Boston Marathon Bombing

boston bombing

What could possibly happen after a 26 mile marathon? Cheering? Celebrating? No, bombing.

Two bombs struck near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, turning a celebration into a bloody scene of destruction. What should have been triumphant cheers of satisfaction was instantaneously transformed into blood curdling screams of pain.

Imagine yourself, exhausted and drained after an exhausting 26 mile marathon, about to cross the finish line when a thundering roar explodes across the area. Before you know it, widespread screaming and chaos, shattered windows and barricades and smoke is sent billowing into the air. That’s exactly what happened.

Bill Iffrig, 78 and a veteran marathoner, was nearing the finish when “the shock waves just hit my whole body and my legs just started jittering around.” Iffrig, who can be seen in video of the explosion wearing an orange tank top, was helped to his feet by an event volunteer and had just a scratch from his fall, he told CNN.

“It felt like a huge cannon,” a witness told CNN about one of the blasts.

3 people have been found dead and approximately 144 people have been reported injured by the impact of the bomb with at least 17 of them in critical condition and 25 in serious condition. At least eight of the patients are children.

At least 10 people injured had limbs amputated, many of which had both their legs blown off by the powerful impact, turning the place into a bloody war scene.

Many lost their loved ones that day, while some do not even have the faintest idea where their loved ones are currently. It was a state of confusion and panic, taking lives and injuring people. One day your brother might be at home watching TV and the next day, he could be gone, just like that.

This bombing episode is not a mere terrorist attack but also a harsh, and painful reminder to everyone out there. We never know how much time we have remaining with our family, we never know what God has in store for us. Just like that, loved ones were lost in an unexpected occurrence. Nobody would ever have expected something like that to happen. Therefore it is crucial to treasure every moment with our dear ones, and never take them for granted.

– Vanessa Loh (2C)

Reverse Extinction

An ethical issue defying the laws of Mother Nature

1st of May 2013 marks the 60th year since biologists Francis Crick and James Watson published their paper on the structure of DNA, the double-helix genetic code of life. One of the most ground-breaking discoveries in the field of bio-engineering, it has offered hope and a possibility for the seemingly impossible feat of resurrecting an extinct species, cloning.

The species is cloned from genetic material teased from preserved tissues, and the reprogrammed egg is implanted in a cousin species. And indeed, this amazing discovery has led to the resurrection of some species in the recent years of study.

For example, in 2009, researchers had triumphantly announced that they had cloned a Pyrenean Ibex using genetic material from the last member of the family before she died in 2000. Though not as epic an achievement as bringing a carnivorous, menacing dinosaur to life, it is irrefutable proof that genetic cloning is a possible feat.

Besides that, scientists from all around the world are also working on reviving other animals like the Tasmanian tiger or the woolly mammoth with genetic data from carefully-preserved remains. However, such experiments still run a high risk of deformity, miscarriage or premature death, undesirable results that are also characteristics of animal cloning today.

“The way it is going now, I can see why people would imagine it (de-extinction) is possible,” said evolutionary geneticist Hendrik Poinar of Canada’s McMaster University.

“I could envision that if there were no laws preventing it and the ethics had been worked out, swathes of land in Siberia repopulated with mammoths and cave lions.”

The main question is, “Is it ethical?”

In my opinion, genetic cloning isn’t an evil that completely kills the meaning of ‘life’s true value’, or something that is utterly defiant of Mother Nature. This practice could, on the other hand, provide genetically identical cells for regenerative medicine, and tissues and organs for transplantation. Organ recipients with their lives on the line may no longer have to fret about the scarcity of organ donors, and treatment for a variety of diseases will be made possible. Then again, is it fair for the human being or animal, to be deprived of their freedom from the first moment of contact with this world, and live out their lives as test subjects, supplier of organs for the lives of others? Is it humane for these people to achieve their main purpose of living, and die for another?

Religious or not, these views cannot be ignored. It concerns potentially the lives of innocent, genetically-manufactured children, who know not a fact of their existence, yet are from a tender age subjected to the selfish greed and desires of others in the bold quest for immortality. It is simply inhumane, and cruel. We cannot ignore this fact even with the possibility of higher chances of successful organ transplants. Animals, genetically manufactured, are also doomed to a life as museum exhibits or test subjects. They have no biological companion, no parents to teach them the basic practices of survival, and they like the previous example, cannot live out freedom beyond the cold steel bars of their cages. Also, we humans no longer feel the need of conserving nature, under the pretext of simply just manufacturing more animals when they die out. Die, revive, die, revive- it is a vicious, continuous cycle that fuels Man’s voracious appetite.

