Interesting Facts About Alexander The Great

Last Updated on November 29, 2022

You don’t have to be a history enthusiast to have heard the name Alexander the Great. He was truly “Great.” When discussing historical, classical, powerful, and warrior rulers who conquered numerous territories during their lifetimes, Alexander the Great is a name that won’t go missing.

One of the most famous conquerors in human history, Alexander III of Macedonia, is one of history’s most accomplished and renowned military leaders. At the age of 20 (336 BC), he inherited the throne of Macedonia. He then embarked on a decade-long conquest campaign to destroy the Achaemenid Empire (the “first Persian Empire” and the largest empire in history). But this man didn’t end there. He also deposed its monarch, Darius III, before moving east to Punjab in India.

Alexander the Great Quote

They say, “it’s not how long, but how far.” Although Alexander the Great lived for a short while, his impact on the depths of history will not be erased anytime soon. Growing up in a strict environment, he was trained to become a leader. It’s safe to say he didn’t disappoint when it was time to take control.

Alexander the Great swiftly conquered territories and ruled over them. He established Greek as the common tongue of his world, which extended from Gibraltar to Punjab. This language also contributed to the development of early Christianity. While most of his conquests are known, there are some little-known interesting facts about Alexander the Great.

Alexander the Great Was Tutored By Aristotle

Alexander the Great was a ruthless warrior. But he wouldn’t have had so much success without military intelligence and brilliance. And who was behind his intelligence? Aristotle.

It could be quite interesting that one of the most intelligent men to ever walk the surface of the earth was Alexander, the Great’s tutor.

Alexander received one of the best educations available during his time. His father decided to tutor him under the direction of Aristotle of Stagira, one of the most well-known figures in modern philosophical teaching. Aristotle was also the world’s first scientist.

Although Aristotle had not yet made a reputation for himself at the time, he was a recognized Plato student. Hence, King Philip II (Alexander’s father) sent an invitation for Aristotle to teach his son. It was a decision strongly supported by Alexander’s mother, who had great faith in Plato’s discerning apprentice.

Alexander and his colleagues learned from Aristotle about art, philosophy, morality, religion, and medicine. From there, he developed an interest in Homer’s writings, especially the Iliad. Aristotle then gave him an interpreted copy, which Alexander later took on his exploits.

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He Fought His Way to the Throne of Macedonia

After his father, Philip, was murdered by his bodyguard, Pausanias, it was time for a new king to emerge. Alexander quickly took control of the throne in a bloody quest. This would surprise you as his father was the king. So, why wasn’t his accession smoother? It was because Alexander was only partially Macedonian – his mother, Olympias, was an Epitrian.

In his quest, Alexander the Great murdered two Macedonian princes from the Lyncestis region and crushed a number of groups who rebelled against him. Although he had thought to spare one of his father’s wives (Cleopatra Euridice) alongside her two daughters, his mother, Olympias, had them poisoned. He also ordered to have his cousin Amyntas put to death because he saw him as a possible threat to his accession.

Alexander the Great Never Lost a Battle

After his first victory at the age of 18, Alexander gained a reputation. He was known for inspiring his troops to combat with amazing speed, enabling smaller forces to reach and breach enemy lines before his adversaries were prepared. This strategy and some other military strategies of Alexander the Great have been studied in military academies even to date. For instance, in 334 B.C., Alexander conquered Greece and then made his way to Asia (modern-day Turkey), where he defeated the Persians led by Darius III. In 15 years of conquest, Alexander the Great won every battle.

Alexander the Great at the Battle of Issus (2nd c BC). Detail of a mosaic from the House of the Faun in Pompeii National Archaeological Museum
Alexander the Great at the Battle of Issus (2nd c BC). Detail of a mosaic from the House of the Faun in Pompeii (National Archaeological Museum)

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He Named Over 20 Cities After Himself and One After His Dead Horse

Philip II, Alexander’s father, was presented with a horse by a trader from Thessaly who offered to sell it to him for thirteen talents. The horse, however, refused to be mounted. This led to Philip II ordering its release. But Alexander noticed that the horse was only afraid of its own shadow, and he begged to tame it. He was granted permission, and he eventually did tame it.

