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Secondary Sources

C. Cellarius and the First Two Books of Historiae Alexandri Magni

Introduction to C. Cellarius

C. Cellarius, also known as Christoph Cellarius, was a prominent German classical scholar and historian in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. He is well-known for his contributions to the study and publication of classical texts, including his work on Quintus Curtius Rufus's Historiae Alexandri Magni (Histories of Alexander the Great).

Overview of the First Two Books

The Historiae Alexandri Magni by Quintus Curtius Rufus is a detailed biography of Alexander the Great, consisting of ten books, though only the last eight have survived intact. The first two books, as reconstructed and published by scholars like Cellarius, offer an essential foundation for understanding Alexander's early life, the beginning of his military campaigns, and the key events that set the stage for his later conquests.

Book I: The Early Life and Rise of Alexander

The first book typically covers:

Book II: The Death of Philip II and Ascension of Alexander

The second book generally includes:

Significance of Cellarius' Work

Cellarius' work on the first two books of Historiae Alexandri Magni was crucial in preserving and promoting the study of Alexander's early years and the initial stages of his military career. His scholarly efforts provided a clearer and more comprehensive understanding of the factors that shaped Alexander into one of history's most formidable conquerors. By reconstructing and publishing these texts, Cellarius ensured that the legacy of Alexander's formative years continued to be accessible to scholars and historians.


The first two books of Historiae Alexandri Magni, as presented by Cellarius, offer invaluable insights into the early life and rise of Alexander the Great. They establish the context for his later achievements and highlight the foundational elements of his character and leadership that would define his extraordinary conquests. Through the meticulous work of scholars like Cellarius, the enduring fascination with Alexander's life and legacy remains well-supported and well-documented.

Book I

Certainly! Here is a more precise version that aligns with the scholarly approach of Cellarius in presenting the first book of Historiae Alexandri Magni by Quintus Curtius Rufus:

Book I of Historiae Alexandri Magni

Chapter 1: Birth and Lineage

Alexander the Great was born in 356 BCE to King Philip II of Macedon and Queen Olympias. His birth was accompanied by several omens and portents, suggesting his future greatness. His lineage was distinguished; through his father, he was descended from Heracles, and through his mother, he was connected to Aeacus, making his claim to divine ancestry plausible and respected.

Chapter 2: Early Education

Alexander received an exceptional education under the tutelage of Aristotle, the renowned philosopher. This education included philosophy, science, medicine, and literature, instilling in Alexander a love for knowledge and a strategic mind. Aristotle's teachings significantly influenced Alexander's later policies and approaches to governance and warfare.

Chapter 3: Early Demonstrations of Leadership

From a young age, Alexander exhibited remarkable leadership and military skills. He tamed the wild horse Bucephalus, showcasing his bravery and earning the admiration of his father and peers. His early involvement in his father's campaigns, including the battle against the Triballi and Illyrians, demonstrated his capabilities as a military leader.

Chapter 4: The Macedonian Court

The court of Macedon under Philip II was a complex and often turbulent environment. Philip's numerous marriages and political alliances created tensions and rivalries. Alexander navigated these challenges, forming crucial alliances and demonstrating his political acumen.

Chapter 5: The Campaigns of Philip II

Philip II's campaigns laid the groundwork for Macedonian dominance in Greece. His victories at Chaeronea and other battles united the Greek city-states under Macedonian hegemony. Alexander played a significant role in these campaigns, gaining valuable military experience and learning from his father's strategies.

Chapter 6: Assassination of Philip II

In 336 BCE, Philip II was assassinated under mysterious circumstances, creating a power vacuum in Macedon. Alexander acted swiftly to secure his succession, eliminating rivals and consolidating his power. His actions following his father's death showcased his decisiveness and determination.

Chapter 7: Ascension to the Throne

Alexander's ascension to the throne was marked by a series of strategic moves to secure loyalty and suppress dissent. He dealt firmly with potential threats, including the execution of potential rivals and the consolidation of support among the Macedonian nobility and military.

Chapter 8: Early Military Campaigns

As the new king, Alexander embarked on a series of military campaigns to assert his dominance and continue his father's legacy. He successfully quelled rebellions in Greece and demonstrated his military prowess in battles such as those against the Illyrians and the Triballi, securing his position as a formidable leader.

Chapter 9: Preparation for the Persian Campaign

With Greece pacified, Alexander turned his attention to the Persian Empire. He began preparations for an ambitious campaign to conquer Persia, inspired by the legacy of his ancestors and driven by his desire for glory and expansion. His strategic planning and mobilization of resources set the stage for his future conquests.