In conclusion, I strongly feel that the ethical and moral issues that revolve around the subject of genetic engineering outweigh the benefits of it. We lose the need to cherish life, and we become greedier. While I myself cannot stop the process of cloning, I believe that scientists should take these matters into consideration as they continue in their future research.

– Calista Io, 1U

Latest music trends! Super Junior M

 

Super Junior M, otherwise known as SJM, has just launched their new album, Break Down, not long ago! It is their first release, in nearly two years, since the release of Perfection in 2011.

The album tracks are: “Go”, “It’s You”, “Stand Up”, “Goodbye my love”, “A-Oh”, “Distant Embrace”, and “Tunnel”.

All the songs in the album are worth listening to. Their voices are angelic, although 6 of the members are Korean, they have a flair for Chinese. You would think they are all Chinese, but when you see their faces, you will realise they are actually Korean. The other two members, Zhoumi and Henry, are Taiwanese and they act in Chinese dramas too.

The Korean members are: Kyuhyun, Sungmin, Donghae, Siwon, Eunhyuk and Ryeowook. They are from Super Junior, a K-POP group under SM Entertainment, consisting of 13 bubbly members. Their latest album is “Sexy, Free and Single”. With these busy members who have to cope with both the Chinese group and Korean group, they are still happy to do so. Donghae and Siwon have also participated in Taiwanese dramas and are doing well.

Personally, I feel that Break Down is yet another attractive song and album that makes E.L.Fs (fans of Super Junior), scream with excitement. Both Super Junior and Super Junior M are popular worldwide, plus their songs have been spreading as quick as lightning! Their members can sing and dance well and are talented, how can you not fall in love with them?

Here’s a picture of them!

Super Junior M

All the eight members have put in a lot of hard work in making the new album successful, so do shower them with your support!

            -Chevonne Law(1H)

Cuban Missile Crisis: Replay?

cuban missile crisis

In the midst of the Chinese New Year celebrations, reports of a third nuclear test conducted by North Korea were shot around the Internet. Indeed, North Korea has conducted its third and largest underground nuclear test on 12 February.

Approximately an hour before noon, Singapore time, an earthquake in the northeast region of North Korea was detected by its neighbouring countries and the United States. Speculations state that it might have been a nuclear test, given that the earthquake was detected just north of the previous nuclear sites, where North Korea had conducted tests in 2006 and 2009. It was later confirmed by officials in North Korea that these speculations were right.

Despite warnings from the United Nations to halt all atomic weapon developments, North Korea continued such development and according to the authorities in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, scientists have managed to set off a miniaturised nuclear device with a greater explosion force compared to its predecessors. The implications suggest the North Korea could possibly have the required technology to launch a nuclear attack on the United States, should they develop a missile capable of crossing the distance in between.

This nuclear test has caused the tension between North Korea and its surrounding countries, as well as the U.S, to skyrocket.

In response to this act of aggression, the United Nations have imposed even stricter sanctions on the already impoverished country, as reported by BBC News.

However, North Korea shows no signs of backing down. According to The New York Times, North Korea nullified the 1953 Korean War armistice on the eleventh of March, before cutting off the Red Cross hotline between the North and the South.

Many have compared this incident to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, when nuclear missiles supplied by the Soviet Union were spotted on the island on Cuba, just south of North America. This nuclear threat greatly alarmed the United States. After a tense discussion that lasted 13 days, the leaders of Soviet Union and America reached an agreement and the missiles were dismantled and shipped back to the Soviet Union, thus concluding the crisis. To some, the nuclear threat posed by North Korea resemble the threat posed by Cuba during the crisis.

Recently, the U.S army has sent two bomber planes capable of carrying nuclear weapons over Pyongyang. In retaliation, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un placed their missile units on standby for immediate actions, targeting the U.S, South Korea as well as the U.S military bases in Guam and Hawaii, according to their state news. Soon after, on the 27th of March, North Korea cut off the remaining hotline, a military hotline, with South Korea.

