Alexander the Great: A Historical Biography of History's Greatest Military Commander by Philip Egenes by Philip Egenes - Read Online

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Alexander the Great - Philip Egenes

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An Introduction - The Cast

The year was 356 BC and Olympias (Queen of Macedon), was in the final hours of childbirth.  Not far, Philip the II (King of Macedon) and father to Alexander, was waged in battle, fighting the Third Sacred War.

In Ephesus, the temple of Artemis was engulfed in a raging fire, as the goddess of childbirth was absent, away watching over Olympias and preparing her for childbirth.

This was the sixth day of Hekatombæon (the approximate equivalent to the month of July). It was the day Alexander III was to enter the world.


The Queen of Macedon was an outsider in King Philip's court. She was from the royal house of Molossia in Epirus, which was not part of Macedon at the time. Just because she was not of Macedonian royalty, does not mean she was any less deserving. Her bloodlines descended from Neoptolemus, son of the great Achilles.

History has left the status of the queen undecided. She is hated by some for her fierce and ambitious demeanor. She is even suspected by conspiracy theorists to be the hand that had Philip assassinated. However, Olympias was a major factor in Alexander's life. She was a huge influence in his ambition and in what he eventually believed was his birthright and destiny.

Philip II

Alexander's father was a hard man to live with. He was a military genius and an astute politician. He also had tremendous ambition as far as the growth of the Greek culture and the expansion of Greek borders. At the time of Philip's reign, there wasn't any formal Greek state.  There were a number of City-States spread across the area that is now Greece. At the time of his ascendancy, in 359 BC, Persia was the largest empire in the world and it was ruled by the Achaemenid emperor, Artaxerxes II.  An understanding of Alexander's eventual rise would be incomplete without a look at some of Philip's genius. His ascendancy to the throne was not in any way predicted or automatic. He was merely caretaker to the throne for his nephew when Philip brazenly wrestled it for himself.

The modern army that was the center of Philip's defense and invasion forces was something he developed. The crown in his military jewel was the phalanx - composed of 256 men, 16 across and 16 deep, carrying sarrisas. The Sarissa and the strategies of the phalanx and its successful deployment were the brainchild of Philip. Philip's ability to wage war and win was soon turning the lands surrounding Macedon in to Philip's dominion.

Philip was also a shrewd politician with great ambition. His eventual goal was to cross the Aegean and conquer lands inside the Persian Empire on the Asian side of the Bosphorous. To this end, he studied the military strengths of his opponent and made gestures to the local kings in the area. To unite Greece and increase his battle strength he even initiated marriages to strengthen political ties.

The Sarissa

The sarissa is a weapon created by Philip II of Macedon, in 359 BC. Philip II had spent much of his youth as a hostage in Thebes, studying under the Theban general, Epaminondas. From there, he took the Spartan's idea of their dory, and adapted it, and then made his own version of it. The use of the sarissa lasted from 359 BC, to 559 BC.

The sarissa is a 4 to 7 meter pike. It was 16 to 18 ft. in length, sometimes 20 feet. The weight of the sarissa is 15 lbs. The sarissa was constructed out of metal (bronze), and wood (cornel wood). It had a metal tip that was able to penetrate mere armour, and a metal weight at the back, meant to balance the front while the soldier is holding it.

Also, the weight at the back of the sarissa also helped the soldier to stick the sarissa into the ground, in order fend off any drawing attacks from the opposing enemy. The weight at the back also serves as a backup point, meaning that if the main tip in front breaks off, then the soldier can turn the sarissa around, and use it (the weight) as a knife.

The sarissa was used in the Macedonian phalanx, and it served great consequences at the end of each battle. The reason the length of the sarissa is so important, is that the phalanx soldier can stand 20 feet away from the enemy, and kill him there. At that point, the opposing enemy is still wielding a 2-foot sword.

Alexander the Great had used the sarissa to his benefit, conquering his entire known world. The last time that the sarissa was ever used, or rather when it had