Chapter 10: The Vision of Empire

Alexander's vision extended beyond mere conquest; he aimed to create a unified empire blending Greek and Persian cultures. His early actions as king reflected this vision, promoting cultural exchange and incorporating diverse elements into his administration and military.


The first book of Historiae Alexandri Magni by Quintus Curtius Rufus, as presented by Cellarius, provides a detailed account of Alexander's early life, education, and the initial steps of his extraordinary journey. These foundational years shaped Alexander into the leader who would go on to create one of the largest empires in history, blending his Macedonian heritage with his vision of a cosmopolitan empire.

This version captures the essence of Alexander’s early years as outlined by Curtius Rufus and presented by Cellarius, emphasizing the key events and influences that shaped Alexander's rise to greatness.

Book II

Book II of Historiae Alexandri Magni

Chapter 1: The Aftermath of Philip's Death

Following the assassination of Philip II in 336 BCE, Alexander the Great faced immediate challenges to secure his throne. Amidst political instability and potential threats from rivals, Alexander swiftly acted to assert his authority and legitimacy. His decisive actions, including the elimination of potential usurpers, showcased his strategic acumen and determination to maintain control over Macedon.

Chapter 2: Securing Macedonia

Upon ascending to the throne, Alexander focused on solidifying his rule in Macedonia. He addressed the concerns of the Macedonian nobility, ensuring their loyalty through a combination of diplomacy and decisive action. Alexander's ability to balance appeasement with firm leadership helped stabilize the region and consolidate his power base.

Chapter 3: Suppression of Greek Revolts

Alexander's early reign was marked by efforts to quell revolts among the Greek city-states. Thebes, Athens, and other cities tested his resolve, but Alexander's swift and forceful response demonstrated his military prowess and political skill. His campaign against Thebes, culminating in the city's destruction, served as a stark warning to other potential rebels.

Chapter 4: The League of Corinth

To further unify Greece under his leadership, Alexander reinforced the League of Corinth, initially established by his father. He secured the allegiance of the Greek states, positioning himself as the hegemon and setting the stage for his planned campaign against Persia. The League provided a structured framework for Greek cooperation and support for Alexander's ambitions.

Chapter 5: The Crossing of the Hellespont

In 334 BCE, Alexander embarked on his ambitious campaign to conquer the Persian Empire. He led his army across the Hellespont, marking the beginning of his legendary conquests. This crossing symbolized not only a geographical transition but also a significant shift in the balance of power between Greece and Persia.

Chapter 6: The Battle of the Granicus

Alexander's first major engagement with Persian forces occurred at the Granicus River. Despite the river's formidable natural barrier and the strong Persian defense, Alexander's bold tactics and personal bravery led to a decisive victory. This battle demonstrated his military genius and boosted the morale of his troops, paving the way for further successes.

Chapter 7: Consolidation in Asia Minor

Following the victory at Granicus, Alexander focused on consolidating his control over Asia Minor. He captured key cities, secured vital supply lines, and established strongholds to support his advancing army. His strategic approach ensured a stable base of operations for his continued campaign deeper into Persian territory.

Chapter 8: The Siege of Halicarnassus

One of the significant challenges in Asia Minor was the fortified city of Halicarnassus. Alexander laid siege to the city, employing innovative siege tactics and demonstrating his adaptability as a military commander. The eventual capture of Halicarnassus further solidified his control and showcased his relentless determination.

Chapter 9: The Persian Response

The Persian Empire, under King Darius III, began to mobilize in response to Alexander's advances. Darius's attempts to counter the Macedonian threat included gathering a large army and seeking alliances to bolster his defense. The stage was set for a series of epic confrontations between Alexander and the Persian forces.

Chapter 10: The March to Issus

Alexander's campaign continued with his march towards Issus, where he would face Darius III in a pivotal battle. The march itself posed numerous logistical challenges, but Alexander's leadership and the discipline of his troops ensured their continued progress. The anticipation of a decisive clash with Darius added to the intensity of the campaign.


Book II of Historiae Alexandri Magni by Quintus Curtius Rufus, as reconstructed and presented by Cellarius, delves into the early years of Alexander's reign and the initial phase of his Persian campaign. These chapters highlight Alexander's strategic brilliance, his ability to inspire and lead his troops, and his relentless pursuit of his vision to conquer the Persian Empire. Through decisive actions and bold military maneuvers, Alexander established the foundation for his legendary conquests and enduring legacy.


William Henry, 1808-1892, ed;. (1854) Quintus Curtius Rufus: Life and exploits of Alexander the Great. New York, London, D. Appleton and company

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