Alexander the Great


Alexander the Great followed major geographic markers to find his way around the known world. The most notable landmarks were the Indus River, the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, the Nile River, the Amu Darya River, and the Mediterranean Sea (as seen in the map below). He did this because civilizations rise near water, and he and his men would need water on their journey.

Map of Alexander's journey through the Persian Empire to India and back


As Alexander’s army became less Macedonian and more Asian, he could have relied on his new recruits to point him in the right direction. They would know the surrounding areas much better than the invader did.

The battles themselves also pushed Alexander the Great in different directions. The Persian commander Mazaeus pulled the Macedonian army northward to the east of the Tigris River.

Alexander III crushed opposition by force. He and his men stayed in the city Persepolis during the winter of 330 BCE and pillaged the city, particularly the palaces, the following spring. When Spitamenes incited rebellion among the Sogdians and attacked the Macedonians using guerilla warfare, Alexander ordered mass deportations. Eventually Spitamenes was killed (approximately 328 BCE).

Alexander also made political connections to win over supporters. He married Roxane, a Sogdian princess and arguably “the loveliest woman they had seen in Asia,” and hired Dahae, another Sogdian, to fight for him. When Darius was assassinated, possibly by Persian noblemen, Alexander sought to punish the murders. This would gain him support from the Persian aristocracy.

Alexander also tried implementing traditions and beliefs from his Asian troops to win their respect. He had previously accepted Persian garments, which his Macedonian soldiers had allowed. The introduction of proskynesis, “the Persian court ritual,” however crossed the line. His European troops felt that that type of behavior should be reserved for worshipping the gods.



Arrian trans. Aubrey de Selincourt. “Alexander captures the Sogdian Rock.”, 27 Aug. 2016. Web. 9 Oct. 2016. (

“Common Errors (16): Persepolis.” New at LacusCurtius & Livius. New at LacusCurtius & Livius, n.d. Web. 9 Oct. 2016. (

Lendering, Jona. “Alexander the Great.”, 30 Jul. 2016. Web. 9 Oct. 2016. (

Map from

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