Alexander the Great, King of Macedon from 336 – 323 B.C., was unarguably one of the most influential figures in history. His empire spread from Gibraltar to Punjab, and he made Greek the lingua franca of his world, the language that helped spread early Christianity.
After his father, Philip II, unified most of the reluctant city-states of Greece, Alexander continued his conquests by taking Thrace and Thebes (in the area of Greece), Syria, Phoenicia, Mesopotamia, Assyria, Egypt, and on to Punjab, in northern India, present-day Pakistan.
We have gathered the top 13 interesting facts about this amazing figure you probably never knew. Plus, in the video below, you can check the connection Alexander the Great has with Cuban strongman, Fidel Castro.
Alexander the Great was a Redhead
According to Aelian, a Roman rhetoric teacher of the 2nd to 3rd century A.D. who wrote in Greek, Alexander the Great’s hair color was reddish blond and that it curled naturally.
He was tutored by Aristotle
Born into royalty as the son of King Phillip II of Macedonia and Queen Olympias on July 20, 356 B.C., Alexander had one of the best education of the time when his father decided to tutor him under the guidance of one of the biggest names in contemporary philosophical teaching: Aristotle of Stagira.
At that time, Aristotle had not yet made a name for himself, but he was a known pupil of Plato. So, King Phillip II invited Aristotle to impart his knowledge to his son, a decision much favoured by Alexander’s mother as she had a lot of faith in Plato’s insightful apprentice.
In 15 years of conquest Alexander the Great never lost a battle
From his first victory at age 18, Alexander gained a reputation of leading his men to battle with impressive speed, allowing smaller forces to reach and break the enemy lines before his foes were ready. After securing his kingdom in Greece, in 334 B.C. Alexander crossed into Asia (present-day Turkey) where he won a series of battles with the Persians under Darius III. His military tactics and strategies are still studied in military academies today.
Alexander’s favourite military tactic was the Phalanx
A rectangular mass military formation made up of closely ranked troops, the phalanx was a formidable fighting machine. The spears used by soldiers in a phalanx were long – sometimes as long as five metres – and made of sharpened wood or metal-tipped wood. The tactic was perfected by Alexander’s father, Philip, who first learned of it after observing Greek armies.
Alexander had a struggle to become king
Because Alexander’s mother Olympias was from Epirus, he was only half Macedonian. His struggle to claim the throne was bloody; another of Philip’s wives and her daughter were murdered, along with two Macedonian princes. He also put down several rebellious factions.
He named a city after his horse
Alexander had tamed a wild horse named Bucephalus when he was a youth. He was so endeared to the animal that when it died in 326 B.C., Alexander renamed a city in India for his beloved horse.
Alexander suffered from heterochromia iridum
Ancient writings of his time affirmed that Alexander the Great had heterochromia iridum; a condition in which the coloured part of the eye (iris) is multicoloured. Alexander had one blue eye, while the other was brown.
When Alexander met his future wife Roxanne, it was love at first sight
After his spectacular capture of Sogdian Rock in 327 B.C., the 28-year-old Alexander was surveying his captives when Roxanne, the teenage daughter of a Bactrian nobleman, caught his eye. A few months after Alexander’s death, Roxanne gave birth to the couple’s only son, Alexander IV.
Alexander also suffered from ailurophobia
Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, Adolf Hitler, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Benito Mussolini have one thing in common apart from being generals. They are all reported to have suffered from ailurophobia – the fear of cats.
He named more than 20 cities after himself
Apart from naming a city after his horse, Alexander commemorated his conquests by founding dozens of cities (usually built up around previous military forts), which he invariably named Alexandria. The most famous of these, founded at the mouth of the Nile in 331 B.C., is today Egypt’s second-largest city – Alexandria.
Alexander the Great was an Empire Builder
Over a period of 13 years, Alexander pretty much changed the face of Europe and Asia, conquering all neighboring enemies and many nations beyond that. With around 43,000 infantry and 5,500 cavalries under his command, he led a fearsome military force on one of the biggest expeditions in history with his empire stretching from Greece to modern-day Pakistan while spreading the Greek culture to the major parts of the world.
Alexander’s death remains a mystery
On May 29, 323 B.C., while planning for his next conquests, Alexander the Great went to a dinner party thrown by one of his close confidants. After a long session of heavy drinking, he started to feel unwell and went to bed with a rising fever. Twelve days later on June 11, with no strength to even leave his bed, one of the most famous conquerors in human history was proclaimed dead at a very early age. He was 32.
Of course, his premature death brought with it a number of conspiracy theories. His general Antipater and Antipater’s son Cassander came under serious suspicion. Some even speculated that Aristotle might have had a hand in it too. However, modern medical experts attribute his death to malarial infection.
Alexander actually “died” six (6) days after
After he was proclaimed dead, Alexander’s body didn’t begin to show signs of decomposition for a full six days. To the ancient Greeks, this confirmed what they all thought about the young Macedonian king that he was not an ordinary man but a god.
However, a 21st century clinical research suggests that Alexander may have suffered from the neurological disorder Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), which caused his death. It also argues that there were no immediate signs of decomposition on the body because Alexander wasn’t dead yet.
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FACT 13 – Gill, N.S. (2019, May 6). What Color Was Alexander the Great’s Hair? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/alexander-the-greats-hair-color-116833
FACT 12 – Saugat Adhikari (2019, June 19). Top 10 Amazing Facts about Alexander the Great. Retrieved from https://www.ancienthistorylists.com/greek-history/top-10-amazing-facts-about-alexander-the-great/
FACT 11 – Nate Barksdale (2014, May 13). 8 Surprising Facts about Alexander the Great. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/news/eight-surprising-facts-about-alexander-the-great
FACT 10 – Jennifer Macaire (2019, May 17). 6 things you (probably) didn’t know about Alexander the Great. Retrieved from https://www.historyextra.com/period/ancient-greece/facts-alexander-great-life-death/
FACT 9 – Tristan Hughes (July 19, 2018). 20 Facts About Alexander the Great. Retrieved from https://www.historyhit.com/facts-about-alexander-the-great/
FACT 8 – Gill, N.S. (2019, June 13). Alexander the Great Study Guide. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/alexander-the-great-study-guide-116811
FACT 7 – https://www.seriousfacts.com/alexander-the-great-facts/#ixzz5uRheCdEF
FACT 6 – 8 Surprising Facts about Alexander the Great. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/news/eight-surprising-facts-about-alexander-the-great
FACT 5 – 25 Unusual Facts About Alexander the Great. Retrieved from https://list25.com/25-unusual-facts-about-alexander-the-great/2/
FACT 4 – 8 Surprising Facts about Alexander the Great. Retrieved from https://www.history.com/news/eight-surprising-facts-about-alexander-the-great
FACT 3 – 21 Interesting Facts About Alexander the Great. Retrieved from https://ohfact.com/interesting-facts-about-alexander-the-great/
FACT 2 – Saugat Adhikari (2019, June 19). Top 10 Amazing Facts about Alexander the Great. Retrieved from https://www.ancienthistorylists.com/greek-history/top-10-amazing-facts-about-alexander-the-great/
FACT 1 – i. 42 Conquering Facts About Alexander the Great. Retrieved from https://www.factinate.com/people/42-conquering-facts-alexander-great/;
ii. 21 Interesting Facts About Alexander the Great. Retrieved from https://ohfact.com/interesting-facts-about-alexander-the-great/