The Military Adventures of Alexander the Great: An Animated Documentary Shows How He Conquered Most of the Known World (336–323 BC)

To learn about his­to­ry is to learn about war, or so it can feel when you go far back enough in time. And in any era of antiq­ui­ty, few could have matched Alexan­der the Great’s mas­tery of that art. After becom­ing kind of the Mace­don in 336 BC, at the age of 20, he spent a decade con­quer­ing oth­er lands in order to build a vast empire stretch­ing from Greece to India. How he man­aged to pull it off is the sub­ject of the near­ly hour-long Epic His­to­ry TV video above, which traces Alexan­der’s life and reign over ever-vaster swathes of the then-known world.

Re-cre­at­ing all the bat­tles of Alexan­der’s con­quest with not just maps but 3D ani­ma­tion as well, the pro­duc­tion makes clear­ly leg­i­ble the kind of vio­lent con­flicts that, no doubt chaot­ic when expe­ri­enced on the bat­tle­field, can also be dif­fi­cult to fol­low in the pages of a text­book.

Its graph­ics and nar­ra­tion break down every­thing from how Alexan­der ini­tial­ly arranged his troops to how he respond­ed, blow by blow, to the moves of ene­my forces. All of it added up to a mil­i­tary strat­e­gy that kept Alexan­der unde­feat­ed in bat­tle despite often hav­ing been out­num­bered, and whose details are still stud­ied today.

By his mid-twen­ties, Alexan­der had con­quered the once-mighty Per­sian Empire. But with the ambi­tion befit­ting a vic­to­ri­ous young man — not to men­tion one who’d been tutored by Aris­to­tle him­self — he would set­tle for noth­ing less than rul­ing the world, or at least the world as a Greek in the fourth cen­tu­ry BC would have con­ceived of it, and he man­aged to get quite close to that goal before his death at the age of 32. That he was felled by an ill­ness rather than in war is one of his­to­ry’s great ironies, giv­en that he’d per­son­al­ly led his troops into all their bat­tles. As for the fact that we remem­ber Alexan­der’s name well over two mil­len­nia after his death, it’s safe to say that it would­n’t sur­prise him.

Relat­ed con­tent:

The His­to­ry of Ancient Greece in 18 Min­utes: A Brisk Primer Nar­rat­ed by Bri­an Cox

The Rise and Fall of the Great Library of Alexan­dria: An Ani­mat­ed Intro­duc­tion

The His­to­ry of the Byzan­tine Empire (or East Roman Empire): An Ani­mat­ed Time­line Cov­er­ing 1,100 Years of His­to­ry

How Ara­bic Trans­la­tors Helped Pre­serve Greek Phi­los­o­phy … and the Clas­si­cal Tra­di­tion

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War: An Ani­mat­ed Chap­ter-by-Chap­ter Break­down of the Ancient Chi­nese Trea­tise

Learn Ancient Greek in 64 Free Lessons: A Free Online Course from Bran­deis & Har­vard

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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