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Thread: Alexander the Great: The Man, the Life, the Legacy

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    Lord Rahl's Avatar Behold the Beard
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    I have read many books about Alexander the Great recently and have grown fond of him. It is split into several posts since it is so long! I wrote this essay for a class recently and I thought I'd share it with ya'll. Enjoy,

    Alexander the Great: The Man, the Life, the Legacy

    History is full of remarkable characters. Whether they were noble or unrepentant in their actions those were what made them immortal through our recorded history. One such character is Alexander the Great. Some have accused him as a drunken killer who wanted only to have the world under his rule. Others deem him as a kindhearted man who wanted to better the world by spreading the life of his people. The decision of what is in the right and what is feigning depends foremost on the reader and to what the author attempts to represent. There is much that has been studied and written about Alexander. Since the man made such a profound impact on his and later eras he was and is a very interesting man to discover. Whether some view him as the oppressor or the liberator means little when one first inquires. The curious must first study what happened and then determine why it did. Only then can someone assess the character of the subject. With Alexander the Great, there are three main topics that can be discussed in order for those interested in the man to get a general knowledge of Alexander. First, his leadership; he was an outstanding leader in his own right. His leadership skills on the battlefield and through politics were exceptional. For those reasons he was able to accomplish what he wished. One reason for Alexander’s various and numerous victories in the field was his supreme intelligence as a tactician. Some of the tactics he implemented have never before been achieved or even attempted. Thus was one of Alexander’s masteries. From the beginning of Alexander’s campaign he started to change the world. His legacy began as soon as his army crossed the Hellespont, bringing a whole new culture to share with the people he conquered. Alexander brought with him the Greek culture, art, and language and integrated it all into those liberated from their own rulers and ways, as Alexander believed. He also created foundation cities to improve security and infrastructure. His legacy still lives on because he stopped at nothing to achieve his goals for himself, his men, his culture, and the rest of the world.

    But why would someone inform themselves of this man? Why would someone delve so far into history? A person could ask some of our leaders of today such a question. Many of them are interested in history. It could be a result of their personal interest but it could also be of a different motive. As the saying goes, history often repeats itself. That is, in fact, quite thoroughly the truth, for Napoleon suffered an embarrassing defeat fighting during the winter in Russia, and during Operation Barbarossa the largest land invasion in history by Hitler’s armies lost their fight in the cold weather of Russia as well. All of the military blunders resulted at different times but if Hitler had informed himself of the follies of Napoleon during 1812 then he would have known what he would be subjecting his troops to during the Russian winter. Perhaps, if he had done so then World War II would have resulted differently. So why would someone want to read about Alexander the Great? There are numerous reasons why and I will name several. Alexander was one of the few men who deserved the title “the Great”. Most of his defeated were so astonished at his magnanimous treatment they became his most devoted followers. It is believed by many historians that Alexander’s ideas of culture and religion surpassed those of all commanders before him and perhaps even after. In our disturbing modern world full of idealism and religion being seen as out-of-date, those who immerse themselves into ancient history to learn of Alexander the Great will be most enlightened by gaining knowledge of a man who never lost a battle, who loved the Arts, who respected every form of religion, and who tried to bring, with all of his power, mankind together in brotherhood.

    Alexander the Great attracts many historians, writers, and those generally interested personally. With so many interested persons there are varying angles of the subject, as would be expected, since emotional reactions of one’s decisions and actions differs from person to person. History is often subject to what an individual decides what facts are important or relevant. This is often based upon the temperament of the individual. Since there are contradictory accounts of Alexander the Great, it is important to try and keep an unbiased mind. To gain the most advantageous knowledge of all history and of Alexander the Great specifically, it is imperative that those interested inform themselves of all accounts, biased for or against. If that is accomplished then it is very possible to come to the conclusion that there is no convincing evidence that Alexander, with extraordinary promise in his youth would deviate from his superb character, and become a tyrannical sot later in life. Such findings by some create inaccuracies and make their word untrustworthy. These degenerate attributes are inconsistent with the fact that when Alexander was both present and distant from his officers, he would always trust in their obedience. When Alexander was still a boy he studied under the legendary Aristotle. Under the philosopher’s guidance young Alexander learned to excel in life through intellect and character. If one achieved that goal of arête then he would be seen as a god among men. In this Alexander excelled. During his earlier years those around him, young and old, were astonished by his perseverance, his steadfast dedication to duty, his indifference to the pleasures of the body, his enduring want for knowledge, and the longing he had to unite the entire world. Because he achieved all of this and so altered the world that historians divided the civilization into its own epoch. In the words of Colonel Dodge,

