Alexander (III) the Great (356–323 B.C.), a king of Macedonia and Greece. Alexander conquered the entire Persian Empire, from the Aegean Sea to India and around the Mediterranean to Egypt. His conquests spread Greek culture over the Middle East and introduced the brilliant Hellenistic era of artistic, intellectual, and scientific accomplishment. Alexander was outstanding in personal courage, energy, and imagination. He became a legend in his own lifetime through the reports of the historian Callisthenes, who accompanied him on his great expedition. Many stories were told about Alexander's favorite steed, Bucephalus, and about exploits such as cutting the Gordian knot.

Alexander was not only a brilliant military strategist but also an able administrator. He saw the folly of the constant warfare among the Greek city-states and had a dream of uniting many peoples in a great common wealth. After his conquest of the Persian Empire, he began to organize the territory into a realm such as he envisioned. His early death brought an end to his plans.

Alexander was born in Pella, capital of Macedonia. His father was Philip II of Macedon, who had conquered Greece; his mother was Olympias, a princess from Epirus. Aristotle was Alexander's tutor, and the literature of Greece was his inspiration. The handsome youth took Achilles of Homer's Iliad, a reputed ancestor, as his hero. Alexander's teachers in military science were his father's generals. When he was only 16, he commanded forces in military actions against hill tribes.