Olympias: The Making of Alexander the Great


Meets once a week for 8 weeks
4 – 9 learners, ages 15-19




Philip II of Macedon and his son Alexander the Great are two of the most impressive figures in history. Few could contend with either man. One woman held her own against them both. Alexander’s mother Olympias.

The empire that Alexander inherited was the creation of his father. The army he led was forged by Philip. The material resources of the Macedonian throne were acquired by Philip. The system of alliances which turned the Balkans into a virtual annex of Macedon was Philip’s development, and the war against Persia was launched at the end of Philip’s reign. But it was not a given that Alexander would be the one to end up on the throne as Philip’s successor.

A strategic, passionate, ruthless, and determined Molossian princess went to epic lengths to ensure her son Alexander ended up on the throne. In doing so, she helped make him worthy of his title: Alexander the Great.

In this class, we’ll dive into the lives of Philip II, Alexander, and the woman who helped him achieve greatness. Get ready to enter Macedonia. We’ll face intrigue, snake worship, assassinations, and an epic battle for an empire that would put Game of Thrones to shame.

Polyhistoria classes emphasize critical thinking, analyzing, evaluating, and creating. We believe that students learn best by doing what scholars do.

(Read more about our approach to history.)

Our approach to academics helps learners view traditional disciplines in unconventional ways. With immersive classes that cross disciplines, learners stretch themselves both within and beyond conventional academic pathways, while small classes encourage close collaboration between learners and instructors. Polyhistoria is the only comprehensive online learning platform teaching in-depth, cutting-edge social science scholarship to teenagers.

(Read more about our teaching philosophy.)

Learning is not a spectator sport. Interaction and intellectual exchanges involving all students and the instructor enrich learning for all. Studying history involves an accumulation of knowledge about the past. But it also requires that we communicate that knowledge to others. You must be ready to share your views in class. A worthwhile course depends upon active participation by all students in class discussions.

The goal here is to advance an intelligent conversation from which we all learn. The most obvious way to do that is to say smart things and say them clearly. But that is not the only meaningful way to participate. Asking a question, connecting something already on the table to another thing, clarifying something that someone else has said, and offering evidence from the text under discussion are also all valuable. Bonus points are awarded for contributions that draw on what others have said. Other things to keep in mind: aim for clarity, keep in mind the value of an amicable classroom environment, and try not to monopolize the conversation.

This class is taught with cliffhanger storytelling techniques designed to develop critical thinking skills and initiate lots of learner interaction.

1) Students’ cameras and microphones must be turned on during the class.
2) This class requires the continuous use of logical thinking & hypothetical reasoning skills to critically and creatively analyze the topics covered in the class. These cognitive functions are generally not sufficiently developed until a student is 14+ years old. Students must have the ability to think critically and logically to analyze the topics covered in the class.

1 hour per week in class, and an estimated 0 – 1 hour per week outside of class.

Meets once a week for 8 weeks
4 – 9 learners, ages 15-19