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Biographical Studies: Alexander the Great, Greece

Events that led up to the battle

The battle of the Granicus occurred in 334 BC. It was the foremost battle to occur at the River of Granicus. This was after the death of Philip II who died in 336 BC. Before his death, Philip had started a project against Persia as revenge for their invasion. He had built great armies which he used to pursue Greece (Anon 2). After his death, the invasion of Persia was on the increase and Philip’s project came to a standstill. Philip’s son, Alexander the Great, succeeded him at the age of 20. He began to rule in 336 BC. The barbarians and Greece rebelled against his rule. Although Alexander had been involved in many battles before, he was not experienced in ruling and the citizens wondered how he could subdue the rebels. He surprised all when he subdued his rivalry to the north and to the west within the first two years of his ruling.

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Alexander stood out in 334 BC and was ready to continue with his father’s project. He affirmed his intent of revenging for the incursion of Persia. War started at home between him and the Greek subjects who had been incited by his declaration. This declaration caught Darius III unaware. But he was a sly and devious leader and responded quickly by setting up war against Alexander. His intention was to annoy Alexander and thereafter rage war where he could use his personal forces. Unfortunately, he was not supported by the Asia Minor governors. They manically gathered in Zelea to talk about the ways they would employ in dealing with Alexander and his threat to them. Present in that meeting was the Greek mercenaries’ leader Rhodian Memnon who was serving in Persian. Rhodian proposed to the governors (satraps) to have the earth burned. He advised them to put their own land on fire so that Alexander could have much of the provisions that he needed. They were to burn the land going to the east until the point where they felt the Macedonians became weak. The governors did not agree to the plan because they were not ready to abandon their land. They proposed to remain on the land and defend it in the hope that they could force Alexander into defensive battle (Anon 3). They moved to the Granicus River on the eastern bank where they put up a very powerful position.

As they put up their position, they never thought that Alexander would move up quickly. By the time they realized it, the Macedonian army was almost done with crossing the Hellespont. By then Alexander was not present, he had preceded his army to the ruins of Troy. He believed he was the descendent of Achilles and had gone to sacrifice at Troy as a way of honoring the Greek conquerors. It was also a way of raising his morale. The latter returned to his army and noticed the great position that had been put up by the governors at the Granicus River. This could have been a major blow to the Macedonians was it not for Alexander’s quick actions. He sent his best troops towards the Persians and some of his scouts to spy on what was happening. The scouts found out that the governors were still matching from Zelea and only the cavalry and some of the infantry were there (Shogun 1). Some of Alexander’s commanders tried to advise him to wait but he could not heed the advice and decided to attack before the entire Persian force had arrived. They finished making their deployments and at around midday, the battle of the Granicus began after Alexander gave the progression signal.

The role of Alexander

After succeeding in his leadership at home, he went on a mission that his father had started in an effort to conquer the powerful Persian Empire. He was the one who gave the progression signal to the start of the Granicus battle. These were the most successful battles out of the four immense battles he had fought in his entire life. It was the battle that got him almost defeated and killed.

The Granicus battle was among the earliest battle in history which was led by the cavalry strength in coordination with the infantry support. Alexander opened the battle strategically with a maneuver attack. A unit of the companion Calvary was sent across the river where they encountered the Persian Calvary. Alexander’s Macedonian army was composed of 5,100 Calvary and 32,000 infantry. This was the greatest army he had ever had. He made a battle line that resembled the pioneering spirit of his father, Philip. He made 6 phalanxes each composed of 1,500 men and formed a command structure that was divided into two. One was on the left under his leadership and the other one to the right being headed by Parmenion (Shogun 2).

Alexander selected an army that was not only strong but of quality in comparison to the Persian force. The quick response of the Macedonians really shocked the Persian force because they never thought they could be that fast. They thought they would act sluggishly and therefore get the chance of subduing them. The Persians set up a command structure that was in a confused state with every governor commanding his own unit. More to that, the Persian force was not unified and the governors rarely agreed with each other (Shogun 2).

