On this day in 323 BC: The Death of Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great

On June 10, 323 BC in the late evening, after battling an unknown illness for nearly two weeks, Alexander the Great (Megas Alexandros; Μέγας Αλέξανδρος), otherwise referred to as the “King of Kings”, quietly passed away at the royal palace in the heart of Babylon.

After almost a decade of conquest, Megas Alexandros of Macedon reigned over much of the Eastern hemisphere and his death, is argued to have done more than anything else to create the dividing lines between European, African and Asian civilisation, as is known today.

At the young age of thirteen, in front of his father King Phillip II and several nobles of the Macedonian court, Alexander tamed a spirited horse named Bucephalus. Having guaranteed he could break the mount’s spirit despite the failures of men several years his senior, his triumph was greeted with more than just surprise and applause – the young man’s strength was recognised immediately.

Pulling Alexander aside after he dismounted, the proud Phillip infamously told the prince, “My boy, you must find a kingdom large enough for your ambitions. Macedonia is just too small for you.”

Alexander the Great

Having swept out of the highlands of Macedon to solidify the Greek peninsula after his father’s death, he turned his attention toward the kingdoms to the south and east in 334 BC. From his base in Pella, he soon conquered Asia Minor before making his way to the Mediterranean coast to take Egypt from the Persian Empire by the end of 331 despite often commanding smaller armies on unfamiliar terrain.

Wherever Alexander went, victory soon followed. Moving through what is today Syria and Iraq, he relentlessly pursued Darius III, the Great King of Persia, feeling it was his responsibility to avenge Greek losses by Darius I and Xerxes. Moving down the royal road after taking Babylon and Susa, he led his army in the plunder of Persepolis.

Now King of All Asia – a fact cemented by Darius III’s murder at the hand of his captors – Alexander turned his men toward the Endless Ocean.

After another five years of battle, much of it in the mountainous Hindu Kush, Alexander the Great finally made a miscalculation: his men wanted to go home. Angry to be asked to turn around despite being just three months’ march from his ultimate goal, he relented. His kingdom, now at its largest boundary, extended over more than two million square miles from northern Greece to western India – land without a proper heir. The bloody struggle that followed lasted more than 40 years.

Alexander was acknowledged as a military genius who always led by example.

Last year, Archaeologist Liana Souvaltzi claimed she discovered the real tomb of Alexander 20 years ago in Egypt, but has been blocked by the Greek and Egyptian governments ever since.

Some of Alexander the Great’s most famous quotes:

  • “There is nothing impossible to him who will try.”
  • “I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well.”
  • “Remember upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all.”

Interesting Facts on Alexander the Great:

  •  In 15 years of conquest Alexander never lost a battle.
  •  He was taught by Aristotle but was also in contact with other famous Ancient Greek philosophers.
  • When Alexander met his future wife Roxanne, it was love at first sight.
  • The cause of Alexander’s death remains one of the greatest mysteries of the ancient world.
  • Alexander’s body was preserved in a vat of honey.
*More on GCT: Artist reconstructs faces of famous Ancient Greeks
GCT Team

This article was researched and written by a GCT team member.