Macedonian, born in 356 BCE. After the assassination of his father, Philip II, at Aegae in 336, Alexander ascended to the throne and took over his father's plan of a crusade to punish the Persians for Xerxes' invasion of Greece almost a century and a half earlier. Alexander crossed the Hellespont with a total force of about fifty thousand in 334 and defeated the Persian army in three major battles, the last in 331.

These victories opened the heart of the Persian empire to Alexander. Persepolis was sacked and the palace of Xerxes burned. From Persepolis and Media, Alexander conquered Bactria and Sogdiana (330–329) and then extended his eastern frontier to the Hyphasis (Beas) and the lower Indus River (327–325). At the Hyphasis, the Macedonian army refused to march farther east. From the Indus Delta, Alexander marched west with part of his army across the Gedrosian desert, where his army suffered great losses during the fall of 325. He reached Susa in March of 324, where he and ninety‐one members of his court married wives from the Persian nobility. During the final year of his life, Alexander discharged ten thousand Macedonian veterans at Opis, and then at Babylon, in 323, made plans for future conquests (especially Arabia). He died, probably of a fever following a drinking party, on 10 June 323.

Alexander undoubtedly was the greatest general in Greek history; he made the army forged by his father into an irresistible force by a combination of uncanny strategic insight, versatility, and courage beyond reason. The cities he founded (reportedly over seventy) planted pockets of Hellenism throughout the Near East. He also made monarchy central to the politics of the Greek world; his kin and generals fought to establish themselves as his heir until about 275, when there emerged the three kingdoms that dominated the eastern Mediterranean until the advance of Rome: Macedon, ruled by the Antigonids until 168 BCE; Egypt, ruled by the Ptolemies until 31 BCE; and Syria, ruled by the Seleucids until 64 BCE. It is against the background of the origins of the Seleucid dynasty that the author of 1 Maccabees presents a sketch of Alexander's conquests (1.1–7) and the character of Antiochus Epiphanes (1.10–64).

Guy MacLean Rogers