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Alexander was born on 356 B.C. in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedonia. Macedonia was a Greek city-state. He was the son of Philip II, king of Macedonia. His mother's name was Olympias, a princess of Epirus.

His father, Phillip II was a great military organizer. He became a leader of all of the Greek city-states. Phillip knew that the Persians were weak. The Persians were great enemies of the Greeks. He talked the city-states into helping him fight them. He was killed before he could begin his war against Persia.

In the summer of 336 B.C. Phillip II was killed and Alexander had to take over the Macedonian throne. But he was very smart. He loved his mother dearly and she taught him how to trace his family back to Achilles, the great Olympian and warrior and to have courage. Alexander was good in every sport and had a lot of energy. His teacher was the famous philosopher Aristotle. From Aristotle he learned to love books, to be fair and honest and good.

The timing was pretty bad for Alexander to take over the country. He was just 20 without a lot of experience. Now his father's enemies were now his enemies. He knew they would kill him unless he acted fast. He had them beheaded. The city of Thebes had risen up against him because they thought he was weak. He and his army fought a big battle against them. The Thebans lost and their city was destroyed by Alexander. Within two years he had gained the respect of a leader and they made him captain of the Greek states. They promised to contribute money and men for his invasion of Persia.

After just two years as the leader of Macedonia, Alexander began his invasion of Persia. He beat the Persians in his first battle with them. He moved on and won another battle where the Greeks were outnumbered 12 to 1. He won parts of Persia and marched to Egypt, stopping at the mouth of the Nile to make a new city called Alexandria. Alexandria became one the biggest trading cities in the world.

Alexander then went back to Asia and conquered the rest of it. Finally, after almost 9 years of fighting, he and his men turned back to Greece. Along the way many of the men died from cold or from heat, depending on where they were. Some of the men were taken back to Greece by ships when they got to a Greek colony. But Alexander never returned to Greece.

While he was in Persia, he decided that one way to keep his new empire together was to blend the two cultures. He and 80 of his men married Persian women in one marriage ceremony. Thousands of soldiers also married Persian women later. He taught 30,000 young Persian men how to fight like Greeks. He also decided that there should be many new Greek colonies in the newly conquered Persian lands.

Because he wore the Persian clothes and took on many of their ways, some of his men worried that he had been won over to the ways of the Orientals. The longer they stayed in Persia, the more unhappy the soldiers were. When Alexander's best friend died, he became very unhappy. He also became careless with his health and when he was just 33 years old, he died.

There had been many conquerors in the Mediterranean, by no one had such lasting effect as Alexander the Great. He broke down the racial barrier between the Greeks and the "barbarians", he created an enormous network of trade, he opened Asia to colonization by the Greeks, and he brought Greek literature, philosophy and art to Asia.

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