Timeline Description: Alexander the Great (356 BCE - 323 BCE) was the son of Philip, king of Macedonia. Educated by the great thinker Aristotle and raised to admire Greek culture, Alexander was an experienced soldier who shared his father's ambitions to create a huge empire. Alexander overthrew the Persian Empire and traveled as far east as India. Although his empire crumbled shortly after his premature death, he contributed to the spread of Greek culture from Egypt to India. This marked the start of the Hellenistic age.
|356 BC||Alexander is born(356 BCE).
Alexander is born at Pella in Macedonia, the son of King Philip II and Olympias. His first tutor, Leonidas, teaches Alexander math and military skills, such as archery and horsemanship. He trains Alexander to be physically tough.
|343 BC||Philip hires Aristotle to tutor Alexander(343 BCE).
In 343 BCE, Philip hires the Greek philosopher Aristotle to tutor Alexander. Over the next three years, Aristotle teaches Alexander to appreciate philosophy, geography, Greek poetry, and scientific investigation. Alexander particularly loves Homer's Iliad, which inspires him to dream of becoming a great warrior.
|340 BC||Alexander joins his father's army(340 BCE).
At age 16, Alexander finishes studying under Aristotle and joins his father's army. By this point, Philip controls all the Greek city-states except Athens and Thebes. He aims to unite the Macedonians and Greeks and invade the Persian Empire.
|338 BC||Alexander leads the attack against the Thebans(August 338 BCE).
In August 338 BCE, the Macedonians meet the Athenians and Thebans in battle at Chaeronea. Alexander leads the attack against the Thebans, while his father leads the attack against the Athenians. It is Alexander's first taste of battle, and he and his father defeat the Greeks, placing all Greek city-states except Sparta under Macedonian control.
|336 BC||Philip is assassinated and Alexander becomes king(October 336 BCE).
In October 336 BCE, Philip celebrates his upcoming departure to attack Persia, as well as the marriage of his daughter Cleopatra. However, one of his bodyguards assassinates him in the theater of Agae. Alexander becomes king of Macedonia at the age of 20.
|335 BC||Alexander subdues rebellion in Greek city-states(Spring 335 BCE).
After Philip's death, the Thracians and Illyrians rise up in rebellion. This inspires the Greek city-state of Thebes to rebel, and Alexander quickly besieges the city and razes it to the ground. The inhabitants are executed or sold into slavery, showing the other city-states that Alexander is just as powerful as his father.
|334 BC||Alexander departs for Asia(Spring 334 BCE).
After subduing rebellious Greek city-states, Alexander plans his campaign against the Persians, hoping to fulfill his father's dream of conquering the empire. Though his advisers object and Macedonia is virtually bankrupt, Alexander borrows money to supply his troops for one month and departs for Asia in the spring of 334 BCE.
|334 BC||The Macedonians and Persians meet on the battlefield(June 334 BCE).
After crossing the Hellespont, Alexander leads the Macedonian army against the Persians at the Granicus river. After savage fighting, the Persians retreat, and Alexander's army moves across the southern coast of Asia toward Gordium. As they travel, they liberate a number of cities from Persian rule.
|333 BC||Alexander solves the puzzle of the Gordian knot(Winter 333 BCE).
Alexander spends the winter of 333 BCE at Gordium, in present-day Turkey. According to legend, he solves the puzzle of the Gordian knot, which held together the yoke and pole of a wagon once belonging to King Midas. Stories foretold that whoever solved the puzzle would rule all Asia, and Alexander's success is seen as a good omen for his Asian campaign.
|332 BC||Alexander conquers Egypt(October 332 BCE).
After conquering Syria, Alexander sweeps south and easily conquers Egypt after besieging Gaza. In 331 BCE, he creates the city of Alexandria, which is meant to be a hub of Greek commerce and culture. This is just one of many cities he names after himself during his conquests.
|331 BC||Alexander conquers Babylon(October 18, 331 BCE).
Alexander and Darius, king of the Persians, meet at Gaugamela in a decisive battle. Alexander's military skills overwhelm Darius, who orders his men to flee, and the Macedonians are victorious. Alexander moves from one major Persian city to the next, conquering Babylon on October 18, 331 BCE, and taking treasure to distribute among his men. He incorporates Persian officials into his administration and adopts Persian customs in order to hold his empire together.
|328 BC||Alexander accidentally kills one of his closest companions(Fall 328 BCE).
Suffering from the tensions of warfare and command, Alexander becomes drunk at a banquet in the fall of 328 BCE. He and his close companion Cleitus, who saved his life at the battle of Granicus, fall into an argument. Alexander accidentally stabs Cleitus with a spear, and is filled with remorse at Cleitus' death. However, this incident marks a turning point for Alexander, whose officers begin to fear him.
|327 BC||Alexander marries Roxane(Summer 327 BCE).
After conquering eastern Iran and capturing Prince Oxyartes, Alexander marries Roxane, the prince's daughter. This is meant to be a political alliance, and it serves as an insult to Barsine, Alexander's Persian mistress. Roxane later bears Alexander a son.
|326 BC||Alexander defeats King Porus in northern India(May 326 BCE).
Hoping to add even more territory to his empire, Alexander and his troops cross the Hindu Kush into northern India. They defeat King Porus, leader of a kingdom east of the Hydaspes River, after figuring out how to attack Porus' war elephants. After several months in India, however, Alexander's army refuses to go any farther, and he is forced to return to Babylon. He spends the next few years trying to consolidate power in his empire.
|323 BC||Alexander dies(June 10, 323 BCE).
Before he can set out on his new campaign, Alexander falls ill with a sudden fever. According to legend, he leaves his empire to "the strongest" of his commanders, but after his death, his empire falls into disorder. His three commanders divide up the empire and compete for control.