128 Facts About Alexander Magnus


Alexander III of Macedon, commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon.

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Alexander Magnus succeeded his father Philip II to the throne in 336 BC at the age of 20, and spent most of his ruling years conducting a lengthy military campaign throughout Western Asia and Egypt.

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Alexander Magnus was undefeated in battle and is widely considered to be one of history's greatest and most successful military commanders.

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Alexander Magnus then led the League of Corinth, and used his authority to launch the pan-Hellenic project envisaged by his father, assuming leadership over all Greeks in their conquest of Persia.

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Alexander Magnus endeavored to reach the "ends of the world and the Great Outer Sea" and invaded India in 326 BC, achieving an important victory over Porus, an ancient Indian king of present-day Punjab, at the Battle of the Hydaspes.

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Alexander Magnus's death left unexecuted an additional series of planned military and mercantile campaigns that would have begun with a Greek invasion of Arabia.

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Alexander Magnus founded more than twenty cities that bore his name, with the most prominent being the city of Alexandria in Egypt.

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Alexander Magnus became legendary as a classical hero in the mould of Achilles, featuring prominently in the historical and mythical traditions of both Greek and non-Greek cultures.

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Alexander Magnus was the son of the erstwhile king of Macedon, Philip II, and his fourth wife, Olympias.

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Later in his childhood, Alexander Magnus was tutored by the strict Leonidas, a relative of his mother, and by Lysimachus of Acarnania.

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Alexander Magnus was raised in the manner of noble Macedonian youths, learning to read, play the lyre, ride, fight, and hunt.

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Alexander Magnus detecting the horse's fear of its own shadow, asked to tame the horse, which he eventually managed.

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In return for teaching Alexander Magnus, Philip agreed to rebuild Aristotle's hometown of Stageira, which Philip had razed, and to repopulate it by buying and freeing the ex-citizens who were slaves, or pardoning those who were in exile.

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Under Aristotle's tutelage, Alexander Magnus developed a passion for the works of Homer, and in particular the Iliad; Aristotle gave him an annotated copy, which Alexander Magnus later carried on his campaigns.

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Concerned that other Greek states might intervene, Alexander Magnus made it look as though he was preparing to attack Illyria instead.

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Alexander Magnus was the first to break the Theban lines, followed by Philip's generals.

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In 337 BC, Alexander Magnus fled Macedon with his mother, dropping her off with her brother, King Alexander Magnus I of Epirus in Dodona, capital of the Molossians.

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Alexander Magnus continued to Illyria, where he sought refuge with one or more Illyrian kings, perhaps with Glaukias, and was treated as a guest, despite having defeated them in battle a few years before.

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Accordingly, Alexander Magnus returned to Macedon after six months due to the efforts of a family friend, Demaratus, who mediated between the two parties.

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Olympias and several of Alexander Magnus's friends suggested this showed Philip intended to make Arrhidaeus his heir.

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Alexander Magnus reacted by sending an actor, Thessalus of Corinth, to tell Pixodarus that he should not offer his daughter's hand to an illegitimate son, but instead to Alexander Magnus.

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When Philip heard of this, he stopped the negotiations and scolded Alexander Magnus for wishing to marry the daughter of a Carian, explaining that he wanted a better bride for him.

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Alexander Magnus was proclaimed king on the spot by the nobles and army at the age of 20.

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Alexander Magnus began his reign by eliminating potential rivals to the throne.

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Alexander Magnus had two Macedonian princes from the region of Lyncestis killed, but spared a third, Alexander Lyncestes.

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Alexander Magnus ordered the murder of Attalus, who was in command of the advance guard of the army in Asia Minor and Cleopatra's uncle.

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Alexander Magnus spared Arrhidaeus, who was by all accounts mentally disabled, possibly as a result of poisoning by Olympias.

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Alexander Magnus found the Thessalian army occupying the pass between Mount Olympus and Mount Ossa, and ordered his men to ride over Mount Ossa.

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Alexander Magnus stopped at Thermopylae, where he was recognized as the leader of the Amphictyonic League before heading south to Corinth.

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The Theban resistance was ineffective, and Alexander Magnus razed the city and divided its territory between the other Boeotian cities.

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Alexander Magnus then set out on his Asian campaign, leaving Antipater as regent.

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Alexander Magnus showed his intent to conquer the entirety of the Persian Empire by throwing a spear into Asian soil and saying he accepted Asia as a gift from the gods.

