Alexander and the Gordian Knot – A Violent Solution

One of the best known stories of the Macedonian King Alexander’s reign, is the tale of the striking of the Gordian knot, a tightly twisted and bound bundle of rope connected to a wagon. Not only is it a nice story, it is also a possibly example of Alexander’s mentality and attitude towards solving problems, which plays largely into his Persian invasion.

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An Outstanding Victory – Battle of Gaugamela, 331BC

With no defeats in his campaign, Alexander was prepared to turn his army and march to Babylon, where he hoped he could take over the city and be crowned King of the Persian Empire. But before he could do so, Darius III sent a letter asking for his wife and children to be given back. Additionally, he attempted to form a treaty with the Macedonian king, allowing him to control half of the Persian lands whilst Darius controlled the other half. Unfortunately for the Persians, Alexander did not want shared leadership. He wanted it all, and absolutely all of it.

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How did Alexander the Great overcome Tyre?

It was necessary that Alexander and his army eliminate all Persian naval threats in the Aegean and Levant before continuing inland on their campaign. If the Persian leaders realised that Greece was only defended by 13,000 men, there would be a large risk of invasion. Tyre, on the Levantine coast, was expertly defended, well garrisoned and almost impregnable. Additionally, it was a crucial trading port of the Mediterranean and controlled access to India, Carthage, Rome and other great nations across the sea. Alexander, of course, did not want to lead his army into this military headache, but the capture of Tyre was paramount and necessary to the continuation of the invasion.

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First Defeat of Darius – Battle of Issus, 333BC

With Memnon of Rhodes’ forces destroyed at the first major battle of the Persian invasion by the Macedonians, Alexander led his blood-thirsty army – which had little need for any recovery time – along Anatolia’s Aegean Coast, bribing, frightening and besieging the ports into submission. Consequently, he had diminished Persian naval dominance around the Greek homelands, but had not gained full control of the Eastern Mediterranean.

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