Alexander the Great 336 – 323 BC


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Alexander the Great was the first world conqueror and one of the most remarkable men in history, his armies capturing most the civilized world. He initiated Greek ideas, cutoms and laws to all countries under his rule. Alexander set out to conquer the world and, at the height of his power, his realm stretched from the Ionian Sea to Northern India. His plan was aimed at reorganizing the world government, making Asia and Europe one. He not only introduced a uniform currency system, but promoted trade and commerce.

Desiring to be supreme ruler, all provinces were required to worship him as a god. Alexander believed he was a direct descendant of Hercules. Before each battle and after each victory, ritual sacrifices were performed honoring both Hercules and Zeus and he selected their images to appear on these coins. The front carries a likeness of Hercules adorned with the head of the Thespian Lion, the killing of which was one of his great feats. His facial features were modeled after those of Alexander the Great himself. On the reverse, mighty Zeus rules from a throne. He holds a scepter in one hand while an eagle rests upon the other. The right field carries an inscription meaning (Money of) Alexander while the left field contains the marks or symbols of the mint's Magistrates. If Alexander's legs were crossed, it would indicate that the coin was struck posthumously (after the death of Alexander). If, on the other hand, his legs were placed together, it would indicate that the coin was struck during the lifetime of Alexander.

In 332 BC, the second Persian occupation of Egypt ended with the arrival of the armies of Alexander the Great. Born in Macedonia in 352 BC, Alexander had already conquered much of Western Asia and the Levant before his arrival in Egypt, which appears to have been closer to a triumphal procession than the invasion. It was in keeping with this sense of renewal that Alexander immediately made sacrifices to the gods at Memphis and visited Siwa Oasis in the Libyan Desert, where the oracle of Amun-RA officially recognized him as the god's son, thus apparently restoring the true pharaonic line. In a later attempt to bolster his claims to the royal succession, it was suggested, somewhat implausibly, in the Alexander romance, that he was not the son of Philip II of Macedonia but the result of a liaison between his mother Olympia and Nectanebo II (360-34 BC), the last native Egyptian pharaoh.

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