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Alexander Magnus left the government of Caria to a member of the Hecatomnid dynasty, Ada, who adopted Alexander Magnus.

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From Halicarnassus, Alexander Magnus proceeded into mountainous Lycia and the Pamphylian plain, asserting control over all coastal cities to deny the Persians naval bases.

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At the ancient Phrygian capital of Gordium, Alexander Magnus "undid" the hitherto unsolvable Gordian Knot, a feat said to await the future "king of Asia".

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Alexander Magnus offered a peace treaty that included the lands he had already lost, and a ransom of 10,000 talents for his family.

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Alexander Magnus replied that since he was now king of Asia, it was he alone who decided territorial divisions.

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Alexander Magnus proceeded to take possession of Syria, and most of the coast of the Levant.

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Alexander Magnus restored the temples neglected by the Persians and dedicated new monuments to the Egyptian gods.

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Alexander Magnus was pronounced son of the deity Amun at the Oracle of Siwa Oasis in the Libyan desert.

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Henceforth, Alexander Magnus often referred to Zeus-Ammon as his true father, and after his death, currency depicted him adorned with the Horns of Ammon as a symbol of his divinity.

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Babylonian astronomical diaries says that "the king of the world, Alexander Magnus" sends his scouts with a message to the people of Babylon before entering the city: "I shall not enter your houses".

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From Babylon, Alexander Magnus went to Susa, one of the Achaemenid capitals, and captured its treasury.

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Alexander Magnus sent the bulk of his army to the Persian ceremonial capital of Persepolis via the Persian Royal Road.

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Alexander Magnus himself took selected troops on the direct route to the city.

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Alexander Magnus then stormed the pass of the Persian Gates which had been blocked by a Persian army under Ariobarzanes and then hurried to Persepolis before its garrison could loot the treasury.

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On entering Persepolis, Alexander Magnus allowed his troops to loot the city for several days.

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Curtius claims that Alexander Magnus did not regret his decision until the next morning.

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Alexander Magnus then chased Darius, first into Media, and then Parthia.

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Alexander Magnus buried Darius's remains next to his Achaemenid predecessors in a regal funeral.

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Alexander Magnus claimed that, while dying, Darius had named him as his successor to the Achaemenid throne.

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Alexander Magnus viewed Bessus as a usurper and set out to defeat him.

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Alexander Magnus founded a series of new cities, all called Alexandria, including modern Kandahar in Afghanistan, and Alexandria Eschate in modern Tajikistan.

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However, when, at some point later, Alexander Magnus was on the Jaxartes dealing with an incursion by a horse nomad army, Spitamenes raised Sogdiana in revolt.

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Alexander Magnus personally defeated the Scythians at the Battle of Jaxartes and immediately launched a campaign against Spitamenes, defeating him in the Battle of Gabai.

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Pierre Briant explains that Alexander Magnus realized that it was insufficient to merely exploit the internal contradictions within the imperial system as in Asia Minor, Babylonia or Egypt; he had to create a central government with or without the support of the Iranians.

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Alexander Magnus wrote a letter in 332 BC to Darius III, wherein he argued that he was worthier than Darius "to succeed to the Achaemenid throne".

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Against Bessus however, Briant adds, Alexander Magnus reasserted "his claim to legitimacy as the avenger of Darius III".

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Alexander Magnus's sacking of Thebes ensured that Greece remained quiet during his absence.

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Alexander Magnus sent back vast sums from his conquest, which stimulated the economy and increased trade across his empire.

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Alexander Magnus appears to have introduced a new coinage in Cilicia in Tarsus, after the Battle of Issus in 333 BC, which went on to become the main coinage of the empire.

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Alexander Magnus minted gold staters, silver tetradrachms and drachmas, and bronze.

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The reverse design of Alexander Magnus's tetradrachms is closely modelled on the depiction of the god Baaltars, on the silver staters minted at Tarsus by the Persian satrap Mazaeus before Alexander Magnus's conquest.

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Alexander Magnus did not attempt to impose uniform imperial coinage throughout his new conquests.

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Alexander Magnus invited the chieftains of the former satrapy of Gandhara, to come to him and submit to his authority.