Thrilled by this act of bravery and desire, Philip II, his father, according to Plutarch’s record, gave his son a tearful kiss. He said: “My boy, you must find a kingdom big enough for your ambitions. Macedon is too small for you.” Then he bought the horse for him.

Alexander named the horse Bucephalus (meaning Ox-head). He fell so much in love with the horse and traveled all the way to India on it. Following Bucephalus’s death, Alexander named a city in India, Bucephala, in honor of its death. Record from Plutarch states that Bucephalus died from old age at the age of thirty.

Also, Alexander established dozens of communities that he always named Alexandria in honour of his victories. The most well-known of these is currently Egypt’s second-largest city, Alexandria. It was initially established near the mouth of the Nile in 331 BC.

Alexander Monument

The Cause of Alexander’s Passing Is Still A Mystery

On May 29, 323 BC, Alexander the Great attended a dinner party hosted by one of his close confidants. He was making plans for his upcoming conquests at this time. After a protracted period of excessive drinking, he began to feel sick and went to bed with a fever starting to rise. Twelve days after, on June 11, he was declared dead at a very young age; he was just 32.

Of course, his untimely death sparked a number of conspiracies. Serious suspicions were raised regarding his general Antipater and Antipater’s son Cassander. Some people even suggested that Aristotle might have been involved. However, modern medical professionals believe that his death was caused by malaria contamination.

Alexander the Great Died Six Days After He Was Declared Dead

Alexander’s body took a full six days to start showing indications of deterioration after he was declared dead. The ancient Greeks concluded that the young Macedonian king was not just a regular man but, rather, a god. However, Alexander may have died from the neurological condition referred to as Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), according to a clinical study conducted in the twenty-first century. The study further argued that Alexander wasn’t yet dead. This explains why there weren’t any outward indications of decomposition on the body.

Alexander Once Achieved a Battle-Free Surrender of an Army

During the Greek uprising in 336 BC, between Mount Olympus and Mount Ossa, rebels from Thessalia had taken up position. Alexander then ordered his army to march to Mount Ossa and take a position behind the rebels as a counterattack. Realizing their perilous situation, the rebels surrendered and later joined Alexander’s army with their horse units.

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Alexander Destroyed Persepolis, the Persian Capital

Following the Battle of the Persian Gate, Alexander conquered the city of Persepolis in 330 BC. For several days, he stood by while his troops pillaged the city before moving into the palace.

Five months after his arrival, the palace was gutted by fire that quickly got out of hand. The cause of the fire — whether it was accidentally ignited or sparked on Alexander’s command, remains a mystery to historians today. However, historical biographers theorized that if it was done on purpose, it was to avenge Greece for previous Persian invasions.

They also point out that Alexander might have ultimately regretted his decision, even if he had, in fact, ordered the demolition of Persepolis.

Alexander the Great Monument
Alexander the Great Monument

Alexander Dubiously Adopted Some Persian Traditions

Having conquered the Persian city, Alexander adopted some of their traditions. These included wearing Persian clothes and observing court practices during official events. Additionally, he temporarily used proskynesis, an old Persian gesture of deference to superiors.

The proskynesis, which some sources describe as a symbolic kiss on the hand, is still a mystery to historians today. Some scholars contend that it required nothing less than ground prostration. Alexander eventually had to give up proskynesis because his warriors found his adoption of Persian practices unfascinating and showed no interest in adopting it.

Alexander the Great Reverenced His Indian Subjects

Prince Ambhi of Taxila, who bowed to Alexander and paid tribute to him, not only kept his title but also received presents from Alexander. Later, when the ancient Indian king, Poru, realized he had been defeated, Alexander asked what treatment he expected. Due to being older, Poru said he expected to be treated in reference to his status. Alexander agreed.

Alexander’s Tomb Vanished Without Any Trace

Ptolemy took control of Alexander’s body after he passed away, transporting it to Egypt and then burying it at Alexandria. Although his tomb was a prominent Alexandrian landmark for many years, all written accounts vanished towards the end of the 4th century AD.

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