Alexander the Great, his campaigns

The accession of Alexander to the throne.

In 336, Philip was unexpectedly killed at his daughter's wedding feast by one of his bodyguards. The murderer was sent either by the Persians, who knew about the upcoming campaign, or by Macedonian aristocrats dissatisfied with his policy. Philip's twenty-year-old son Alexander (336-323) became the head of the state.

The death of Philip delayed the Eastern campaign for two years, but Persia did not use the delay in a profitable way, since it was gradually decomposing from within and could not resist Macedonia. In addition, it was a multinational power, and the separatist tendencies that facilitated Alexander's path to the East were strong in many of its areas.

Many stories and legends are connected with Alexander. Already his birth was accompanied by miraculous signs. Alexander's teacher was Aristotle himself, specially summoned to the court of Philip. As a reward for his son's education, Philip restored the philosopher's destroyed hometown on Halkidiki - Stagira. Thanks to Aristotle, Alexander's love for Greek culture, literature and philosophy persisted until his death: for example, he carried the Iliad everywhere with him, putting it together with the dagger in a casket.

Before the campaign, the tsar visited the famous philosopher Diogenes, who was lying in the sun and resting at that moment. Alexander asked if Diogenes wanted anything, to which he replied: "Step back and don't block the sun for me." When those accompanying Alexander began to mock the sage, he rebuked them, saying: "If I were not Alexander, I would like to be Diogenes."

Wishing to receive good omens before the expedition, the king went to the Delphic sanctuary, but got there at a time not favorable for predictions, as the priestess who met him said. Alexander, who did not know how to retreat, insisted and almost dragged the pythia out of the temple by force so that she would give a prediction. Then, yielding to urgent requests, the priestess exclaimed: "You are invincible, my son." Alexander replied that these words were quite enough for him, and left.

Just before the start of the campaign, sweat appeared on the statue of Orpheus in Macedonia. Some considered this fact an unfavorable sign, but according to others, Alexander, as a great commander, will make many writers sweat and work, who will sing of his exploits. And so it turned out.

The first stage of the Eastern Campaign (334-331).

In the spring of 334, Alexander crossed the Hellespont with a tiny army to conquer the world (35 thousand) and met at the Granik River in the first battle with the army of the Persian king Darius III, defeating him. Darius himself did not participate in the battle: Greek mercenaries took his side. Alexander took advantage of the lack of centralization in the Persian army and the fact that the Greek cities of Asia Minor (Ephesus, Miletus) were eagerly awaiting him as a liberator. Alexander restored their independence and democratic structure. Being a subtle politician, the tsar also preserved local self-government in non-Greek regions, only putting it under the control of the Macedonians; he did not raise taxes, respected the customs and traditions of the conquered population. This policy has gained him great popularity.

Alexander passed through Asia Minor and got to the Phrygian city of Gordium, where the so-called "Gordian knot" was tied on one of the chariots, which was destined to be untied only by the ruler of Asia. Alexander chopped him up.

For the second time, the king met with the Persians near the city of Iss in 333, in a narrow mountain valley in northern Syria, where Darius's army could not turn around, and Alexander inflicted a crushing defeat on him, capturing the royal convoy with his wife, mother and children of Darius, who managed to escape alone. The victor treated the prisoners in a royal manner, surrounding them with honor. After Issus, all the Syrian and Phoenician cities sided with Alexander, who for a long time besieged Tyre, which was considered impregnable, and took it by pouring a dam from the mainland to the city located on an island fortification and rolling up to the walls hitherto unseen siege towers more than fifty meters high.

The goal of the campaign (revenge for the Greco-Persian wars) was achieved, and the Macedonian aristocrats dissuaded Alexander from going further, offering to accept the terms of the peace of Darius. But the tsar insisted on continuing the campaign and in 332 entered Egypt, where he was again welcomed as a liberator from the Persians. He founded Alexandria, which later played a major role in the history of the Hellenistic world, and made a pilgrimage to the temple of Amun, to the west of Egypt, where the priest recognized him as the son of god and Pharaoh, after which Alexander introduced the deification of his person - self-deification would become the ideological support of Hellenistic rulers. The Greeks in Balkan Greece took the news of Alexander's deification with indifference: "If Alexander wants to be god, let him be." And Demosthenes, not without malice, offered to make him the son of Poseidon or Zeus.