On the 30th of March, North Korea declared that they have entered a state of war with South Korea.

The question is, are we going to witness a nuclear war, a third World War? Or is North Korea simply posing out a hoax due to an internal power struggle?

– Guo Zi Yi (3U)

Deep Breaths

The minute I return, I march to the windows without sparing anything else in the room a glance. I draw apart the curtains, turn the stubborn latch and take a deep breath. The air smells of wet grass and fumes, but it feels so much better now that the house is ventilated. I drop my bag on the couch and peel off my socks and turn to where she lies on the sofa giggling, her legs propped up on the armrest in a drunken haze. I make sure she catches my gaze before speaking.

‘Why didn’t you open the windows? What if Ann couldn’t breathe?’ My eyes unconsciously flit towards the empty wheelchair sitting in the corner of the room and my heart nearly skips a beat. ‘Where is she? Where have you taken her?’

She props herself up on her elbows slowly, glaring at me.

‘That’s none of your business, is it?’ she hisses. ‘I can take my daughter wherever I want.’

My heart’s beating wildly in my chest now and I try to summon up more courage to fight back, but my voice comes out shaky, wobbly. ‘She’s my sister too. Where’ve you taken her, Mum? You’ve got to bring her back, Mum, please!’ My mind’s running wild now, imagining the worst. I think of her face, smiling, laughing, singing… and then she’s crying, tears streaming down her face, her arms flailing as I watch a man in a blue shirt try to force something down her throat. No.

‘She isn’t possibly…with Tony…right?’ I whisper. Mum scrunches up her nose, her pupils dilated. ‘Tony? …Who’s…ah…that guy? Well, here’s a piece of news for you.’ She snorts, and spreads out her arms in exaggeration, ‘He’s gone! They’ve all gone! Like your father, like that kid I dated in high school…Gone! Disappeared!’ And then she throws her head back and laughs hysterically. Dad didn’t leave you, I want to say, He never would have left you. You left him. And now he’s really gone and I’ll never see him again.

After sometime, when her laughter subsides, she says almost quietly, ‘She’s asleep. In the bedroom.’ I don’t waste another second and bolt for the door, turning the knob as silently as I can. My eyes take a while to adjust to the darkness.

She wasn’t lying, I exhale, realizing I’ve been holding in my breath. My sister is lying on the mattress, her breaths short and quick, chest rising and falling. She murmurs something and then her eyelids flutter open and fall closed again. I sit by her feet and wrap my arms around my legs.

‘Are you cold?’

‘Mm…’

I grab the blanket and pull it over her. She sighs, and then settles back into sleep. I make for the windows again, pushing them open and allowing a piece of the outside to rush in and fill the tiny, damp room. I inhale deeply, falling down onto the mattress besides Ann. The smell of wet grass mixed with smoke again. It’s not too pleasant, but somehow it puts me at peace. I blink hard, but eventually give in to the exhaustion. The darkness swallows me, and this time do I truly forget my worries. This is the only time am I truly ever in peace.

night-window

– Hannah Chua (2D)

Alexander the Great

Alexander of Macedon.

Alexander the great

 “There is nothing impossible to him who will try.”

(20/21 July 356 – 10/11 June 323 BC)

Alexander of Macedon, Son of Philip II of Macedon and Olympias of Epirus, King of Macedonia, Pharaoh of Egypt,Proclaimed Son of Zeus, King Of Persia,and Hegemon, was a great king and the most successful military commander during his time. His empire, at its peak, stretched from Ionian Seas to the Great Himalayas and the Indus River. While many of the historical sources about Alexander are now lost to us, there are a few reputable sources from which much of his life can be gleaned. The Romance about the life of Alexander is great, and historians one and all alike, have poured themselves on texts to uncover his life and his successes. Many of his battle strategies are still taught in military academies around the world.

Birth and Youth

Alexander was born in 356 BC to Philip’s wife Olympias in Pella. Philip was campaigning in Potidaea, a city of the Chalcidic Peninsula, with the Macedonian Army. It is said that upon recieving the news, Philip is said to have begged fortune to do him some small disservice

to offset such an overwhelming favour. And so, the legend that would later become Alexander the great would begin.

