Narrative Structure Resit – Research 2: Alexander the Great

This blog post is dedicated to my animated project Alexander the Great for research purposes:

Alexander the Great also known as Alexander III of Macedon was the son of Philip II of Macedon and his wife Olympia. He was born in Bella, July 356BC and was educated by the Philosopher Aristotle until the age of sixteen.

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The Ancient Greek Biographer stated that his mother on the eve of the consummation of her marriage to Philip had a vision, that showed her womb was struck with a thunderbolt causing flames to spread far and wide before fading. While Alexander’s father had a vision later on after the wedding stating he secured her womb with a seal of a lion. Plutarch said that it was sign that Alexander was actually a son of Zeus not Philip but many were skeptical. Other tales have emerged about Alexander’s birth such as his father’s general called Paremenion, who won a war against the combined Illyrian and Paeonian Forces. Another tale states that the reason why the great fire burned down the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus was because Artemis was attending the birth of Alexander. Although it was implied that Alexander instigated the tales himself to make him look more super human.

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At the age of ten, Alexander tamed a horse that was apparently afraid of it’s own shadow. It was brought forth before and sold to his father by a trader from Thessaly but it refused to let his father ride it. When Alexander tamed the horse apparently his father stated “My boy, you must find a kingdom big enough for your ambitions. Macedon is too small for you” and then gave the horse to Alexander who named it Bucephalas. The horse later became one of his trusted companions until it died at the age of thirty in India. In it’s honor he named a city after it.

By the age of sixteen Alexander had finished his education with his Tutor Aristotle, he was left in charge of the Kingdom as Prince Regent and Heir Apparent when his father went to war against the Byzantion. During his reign as Prince Regent and Heir Apparent, his first true test as a leader occurred when a group called Thracian Maedi (A Indo-European Tribe that resided in Maedi, Greece) revolted against Macedonia. Alexander successfully led his people and repelled the Thracian Maedi from their territory. He then colonized it with the Greeks and founded the city that was named Alexandropolis (Which after a Thracian Maedi raid vanished from History.)

Seeing his Son’s success after his return from war, Philip sent Alexander with a small battalion to deal with the revolts that were occurring within Southern Thrace. It was also reported during this period that Alexander saved his father Philip from an attack of some sort while they where campaigning against the Greek City of Perinthus. Once the attack was successful and Philip’s forces where occupying the city, Alexander was put in charge of building an army for the Greece occupation campaign. Later Alexander made it look like the army that he was building was going to attack Illyria, forcing the Illyrians to retaliate by invading Macedonia, only to be repelled by Alexander.

Over the next few years Alexander and Philip conquered all of Greece either by force or by the cities inhabitants allowing them to take control. The only city/faction that refused to be taken under the Macedoni flag was the Spartans, but surprisingly enough Philip nor Alexander didn’t declare war. Alexander was exiled from his home by his father after an argument at his father wedding to Cleopatra Eurydice. His father’s general in a drunken state stated that his son was Bastard due to the fact that he was Half Macedonian and that his niece’s heir would be the true successor of the throne.  Alexander fled with his mother to Dodona where his uncle Alexander I of Epirus reigned before leaving her there and then staying as a guest at Illyria for a while before returning to his father.

His father was Assassinated by the Captain of his Body Guards, Pausanias in 336 BC at the wedding of his sister Cleopatra. Because of this Alexander inherited the powerful kingdom of Macedon at the age of twenty. Once he became king, Alexander immediately set out to deal with the corruption within his homeland. (The corruption was several different corrupt nobles, princes from other cities and his own half brother Attalus – who was going to defect to Athens)

Once word got out about his father’s death, most of the cities in Greece under his family’s control such as Thebes, Thessaly and the Thracian Tribes rebelled against Alexander. Alexander responded to this revolution by ignoring the advice by his council to use diplomacy and began building up an cavalry of 3,000 men and rode south to Thessaly. Just before arriving at their destination, Alexander discovered that the Thessalian Army was camping between Mount Olympus and Ossa at the pass to prevent Alexander’s forces from reaching their city. Alexander order his men to ride over Mount Ossa and then attack the Thessalian Army from behind, the attack was that successful that they surrendered to Alexander’s forces immediately.

In the Spring of 335 BC, after been made the new leader of Amphictyonic and meeting Diogenes the Cynic and Alexander’s journey to Asia. Alexander wanted to keep his country safe during his travels so he muted several revolts that occurred within or near to his Kingdom, most involved the Thebans and Athenians.

In 334 BC Alexander with 48,100 soldiers, 6,100 cavalry and of fleet of 120 ships containing at least 38,000 crew members consisting of members from across the Macedon Empire, crossed the Hellespont (Also known as the Dardanelles – A water narrow and straight waterway that is completely natural and located in the Northwest of Turkey.) Once Alexander arrived in Asia with his forces he embed his spear in the earth and proclaimed that Asia was a gift from the gods. Alexander  immediately started to fight against the local Persian forces and eventually captured the Persian Capital of Sardis and then was gifted the Treasury, later returned to loot it.