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Alexander Magnus was emboldened to divide his forces, and Ambhi assisted Hephaestion and Perdiccas in constructing a bridge over the Indus where it bends at Hund, supplied their troops with provisions, and received Alexander Magnus himself, and his whole army, in his capital city of Taxila, with every demonstration of friendship and the most liberal hospitality.

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Alexander Magnus then faced the Assakenoi, who fought against him from the strongholds of Massaga, Ora and Aornos.

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Alexander Magnus followed close behind and captured the strategic hill-fort after four bloody days.

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Alexander Magnus was impressed by Porus's bravery, and made him an ally.

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Alexander Magnus appointed Porus as satrap, and added to Porus's territory land that he did not previously own, towards the south-east, up to the Hyphasis.

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Alexander Magnus founded two cities on opposite sides of the Hydaspes river, naming one Bucephala, in honour of his horse, who died around this time.

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Alexander Magnus sent much of his army to Carmania with general Craterus, and commissioned a fleet to explore the Persian Gulf shore under his admiral Nearchus, while he led the rest back to Persia through the more difficult southern route along the Gedrosian Desert and Makran.

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Alexander Magnus reached Susa in 324 BC, but not before losing many men to the harsh desert.

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The Macedonians quickly begged forgiveness, which Alexander Magnus accepted, and held a great banquet with several thousand of his men.

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Meanwhile, upon his return to Persia, Alexander Magnus learned that guards of the tomb of Cyrus the Great in Pasargadae had desecrated it, and swiftly executed them.

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Alexander Magnus admired Cyrus the Great, from an early age reading Xenophon's Cyropaedia, which described Cyrus's heroism in battle and governance as a king and legislator.

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Back in Babylon, Alexander Magnus planned a series of new campaigns, beginning with an invasion of Arabia, but he would not have a chance to realize them, as he died shortly after Hephaestion.

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Plutarch's account is that roughly 14 days before his death, Alexander Magnus entertained admiral Nearchus and spent the night and next day drinking with Medius of Larissa.

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Alexander Magnus developed a fever, which worsened until he was unable to speak.

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Justin stated that Alexander Magnus was the victim of a poisoning conspiracy, Plutarch dismissed it as a fabrication, while both Diodorus and Arrian noted that they mentioned it only for the sake of completeness.

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Veratrum album poisoning can have a prolonged course and it was suggested that if Alexander Magnus was poisoned, Veratrum album offers the most plausible cause.

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Alexander Magnus's body was laid in a gold anthropoid sarcophagus that was filled with honey, which was in turn placed in a gold casket.

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Alexander Magnus's death was so sudden that when reports of his death reached Greece, they were not immediately believed.

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Arrian and Plutarch claimed that Alexander Magnus was speechless by this point, implying that this was an apocryphal story.

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Diodorus, Curtius and Justin offered the more plausible story that Alexander Magnus passed his signet ring to Perdiccas, a bodyguard and leader of the companion cavalry, in front of witnesses, thereby nominating him.

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Diodorus stated that Alexander Magnus had given detailed written instructions to Craterus some time before his death, which are known as Alexander Magnus's "last plans".

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Alexander Magnus perhaps earned the epithet "the Great" due to his unparalleled success as a military commander; he never lost a battle, despite typically being outnumbered.

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The Macedonian phalanx, armed with the sarissa, a spear 6 metres long, had been developed and perfected by Philip II through rigorous training, and Alexander Magnus used its speed and manoeuvrability to great effect against larger but more disparate Persian forces.

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Alexander Magnus recognized the potential for disunity among his diverse army, which employed various languages and weapons.

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Alexander Magnus overcame this by being personally involved in battle, in the manner of a Macedonian king.

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Alexander Magnus personally led the charge in the center, routing the opposing army.

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Alexander Magnus arranged a double phalanx, with the center advancing at an angle, parting when the chariots bore down and then reforming.

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Ancient authors recorded that Alexander Magnus was so pleased with portraits of himself created by Lysippos that he forbade other sculptors from crafting his image; scholars today find the claim dubious.

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Nevertheless, Andrew Stewart highlights the fact that artistic portraits, not least because of who they are commissioned by, are always partisan, and that artistic portrayals of Alexander Magnus "seek to legitimize him, to interpret him to their audiences, to answer their critiques, and to persuade them of his greatness", and thus should be considered within a framework of "praise and blame", in the same way sources such as praise poetry are.

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Details from the Alexander Magnus Sarcophagus show that he had a fair complexion with ruddy cheeks.

