In the short space of little over a decade, one man in ancient history stands out as "The Great": the man who, prior to the multi-generational expansionism of the Roman Empire, was able to challenge a threatening civilization - the Persian Empire - conquer it, then proceed to extend its limits almost to what geographers of his court considered the boundary between Earth and "Endless Ocean." This man was Alexander. It will be the purpose of this paper to examine how Alexander made the key conquests in his career; the focus will be on the tactics and strategies of his success.
There is a larger picture encompassing the portrait of Alexander's career, however. It is not always a clear picture, nor does it consistently portray Alexander as "successful." By way of introduction to any discussion of his conquests, one must examine those different perspectives.
Alexander of Macedon (356-323 B.C.) no doubt stands as one of the central figures of history - Western and Eastern. He is "Alexander the Great" in European civilization. Central Asia mythologizes him as "Sikandar." The Middle East embraces his legends; Egypt still is honored by the city he founded, Alexandria. As far away as India the influence of this Alexander, under whatever syllables the local dialect chose to translate the name, still bears witness to the fact that his decade of Hellenic expansionism was the marking event of East-West contact in pre-Christian era civilization. Even critics of Alexander's career such as historian Arnold Toynbee bear grudging witness to this fact:
Yet the political achievements of Alexander and his successors were as negative and ephemeral as they were astonishing. While it took them five years to break up the [Persian] Empire, they never succeeded in putting the fragments together again. ... the Macedonian conquerors cleared the field not for a reconstructed empire, but for an influx of Hellenic culture.
The very nature...