Alexanders empire

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The ancient Kingdom of Macedonia, situated in the north of modern Greece, was established by Perdiccas I about 640 B.C. Perdiccas was a Dorian, although the Macedonian tribes included Thracian and Illyrian elements. Originally a semibarbarous and fragmented power, Macedon became tributary to Persia under the Persian kings Darius I and Xerxes I and thereafter struggled to maintain itself against Thracians and other barbarians and against the Greek cities of the Chalcidice as well as Sparta and Athens.

A new stage began with Archelaus (d.399 B.C.), who centralized the kingdom with a system of roads and forts; he also fostered the Hellenization of his people by inviting famous Greek artists, Euripides among them, to his court.

Few regions gave much thought to Macedonia. The area was so primitive that it seemed to belong to another age- it was a rude, brawling, heavy-drinking country of dour peasants and landowning warriors.

The language was Greek, but so tainted by barbarian strains that Athenians could not understand it. Macedonia remained an outland. Growth of trade in the early fourth century promoted the rise of several cities, yet when Perdiccas III, king of Macedonia, fell in 359 B.C. while fighting the Illyrians the seaboard of his state was largely under Athenian control or in the hands of the Chalcidian league, grouped about Olynthus.

Philip (382-36), brother of the dead king, was made regent for the infant heir, soon set aside his nephew, and became outright king.

Once power was his, the young monarch swiftly brought order to his domain by armed force when necessary, by diplomatic guile whenever he could, Philip set out to make Macedon the greatest power in the Greek world.

Alexander was born in 356 to the first wife of...