Alexander the Great: Facts, Quotes, & History

In today’s post, I am going to educate you about Alexander the Great. At the end of this post will be a reference section so you can learn even more.

Alexander the Great was one of the greatest military leaders in all of history. He was a master of war strategies and he believed in skill more than he believed in sheer numbers. He proved that an army that is outnumbered can be victorious with proper leadership.

Even though Alexander the Great was a military leader long before rifles and hand grenades, we can still learn a lot from this great military genius.

alexander the great photo

Alexander the Great Facts

# 1: Birth

Alexander was born in July, 356 B.C. He was born in Pella, Macedonia. Pella is still a large city in Greece.

# 2: Parents

Alexander’s parents were King Philip II of Macedon and Queen Olympia who was the daughter of King Neoptolemus of Epirus. King Philip II was often gone on government affairs, but Queen Olympia was a strong role model for him.

# 3: Education

To attain the best education for his son, King Philip II hired one of the world’s greatest philosophers to educate 13 year old Alexander. Aristotle taught the young prince for approximately three years.

# 4: Taking The Throne

When King Philip II was assassinated, Alexander worked quickly to guarantee his rights to the throne. He even had his cousin killed. At 20 years old, Alexander became King of Macedon.

# 5: Saffron

He regularly washed his hair in saffron to keep it a bright orange and smelling nice.

# 6: No Losses

In 15-years of battles and wars, he never lost a battle.

# 7: The Battles

Let’s look at the battles that Alexander the Great was the master of:

  1. Battle of Chaeronea: This was Alexander’s first battle when he was still a prince. It was fought between the Macedonians led by King Philip II against Greek states of Athens, Thebes, Corinth and more. Alexander was only 18 years old and controlled the left flank of the Macedonian army.

  2. Battle of the Granicus River: Following the death of his Father and his taking of the throne, Alexander set out to win Asia. This battle was against Darius III of Persia. It was not an easy victory, but Alexander used the cover of night to slip in to the Persian stronghold by crossing the river and sweeping the enemy.

  3. Battle of Issus: This battle showed Darius and his Persian army that numbers really do not mean much when you are against a master war strategist. Alexander the Great had approximately 30,000 troops against 100,000 Persian troops. The Persians attempted to cut off supply lines, but Alexander countered cutting the Persians into pieces.

  4. Siege of Tyre: It took him nearly 7 months to gain access to this heavily fortified city. Since Alexander did not use ships, he had a causeway built that allowed his cavalry access to Tyre. Alexander was so angry with the amount of men he lost that he murdered many or those who stood in defiance against the Macedonians. He also had the city nearly destroyed completely.

  5. Battle of Gaugamela: This is the battle that did Darius in. Alexander was outnumbered terribly, but using the phalanx formation he had learned from his Father, Alexander attacked the center, and led a revolt to one flank drawing a large part of the Persian army away. The center cut through and the Macedonians secured a huge victory. Darius was murdered and out of respect for his enemy, Alexander performed full burial ceremony for Darius.

  6. Battle of the Hydaspes: This was a battle of great loss to Macedonian warriors. It was fought between Alexander and the forces of King Porus in the region of Punjab in India. After defeating the King’s army, Alexander was so impressed that he allowed the King to keep his ruling authority and Alexander halted this movement and changed direction.

There were other smaller battles and skirmishes. He prevailed in all.

# 8: The Name Given To Cities

In his conquering, Alexander named around 70 cities after himself. We know of a major one in Egypt even today.

# 9: His Horse

During the battle against King Porus, Alexander’s horse was killed. The horse’s name was Bucephalus and because of this, the city of Bucaphela was named after his horse. It is in modern day Pakistan.