    At the head of these Generals, and in a sense which no captain has ever since reached, stood Alexander, in every respect the leader of his army; its pattern, its hardest worked, most untiring, most energetic, bravest, most splendid member. What he did and the way he did it, roused the emulation of his lieutenants to an unexampled pitch. With Alexander it was never “GO!” but “COME!”…None could vie with him in courage, bodily strength, expert use of arms or endurance. And in every detail of the service, from hurling the Agrianian javelin to manoeuvering the phalanx, from the sarissa drill to the supreme command of the army, he stood without a peer. In his every word and deed he was easily master from qualities of body, mind, and heart.




    One of Alexander’s many superior attributes was his commanding leadership. His qualities as a commander were those to be upon the greatest in history. Even in his youth he showed promise to be a god among the men. One very interesting story of his leadership involves his horse, Bucephalus. The able and spirited horse was offered to Philip, Alexander’s father and also King of Macedon at the time, and Bucephalus was being tried by riders. Alexander was most likely under thirteen at the time and was growing tired and aggravated at the failed attempts at calming the horse to be ridden upon. The riders tried to break in the horse but the beast kicked and reared with such savage ability that they began to fear the animal. Philip was not pleased by his son’s criticisms but eventually yielded to them. Alexander found that the horse had its back to the sun and was shying to avoid the moving shadow. When Alexander approached the animal he turned Bucephalus’s head so the shadow fell behind. He caressed the horse, soothed it with words, and quickly mounted after throwing off his cloak. With astonishing swiftness Alexander mastered the horse. Bucephalus never let any other ride him and at one time the horse was stolen from Alexander during the Uxian campaign. Alexander issued a proclamation that if his favorite horse was not returned then the tribe would be slain. Immediately, Bucephalus was brought back.

    From the ages of antiquity and to the present, Alexander is described as a military genius. His accomplishments in the art of war were and still are astounding. Hannibal, Caesar, Frederick, and Napoleon studied his military methods thoroughly and all admitted that without the knowledge they gained from Alexander the Great they would have never been able to accomplish what they did. From one great leader, Napoleon, we hear, “Make offensive war like Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar … read and re-read the history of their campaigns. Model yourself on them … that is the only way to become a great captain.” Invariable were his countless successes, whether he fought against disciplined, highly trained troops or guerilla bands of wild hill tribes, on plains or on mountains, deserts, ravines, marshes or rivers, winter snow or burning sun; weather and darkness were not obstacles. Alexander never wasted time. He always arrived before his enemies expected. His men followed him for more than 21,000 miles because they believed he had their best interests in mind. They always counted on him to lead them to victory after victory and he never failed.

    There are many reasons that have been presented of how and why Alexander won every one of his battles. He would achieve his victories by first investigating the land where he wished to advance upon. In order to be sure of the safety of himself and his army he would often explore alone over dangerous terrain. In order for men to respect and follow to the ends of the earth one must risk himself. Before meeting his opponents in battle he would study their psychology, their weapons, and their methods of warfare. If any unexpected emergency erupted his intellect would deal with it immediately. With a mere glance of the battlefield and more specifically his enemy’s army Alexander could see the strong and weak points of his enemy and himself. With this knowledge gained he would use exploitation to its greatest effect. In every military situation he left nothing kept undone. He would defeat every enemy entirely, or as he saw it, and so when he traveled over thousands of miles he would find little resistance from his flank.

