many would rise and fall in their attempts for dominance.
Fact 28: Ultimately, Alexander’s empire was divided into 3 parts.
- These were, the Seleucids in Asia, the Antigonids in Macedonia and the Ptolemies in Egypt.
Fact 29: Alexander’s legacy lives on to this very day.
- His military tactics are still being studied, while he brought Greek culture as far east as modern-day Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Fact 30: Alexander’s father, Philip II was assassinated in 336 BC.
- The perpetrator was reportedly one of Philip’s former male lovers, Pausanias.
Fact 31: One of his most important battles had to be the 2nd battle that he won, the “Battle of Issus”.
- He claimed victory in 333 BC against Darius III himself, near the ancient town of Issus in southern Turkey, close to modern-day Syria.
Fact 32: Darius’ force of 600,000 troops greatly exceeded Alexander’s.
- Darius III positioned himself initially on a great plain where he could mass them all effectively against Alexander, who hesitated to go into battle.
Fact 33: Darius’ death saddened Alexander.
- He respected Darius as the head of the mighty Persian Empire, so he sent Darius’s body back to Persepolis and ordered that he be given a royal burial.
Fact 34: Alexander murdered his close friend during a drunken argument.
- After he and Cleitus got drunk, Cleitus insulted the young commander. This infuriated Alexander, leading him to kill his friend with a spear.
Fact 35: Alexander took his act of murder terribly.
- Arrian wrote that “Again and again, he called himself his friend’s murderer and went without food and drink for three days and completely neglected his person”.
Fact 36: The Egyptian city, Alexandria is now home to more than 4.5 million people.
- The many Alexandrias are located on trade routes, which increased the flow of commodities between the East and the West.
Fact 37: After Philip II’s death, Alexander wasted no time eliminating his rivals.
- He even had King Philip’s son, from his last wife, killed.
Fact 38: Alexander’s deadly military force consisted of 43,000 infantry and 5,500 cavalry.
- He led a fearsome military force on one of the biggest expeditions in history.
Fact 39: He was a cunning tactician who had a great presence of mind when it came to military warfare.
- He would devise plans to defeat his enemies even if faced with an overwhelming number of troops and weapons.
Fact 40: Alexander tried his hand at un-doing the Gordium knot.
- A Greek oracle foretold that whoever was able to untie the knot of Gordium would go on to become the true ruler of Asia. Alexander initially tried to untangle the knot, but when his patience ran out, he simply took his sword and sliced through it.
Fact 41: He was only 22 years old when he took over the Persian Empire.
- At 32, Alexander had already conquered much of Asia.
Fact 42: He never lost a single battle.
- Alexander cemented himself as a legend from his first victory at the age of 18 to the historical victories against the mighty Persians and many formidable Asian nations and settlements.
Fact 43: He grew up estranged from his father, King Philip II.
- Philip was too preoccupied in military campaigns and extra-marital affairs.
Fact 44: A young Alexander looked up to the legendary Greek warrior, Achilles.
- So his tutor, Lysimachus would often use role-playing to capture the restless boy’s attention, with Alexander impersonating Achilles.
Fact 45: Aristotle created an abridged version of the Iliad for Alexander to carry with him.
- Homer’s Iligan influenced Alexander into becoming a heroic greek warrior.
Fact 46: One of Alexander the Great’s favourite battle tactics was to use his Macedonian phalanx.
- A phalanx is a strategic formation that consists of a block of infantry standing shoulder to shoulder in rows that are several feet deep.
Fact 47: Both of Alexander’s parents were of royal blood.
- Her mother, Olympias was the daughter of King Neoptolemus I of Epirus, whose lineage descended from both the mythical Greek King Aeacus, and the Greek Hero of the Trojan War, Achilles.
Fact 48: The Temple of Artemis burned down on the day Alexander the Great was born.
- On the date of Alexander’s birth, King Philip’s forces defeated the Illyrian and Paeonian armies. His horses also won at the Olympic games.
Fact 49: The Roman dictator, Julius Caesar looked up to Alexander the Great.
- He even trained his armies the Spartan way, and whenever he stayed in Alexandria, he made it a point to visit Alexander’s tomb to pay his respects.
Fact 50: Alexander the Great had an eye condition called ‘heterochromia iridium’.
- This meant that the famous Greek commander had two different coloured eyes.