Alexander was soon well accustomed to the intricacies of royal life. When Ambassadors arrived in the absence of his father, Philip, Alexander received them in his stead. He gained upon them greatly by his politeness and solid sense. He asked no childish or trifling questions, but inquired the distances of places, and the roads through the upper provinces of Asia. He further desired to be informed of the character of their king, in what manner he behaved to his enemies, and in what the strength and power of Persia consisted. The Ambassadors were struck with admiration, and looked upon the celebrated shrewdness of Philip as nothing in comparison of the lofty and enterprising genius of his son.

Bucephalus 

When Philonieus of Thessalian offered the horse named Busephalus in sale to Philip, at the price of thirteen talents the king, with the prince and many others went into the field to see some trial made of him. The horse appeared extremely vicious and unmanageable, and was so far from suffering himself to be mounted, that he would not bear to be spoken to, but turned fiercely upon all the grooms. Philip was  displeased at their bringing him so wild and ungovernable a horse, and bade them take him away. But Alexander, who had observed him well, said, “What a horse are they losing, for want of skill and spirit to manage him! ” Philip at first took no notice of this; but, upon the prince’s often repeating the same expression, and showing great uneasiness, he said, ” Young man, you find fault with your elders, as if

you knew more than they, or could manage the horse better.” “And I certainly could,” answered the prince. “If you should not be able to ride him, what forfeiture will you submit to for your rashness? ” “I will pay the price of the horse.”

Upon this all the company laughed, but the king and prince agreed as to the forfeiture, Alexander ran to the horse, and laying hold on the bridle, turned him to the sun; for he had observed, it seems, that the shadow which fell before the horse, and continually moved as he moved, greatly disturbed him. While his fierceness and fury lasted, he kept speaking to him softly and stroking him; after which he gently let fall his mantle, leaped lightly upon his back, and got his seat very safe. Then, without pulling the reins too hard, or using either whip or spur, he set him a-going. As soon as he perceived his uneasiness abated, and that he wanted only to run, he put him in a full gnllop, and pushed him on both with the voice and spur.

Philip and all his court were in great distress for him at first, and a profound silence took place. But when the prince had turned him and brought him straight back, they all received him with loud acclamations, except his father, who wept for joy, and, kissing him, said, “Seek another kingdom, my son, that may be worthy of thy abilities; for Macedonia is too small for thee.”

Education

Philip saw that Alexander’s education was a matter of too great importance to be trusted to the ordinary masters in music and the common circle of sciences. He therefore sent for Aristotle, the most celebrated and learned of all the philosophers, and gave him the charge of his son’s education, and provided the Temple of the Nymphs at Mieza as a classroom. In return for teaching Alexander, Philip agreed to rebuild Aristotle’s hometown of Stageira, which Philip had razed, and to repopulate it by buying and freeing the ex-citizens who were slaves, or pardoning those who were in exile.

Mieza was like a boarding school for Alexander and the children of Macedonian nobles, such as Ptolemy, Hephaistion, and Cassander. Many of these students would become his friends and future generals, and are often known as the ‘Companions’. Aristotle taught Alexander and his companions about medicine, philosophy, morals, religion, logic, and art. Under Aristotle’s tutelage, Alexander developed a passion for the works of Homer, and in particular the Iliad; Aristotle gave him an annotated copy, which Alexander later carried on his campaigns.

Regent of Macedonia

When Philip went upon his expedition against Byzantium, Alexander was only sixteen years of age, yet he was left regent of Macedonia and keeper of the seal. The Medari rebelling during his regency, he attacked and overthrew them, took their city, expelled the barbarians, planted there a colony of people collected from various parts, and gave it the name of Alexandropolis. He fought in the battle of Chseronea against the Greeks, and is said to have been the first man that broke the “sacred band ” of Thebans.

Upon Philip’s return, he dispatched Alexander with a small force to subdue revolts in southern Thrace. Campaigning against the Greek city of Perinthus, Alexander is reported to have saved his father’s life. Meanwhile, the city of Amphissa began to work lands that were sacred to Apollo near Delphi, a sacrilege that gave Philip the opportunity to further intervene in Greek affairs. Still occupied in Thrace, he ordered Alexander to muster an army for a campaign in Greece. Concerned that other Greek states might intervene, Alexander made it look as though he was preparing to attack Illyria instead. During this turmoil, the Illyrians invaded Macedonia, only to be repelled by Alexander.

