ALEXANDER'S EARLY CONQUESTS (Illustration) Visual Arts Archeological Wonders Biographies Famous People Film Philosophy World History Geography History Social Studies Ancient Places and/or Civilizations

As the story goes, Alexander the Great found a unique way to undo the Gordian Knot.  He used his sword to cut it.  This image depicts an artist’s conception of how that legendary event may have occurred.  The painting is by Jean-Simon Berthélemy (1743-1811) and is currently maintained at École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (in Paris).


It is often said that Alexander's army made him great, but his murdered father (Philip of Macedon) made the army great.

Using professional soldiers, not a citizen-based militia, Philip created different types of military units which gave him diversified strength. Infantry, cavalry, foot soldiers who employed extra-long spears (called a sarissa) and elite foot guardsmen (called hypaspists) all made the Macedonian army a formidable fighting machine.

Alexander, who had fought with his father against Athens in the Battle of Chaeronea, thus inherited a standing army which employed unusual instruments of war and unique battle formations.

  • Typical "hammer and anvil" tactics of the Macedonian army under Philip and Alexander.
  • The sarissa was a Macedonian weapon which was often fifteen-feet long.
  • Macedonians were known as great horsemen and Macedonian Companions rode with the King.
  • Bronze helmets, typical of the time, were not unique to the Macedonian army.

Solidifying his position soon after taking power, Alexander marched south into Greece and freed Greek cities from Persian rule. Heading north to Gordium (the capital of ancient Phrygia), he made relatively short work of a famous legend.

Whoever untied the Gordian Knot, it was said, would rule the world. Alexander approached the problem in a different way. He undid the knot by simply slashing it with his sword, then unraveling it.

His conquests were just beginning.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5183stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 01, 2004

Updated Last Revision: Jan 23, 2017

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"ALEXANDER'S EARLY CONQUESTS" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 01, 2004. Nov 20, 2019.
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