The ruler from the once small kingdom of Macedonia, Alexander the Great was a king with high ambitions. He conquered the long feared Persians, stretching his empire from Greece to the western borders of India! Here are the five lesser know facts about Alexander the Great.
1. Alexander's hero was Achilles from the book Iliad.
For the Greek boys growing up, Achilles, a character in Iliad, was like a superhero. Achilles - played by Brad Pitt in the movie Troy - embodied the spirit of what a brave and fearless warrior should be like. The book was handed to him by his philosopher mentor Aristotle.
The book awed Alexander with the military strategies during the Trojan wars, the 10 year seize on the city of Troy and the Trojan horse that was the ultimate downfall of the great city. The book was a bed-time companion for a young Alexander, who had memorised all 16,000 lines. Alexander considered himself the descendant of Achilles and wanted Troy to be the place from which to launch the Greek campaign towards Asia.
2. Alexander was almost killed in his first Battle against Persians.
In the battle of Granicus, the first Greek onslaught against the Persians, Alexander charged up the steep river bank, marauding against the Persian Army. The Persian commanders Rhoesaces and Spithridates singled him out in an attack. While engaging with Rheosaces, Spithridates on his horse approached Alexander from the side, swinging his huge axe at him.
The axe ruptured Alexander's helmet, grazing his hair. As Spithridates readied himself to deliver the fatal blow at a disoriented Alexander, Cletus the Black, severed Spithridates's arm. Alexander survived and as they say - the rest is history!
3. Alexander killed his saviour Cletus the Black, in a drunken brawl.
Cletus the Black was a good friend of Alexander. He had served Alexander's father Philip and his sister was a nurse to an infant Alexander.
The day before the expedition to Bactria, there was a huge feast in celebration of a Greek festival. Alexander loved a drink, in-fact, most Greek warriors did. But, Alexander also had a problem with his temper, that would blow up exponentially when drunk. He also loved talking and boasting about his achievements under the influence of alcohol. Cletus, angry at his irresponsible behaviour, was also miffed at the special treatment the Persians were given under his regime. He criticized Alexander in front of high ranking military officers, infuriating Alexander. In the next very next moment, in a alcohol fuelled rage, Alexander grabbed a spear and thrust it into the chest of Cletus.
Cletus died immediately, and the severity of the action slowly started hitting Alexander slowly. He had killed his best friend, a man who had made his conquest of Persia possible. Alexander was shocked with himself and his lack of self-control. He disappeared for a few days, depressed and isolated, comprehending his drunken actions.
4. Alexander encouraged inter-mixing of Persian and Greek Cultures.
Despite being the long-sworn enemies of the Greece, Persians were treated with dignity by Alexander. In the territories he occupied, Persians were often appointed as local leaders. He treated local cultures with respect; never imposing Greek ideas and laws with force on the population.
To build harmony between the Greeks and the Persians, Alexander married Darius III's daughter. He also encouraged marriages between his Macedonian soldiers and Persian women.
Alexander also adopted a lot of Persian culture in his court. He started wearing mixed or fusion clothing and expected people to kneel down to their knees - as a respect to the king in Persian culture - when they greeted him. Acts like these infuriated a lot of Macedonians who considered it a betrayal of Greek values, which they considered to be superior to that of the Persians.
5. Forget Alexander's death, there is a mystery to where his body his buried.
Alexander died young at 32. The cause of his death is still up in the air, though the symptoms point to typhoid.
Whatever happened to his body? That's the bigger mystery! After his death, the Macedonians spent a year building a hammered gold coffin and a grand road to Siwa Oasis, where he wished to be buried. But somewhere along the destination, the carriage was hijacked by one of his generals, Ptolemy I Soter, a friend of Alexander, in-charge of governing Egypt. According to some stories, Ptolemy took the carriage to Alexandria and buried Alexander in a tomb in the city. The location of the tomb, however, is still to be found.
Image Credit - Wikipedia Commons
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