Alexander was born in Pella, Macedonia, the son of Philip of Macedon, who was an excellent general and organizer. His mother was Olympias, princess of Epirus.
She was brilliant and hot-tempered. Alexander inherited the best qualities of both his parents. But he was even more ambitious than his father. He wept bitterly when he heard of Philip's conquests and said, " My father will get ahead of me in everything, and will leave nothing great for me to do." Alexander's mother taught him that Achilles was his ancestor, and that his father was descended from Hercules. Alexander learned by heart the Iliad, a story about the deeds of Achilles. He carried a copy of the Iliad with him, and Achilles became Alexander's model .
Even as a boy Alexander was fearless and strong. He tamed the beautiful and spirited Bucephalus, a horse that no one else dared to touch or ride.
Later, this famous steed carried him as far as India, where it died. Alexander then built the city of Bucephala on the Hydaspes River in memory of his beloved horse. Philip was so proud of Alexander's power over the horse that he said, "O my son, seek out a kingdom worthy of thyself, for Macedonia is too little for thee."
When Alexander was 13 years old, he became the pupil of Aristotle. He was always eager to learn. Aristotle inspired the talented youth with a great love for literature. He took part in sports and daily exercise to develop a strong body. Aristotle also inspired in Alexander a keen interest in other countries and races of people, and in animals and plants. Alexander's education was not all from books. He talked with ambassadors from many foreign countries, and with other noted persons at his father's court. When...