Before Alexander III (later called "The Great") was born in Pella, likely on or about July 20 in 356 B.C., the Persian Empire was the dominant power in that part of the world. Cyrus, who founded the empire, and his successors who followed, including Darius, were intent to keep their conquered lands and subjected people. (A century earlier, some of the Persian-controlled territory had been colonized by Greece.)
Philip II (Alexander's father) was also a man of military might and persuasive abilities. During his 23-year reign, he built a formidable army, subdued many Greek city-states, and established a Macedonian kingdom which provided protection for his people. Before his death, he considered invading Persia to further strengthen and solidify his country's position.
Wishing his son (then fourteen years old) to study with the best teachers available, Philip sought out Aristotle and invited him to educate Alexander. Scholars believe that Alexander's mother (who reportedly learned to read when she was middle-aged) also favored the selection of Plato's brightest pupil.
Aristotle was born in Stageira (located in the current Greek prefecture of Chalcidice [also called Halkidiki], Central Macedonia District, just north of the current village of Stagira). Not as famous then as he would become later, Aristotle had studied with Plato who had learned from Socrates.
After he arrived in Pella, Aristotle (throughout the ages regarded as one of the best thinkers who ever lived) set up his royal school at Mieza (modern-day Naoussa) where archeologists believe they have uncovered its remains. For the next six years, Greece's greatest mind likely taught Greece's greatest conqueror the following subjects:
- Greek; Hebrew; Babylonian; Latin
- The nature of the sea and the wind
- The course of the stars
- The life-span of the world
- The revolutions of the firmament
The great teacher also showed his royal student the meaning of justice and the skills of rhetoric. And he warned him against the wiles of "loose women." (See Alexander the Great, by Robin Lane Fox, page 53 of the 1986 Penguin paperback edition.)
What kind of student was Alexander? Did he have a favorite subject - or book? If so, what was it?