Perhaps the greatest military genius of the ancient world, the warrior-king Alexander III of Macedon (356–323 B.C.) conquered territories stretching from Greece to Egypt and through present-day Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. Combining battlefield successes with kingdom-building strategy, Alexander spent his 13-year reign working to unite East and West through military force and cultural exchange. Alexander’s reputation grew so quickly that by the time of his death at age 32 he was viewed as having godlike aspects. It isn’t always possible to separate fact and fiction from the stories told about Alexander over the centuries, but here are eight great nuggets from Alexander’s life.
1 He was taught by Aristotle but had famous run-ins with other philosophers.
Alexander’s father, Philip II of Macedon, hired Aristotle, one of history’s greatest philosophers,, to educate the 13-year-old prince. Little is known about Alexander’s three-year tutelage but presumably by the end of it Aristotle’s wise but worldly approach had sunk in. According to legend, while still a prince in Greece, Alexander sought out the famed ascetic Diogenes the Cynic, who rejected social niceties and slept in a large clay jar. Alexander approached the thinker in a public plaza, asking Diogenes if there was anything he in his great riches could do for him. “Yes,” Diogenes replied, “stand aside; you’re blocking my sun.” Alexander was charmed by Diogenes’ refusal to be impressed, stating, “If I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes. Read more