    Alexander the Great also had mastery of politics. It is difficult to retain an empire, especially one as far reaching as Alexander’s, if one only conquers his enemies militarily. Without the support of the leaders and the peoples of the lands keeping an empire intact is impossible. He never felt as a conqueror but rather a liberator of all man. He did not want to simply defeat his enemies militarily. Gaining victories over armies was only the first step. Alexander respected every religion and every culture he became ruler of. Instead of simply killing his opposing leaders he would treat them as his friends and equals if they chose to be so. When King Darius of the Persian Empire was defeated by Alexander he soon learned that his wife, mother, and family had been taken prisoner. He was soon filled with anxiety for he believed their fate would be or was grim and cruel. In fact, quite the opposite was true. His beloved were living comfortably at the palace in Susa. In every way they were treated as royalty. Alexander’s generosity and respect for others was so far reaching that he gave the wife of Darius, who died in childbirth, a funeral befitting a queen. Alexander’s outstanding character never faltered there. King Darius exclaimed that if was indeed his destiny to lose his Kingdom of Persia that he would yield it to no other man except for Alexander the Great. For Alexander it was more than simply winning a battle, a war, or his massive military campaign. He wanted to win the people.


    Alexander the Great had numerous and outstanding military victories. To name every one of them would fill many volumes but there are three battles that he won that can be said to be his most decisive and of the greatest importance to his campaign. His first major victory came not too long after his crossing of the Hellespont. King Darius decided to make a stand at the Granicus River and in the plain beyond. In some parts of the river there was a chance to ford but in others the current was much too swift and deep. The banks were too steep for Alexander’s infantry and cavalry to scale safely and with the danger of enemy darts, arrows, and javelins, his odds of getting across the river untouched were next to none. Estimates say that the size of the Persian cavalry compared to Alexander and his Macedonians was about four times as large. Among the enemy cavalry were men from the mountainous areas of Iran, fierce warriors with more battle experience than many of the Macedonians had been alive. On his right Alexander placed his bowmen and Agrianians. Next to these were the Companions with Alexander leading; then the hypaspists and the more heavily-armed infantry, more commonly known as the phalanx; to his left were the Thessalian, Thracian, and Greek cavalry. The numbers of each army were relatively equal but with the Persians having a substantially larger contingent of cavalry, relative numbers meant little. As Alexander’s army neared the Granicus, he noticed a weakness in the Persian line. Darius had his Greek mercenaries on high ground behind his cavalry. Because of this Alexander’s crossing of the river would be much easier. If the strong fighting Greeks were placed at the opposite bank to Alexander his crossing would have been a bloody one. Alexander chose to attack immediately even when his good friend Parmenion argued against and the Macedonian army began to cross the river. Upon observing Alexander’s advance the Persians reinforced their lines along the banks but Alexander found the weakest point in his enemy’s line. With the sound of trumpets and a battle cry Alexander the Great advanced his army forward and across the river. The Persians were intent on Alexander and so reinforced wherever they saw him go. A contingent of Macedonian infantry and cavalry were sent in front and Alexander moved his horsemen upon their right. Soon, the struggle to get up the banks ensued; a shower of arrows and javelins met Alexander and his men while Persian riders fell over the banks trying to bring forward their defense. A bitter struggle raged and when Alexander noticed his infantry having worse difficulties he came to their aid. Slowly the phalanx gained the upper hand and shortly Alexander put himself in the thick of the battle. He splintered his lance twice and with his truncheon he killed many men. A son-in-law and a relative to the King Darius both fell under Alexander’s blows while he suffered an injury to his shoulder. Both sides fought bitterly but when the Persian center broke rout followed. Macedonian casualties were about 150 infantry and twenty-five Companions. The majority of casualties of the Persians were a result of the rout following the battle. 4,000 died and another 2,000 were taken prisoner. Not only did Persia lose many men but also several members of royalty. The victory immediately showed the Persians that the Macedonian army was a formidable foe and led to many cities in Asia Minor to be liberated.

