Episode 4: Alexander the Great: Son of Zeus

Alexander III of Macedon posed as the ‘Son of Zeus’, but followed the advice of his biological father, King Philip II, to get out of Macedon and “seek a kingdom equal to yourself”. Between 336 and 323 BC, Alexander the Great created the largest empire the Middle East had known.

Macedonian expansionism had begun under Philip II, with his son Alexander II picking up and honing the armed forces created by his father. But where Philip’s strategic aims were to dominate all of Greece and Western Asia Minor, Alexander’s sight was set on bringing the Persian Empire to heel. And as he moved from sieges and massacres to battle after victorious battle, his ambitions grew further – the conquest of Afghanistan and India. How did he keep his Macedonian and Greek companions motivated? Without him to lead, they did not know how to get back?

Dr Andrew Fear, Lecturer in Ancient History at the University of Manchester, joins Paul and Beatrice to tell us about the strategies of Alexander. An Oxonian, he has a spate of publications on Alexander and on warfare in Antiquity, with contributions to the Cambridge History of Greek and Roman Warfare (CUP 2007) and to the forthcoming Cambridge History of Strategy (2024). He is co-editor with Dr Jamie Wood of A Companion to Isidore of Seville (Brill, 2015).

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Beatrice Heuser

Senior Associate Fellow

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Paul O’Neill

Senior Research Fellow

Military Sciences

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