# 10: 4 Titles At One Time

Alexander held 4 titles at one time. They were:

  1. King of Macedonia

  2. King of Persia

  3. King of Asia

  4. Pharaoh of Egypt

# 11: 3 Wives

In his lifetime, Alexander had 3 wives. They were:

  1. Roxane

  2. Statiera

  3. Parysatis

# 12: 2 Children

It is believed that Alexander had 2 children, but both were killed before they were adults. They were:

  1. Herakles who was from a mistress of Alexander named Barsine.

  2. Alexander IV whose Mother was Roxane.

# 13: Gordian Knot

There was a knot tied to a wheeled cart in Gordium which is in what we know as Turkey today. The knot was tied by the Father of King Midas. It was believed that anyone who could loose the knot would rule Asia. After fiddling with it for a bit, Alexander unsheathed his sword and cut the knot. And he did rule Asia.

# 14: Dress As The Natives

While it was controversial with the Macedonians, when Alexander defeated the Persians, he began to dress as they dressed. This gained him respect from the locals.

# 15: Where He Died

Alexander died while in his early 30’s. He passed away in Babylon, Persia which is modern day Iraq.

# 16: Preservation

To preserve Alexander the Great’s body, he was put in a casket and a vat of honey was poured all around his body.

# 17: Cause of Death

Nobody really knows for sure how Alexander died. Some believe he may have been poisoned, while others think it was malaria. Will we ever know?

Some have claimed he had god-like attributes. He was probably the greatest military leader of all time. Even today, military leaders study the tactics Alexander the Great used.

army of lions led by a sheep quote

Why He Was a Great Military Leader

What I want to do in the following paragraphs is share why I believe Alexander the Great was such a great military leader.

# 1: He Had a Vision

It is my opinion that no leader can find success unless they have a clear vision. Alexander The Great had a grand vision and he was able to “paint a picture” of that vision to his followers.

By having a vision, Alexander was able to set specific goals and objectives to achieve his vision. Do you have a vision?

# 2: He Was Ruthless

For ancient military leaders, being ruthless was an important attribute. I don’t know if that would be a great attribute in today’s military (it could lead to a war crimes judgment).

By showing ruthlessness the moment his Father, King Phillip II of Macedon was assassinated, Alexander showed his ruthlessness by having all rivals murdered.

He also showed ruthlessness when he would give kingdoms a chance to surrender and if they hesitated, he would destroy everything.

By being this way, Alexander The Great created a fear of his power and abilities. Many enemies just gave up immediately knowing how ruthless he was.

# 3: He Was Lucky

While Alexander was a great tactician and strategist, we all must also admit that “Lady Luck” was also on his side.

There were several occasions when Alexander’s forces were greatly outnumbered but because of simple luck along with wise movements by Alexander, they gained the victory. No matter how you look at it, luck had a place in his life.

# 4: He Was Arrogant

This is another attribute that aided ancient military leaders, but I really do not recommend it for today’s military leaders for the most part.

How was Alexander The Great arrogant? All the cities were named after him when he defeated them. Statues of his image were erected in his presence.

I don’t believe that Alexander was a humble man, and it helped him in his exploits, but it may have killed him too. General Patton studied Alexander greatly, but we never saw a town named Pattonville… Or is there one?

Arrogance does not go with today’s military leadership.

# 5: He Adapted

Alexander the Great knew he would have to adapt to various circumstance, and he did so. If he had to walk instead of ride, he would.

If he had to use a weapon he normally wouldn’t in a situation, he would. No matter the circumstance, Alexander The Great would adapt to it.

# 6: He Used Philosophy

And why wouldn’t he? Alexander was educated by one of the greatest philosophers that lived on earth, Aristotle.

We saw many times when Alexander used philosophy to gain the trust and admiration of the people he conquered. He even dressed like the Persians after defeating them.

# 7: He Was Stubborn

Is this an attribute that made him a great military leader? I believe it is, because if he would not have been stubborn he would have listened to naysayers and probably would have never conquered as many kingdoms as he did.

If someone said he couldn’t do it, Alexander was stubborn enough to prove that he could do it.

# 8: He Led from the Front

One thing was sure, Alexander the Great would not ask his Soldiers to do something he wouldn’t do.

When a charge was on, Alexander was there leading the charge, not sitting in a headquarters far in the background.