Map of Alexander’s Movements in Asia, Image provided by Wikipedia

Afterwards Alexander started to make his way across the Lonian Coast conquering the cities along it but offering them autonomy and Democracy to them. Further south Alexander had his very first successful large scale siege in Caria which forced his opponents out to sea in order to retreat. During the end of his campaign in Minor Asia Alexander apparently encountered and solved the Gordian Knot in Gordium although how he did it is argued by many scholars and it is said the one who solved this knot was the king of Asia.

After his success in Minor Asia, Alexander crossed Taurus into Cillia in 333 BC but his progress was halted when he fell ill. After recovering Alexander’s forces marched onto Syria only to be outmaneuvered by Darius III of Persia, forcing Alexander to back track through Cilicia, where he defeated Darius. Darius then fled leaving behind his family and troops at the mercy of Alexander. Darius later tried to make peace with Alexander and pay his families ransom with some high demands but Alexander refused claiming he was the King of Asia now. Alexander now free of Darius for the time continued to claim Syria and the coast of Levant, by 332 BC Alexander attacked Tyre and sold the women and children he captured into slavery.

The Battle of Issuss, Image provided by

After the Destruction of Tyre many of the routes to Egypt became opened to Alexander and the first city that he arrived at was Jerusalem. Here he encountered the book of Daniel, which foretold the arrival of a mighty Greek King who would conquer the Persian empire. Alexander left Jerusalem unharmed and traveled to Egypt. When his army passed through Gaza, his forces encountered heavy resistance which Alexander tried to suppress, and after three attempts he successfully dealt with the resistance at the cost of a serious shoulder wound. Once Alexander arrived in Egypt he was welcomed with open arms and was announced the son of the deity Amun (Eventually he was called the son of Zeus-Ammon).

In 331 BC Alexander left Egypt and encounter Darius yet again near Iraq (Mesopotamia at the time) leading to the Battle of Gaugamela and the fleeing of Darius once more, this time to Ecbatana only for Alexander to loose him near Arbela. Later Alexander took Babylon as a prize for this victory. He knew it would be harder from now on so he divided his forces, he sent one half to Persepolis via the Persian Royal Road, while the second half he led personally via the Persian Gates, only to encounter the Persian Army. He then move on to stay in the Persian City of Persepolis for five months, which led to a drunken incident that burnt the city to the ground which apparently Alexander regretted years later.

Persian Gates provided by

Alexander managed to eventually locate Darius both at Media and Parthia, only for Bessus, Darius’s Bactrian Satrap and Kinsman to take him hostage. Once Alexander found out he approached the captured king and his former friend, only for the former King to be killed under Bessus’s orders, who then declared himself Artaxerxes V, Darius’s successor and then fled to Central Asia to rage a Guerrilla war against Alexander. Darius during his last breath declared Alexander his true successor, leading to Alexander declaring Bessus an usurper which led on a long campaign through Asia for Bessus. This led to the founding of many cities (Named Alexander).

In 329 BC Bessus was betrayed by Spitamenes to Ptolemy, one of Alexander’s closest friends, ending the chase before Alexander had to deal with both the Jaxartes and Spitamenes. Eventually Alexander went on to India, which was one of his very last Campaigns before returning to Babylon.

Alexander died at the age of 32 in June 323 BC in the Palace of Nebuchadnezzar II in Babylon, the way he died is heavily debated. One account claims that he caught a fever fourteen days before his death, after dining with Admiral Nearchus and then drinking with Medius of Larissa the next day. The fever got worse until he couldn’t speak and then often complained about pains in his chest and stomach that finally killed him. The final account states that Alexander was poisoned (after drinking a large bowl of unmixed wine with Medius).

Alexander the Great’s story is perfect for this animated project. While there is a lot of information on him, this makes it a lot harder for me to create this from what I have read up on him. I am personally thinking of including the legend of his birth from the beginning, maybe showing his mother lying asleep and then getting struck by lighting to show how her version of his conception was. This might be a good way to start for the animation because while not completely factual it is still part of Alexander the Greats history, since it surrounds his life story. This might be an interesting way for me to show the narrative structure of the fictional animation due to the unique way it might be shown. In doing so it may also draw in the target audience. (Which are history students). Another idea I might consider for this scene, is instead of his mother been stuck by lightning, I have a lightning bolt occasionally flashing and the imaging of a baby dropping from the heavens in front of the bolt. This one may not work as well because it may give the wrong idea about the beginnings of Alexander, but on the other hand it may work because it does say he was conceived by a lighting bolt of Zeus/Jupiter.

I was also thinking another good moment might be the actual taming of his horse and his father telling him he is meant to do great things. I think this is an excellent point to show within Alexander’s history because in a sense you could blame Philip for encouraging Alexander for his need to constantly conquer and then build or rename cities in his name. Because of these factors it might be interesting to use this scene because it literally is the starting point of his campaign and if done correctly it could make the factual animation a lot more enjoyable to the target audience. I might have to add some comedy to this part (Although I may need to be careful because it may not be considered factual if I did chose to add humor), to make this scene seem much more important and funny at the same time to lighten the mood.


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