ALEXANDER THE GREAT
ALEXANDER THE MACEDONIAN ESTABLISHES A GREEK WORLD-EMPIRE, AND WHAT BECAME OF THIS HIGH AMBITION
 WHEN the Achaeans had left their homes along the banks of
the Danube to look for pastures new, they had spent some
time among the mountains of Macedonia. Ever since, the
Greeks had maintained certain more or less formal relations
with the people of this northern country. The Macedonians
from their side had kept themselves well informed about conditions
Now it happened, just when Sparta and Athens had finished
their disastrous war for the leadership of Hellas, that
Macedonia was ruled by an extraordinarily clever man by
the name of Philip. He admired the Greek spirit in letters and
art but he despised the Greek lack of self-control in political
affairs. It irritated him to see a perfectly good people waste its
men and money upon fruitless quarrels. So he settled the
difficulty by making himself the master of all Greece and then
he asked his new subjects to join him on a voyage which he
meant to pay to Persia in return for the visit which Xerxes
had paid the Greeks one hundred and fifty years before.
Unfortunately Philip was murdered before he could start
upon this well-prepared expedition. The task of avenging the
destruction of Athens was left to Philip's son Alexander, the
beloved pupil of Aristotle, wisest of all Greek teachers.
 Alexander bade farewell to Europe in the spring of the
year 334 B.C. Seven years later he reached India. In the
meantime he had destroyed Phoenicia, the old rival of the Greek
merchants. He had conquered Egypt and had been worshipped
by the people of the Nile valley as the son and heir of the
Pharaohs. He had defeated the last Persian king—he had
overthrown the Persian empire—he had given orders to rebuild
Babylon—he had led his troops into the heart of the
Himalayan mountains and had made the entire world a Macedonian
province and dependency. Then he stopped and announced
even more ambitious plans.
The newly formed Empire must be brought under the influence
of the Greek mind. The people must be taught the Greek
language—they must live in cities built after a Greek model.
The Alexandrian soldier now turned school-master. The military
camps of yesterday became the peaceful centres of the
newly imported Greek civilisation. Higher and higher did the
flood of Greek manners and Greek customs rise, when suddenly
Alexander was stricken with a fever and died in the old
palace of King Hammurabi of Babylon in the year 323.
Then the waters receded. But they left behind the fertile clay
of a higher civilisation and Alexander, with all his childish
ambitions and his silly vanities, had performed a most valuable
service. His Empire did not long survive him. A number of
ambitious generals divided the territory among themselves.
But they too remained faithful to the dream of a great world
brotherhood of Greek and Asiatic ideas and knowledge.
They maintained their independence until the Romans
added western Asia and Egypt to their other domains. The
strange inheritance of this Hellenistic civilisation (part Greek,
part Persian, part Egyptian and Babylonian) fell to the
Roman conquerors. During the following centuries, it got
such a firm hold upon the Roman world, that we feel its influence
in our own lives this very day.