As Philip marched south, his opponents blocked him near Chaeronea, Boeotia. During the ensuing Battle of Chaeronea, Philip commanded the right wing and Alexander the left, accompanied by a group of Philip’s trusted generals. According to the ancient sources, the two sides fought bitterly for some time. Philip deliberately commanded his troops to retreat, counting on the untested Athenian hoplites to follow, thus breaking their line. Alexander was the first to break the Theban lines, followed by Philip’s generals. Having damaged the enemy’s cohesion, Philip ordered his troops to press forward and quickly routed them. With the Athenians lost, the Thebans were surrounded. Left to fight alone, they were defeated.

Exile

Philip married Cleopatra Eurydice, the niece of his General Attalus. In a celebration after, Attalus is said to have prayed to the gods for a pure blooded Macedonian heir, at which Alexander exclaimed if he was a bastard son. Philip, drunk, and taking exception to his remark went to attack him with his sword, but tripped against the table and fell down. Upon which Alexander said, “See there,the man who makes preparations to pass out of Europe into Asia, overturned in passing from one seat to another”. After this incident, Alexander took his mother Olympias and fled to Epirus. He then further moved to Illriya. However, the Exile was short lived, since only after six months, Alexander returned to Macedon.

Assassination of Philip and Rise to the throne

 

In 336 B.C., Philip was assassinated by Pausinias of Orestis, at a wedding celebration between his daughter and the brother of Olympias, Alexander of Epirus. While Olympia desired an improvement of her standing in the court of Philip with this wedding, and Alexander sought a rise in his standing in Philip’s eyes, neither of that could be achieved. It is highly speculated that Philip had developed a fancy for Pausinias, who was a very handsome man, then later had him abused by one of his courtiers. When Pausinias came to Philip and emplored him to punish his abusers, Philip was indifferent, which led to his assassination. Pausinias attempted to flee, but was killed in the escape attempt.

With Philip dead, Alexander was proclaimed king of Macedonia. He took the title of Hegemon, from Philip. Upon his Ascension, he went about eliminating his rivals to the throne. He had his half-brothers killed, and his mother Olympias had Cleopatra Eurydice burnt alive, as well as her daughter killed. He would then unveil his plan to conquer and dominate Persia and Asia, and thus left the kingdom to Antipater of Macedon, one of his father’s most trusted Generals as Regent.

Visit to the Oracle of Delphi

 Alexander chose to consult the oracle about the event of the war, and for that purpose he went to Delphi. He happened to arrive there on one of the days called inauspicious, upon which the law permitted no man to put his question. At first he sent to the prophetess, to entreat her to do her office but finding she refused to comply, and alleged the law in her excuse, he went himself and drew her by force into the temple. Then, as if conquered by his violence, she said, “My son, thou art invincible.” Alexander hearing this, said, “He wanted no other answer, for he had the very oracle he desired.”

Historical battles

While Alexander fought many battles, it will take many more pages to Describe them all, and so two of his landmark battles will be covered here.  The Battle of Issus, in which Alexander led a heroic battle crossing the river Pinassus at the town of Issus. And next, the battle of Gaugamela, in which Alexander routed the forces of Darius III, killing at least a hundred thousand persian troops even while being  outnumbered.

 The battle of Issus

Fought in the town of Issus on the banks of the river Pinassus, the battle of Issus is the second greatest battle fought by Alexander on his path to the conquer Asia. It is considered a great battle by many historians, including Plutarch, who describe it in detail in their texts. The battle is fought against the forces of Darius III, and defeated him in this battle. It is here, that Alexander’s decided to subjugate Darius, and chased him vehemently through battles.

The battle of Issus was strategically important, for Darius had cut off the supply lines of Alexander from behind, occupying the town of Issus. This move would starve Alexander’s army, and they had to make a stand against Darius’s Army. This opportunity came at the banks of River Pinarus, either side of which the two armies assembled. Alexander had the advantage in terrain. In this, as in most battles Alexander fought, he had inferiour numbers. While the texts of Plutarch and Arrion put the numbers at 600,000, Modern historians believe that this number is highly exaggerated. Darius could have had no more than a 100,000 troops, while Alexander’s troops numbered at 40,000.