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Outward appearance of Alexander Magnus is best represented by the statues of him which Lysippus made, and it was by this artist alone that Alexander Magnus himself thought it fit that he should be modelled.

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Historians have understood the detail of the pleasant odour attributed to Alexander Magnus as stemming from a belief in ancient Greece that pleasant scents are characteristic of gods and heroes.

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Alexander Magnus is described as having one eye light and one eye dark.

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Alexander Magnus instilled a sense of destiny in him, and Plutarch tells how his ambition "kept his spirit serious and lofty in advance of his years".

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Alexander Magnus had a great desire for knowledge, a love for philosophy, and was an avid reader.

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Alexander Magnus had great self-restraint in "pleasures of the body", in contrast with his lack of self-control with alcohol.

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Alexander Magnus had great charisma and force of personality, characteristics which made him a great leader.

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Alexander Magnus appears to have believed himself a deity, or at least sought to deify himself.

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Alexander Magnus adopted elements of Persian dress and customs at court, notably proskynesis, which was one aspect of Alexander Magnus's broad strategy aimed at securing the aid and support of the Iranian upper classes; however the practise of proskynesis was disapproved by the Macedonians, and they were unwilling to perform it.

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However, Alexander Magnus was a pragmatic ruler who understood the difficulties of ruling culturally disparate peoples, many of whom lived in kingdoms where the king was divine.

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Alexander Magnus married three times: Roxana, daughter of the Sogdian nobleman Oxyartes of Bactria, out of love; and the Persian princesses Stateira and Parysatis, the former a daughter of Darius III and the latter a daughter of Artaxerxes III, for political reasons.

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Alexander Magnus apparently had two sons, Alexander IV of Macedon by Roxana and, possibly, Heracles of Macedon from his mistress Barsine.

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Alexander Magnus lost another child when Roxana miscarried at Babylon.

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Alexander Magnus had a close relationship with his friend, general, and bodyguard Hephaestion, the son of a Macedonian noble.

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Green argues that there is little evidence in ancient sources that Alexander Magnus had much carnal interest in women; he did not produce an heir until the very end of his life.

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Nevertheless, Plutarch described how Alexander Magnus was infatuated by Roxana while complimenting him on not forcing himself on her.

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Green suggested that, in the context of the period, Alexander Magnus formed quite strong friendships with women, including Ada of Caria, who adopted him, and even Darius's mother Sisygambis, who supposedly died from grief upon hearing of Alexander Magnus's death.

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Alexander Magnus's legacy extended beyond his military conquests, and his reign marked a turning point in European and Asian history.

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Libanius wrote that Alexander Magnus founded the temple of Zeus Bottiaios, in the place where later the city of Antioch was built.

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Alexander Magnus sought to insert Greek elements into Persian culture and to hybridize Greek and Persian culture, homogenizing the populations of Asia and Europe.

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Alexander Magnus was used by these writers as an example of ruler values such as and, but and.

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Alexander Magnus began openly mimicking Alexander in his personal style.

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Caracalla's mania for Alexander Magnus went so far that Caracalla visited Alexandria while preparing for his Persian invasion and persecuted philosophers of the Aristotelian school based on a legend that Aristotle had poisoned Alexander Magnus.

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Pausanias writes that Alexander Magnus wanted to dig through the Mimas mountain, but didn't succeed.

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Arrian wrote that Aristobulus said that Alexander Magnus named Icarus island in the Persian Gulf after Icarus island in the Aegean.

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Alexander Magnus wrote and received numerous letters, but no originals survive.

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Many of the legends about Alexander Magnus derive from his own lifetime, probably encouraged by Alexander Magnus himself.

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Alexander Magnus has figured in both high and popular culture beginning in his own era to the present day.

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In pre-Islamic Middle Persian literature, Alexander Magnus is referred to by the epithet gujastak, meaning "accursed", and is accused of destroying temples and burning the sacred texts of Zoroastrianism.

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Alexander Magnus was depicted as performing a Hajj many times in subsequent Islamic art and literature.

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Alexander Magnus then travelled the known world in search of the Water of Life and Immortality, eventually becoming a prophet.

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Syriac version of the Alexander Magnus Romance portrays him as an ideal Christian world conqueror who prayed to "the one true God".

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In Egypt, Alexander Magnus was portrayed as the son of Nectanebo II, the last pharaoh before the Persian conquest.

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