the Macedonian king who defeated his Persian colleague Darius III Codomannus and conquered the Achaemenid Empire. During his campaigns, Alexander visited a.o. Egypt, Babylonia, Persis, Media, Bactria, the Punjab, and the valley of the Indus. In the second half of his reign, he had to find a way to rule his newly conquered countries. Therefore, he made Babylon his capital and introduced the oriental court ceremonial, which caused great tensions with his Macedonian and Greek officers.
To the east
credit/source: The British Museum and youtube.com
Return to Babylonia
Upon his recovery from Hephaestion's death, Alexander returned to plans for expanding his empire but would never realize them. He died in Babylon at the age of 32 on 10 or 11 June 323 BCE after suffering ten days of high fever. Theories concerning his cause of death have ranged from poisoning to malaria to meningitis to bacterial infection from drinking contaminated water (among others). Plutarch says that, 14 days before his death, Alexander entertained his fleet admiral Nearcus and his friend Medius of Larissa with a long bout of drinking, after which he fell into a fever from which he never recovered. When he was asked who should succeed him, Alexander said, “The strongest”, which answer led to his empire being divided between four of his generals: Cassander, Ptolemy, Antigonus, and Seleucus (known as The Diadochi or `successors').
Plutarch and Arrian, however, claim he passed his reign to Perdiccas, the friend of Hephaistion with whom Alexander had carried their friend's body to his funeral in Babylon. Perdiccas was also Alexander's friend as well as his bodyguard and fellow cavalryman, and it would make sense, considering Alexander's habit of rewarding those he was close to with favors, that he would choose Perdiccas over others. However that may be, following Alexander's death, the generals ignored his wishes and Perdiccas was assassinated in 321 BCE.
His longtime comrade, Cassander, would order the execution of Alexander’s wife Roxana, Alexander’s son by her, and Alexander’s mother Olympias to consolidate his power as the new King of Macedonia (a title he would later lose to Antigonus and his heirs). Ptolemy stole Alexander's corpse as it was en route to Macedon and spirited it away to Egypt in hope of securing the prophecy that the land in which it was laid to rest would be prosperous and unconquerable. He would found the Ptolemaic Dynasty in Egypt which would last until 30 BCE, ending with the death of his descendant Cleopatra VII. Seleucus founded the Seleucid Empire, comprising Mesopotamia, Anatolia, and parts of India, and would be the last remaining of the Diadochi after the incessant 40 years of warbetween them and their heirs. He came to be known as Seleucid I Nicator (the unconquered). None of his generals possessed Alexander’s intelligence, understanding, or military genius but would found dynasties which, with exceptions, ruled their respective regions until the coming of Rome.
Their influence over the regions they controlled created what historians refer to as The Hellenistic Period in which Greek thought and culture became entwined with that of the indigenous populace. According to Diodorus Siculus, one of the stipulations of Alexander's will was the creation of a unified empire between former enemies. People of the Near East were to be encouraged to marry with those of Europe and those of Europe to do likewise; in so doing, a new culture would be embraced by all. Although the Diodachi failed in the peaceful fulfillment of his wishes, through the Hellenization of their empires they contributed to Alexander's dream of a cultural unity; even if such unity could never be fully realized.
Alexander’s legacyAlexander the Great's tomb was one of the biggest tourist attractions of the ancient world. Roman emperors including Pompey, Julius Caesar, and Caligula traveled to Alexandria to pay their respects; and Augustus was reportedly so overwhelmed during his visit that he accidentally broke the nose off Alexander's mummy while laying a wreath at his grave.