# 9: His Father Was a Great Military Leader

King Phillip II was also a great military mind. The son inherited this ability from his father and I am sure Phillip taught him much while he was alive. Who we learn from can make a huge factor in our success.

# 10: He Inherited a Trained and Great Army

Falling right in with #9, Alexander did not have to build and train an army. He was given a greatly trained army.

All he had to do was add his touches and gain their trust and respect. The army listened to and followed Alexander.

# 11: He Was Always Learning

Alexander discovered at an early age to never stop learning. Being taught by Aristotle, he understood that he could learn something new at any time and anywhere.

This is one attribute all military leaders need. We can learn from reading, watching, and from other people.

# 12: He Was Quick & Deliberate

This is one attribute that I am sure General Patton took from Alexander The Great.

I believe this because of General Patton’s quote: “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”

When Alexander chose a path, he followed it and committed to it. There was no turning back.

# 13: He Used All Available Tools and Devices

This goes right along with being adaptable. Alexander would use anything he believed could help his men gain the victory. Even at one point, the enemy wagons rolling down the hills had Alexander order his men lay on the ground with their shields up, and the wagons rolled over the top of them.

# 14: Scouts Before Troops

Alexander The Great always wanted to know what they were going into. He was wise enough to always send scouts so he could develop a plan of action before he would take his troops.

Scouts would go out and document the land, the enemy, and any other information they could find. They would return with the information and Alexander would develop a plan of action.

# 15: He Inspired His Followers

Just his demeanor would inspire, but when he spoke, his followers listened. Alexander The Great was a master at building morale.

After all, how else could he get his Soldiers to battle armies 3, 4 or even 5 times their size?

I believe one of his greatest means of inspiring was the fact that he would do what he asked. If only all military leaders were that way.

# 16: He Understood and Adapted to Cultures He Conquered

When Alexander the Great conquered a kingdom, he would get right in with the peasants and learn the customs. While he would allow the people to keep their customs, notice that I said he adapted the cultures.

The biggest way he did this was to make it mandatory that the Greek language was used. It reminds me of how the English language has become the primary language on earth.

#17: He Was Charismatic

Just seeing the man made people desire to follow him. It is said that even his body odor was delightful.

Charisma is not something anyone can learn; I believe it is something people are born and blessed with. But like luck, I believe charisma played a huge part in making Alexander The Great the greatest military leader ever.

alexander the great quote

Alexander the Great Quotes

To close out this post, I’ve decided to share a few of my favorite Alexander the Great quotes. Each quote is in bold and italics. After each quote I will share my own two cents on the topic.

I would rather live a short life of glory than a long one of obscurity.

We get one go around in life. It’s better to live a shorter life and do great things than live a long life and do very little.

My logisticians are a humorless lot … they know if my campaign fails, they are the first ones I will slay.

He understood the importance of logistics in battle: food, supply, transportation, maintenance, pay, etc.

I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion.

In a nutshell, the speed of the leader is the speed of the team. The team is a reflection of its leader.

With the right attitude, self-imposed limitations vanish.

If you believe in yourself, you can achieve just about anything you desire.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Alexander the Great was easily the top military leader of all time. Even though he lived a short life, he accomplished so much. His tactics and strategies are still studied today by many of the world’s greatest military leaders. What are your thoughts? What are your biggest takeaways about Alexander the Great? Leave a comment below to let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing from you.

If you’d like to learn more about Alexander the Great, you can read this great book about his life and tragic death. See it on Amazon.

Other Posts You Might Enjoy:
  1. Top 7 Military Leadership Lessons from the Vietnam War
  2. Having Empathy and Compassion: Tips for Military Leaders
  3. How to Develop Your Military Leadership Skills: 13 Ways to Do It
  4. Military Leadership Mistakes: 7 Reasons Your Subordinates Don’t Respect You
Sincerely,
chuck holmes







Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)
Publisher, Part-Time-Commander.com
Email: mrchuckholmes@gmail.com

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