Alexander the Great’s accomplishments in the fourth century B.C. were breathtaking. The son of a powerful king and an ambitious queen, Alexander was born in 356 B.C. He studied under Aristotle until age 16 and became king of Macedon at age 20. In his 13-year rule, Alexander united ancient Greece, conquered Persia, seized Egypt, and created an empire stretching from Europe to Asia. He fancied himself the descendant of Achilles and the son of Zeus.
As Alexander’s power grew, so did his fear of losing it. At times megalomaniacal and paranoid, he began to see threats everywhere, including among those closest to him. He believed they envied him. He believed they wanted his power. He believed they wanted him dead.
Alexander’s brilliant start won him many loyal followers, comrades in arms who helped him on his quick rise to glory. In 334 B.C. Alexander’s forces advanced unfaltering across Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) and invaded the Achaemenian (Persian) Empire. They scored two victories: the first near the Granicus River near the site of Troy, and the second in Issus.