‘Before Alexander’ gives a brief history of the Achaemenid Persian Empire and the kingdom of Macedon before they came into conflict, to set the scene for Alexander the Great's era. The Achaemenid Empire was the creation of Cyrus the Great (c.559–530). To maintain hold over such a large and disparate empire required effective organization. Central to the Achaemenid system was the person of the king himself. The Persians established in power the family that would, 180 years on from that point, bring down their own empire. Alexander III (Alexander the Great) was the great-great-great grandson of Alexander I, the son of Amyntas, a Macedonian.