    Marching East with 40,000 and some 8,000 cavalry, Alexander led his army deeper into the Persian Empire. An eclipse of the moon on the 20th of September was regarded as a favorable omen and that a victory would be achieved by the end of the month. Alexander wanted to cross the Tigris River but Darius had a massive army waited for him to make the mistake of attempting such. Alexander knew better and so he found his army a safe area to cross. The maneuvers that the opposing armies utilized during the Battle of Gaugamela in 331 B.C. are bewildering to follow but it would be foolish to dismiss important events which led to Alexander’s victory that changed the world for centuries after. It would be impossible to explain the entire battle in text so the diagrams provided will more than suffice. When Alexander was seven miles from his opponent he gave his men a four days’ rest. At that spot he left the baggage trains and hospitals and they began the march to the battlefield from September 29th to the 30th. The men marched with only the weapons they could carry. After the march which was longer than expected was finished Alexander looked upon the army of Darius III. The actual Persian numbers are hard to determine since there are many different sources. Some number the Persian army at over a million but more moderate, and most likely accurate, estimates gives 200,000 infantry, 45,000 cavalry, and 200 scythed chariots. The army is said to have many elephants which instill fear in horses. Since Alexander’s army was grossly outnumbered he decided to take extra precautions to help stem the obvious disadvantage. He called a council of war with his fellow generals. It was decided to inspect the battlefield for traps upon Alexander’s agreement with Parmenion and in the following he gave them a speech explaining that he needed perfect discipline during the whole day of battle in order for their success. Later Parmenion advised Alexander to make a surprise attack but Alexander explained that he would not “steal a victory”.

    Darius was at the center of his army surrounded by his kinsmen and other nobles. Various cultures of men reinforced this position. In front of Darius were 50 chariots and 15 elephants and further along the battle line were scythed chariots, their spikes and blades gleaming in the sun. To help stop the Macedonian phalanx mercenaries from Greece were positioned on each side of Darius. Behind him were numerous ethnicities of infantry and on each wing the front consisted of cavalry and were backed by infantry. For the Macedonians the Companions were on the right flank along with other squadrons of other generals who were joined next to them by both lightly and heavily armed phalanx. In front of Alexander were the Agrianians, archers and javelin men. In the center was the phalanx who was flanked on the left by the Thessalian cavalry. Further to the left was Parmenion. Both flanks were strongly reserved because Alexander’s army was severely outflanked. Everything depended upon the opening maneuvers and Alexander advanced his army forward silently while ordering battalions here and there to ensure security in his lines. The Persians made a counter-move in disorder and soon the Macedonian right was engaged. Darius feared that Alexander might travel further than the ground he had leveled for his deadly chariots so he ordered them forward. Unfortunately, Alexander’s army was ready for them. Arrows and javelins frightened and injured the horses and when they reached the Macedonian infantry the phalanx opened up their ranks. The chariots simply passed through the ranks while the horses and drivers were either injured or killed. Persian cavalry in the meantime tried to overlap the right wing of the Macedonians but the move was halted with fierce fighting.


    During the fierce fighting Alexander gave orders to ensure his army’s success and kept his Companion cavalry out of combat. This was not cowardice however, rather tactical delay. The time was not yet right for him to engage the famed cavalry upon the enemy. Engage too early and the result might not turn the tide of the battle. Engage too late and the tide might never be turned. When Alexander reached within bowshot of the enemy he sent his reserve horsemen to reinforce the right wing and when the Persians maneuvered to counter this left a hole in their left wing. The time had come for Alexander to make his move. He immediately led his cavalry straight into the exposed area of the Persian line. The first rank of Persians was crushed under the weight and violence of the charge and began to disperse. Soon other Macedonian generals aided the attack and surrounded King Darius. The Persian cavalry attempted to assist their king but they were being chased by the reserve cavalry of the Macedonians. The tide had turned. The left wing of the Persian army collapsed. King Darius, when suddenly seeing his charioteer impaled with a spear saved himself by fleeing the field. Other Persian generals, upon seeing their great king run for his life joined in the rout. Alexander began to pursue the mass of Persians running for their lives when he was told that Parmenion was in need of assistance. The left wing of the Macedonian line had been dealt a serious blow and because of a tactical error by the Persian cavalry they kept their ground. Alexander is said to have exclaimed that Parmenion had lost his head but complied with the call for help. The Companions attacked the rear of the Persian left and a desperate struggle resulted. The Persian commanders saw no use in being slaughtered and so made a skillful retreat, following their king. The pursuit of the army lasted for another thirty-five miles and even after midnight. Many thousands of Persians were slain. Estimates dwell at approximately 50,000 dead and perhaps 180,000 wounded and captured. Macedonian casualties could have been as low as 500.


