Alexander was born around 356 B.C. His mother was of royal lineage, as was his father, Philip II. When Alexander was fourteen, he studied under the Athenian philosopher, Aristotle. Perhaps no culture has ever produced a greater mind than Aristotle’s. So searching and profound was Aristotle’s work that in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries A.D. much of the Christian church regarded his teachings as being divinely inspired. No subject was untouched by his contemplation. Philosophy, botany, geography, zoology, astronomy, and art were all subjects of deep concern for him. Aristotle was the student of Plato and the teacher of Alexander the Great. Either role would have earned him an important place in history. Most likely Aristotle instructed Alexander by reading and discussing Homer and the Greek tragedies. Aristotle also trained Alexander in politics. Through Aristotle, Alexander acquired his deep love for Hellenic culture, which drove him to the Far East in order to spread the Hellenic spirit. Tradition says that Alexander even carried a copy of the Iliad throughout his Persian and Oriental campaigns.
One of Alexander’s most cherished possessions was the horse he had trained as a youth; it was named Bucephalus. This was his mount in all of his major battles and conquests. The horse died in India, and Alexander built the city of Bucephala on the Hydaspes River in memory of his horse. (Packer)
When Alexander was twenty years old, his father Philip was assassinated under mysterious circumstances and Alexander was made the new Macedonian king. His rivals spread rumors of Alexander’s own death and he spent much of the following year in quelling revolts that these rumors inspired. He destroyed Thebes in the process. This gave him undisputed control over the Hellenic peninsula.
The spring of the following year, Alexander led his army of some forty thousand men across the Dardanellas into Asia Minor and first engaged the Persians at the Granicus River. The Persian advance guard, lightly armed and unaccustomed to Macedonian tactics, was overwhelmed. Alexander had planned only to free the Greek cities then under Persian control, but resounding victory spurred him to strike at the heart of the empire itself. This was no madcap venture. Darius III, the Persian king, was a poor leader and his provincial officials were unreliable. The unwieldy empire was ready to fall in pieces. The victory at the Granicus River quickly opened the towns of Sardis, Ephesus, and Miletus to Alexander’s conquest. Miletus was the traditional birthplace of Hellenic philosophy; Sardis and Ephesus would play significant roles in the New Testament church. (Packer)
In the next year, Alexander moved on Gordium, the capital of Phrygia. The goal of this offensive was the Cilician Gates, a narrow mountain pass to Syria and Palestine. Moving through the pass, Alexander advanced onto a plain near the village of Sollioi. The leader of Darius’ Greek mercenaries advised...