Alexander the Great…

Alexander III of Macedon, better known as Alexander the Great single-handedly changed the nature of the ancient world in little more than a decade.

Alexander was born in the northern Greek Kingdom of Macedonia in July 356BC.  His parents were Philip II of Macedon and his wife Olympias.  Alexander was educated by the renowned philosopher; Aristotle.  His father was assassinated in 336BC and Alexander inherited a powerful yet volatile kingdom.  He quickly dealt with his enemies at home and reasserted Macedonian power within Greece.  He then set out to conquer the Persian Empire.

Against overwhelming odds, he led his army to victories across the Persian territories of Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt without suffering a single defeat.  His greatest victory was at the “Battle of Gaugamela” in what is now northern Iraq in 331 BC.  The young King of Macedonia, leader of the Greeks, overlord of Asia Minor and Pharaoh of Egypt became the great king of Persia aged just twenty-five.

Over the next eight years, in his capacity as King, Alexander led his army a further 11,000 miles founding over seventy cities and creating an empire that stretched across three continents and covered around two million square miles.  The entire area from Greece in the west, north to the Danube, south into Egypt and as far to the east as the Indian Punjab, was linked together in a vast international network of trade and commerce.  This was united by a common Greek language and culture, while the King himself adopted foreign customs in order to rule his millions of ethnically diverse subjects.

Alexander was acknowledged as a military genius who always led by example, although his belief in his own indestructibility meant he was often reckless with his own life and those of his soldiers. 

Alexander the Great died of fever in Babylon in June 323BC.

TIMELINE:

356BC       Born in Pella, the capital of Macedonia and the son of King Phillip II.

336BC       Phillip II assassinated.  Alexander becomes King of Macedonia.

334BC       Quelled rebellions at home.  Alexander crossed the Hellespont into Asia, to make war on Darius III of Persia.

333BC       The Battle of Issus.  Darius crushed, and forced to flee, abandoning his family.

332BC       Having conquered Asia Minor (Turkey) and Syria, Alexander enters Egypt and founds the city of Alexandria.

331BC       Alexander is recognised as a God in Egypt, which peacefully submits to his rule.  Turning northwards he engages Darius again at the “Battle of Gaugamela”.  Darius is defeated and killed by his own Generals.  Babylon, Susa, and Persepolis, capital of the Persian Empire surrender to Alexander.

326BC       Alexander crosses the Indus river, and invades Punjab.

325BC       Alexander begins to return westward.

323BC       Alexander reaches Babylon, where he dies aged just 33 of fever.

Egypt – Cleopatra: Queen of the East

Cleopatra was the last ruling Queen of Egypt, of Macedonian descent, and daughter of Ptolemy XII.

In 51 BC, Ptolemy XII died leaving Cleopatra and her brother Ptolemy XIII whom she loathed as co-rulers of the Kingdom of Egypt.

With his father dead, the ambitious Ptolemy XIII, now co-ruler with his 17-year old sister, had no intention of sharing rule.  A feud started almost immediately between brother and sister until Ptolemy’s mercenary advisers, aided in expelling Cleopatra from the throne.

In the October of 48 BC, Cleopatra had raised an army, to take on her brother’s forces, led by Achillas…  The battle never took place, as Julius Caesar arrived in Alexandria.

Ptolemy as ruler of the kingdom, believed he was honouring Caesar, with the head of his enemy; Pompey as a gift.  Caesar was offended, he would never want this for Pompey.

Caesar was charmed by Cleopatra, and duly installed her on the throne much to her delight.  She became the true power of Egypt, supported and wooed by Caesar, and bore him a son; Caesarion.

Cleopatra, Caesar’s mistress was installed in Rome and remained there until Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC.

Cleopatra found she was no longer welcomed in Rome, following the death of her lover; Julius Caesar and returned home to Egypt.

In 41 BC Cleopatra met Marc Antony in Cilicia, and they became lovers.

Cleopatra’s status as Queen of Egypt, Queen of the East, grew and grew with Marc Antony at her side.

In Rome, Octavian (Augustus) anticipated the worst… civil war, and at the centre of it, Cleopatra and Marc Antony.  In 31 BC, his fears were realised, as conflict erupted for control of the Roman World.  Antony was financed by Cleopatra, but that was not enough support to get him victory at the “Battle of Actium.”

The Queen’s early retreat from the battle changed future events.  Cleopatra sailed to Alexandria to be joined by Antony.

Cleopatra attempted negotiation with Octavian, to salvage her kingdom and the life of her lover Marc Antony, but they came to nothing.

Cleopatra and Marc Antony committed suicide.  It was Cleopatra’s desires and ambitions which resulted in Antony falling under the spell of Cleopatra, believing anything was possible.  Augustus gained his supremacy in Rome, by the bad actions of Marc Antony.

With the death of Cleopatra, the historical family line of Ptolemies came to an end.  Egypt was seized, and joined the ranks of another Roman Province.