    As with every campaign, they must end. With Alexander’s the end came at the Battle of the Hydaspes River. Alexander was no longer in Persia. In India his triumphs, curiosity, and drive to him. By this time his army was growing tired but Alexander wanted to keep going. Persians were not his enemies anymore. Now he was facing King Porus who ruled the Punjab territory. Alexander wanted to negotiate with the king but Porus told the young conqueror that he would only meet him in battle. Porus moved a moderately organized army on the south bank of the Hydaspes River which consisted of 20,000 infantry, 2,000 cavalry, 60 chariots, and 200 war elephants. The problem was for Alexander with his 28,000 men and 8,500 cavalry that to ford the deep and swift river while be engaged by the enemy’s force would have been a complete disaster so Alexander sent men further up the river to find a suitable crossing spot. Every night men traveled down the river and every night Porus shadowed the movements. Finally the Macedonians found a suitable crossing spot about seventeen miles upstream. Alexander’s wanted to divide his army up by having himself lead a larger portion of the army down to the crossing point while leaving one of his generals, Craterus, with the smaller portion to stay at the original camp. If Porus engaged Alexander with all of his troops Craterus was too cross the river and assist but would remain if Porus only used a part of his force to engage. Porus sent his son with chariots and cavalry to stop Alexander’s crossing but he had already moved his army across. A brief skirmish resulted and the enemy was routed with Porus’s son among the dead. Porus moved the bulk of his force to engage Alexander’s larger contingent and left a small force to delay Craterus’s crossing of the river. The massive and armed Indian elephants Porus possessed were a major obstacle for Alexander. He sent attacks on the left wing of the Indian army and tactfully destroyed the enemy’s cavalry without getting his own horses near the elephants. Without the Indian cavalry Porus could not flank the Macedonian phalanx. This, however, did not stop the elephants from charging the phalanx. The beasts were stopped but with heavy casualties. In the end the Macedonians surrounded the Indians who surrendered. Alexander lost 4,000 men and 280 horse. Porus lost 12,000 men, 400 horse, while 9,000 men and 80 elephants were captured. Although Alexander won yet another battle he won with a great loss of life. He was impressed with King Porus and so let the king rule his land but under Alexander’s name. At the end of the battle the army was tired of fighting continuously for eight years and finally Alexander’s campaign was ended.



