Erich Lessing

Spurring his beloved horse Bucephalus into the fray, Alexander the Great (far left) seeks out his Persian adversary Darius III (center, wearing a golden helmet) in this second-century B.C. mosaic from Pompeii’s House of the Faun. The mosaic depicts the Battle of Issus (333 B.C.) in northern Syria, where Alexander defeated the Persians. Darius managed to escape and two years later was again defeated by Alexander (whose idealized image is captured in the Roman marble bust in the next photo) at Gaugamela, in present-day Iraq.

Not content merely to rule the former Achaemenid Empire, Alexander proceeded east. His goal? Becoming the Lord of Asia and all the known world. At its height, Alexander’s empire stretched east to India, north to the Danube River and south to the upper Nile.