The second stage of the campaign (331-329).

From Egypt, Alexander headed northeast to northern Mesopotamia, where he met Darius III for the third time at the town of Gavgamela, or Arbela (331). Darius used chariots with sickles attached to the axles, hoping not only to break through, but also to intimidate Alexander's army. The disciplined Macedonians parted and let the speeding chariots through the ranks. After the defeat, Darius fled further to the East, and Alexander, following him, entered Babylon (331), and then - to the capital of Persia Persepolis (330), where he first encountered fierce resistance, presenting himself to the population not as a liberator, but an invader. Having taken the city, he went to the northwest, towards Media, and captured its capital Ecbatana (330), pursuing Darius, who eventually died at the hands of one of the satraps. The body of Darius was handed over to Alexander, and he arranged a magnificent funeral for his recent enemy. The original idea of the campaign - revenge on the Persians - finally exhausted itself, and Alexander already considered himself as the successor of Darius, the supreme ruler of Persia and the avenger of his death, as a sign of which the traitor satrap was executed.

A conspiracy arose among the Macedonian nobility, who considered themselves infringed in their rights in relation to the conquered Eastern aristocracy. He was quickly suppressed, however, in the future Alexander began to focus more on the local nobility as a pillar of his own power. The tsar moved on, occupying the Caspian regions and Parthia.

The third (329-327) and fourth (327-324) stages of the campaign.

The army crossed the Hindu Kush mountain range and entered Central Asia, into the territory of modern Uzbekistan: the regions of ancient Sogdiana and Bactria (conquered by 328). Alexander entered into a dynastic marriage with the daughter of the Bactrian king Roxana.

In 327, the final stage of the campaign began. Alexander invaded Punjab, in northwest India, and crossed the Indus River. The Macedonians encountered fighting elephants for the first time in open combat, but nevertheless defeated the local king Porus. Formally, Alexander defeated him and made peace, but it came at a high price. The great conqueror urged the soldiers to go further East: it seemed to him that the army would quickly cross India, reaching the world ocean, and the entire ecumene, according to the ideas of ancient man, would be under the rule of Macedonia. However, such brilliant, dizzying plans did not excite the tired army: discontent with the tsar arose in its midst, and the soldiers forced Alexander to turn back. Before retreating, he founded several outposts, in particular, the city of Bucephalia, in honor of his beloved dead horse.

The army headed south to the Indian Ocean, and returned to Babylon in two detachments: one by land, the other by sea. The campaign was completed by 324.

The creation of a great power.

As a result of the Eastern campaign, a huge power emerged, which it turned out to be impossible to hold by the forces of the Macedonians alone, so Alexander, giving preference to his fellow tribesmen, did not shy away from cooperation with the barbarians and attracted the local aristocracy to the management of the regions. He sought to combine Eastern and Greek-Macedonian culture, and once in Susa he arranged the wedding of ten thousand of his soldiers with local women. The newly founded cities with a mixed local and Greek-Macedonian population became strong points for the spread of Greek influence in the conquered regions: the tsar provided the highest positions to both Macedonians and local nobility.

Alexander centralized the issue of gold and silver coins, now minted in large quantities on the model of the Athenian coin system. There has been a global redistribution of material values: the treasures that were in the possession of the eastern rulers and rested in the East as a dead weight were put into active trade.

Alexander, using the heritage of the Eastern and Greek-Macedonian traditions, deified himself and moved the capital of the state to Babylon. Greece, on the other hand, turned into the periphery of political life and, while remaining a source of cultural and part of religious influence on the Hellenistic world, finally ceased to exist as the political center of the Mediterranean.