Arguably the most successful military commander of all time, Alexander of Macedon conquered an empire extending from Greece to India in a life that lasted a mere 32 years. His father, Philip II, ensured that he was blooded in war at an early age. At the battle of Chaeronea, the key encounter in Philip's campaign to establish Macedonian dominance over the Greek city-states, the 18-year-old Alexander was awarded command of the left wing of Philip's line in battle. He came through the test with flying colors, the first to force a breach in the enemy line.
Alexander inherited from his father the ambitious project for an invasion of the Persian empire. As soon as his hold on the Macedonian throne was secure, he campaigned in the Balkans and Greece to quell opposition before leaving for Asia.
Attacking PersiaAlexander's infamous destruction of the rebellious city of Thebes was the first of many examples of his ruthless use of terror to deter potential revolt. By 334 BC he was ready to cross the Hellespont into Persian-ruled Anatolia, heading an army consisting of sme 40,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry. The expedition was carefully prepared, with siege equipment in support and supply ships shadowing the army's moves along the coast. At the River Granicus in Anatolia, Alexander encountered an army assembled by the local Persian governor. It was nearly his last battle, for recklessly leading the cavalry charge across the river, he was surrounded by enemies and almost killed. His boldness, nonetheless, carried the day.
The fate of the expedition looked very uncertain for a time. Some of the Greek cities of western Anatolia proved less than enthusiastic about being liberated by Alexander's army. Meanwhile, the Persians delivered a potentially deadly strategic counter-punch, employing Greek mercenary forces to thrust through the Aegean toward Greece and Macedon itself.
When Alexander's army marched into Syria in the winter of 333 BCE, it was reasonable for the Persian emperor, Darius III, to believe that the Macedonians were falling into a trap, for his much larger forces were advancing westward to crush the invaders. But Alexander was confident that if he could bring the Persians to battle, he would defeat them. The two armies met on the plain at Issus. Darius adopted a prudent defensive posture; Alexander gambled on all-out attack. The superior aggression of the Macedonian cavalry, led by Alexander in person, carried the day, driving in the Persian left flank. Darius fled to avoid capture, his army totally shattered. Alexander found the whole eastern Mediterranean opened up to conquest. Pressing south into Egypt, he was greeted as a successor to the pharaohs. For most leaders this would surely have been the moment for consolidation after an already awesome triumph. Alexander thought only of total victory over Persia. He forced Darius to give battle at Gaugamela where the Macedonian cavalry again achieved a victory against great numerical odds.
Ruling styleAlexander continued to campaign, asserting his authority over the Persian empire's provinces farther to the east. His relations with his followers, changed by the scale of his success, became intermittently fraught. His style of command had always been like that of a tribal warband leader. He fought shoulder to shoulder with his companions, and he ate and drank with them (the latter to excess). Yet his style of leadership - as an "equal" with senior authority - sat uneasily among the triumphant Alexander's pretensions. He claimed descent from the demigod Heracles and the legendary hero Achilles. There were plots, fights, and mutinies. Alexander had his second-in-command, Philotas, executed and killed another close companion, Clitus the Black, in a drunken arguement between the two men.
Nothing sated Alexander's thirst for military adventure. In 326 BCE, he invaded northern India, overcomin stiff resistance at the battle of Hydaspes, where the Macedonians learned to counter Indian war elephants. Losses in the battle were severe, and soon after, Alexander's army refused to follow him any farther. The soldiers forced him to turn back along the Indus to the sea. En route Alexander suffered a severe wound while leading an attack on Malli near the River Hydraotes. He finally arrived back in Persia in 325 BCE after a harrowing desert march unwisely undertaken. His mind was still full of plans for fresh campaigns into Arabia and north Africa, but his body had taken vicious punishment.
When Alexander returned home, the Assassins planned to eliminate him. The reason why he was so successful was that he had the Staff of Eden, given to him by the Knights Templar, and the Assassin Iltani administered a poison that killed him in Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon palace.
History says that he died of natural causes.Scarred with the marks of his numerous wounds, Alexander succumbed to a fever. He died at the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II in Babylon without having secured the succession to his empire.