    What do people remember of a person after they have passed? Only a person’s actions are left. In the end we will only remember what people did. Alexander left a lasting legacy that affects the world even today. His most supreme and lasting influence he brought to the world was the extension of Greek culture. When Alexander started his campaign it was actually more like a crusade. He wanted to avenge the Persian invasion of Greece and the destruction they caused. After this mindset had passed he wished to extend the Hellenistic culture throughout the world. When he conquered peoples he brought the life of the Greeks to them, including democratic liberty; the freedom to think and to speak, and the duty of an individual to take part in his government. Throughout Alexander’s empire he founded cities which were built at important junctions of roads which were suited to aid in economics and securing valleys. Every city was planned in a Greek pattern and when finished the young were trained in the militaristic and cultural aspects of the Greek way of life. Six of the certain sixteen remain today, most notably Alexandria, which stayed an economic and academic center for many years after Alexander’s empire divided and disappeared. With Greek culture spreading so did the art of the Hellenes. Even today one can see Greek influence in Indian art both ancient and modern. Even in areas such as Turkestan and China, where Alexander never set a foot upon, various Buddha statues can be seen with Hellenistic modifications. Greek as a universal language throughout Alexander’s empire had far reaching and long lasting results. With a standardized currency and language financial problems were more easily fixed and eradicated at the outset. The Greek language was educated to the young in the new empire which made ideals of the tribes and cultures more uniform. Traditions and customs became more of the same thought and mind. Alexander’s dream of bringing mankind into a brotherhood was achieved to varying degrees. Even after Alexander’s empire was long dead Greek was used as a common language. The Gospels were written in Greek so that a wider audience would understand. Astronomy advanced further when Greeks and Babylonians collaborated with mathematics, science, and astronomy. Throughout the empire Alexander’s example lived on because of his example.

    So who was Alexander the Great? Was he the drunken tyrant who used his power, intellect, and drive to take what he wanted only to show that he could? Perhaps he was the perfect man who had no faults and strove only to make the world into perfection. He was, as all men are, neither. Alexander the Great was Man as any one of us is. The better the man the better he must excel. It is by almost every action and thought that Alexander strived for excellence. In every man there are faults but if one excels beyond the sight of vices then only virtue is seen. As the gifted Professor Wright explains,

    In the history of our European civilization four names stand out from all other: Alexander, Julius Caesar, Charles the Great, Napoleon. All four were so superior to the ordinary level of human capacity that they can hardly be judged by common standards. … Alexander, both in his works and in his character, is entitled to the first place. … He was the fine flower of Greek civilization … the effects of his conquests in widening the horizon of men’s minds can only be compared with the discovery of America.

    From Colonel Dodge,

    Starting with a handful of men from Macedonia, in four years one grand achievement after another and without a failure, had placed at his feet the Empire of the Great King. Leaving home with an enormous debt, in fifty moons he had possessed himself of all the treasures of the earth. Thence … he completed the conquest of the known world, marching twenty-two thousand miles in his eleven years’ campaign. And all this before he was thirty-three. … No man ever was a great soldier without the most generous virtues of the soul and the most distinguished power of the intellect.

    Alexander the Great was a steadfast leader on the battlefield and on the marble floor. He defeated army after army without ever having his own number above 50,000. He was swift in his decisions and clever with his tactics. He defeated every enemy who stood in his way under every circumstance. He left a world completely changed and thus will his legacy remain, a great one.


    Works Cited,

    Savill, Agnes. Alexander the Great and his time. New York: Barnes & Noble, Inc., 1993.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaugamela

    _____________________

    Originally posted, http://www.generalscollective.com/hi...hp?topic=164.0
    Last edited by scottishranger; December 13, 2006 at 06:44 PM.

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    scottishranger's Avatar In Memory of Calvin
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    Default Re: Alexander the Great: The Man, the Life, the Legacy

    Vey nice Rahl, good read.

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    Default Re: Alexander the Great: The Man, the Life, the Legacy

    A response!

    Why thank you sir. I can't wait to get into some ancient history classes and be able to write a real essay.

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    Default Re: Alexander the Great: The Man, the Life, the Legacy

    "Rahly baby" you are going to write my papers next semester.

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    Default Re: Alexander the Great: The Man, the Life, the Legacy

    I aim to please.

    I'm a man that knows what other men want and you'll be first on my pleasuring list, Hicks.

    I plan to read up on Hannibal (I will soon be reading a 900 page book on him by Colonel Dodge) and write about him.

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    Default Re: Alexander the Great: The Man, the Life, the Legacy

    I Know this is Old But I just read it today and I have to Say that from another Alexander fan (Myself) This is beautiful and I agree 100% He truly deserves the epithet "the Great" and he is the person that Inspired me to be a History Teacher almost 2,500 years later. Alexander the Great truly belongs in the Hall's of Immortality beside many great people (Napoleon, Julius Caesar ect ect.)

