List of Key Events in the Life of Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great was one of history’s most celebrated military leaders. His life was filled with remarkable events as he carved out one of the largest empires of the ancient world. Here’s a list of key events in his life:

Alexander Mosaic, National Archaeological Museum, Naples.

Birth (July 356 BC)

Alexander the Great, one of history’s most legendary military leaders and conquerors, was born in Pella, the ancient capital of Macedonia, in July 356 BC.

Olympias (c. 374-316 BC) is most known for being the second wife to Philip II of Macedon and mother of Alexander the Great. Thus, she was related to two of the greatest kings of Macedon.

He was the son of King Philip II of Macedon and Queen Olympias, a princess from the neighboring region of Epirus.

Taming Bucephalus (c. 344 BC)

As a youth, Alexander tamed the wild horse Bucephalus, showcasing his courage and determination.

Tutelage under Aristotle (343-340 BC)

From a young age, Alexander was exposed to warfare, diplomacy, and intrigue. He was educated by various tutors, the most famous of whom was the philosopher Aristotle.

Under Aristotle’s tutelage, Alexander studied a range of subjects, from philosophy and politics to natural sciences, which would later influence his methods of governance and his outlook on the diverse cultures he would encounter during his conquests.

Battle of Chaeronea (338 BC)

Alexander displayed his military prowess for the first time, leading a charge that helped Macedonia defeat the Greek city-states.

Assassination of Philip II (336 BC)

The assassination of Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, occurred in 336 BC and is one of the most significant events of ancient Macedonian history.

Philip II was assassinated during the wedding celebrations for his daughter Cleopatra (not to be confused with the famous Egyptian queen), who was getting married to King Alexander I of Epirus.

The man who killed Philip II was Pausanias of Orestis, one of his royal bodyguards. During the procession into the town’s theater, Pausanias rushed forward and stabbed Philip II to death.

Pausanias tried to escape but was pursued and killed by other bodyguards. The rapid succession of Alexander to the throne after Philip’s death and the absence of a significant challenge to his rule led some historians to speculate about his possible foreknowledge or involvement, though there’s no concrete evidence to support this.

Assassination of King Philip by Pausanius

Defeat of the Thracian Maedi (335 BC)

Early in his reign, Alexander secured Macedonia’s borders by quelling a rebellion.

Destruction of Thebes (335 BC)

As a warning to other Greek city-states, Alexander destroyed Thebes which had revolted against Macedonian rule.

Start of the Persian campaign (334 BC)

Alexander crossed the Hellespont into Asia Minor, marking the beginning of his conquest against the Persian Empire.

Battle of Issus (333 BC)

Alexander defeated King Darius III of Persia in a pivotal battle.

Siege of Tyre (332 BC)

After a lengthy seven-month siege, Alexander captured the island city of Tyre.

Conquest of Egypt and the founding of Alexandria (331 BC)

Alexander was welcomed as a liberator in Egypt and founded the city of Alexandria.

Battle of Gaugamela (331 BC)

Alexander achieved a decisive victory over Darius III, leading to the fall of the Persian Empire.

The Alexander Sarcophagus

Detail of Alexander the Great on the Alexander Sarcophagus

Entry into Babylon and Susa (331 BC)

After his victory at Gaugamela, Alexander took over these major Persian cities.

Conquest of Persepolis (330 BC)

Alexander captured the ceremonial capital of the Persian Empire and later that year, it was burned, allegedly at the instigation of an Athenian courtesan.

Death of Darius III (330 BC)

Darius was killed by one of his satraps, Bessus, marking the end of Persian resistance.

READ MORE: Rulers of the Achaemenid Empire

Alexander’s Indian Campaign (327-325 BC)

He crossed the Hindu Kush and faced King Porus of the Paurava kingdom at the Battle of the Hydaspes.

Return to Babylon and death (323 BC)

After his return from India, Alexander died in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II in Babylon at age 32.

19th-century depiction of Alexander the Great’s funeral procession, based on the description by Greek historian Diodorus Siculus


The exploits and achievements of Alexander the Great created a legacy that has influenced cultures and empires throughout history.

Undoubtedly, the assassination of Philip II marked the end of his significant reign, during which he transformed Macedonia into the dominant military power in Greece and laid the groundwork for the vast empire that his son, Alexander the Great, would forge. It also set the stage for Alexander’s own reign and his subsequent campaigns that made him one of history’s most celebrated military leaders.

A Roman copy of an original 3rd century BC Greek bust depicting Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, Denmark

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