Lesson 2: The Early Life of Alexander

Lesson 2 Study Notes

  • Bishop Luther here with lesson two, the early life of Alexander the Great, a foundation for conquest. Alexander the Great, one of history's most renowned military leaders, was born in 356 BCE in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedon and Queen Olympias, both of whom played crucial roles in shaping his path to greatness. Now let's take a look at Philip II of Macedon, a formidable predecessor. Alexander's father, Philip II, was an accomplished and transformative king whose reign laid the groundwork for Macedonia's rise to power. Philip ascended to the throne in 359 BCE amidst a kingdom plagued by internal strife and external threats. Demonstrating
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extraordinarily military and diplomatic acumen, Philip reformed the Macedonian army, introducing the phalanx infantry formation, which became a critical component of his military success. He expanded Macedonian territory through a series of campaigns and strategic marriages, effectively uniting the fractious Greek city-states Macedonian hegemony by forming the League of Corinth. Philip's influence extended beyond military and political realms. He was also a patron of the arts and education.

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Recognizing the importance of a well-rounded education for his son, one of the greatest philosophers of the time to tutor Alexander. Under Aristotle's guidance, Alexander developed a keen intellect, a love for literature, and an appreciation for philosophy, science, and the arts, which would later influence his approach to leadership and governance. Now let's consider Olympius, the Emperorate Princess. Alexander's mother, Olympias, was a princess of Epirus, a region in north-western Greece.

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She was a deeply religious woman, devoted to the cult of Dionysus, and instilled in Alexander a sense of destiny and divine purpose. Olypius was also known for her fierce and ambitious nature, traits that she imparted to her son. Her influence on Alexander was significant. She nurtured his belief in his divine heritage, often telling him that he was a descendant from Achilles on her side and Hercules on his father's side. Now let's look at the assassination of Philip II and Alexander's ascension to the throne. The circumstances surrounding Philip's death remain a subject of historical intrigue. In 336 BCE, during the wedding celebrations of his daughter Cleopatra

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to Alexander I of Epirus, Philip was assassinated by Pausanias, a disgruntled bodyguard. The motives behind the assassination are debated, with theories ranging from personal vendetta to political conspiracy. Some speculate that Olympias herself might have been involved, seeking to secure her son's succession. Following Philip's assassination,

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Alexander, then just 20 years old, moved swiftly to consolidate power. He eliminated potential rivals, including executing those who might challenge his claim to the throne, thereby securing his position as king. His decisive actions and the loyalty of the Macedonian army ensured a relatively transition of power.

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That brings us now to early military campaigns and the establishing of a legacy. Alexander wasted no time in improving his capabilities as a leader and military strategist. His early campaigns were crucial in establishing his reputation and securing his authority. In 335 BCE, he faced revolts from several Greek city-states, including Thebes, which doubted his legitimacy.

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Ah, but Alexander's response was swift and ruthless. He razed Thebes to the grounds, burying only the temples and the house of the poet Pindar, a move that served as both punishment and a stark warning to other Greek states. With Greece pacified, Alexander turned his attention to the Persian Empire, the long-standing adversary of the Greeks. In 334 BCE, he crossed the Hell's Path into Asia Minor, marking the beginning of his campaign against Persia. His first major victory came at the Battle of Cronicus, where he demonstrated his tactical genius by

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a much larger Persian force. This victory not only secured Asia Minor, but also sent a clear message to Darius III, the Persian king of Alexander's resolve and capability. Following Cranicus, Alexander continued his campaign with a series of decisive battles, including the Battle of Issus in 333 BCE, where he personally led the charge against Darius III, forcing the Persian king to flee. This victory further solidified his reputation as a formidable military leader, and positioned him as a legitimate and powerful threat to the Persian Empire.

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Here is our conclusion of this lesson. First, the early life of Alexander the Great was marked by the profound influences of his parents and the dramatic events that paved his path to power. The legacy of Philip II's military and political reforms provided Alexander with the tools he needed to succeed, while Olympias' influence instilled in him a sense of destiny and divine purpose. and his early military victories established him as a legitimate leader of Macedonia and

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 a formidable adversary to the Persian Empire. These foundations set the stage for his subsequent conquests, which would ultimately create one These foundations set the stage for his subsequent conquests, which would ultimately create one of the largest empires in ancient history.
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