At first, it seemed as if the Persians could overcome the Macedonians. They tried to use force in hindering the Macedonians from getting to the other side of the river but all was in vain. Alexander’s approach was a feint one and was aimed at drawing away from the Persian group which was positioned at the center. He sent one of his groups to pursue the Persian from the far end. This brought some commotion and the Persians who were positioned at the center left to check what was happening. Alexander’s approach worked and he was able to attack from the center. It was then that Alexander’s Calvary army and the infantry fought forcibly with the Persian army.

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War emerged between Alexander’s army and the Persians which almost got Alexander killed. But fortunately, they (Alexander’s army) defeated them. This was during the governorship of Darius III that Alexander’s army conquered the Persian Empire. He himself managed to kill two of Darius’ relations where he almost lost his life. It was during this battle that Alexander the great showed his skillfulness in battle which later made him victorious.

Alexander’s victory was contributed to the fact that he was determined to win the battle. He never rushed into action but took calculated steps. He could stop at nothing other than victory and be determined to go to any odds to ensure that. He made sure that, he selected the best soldiers from the land of Macedonian whom he knew would never disappoint him. Were it not for him, the Macedonian would have been defeated. He was able to gather his men and give them orders without getting resistance. The fact that he organized his team into two parts played a great role in winning the battle. This was because orders were given easily and everyone obliged to them. On the other hand, the Persian’s fall was attributed to the fact that they had many unorganized troops with different leaders. It was not easy to mobilize them and this paved way for Macedonian’s victory. Alexander the great is a brave man and like his father, he could not stop until he got what he wanted. He was ready to fight even if it meant losing his own life (Shogun 1).


During the battle, many soldiers from both sides lost their lives. This was more so on the side of the Persian where all the leaders except Memnon were killed. The Macedonians lost 60 troops and 30 cavalrymen. Alexander gave an order for all the dead Macedonian men to be buried with their weapons and equipment that they had used during the battle. Their families were granted protection from local taxes under Alexander’s ruling. Alexander extended his sympathy by visiting the wounded and giving burial rights to the Greek mercenaries and Persian commanders.

The Persians were no longer able to resist the invasion of Alexander. As a matter of fact, after Alexander’s departure, the Persians were not able to defend themselves against the Macedonian progress. The Macedonians victory destroyed the plan of Darius III which was to strain Alexander. He had to form a new one. The new plan was presented by Memnon who after the battle came back with significant force. The purpose of the plan was to close the Macedonian sea supply line using the Persian naval bases. His plan did not succeed and Alexander conquered the naval bases.

Alexander treated all the citizens in an understanding way and anyone who infringed the laws was disciplined. He was respected in all cities and they submitted to him and were ready to follow his example. At the close of the first phase of Alexander’s invasion of the Persian Empire, Memnon died. Alexander’s victory at the Granicus battle brought about changes in his situation. The city of Sardis surrendered to him and all the other regions followed suit. They were moved by his policy of maintaining democratic systems in Asia Minor’s cities (Shogun 3).

Since the Granicus battle, the Macedonians have never been suppressed again by the Persian Empire. It formed the beginning of a new life. It was not easy to maintain this position and the Macedonians were involved in frequent wars with the Persians. Alexander the great had already vowed to himself that he would never rest until peace was restored. He never ceased to fight. It was at the age of 33 that he was killed while he was still fighting for the Macedonians. He died a brave man and left a legacy behind.


Anon. “Wars of Alexander the Great: Battle of the Granicus.” 2010 Weider History Group. 2010. Web.

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Shogun. “Battles: Battle of the Granicus.” CC-BY-SA, 2006. Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2022, January 17). Biographical Studies: Alexander the Great, Greece.

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"Biographical Studies: Alexander the Great, Greece." StudyCorgi, 17 Jan. 2022,

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StudyCorgi. "Biographical Studies: Alexander the Great, Greece." January 17, 2022.


StudyCorgi. 2022. "Biographical Studies: Alexander the Great, Greece." January 17, 2022.


StudyCorgi. (2022) 'Biographical Studies: Alexander the Great, Greece'. 17 January.

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