ALEXANDER THE GREAT
(fl. 356–321 B.C.)
   Macedonian conqueror, son of Philip II of Macedon. He set out to challenge the supremacy of the Achaemenid Persians in Ionia and ended up with an empire that for the first time in history linked Europe with Western and Central Asia. He achieved this by a series of campaigns with a relatively small but highly disciplined force of fighters in which he provoked pitched battles with the Persian army, fielding many thousands of men. He won his first victory at the river Granicus (334), which gave him access to the Cilician Gates. He then confronted the massed forces led by the Persian king Darius III at Issos (333) and inflicted another defeat on the Persians. Darius escaped to Babylon while Alexander continued southward to Syria and Palestine, where most of the cities surrendered voluntarily. Alexander then invaded Egypt and was enthroned as pharaoh in 331. Darius had meanwhile assembled a vast army in Babylonia. Another battle was fought near Gaugamela, and Alexander triumphed again. He then marched to Babylon, where the satrap Mazeus surrendered. Darius had escaped to Media, and Alexander set out for Persepolis, the dynastic center of the Achaemenid empire, which he looted of its wealth before setting fire to the city.
   Darius was assassinated by his own people, and Alexander continued his conquest farther east across the Iranian highland and into Bactria, where he married the daughter of the vanquished king in 324. He pressed on into India, reached Pattala in 325, and, while part of his troops returned by sea, he marched back to Persia. The return of the fleet and the conquest of India were celebrated at Susa, and he took the eldest daughter of Darius in marriage. Alexander planned the conquest of Arabia and set out for Babylon, where preparations were made for a seaborne invasion. On 31 March 323, he caught a fever from which he was never to recover. He died on 10 June, not yet 33 years old. His untimely death sparked intense and prolonged rivalries for his succession and the division of the enormous territories he had conquered.

Historical Dictionary of Mesopotamia. . 2012.

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