At the dawn, Alexander marched his army through the river and attacked the army of Darius. While Darius had companies of Greek mercenary Phalanx, the macedonian Phalanx was superior. Alexander had placed his Cavalry on the right flank, and was stationed with them, while Darius had assembled his most experienced Infantry and was directing the battle from there. Alexander cut through Darius’s Cavalry, and then proceeded to attack Darius himself, who then fled. But the Macedonian right flank was in trouble, and Alexander rode to rescue them with his cavalry. Seeing their king defeated, the mercenaries ran, and Alexander routed them, and the rest of the Persian Army dispersed, thus ending the Battle of Issus.

The Battle of Gaugamela

 Shortly before the Battle of Gaugamela, Darius offered Alexander a peace treaty, where he would cede half his empire to Alexander, and give one of his daughters to be married to him. However Alexander rejected the offer, and proceeded on to fight Darius at Gaugamela, defeating the Persian Empire for good. The battle would take place at the plains of Gaugamela, which Darius chose to deploy his regiment of chariots, the wheels of which were armed with big knives to cut through the Macedonian army. The rest of his army, was likewise outfitted with assortments specifically designed to fight against the celebrated Macedonian Phalanx.The disadvantage however, rested with the Persian Army as they were not as experienced as the Army of Alexander which was battle hardened in the campaigns of Egypt and other territories.

The initial dispositions of the forces were traditional, with the Persian Army assembling in two straight lines, with Darius standing in the center with his best infantry, and the chariots standing in the front. Alexander’s main Phalanx was in the center, while his cavalry and infantry was stationed at either side to protect their flanks. Alexander had a reserve cavalry behind the phalanx, which would be the centerpiece of his strategy.

As the battle commenced, Darius would direct his infantry and cavalry against both the left and right flanks of Alexander’s Army, while the scythed chariots would assualt the Macedonian Phalanx. The battle was fierce, with either side taking heavy losses. While the infantry battled the Persian troops in the center, Alexander began to ride all the way to the edge of the right flank, accompanied by his Companion Cavalry. His plan was to draw as much of the Persian cavalry as possible to the flanks. The purpose of this was to create a gap within the enemy line where a decisive blow could then be struck at Darius in the center. This required almost perfect timing and maneuvering, and Alexander himself to act first. Alexander would force Darius to attack (as they would soon move off the prepared ground) though Darius did not want to be the first to attack after seeing what happened at Issus against a similar formation. In the end Darius’ hand was forced, and he attacked.

While Alexander led his companion cavalry as a wedge against Darius’s main infantry, and defeated most of them, he came within fighting distance of Darius. Just as Alexander was beginning to take the fight to Darius himself, he recieved an urgent message from Parmenon, his general that his left flank had been in trouble. Alexander then left chasing Darius, and then proceeded to save his left flank, during which time Darius escaped for his life. Alexander claimed Darius’s Chariot, his bow, and other accessories.

The battle was won decisively, with Alexander’s Army killing at least a 100,000 of Darius’s troops. In the Aftermath of the battle, Alexander was given Darius’s tent, which was heavily adorned with expensive furniture, gold and silver. This was a victory that would engrave his name amongst the History’s great commanders.

The Indian campaign

After completely defeating Darius and taking over Persia, Alexander set his sights on the Indian subcontinent, and decided to fight there. He invited many of the satrapies in the region to submit to him, and while some did, King Porus did not. Alexander proceeded to fight against Porus who fielded War elephants against Alexander’s Cavalry, In the battle of Hydaspes in modern day Punjab. During this campaign, Alexander’s horse Bucephalus died, and Alexander buried him there and named a city Bucephala in his name. He was so impressed by Porus’s bravery that he made him an ally, and added to the territory he did not previously own.

Revolt and Return to Persia

East of the river Ganges, Alexander’s army, exhausted from years of campaign and faced with the prospect of facing enemies much more mightier than them, revolted against Alexander. His generals convinced him to return, and so he did, moving back towards the Indus and modern day Iran. Alexander then returned to Persia, and spent much of his remaining days there, adopting persian customs and held the title of Shah’n’Shah ( king of the kings ).

