HIS 104 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3.3: Absolute Monarchy, Hoplite
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~ Chapter Three: From Classical Greece to the
Hellenistic World ~
Part 3: Alexander the Great: The World Transformed
o Philip was killed by an assassin in 336 BCE, and his son Alexander took power at the age of 20.
o Alexander (356-323 BCE): The son of Philip II of Macedon, and a brilliant general who
conquered an area spanning from Greece and Egypt in the west to India in the east. He is
known to history as Alexander the Great, and his empire promoted the diffusion of Greek
culture throughout the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.
▪ Though he ruled for only thirteen years before his own death, the prodigiously
talented Alexander transformed much of the known world.
The Young Conqueror (334-326 BCE)
o Alexander began by establishing his position in mainland Greece.
o In his first confrontation with the Persian armies, Alexander faced superior numbers on high ground
across the river.
o Alexander led a cavalry charge, visible to all in polished armor and a helmet with a white
o Though he risked and almost lost his life, he inspired his infantry, who punched through the
Persian cavalry and slaughtered almost all of the Greek mercenaries.
▪ At this, most of the Greek cities under Persian rule came over to Alexander.
o Alexander went on to conquer Egypt and then turned back eastward, intent on a final victory against
the Persian king, who had regrouped his forces in Babylon.
Conquering Persepolis (330 BCE)
o Alexander systematically stamped out opposition.
o When cities resisted him, he stopped, laid siege, and did not move until he had crushed his
o Realizing the futility of resistance, Darius’s followers murdered their king, and Alexander
suddenly dominated the Mediterranean world and western Asia like a colossus.
o He conquered not only the ancient cities of Babylon and Susa, which the Persians had ruled for
centuries, but the ancient Persian capital of Persepolis, which he looted and burned in 330 BCE.
o From Persepolis, he took the entire Persian treasury.
Techniques of Rule
o Though revolt followed revolt and Alexander suffered some major reverses, he soon developed an
effective technique for establishing control of the nations he conquered.
o As the ruler of Macedon, he continued to rely on the Macedonians and Greeks who fought for
o But once he took control of Persia, he kept Persian officials in office as well, demanding that
they prostrate themselves before him as they had done before their Persian rulers.
o He established many new settlements to encourage intermarriage.
o To these cities, a Greek ruling class brought not only the use of coinage but many other
▪ By working with different subject peoples and by fostering the spread of Greek
culture in new territories, Alexander set the tone for the Hellenistic period.
o Alexander did not stop once he had defeated Greece’s traditional enemies.
o Instead, following reports of the wealth and other marvels to be found at what Greeks
considered the edge of the world, in India, he moved onward.
o Even when his exhausted soldiers finally mutinied, Alexander continued his career of adventure.
Ruling Cultures (325-323 BCE)
o Alexander established himself as absolute monarch of much of the known world.
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