Alexander was born at Pella in Macedonia in late July 356 BC, His father was King Philip II of Macedon, who was a great ruler and an excellent strategist, while his mother waqs Olympias, daughter of king Neoptolemous of Epirus. Olympias practiced dyonisiastic rituals. She was also known to be very jealous, vindictive and extremely protective of her son, Alexander. Even as a young boy Alexander was fearless, strong and very bright. Together with the other boys from the Macedonian nobility Alexander was schooled under Aristotle till he was sixteen years old.
It was said that he loved Homer and knew the entire Iliad by heart. He was known to sleep with a copy of the Iliad under his pillow. At the age of sixteen Philip left Alexander in charge of Macedonia during his excursion against the Byzantium in 340 BC; Alexander took advantage of the situation by commanding the Maedi to obedience. He sacked there capital forced the barbarians out and renamed the town after himself, Alexanderpolis.
In September 338 BC, Philip defeated the Greek states at the battle of Chaeronea. Now eighteen years old Alexander was in complete control of the left wing of Philip’s cavalry.
Although greatly out numbered by the combination of Athenian and Theban troops the Macedonian phalanxes were triumphed. After the victory Philip imposed his political system to the Greek states at the Council at Corinth. By giving freedom to all the political parties in each state he established a political party that would be loyal to him.
In the spring of 336 BC, Philip along with almost all of Greece’s support declared war on Persia. He sent Attalus and Parmenion along with 10,000 men into Asia Minor to commence the war. Unfortunately, in July 336 BC, on the way to his daughters wedding celebration Philip was assassinated by a Macedonian officer Pausanias.
Alexander was immediately assumed power of the army. Since he was only twenty years old at the time and only being half-Macedonian blooded he was uniformly popular. In order to guarantee his spot at the throne he executed everyone alleged to be behind his father’s death. The victims included Alexander older cousin Amyntas, family of Alexander of Lyncestis (except for himself), his fathers new wife Cleopatra and their infant baby who was born just a few weeks before Philip’s death and also Attalus who was Cleopatra’s uncle and one of Philip’s great soldiers. After doing so at an assembly of the Greek League at Corinth was appointed strategos autocrator (supreme commander) of all the Greek states for the up coming Persian invasion.
Alexander started off with attacks on the Triballi and the Ilyrians.
He defeated and shattered a coalition of Ilyrians who invaded Macedonia. A rumor of Alexander’s death caused the Thebians to revolt. Alexander asked the Thebians to surrender but they refused. There for, Alexander had no choice but to destroy everything in the town except the temples. Six thousand were killed and 30,000 survivors were sold into slavery. This helped frighten the other Greek States and keep the under control.
Alexander was on his way to Persia for he needed its’ wealth to maintain his army and pay off what he already owed them. So in the spring of 334 BC set forth leaving Antipater as his deputy in Europe along with 13,000 soldiers. Alexander himself was in command of 30,000 foot and 5,000 cavalry. The real power of his army was the infantry phalanx, which consisted of 9,000 men whom carried both shields and five and a half-meter long spears. He also brought with him explorers, engineers, architects, scientists, court officials, and historians.
-Alexander had set camp by Myriandrus (what is know modern Iskenderun, Turkey) when he was informed that Darius the king of Persia was at Issus.
In autumn of 333 BC, Alexander and Darius meet at what is known as the battle of Issus on the Mediterranean coast. In this battle Alexander’s troops were out numbered by a ten to one ratio at times. Even though the size difference Alexander will win the battle while holding back a reserve force. This was the first time in the military history that such a stragety was used and proved it .