Death

In 323 B.C., Alexander died in the Palace of King Nebuchadnazzer II of Babylon. While the cause of his death has been debated widely, from Poisoning to Various diseases, Many historians believe he was asssassinated by his own generall and regent, Antipater. His body was enclosed in a Gold Sarcophagus, and filled with honey, and marked him undefeated in battle. It is said that before his death, he was asked the question who would inherit his kingdom, and He said ” to the strongest “.

Effect on the Macedonian Empire

Alexander sent back vast sums from his campaigns, leading the economy to flourish and further increased trade between east and the west.

However, his constant demands for troops for his campaign greatly weakened Macedon, which eventually led to its subjugation by Rome.

After his death, many of his successors fought over the legitimacy of an heir, and split the empire, which fell soon after. In the end, Alexander spread his empire too thin to remain cohesive enough after his death. During his reign, Macedonia was the largest empire in its time.

Alexander founded at least twenty cities bearing the name Alexandria, chief of which was Alexandria in Egypt, where he was crowned Pharaoh. Many greeks settled in these cities and they were the primary trade hubs within their respective regions. Alexandria of Egypt was especially popular, due to its central location in the region and harbour for trade.

There can be no doubt that Alexander was one of the most effective and celebrated commanders in the history of war. In his short life, he changed people and places as he went, conquered by both force and friendship and diplomacy, and set an example to the future generations. While he was not the best king, spending most of his rule in campaigns to conquer and expand his empire, he left forth a legacy which will forever give him his title, Alexander the Great.

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alexander the great 2

References:

  1. Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C. : A Historical Biography, Peter Green
  2. Alexander the Great , Plutarch
  3. Alexander the Great , Robin Lane Fox
  4. Alexander the Great , Jacob Abott

– Beatrice Techawatanasuk (4G)

Graceling – Kristin Cashore

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“Graceling, my debut novel, is the story of Katsa, who has been able to kill people with her bare hands since she was eight. Katsa lives in the seven kingdoms, where very occasionally, a person is born with an extreme skill called a Grace. Gracelings are feared and exploited in the seven kingdoms and none more so than Katsa, who’s expected to do the dirty work of torture and punishment for her uncle, King Randa. But then she meets a mysterious stranger named Po, who is also a Graced fighter and the first person ever to challenge her in a fight. The two form a bond, and each discovers truths they never imagined about themselves, each other, and a terrible danger that is spreading slowly through the seven kingdoms.”

—taken from the blog of Kristin Cashore (http://www.kristincashore.blogspot.com)

Published October 1st 2008 by Harcourt, 471 pages

Set in a captivating world, Graceling is an action-packed fantasy novel that is sure to get you hooked from the first page. The plot revolves around finding out why Prince Tealiff, who is a Lienid and Po’s grandfather, was kidnapped and who kidnapped him. Later, the story becomes more intense when Katsa and Po discover that the king of Monsea, King Leck, might be harbouring a secret about his identity.

The characters of Graceling each have their unique traits and my favourite character would have to be Katsa. I enjoyed reading about Katsa’s growth as a person in that she learns to stand up against her uncle and fight for what she believes in. For instance, when a man refuses to give one of his daughters in marriage to a borderlord despite Randa’s request, Katsa goes against Randa’s orders and does not hurt him because she does not feel that the man should be punished.

As the story progresses and we meet new characters, we see Katsa grow into someone who is more than a ruthless brute. Not only does she act in the consideration of how her actions will impact her loved ones, Katsa also forms a sisterly attachment to Bitterblue, the princess of Monsea, whom she feels protective towards. In the journey that Katsa and Bitterblue make, Katsa often offers Bitterblue her food and even fashions a coat and boots for Bitterblue in the fear that Bitterblue will not be able to withstand the harsh winter conditions.

I particularly liked reading about Katsa’s character development in the sense that later on in the book, she learns not to see herself as a brutish thug. Initially, Katsa resents her Grace as it results in her slaving for Randa but eventually, Katsa comes to appreciate her Grace as it helps her and Bitterblue survive a perilous journey.

Overall, I think Graceling is a novel that is weaved together with beautiful words and an enthralling plot that would definitely be worth your time.

-Samantha Balraja (4G)