(ALEXANDER the GREAT – continued)
Having defeated Darius III , Alexander considered himself as King of the Persians. He strengthened his army by bringing more Persians into his ranks, including Darius' brother as one of his companion soldiers. In the area of Bactria, Alexander founded more towns. He married a local chieftain's daughter, Roxana, apparently more for good relations with a local ruler than for love.
As king of the East he began borrowing from the pomp of the Persian throne, and those who came to see him had to prostrate themselves before him in recognition of his divinity. This was easily accepted by the Persians and other Easterners, but Alexander's Macedonian and Greek troops found it embarrassing and considered it a part of the slavishness and inferiority of Eastern people.
In 327, Alexander journeyed 400 miles from Bactria into the Indus valley, toward what he thought was the end of the world. There he sided with petty kingdoms that wanted him as an ally against their enemies. Alexander hoped to advance to the Ganges River and make it his eastern border, but after a march of 100 miles his troops refused to go farther east. With his Macedonian troops, Alexander was still a leader by persuasion, as were warrior kings traditionally. Unable to persuade them to continue, and seeing what he thought were unfavorable omens, he and his men, in September 325, began their return to Babylon. They arrived in the spring of 323, and Alexander planned to make Babylon the capital of his great empire.
Alexander hoped that commerce would help tie his empire together. He decided to exploit new commercial possibilities and to make Babylon the center of an enhanced world commerce. Already his warring had created a new demand for iron. His conquest of Persian treasury had put more money into circulation, and his conquests had broken down trade barriers. Already he had stimulated economic activity by building new ports and by founding new cities and seventy military colonies in the conquered territories. Alexander began planning for the building of docks along the Euphrates at Babylon and for the clearing and dredging of the Euphrates River to the Persian Gulf. He planned to colonize the eastern shore of the Persian Gulf. And he planned to have Arabia circumnavigated and explored.
Alexander was laying plans to extend his conquests to Sicily and Italy – to unite more of the world under his rule. But a fortuity intervened. Alexander became ill. As he lay dying he was asked who was to be his successor. In keeping with what Peter Green describes as Alexander's devotion to Homeric glory, "the strongest," he is reported to have said, words that according to Green may or may not be historical. note7
Alexander died on June 13, 323 BCE, at the age of thirty-two – possibly from malaria.
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