Alexander the Great, depicted in typical Hellenistic style in this alabaster bust from Egypt, was probably physically ordinary. By most accounts, he was short and stocky. Many historians also think Alexander had heterochromia—one eye was brown, the other blue.
Photograph by Kenneth Garrett, National Geographic

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  • Alexander the Great, also known as Alexander III or Alexander of Macedonia is known as one of the greatest generals in all history.

    Alexander was born in 356 B.C.E. in Pella, Macedonia, to King Philip II. As a young boy, Alexander was taught to read, write, and play the lyre. He developed a life-long love of reading and music. When Alexander was a teenager, his father hired Aristotle to be his private tutor. He studied with Aristotle for three years and from Aristotle’s teachings, Alexander developed a love of science, particularly of medicine and botany. Alexander included botanists and scientists in his army to study the lands he conquered.

    In 336 B.C.E., at age 20, Alexander became king of Macedonia when a political rival assassinated his father. Alexander began his reign by subduing rivals in the Greek and Macedonian regions. At a council of the League of Corinth, he was chosen as the commander of a military invasion of Asia. King Alexander began his invasion of the Middle East in 334 B.C.E. He spent most of his reign on a military campaign through northeast Africa and southwestern Asia.

    Alexander built many new cities in the lands he conquered, including Alexandria in Egypt. He went on to conquer the lands of the Persian Empire, establishing more cities, and like Alexandria, often naming them after himself. His conquest continued through Asia until he reached the shores of the Ganga (Ganges) River in India. At this point, his army refused to continue further into India, exhausted and discouraged by heavy rains.

    Alexander was 32 when he died in 323 B.C.E.

    During his 13-year reign as the king of Macedonia, Alexander created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, stretching from Greece to northwestern India.  

     

     

    Alexander the Great
    Alexander the Great, a Macedonian king, conquered the eastern Mediterranean, Egypt, the Middle East, and parts of Asia in a remarkably short period of time. His empire ushered in significant cultural changes in the lands he conquered and changed the course of the region’s history.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    Alexander the Great Noun

    (356-323 BCE) Greek ruler, explorer, and conqueror.

    Encyclopedic Entry: Alexander the Great
    Aristotle Noun

    (384-322 BCE) Greek scientist and philosopher.

    assassinate Verb

    to murder someone of political importance.

    botanist Noun

    person who studies plants.

    botany Noun

    study of plants.

    conquer Verb

    to overcome an enemy or obstacle.

    Ganges River Noun

    (2,495 kilometers/1,550 miles) river in Southeast Asia emptying into the Bay of Bengal. Also called the Ganga.

    general Noun

    highest rank of leadership in armies and air forces.

    invasion Noun

    an attack or move to take possession.

    Persia Noun

    empire that dominated Mesopotamia from about 550 to 330 BCE. Most of the ancient Persian empire is in modern-day Iran.

    reign Verb

    to rule as a monarch.