Alexander the Great (pages 46 - 49)

Alexander the Great


Alexander’s family and education. His invasion of the Persian empire. The sack of Persepolis. Despite completion of the conquest of Persia, Alexander continues eastwards until his amy mutinies. His return to Babylon and death. His funeral and burial in Alexandria (Egypt).


There could be many more pages on Alexander – we are playing down his battles and conquests to focus on Alexander the man, and his ideas of kingship, and the unity of mankind, where he was greatly influenced by the Achaemenids. Stress his falling out with Aristotle's views with their city-state limitations. The geographical extent is also important – and some students may be interested in finding out more about Alexander's activities in Afghanistan and India. Try Porus on Wikipedia.


Sources – although numerous writers went with Alexander, none of their accounts survives. We have only secondary sources – writers who may or may not have used the best sources then available. For example, Ptolemy, a close friend of Alexander wrote his own account. But we can't know for sure when a later writer is using him – and if he is, whether Ptolemy was doctoring it to make himself or Alexander look better. Many of the writers we rely on actually wrote during the period of the Roman empire, 400 years later. Also,  the 'Alexander myth' soon got a life of its own – and such stories are about as reliable history as a Superman comic.

Olympias claimed descent from Hector's widow. After the sack of Troy, Andromache was married off to Achilles's son Neoptolemus (Pyrrhus), from whom Alexander's mother Olympias claimed to be descended . It was later important to Alexander to have this dual heritage, when he started to believe that the future lay in uniting west and east.

...contents of the king’s treasury  120,000 talents.


Punjab  means ' five rivers'

ISIS Damage by ISIS/Daesh



    1. Discuss his identification with Achilles in the Iliad, his “difficult parents”, Aristotle – and his relationship with his horse!
    2. Why did he go to Siwa?.
    3. Looking at the picture of Alexander on his coin, what impression is he trying to convey to anyone using it?
    4. Study the Alexander mosaic (excellent enlargement available - see web page Discuss Alexander’s expression and his armour (with the Gorgon Medusa on it), his horse Bucephalas. Darius’ expression – his chariot. The spears, the foreshortening of the horse’s rear  … What would your reactions have been if you'd seen it in the house of the Faun in Pompeii (before AD 79!). Remember the size - 5.82 X 13 metres!!! There would have been 1.5 million tiles used!


1. Task: imagine a conversation between two of Alexander's Macedonian soldiers, as they find the river Beas in front of them.

2. Does Alexander deserve to be called 'the Great'?

3. Find out which other rulers in history have been called 'the Great'. How do they compare with Alexander?

4. Imagine a conversation between two of Darius III's daughters, after their capture by Alexander.