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    Default Re: Alexander the Great: The Man, the Life, the Legacy

    A fine read my Lord!
    Do Have my humble rep!

    Even today one can see Greek influence in Indian art both ancient and modern. Even in areas such as Turkestan and China, where Alexander never set a foot upon, various Buddha statues can be seen with Hellenistic modifications. Greek as a universal language throughout Alexander’s empire had far reaching and long lasting results.
    It was a great experience to see Indo-Greek styled artifacts in London myself.Like this one:


    With a standardized currency and language financial problems were more easily fixed and eradicated at the outset. The Greek language was educated to the young in the new empire which made ideals of the tribes and cultures more uniform. Traditions and customs became more of the same thought and mind. Alexander’s dream of bringing mankind into a brotherhood was achieved to varying degrees. Even after Alexander’s empire was long dead Greek was used as a common language. The Gospels were written in Greek so that a wider audience would understand. Astronomy advanced further when Greeks and Babylonians collaborated with mathematics, science, and astronomy. Throughout the empire Alexander’s example lived on because of his example.
    These are very good points.For example Christianism itself has been theologically and philosophically shaped in an Greek influenced environment as a result of Alexander's conquests.

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    Default Re: Alexander the Great: The Man, the Life, the Legacy

    Best necro post this year...

    Anyway, Alexander probably would remain as the man who change human history through shortest time ever.
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    The only reason why Charlemagne came into this at all is because Hellheaven thought it'd be a fun way to troll some byzantophiles.

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    Default Re: Alexander the Great: The Man, the Life, the Legacy

    Saying that Alexander wanted to change the world and "unite" humanity can sort of be said about most conquerors. Alexander for example may be different because of his temper which may be induced by intoxication, but almost always leads to brutality. So in that way he sort of differs from most conquerors such as Napoleon (who did not attempt to kill and execute large amounts of people or even those around him) and even Genghis, Genghis for example was not really motivated by drunkeness or rage but more likely because that is what he saw fit. Another bad point about Alexander's personality and actions is that he apparently killed large amounts of Indians for fighting against him, so he really didn't like when an opponent resisted for far too long otherwise he would have pardoned them as before (a point he did share with many others). But it is pretty hard to actually understand Alexander's personality as he certainly does not come off as a pious and somewhat humble individual. He goes so far as to make himself a god and everything he does sort of comes off as a pompous act to glorify himself in front of everyone else. On the otherhand everything he does is also motivated by a dream and an overall goal which he believes will help mankind (not just Greeks). It could be possible that most of Alexander's bad personality points were developed by his childhood and his drunkeness though. It would be quite amazing if we actually understood his mind and his personality as well as we do some others.

    One thing that bothered me is that Alexander actually challenges Aristotles' which I find to be somewhat disrespectful towards his former teacher (who probably treated Alexander as more of a father figure than Philp ever did). But Alexander also treats Aristotle as if he owned him and sometimes acts altogether disrespectful towards him. Anyone know what specific events made Aristotle and Alexander to sort of turn away from each other?

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    Default Re: Alexander the Great: The Man, the Life, the Legacy

    Quote Originally Posted by money View Post
    SAlexander for example may be different because of his temper which may be induced by intoxication, but almost always leads to brutality.
    Such as?

    And lets not forget that attempt of assassination was commonly faced by Alexander, sometimes even from his close friends. It is understandable why Alexander would sometimes choose more brutal option, and history proves that Alexander was largely right about his choice in the end (a considerable opposition was aimed on Alexander's pan-Hellenistic program, most from his Macedonian colleagues).
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    The only reason why Charlemagne came into this at all is because Hellheaven thought it'd be a fun way to troll some byzantophiles.

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    Default Re: Alexander the Great: The Man, the Life, the Legacy

    The burning of Persepolis and he kille d one of his friends and generals. He was a mean drunk. But fine let me reword that: most of his acts of brutality stem from intoxication.
    Instead of:
    "Alexander for example may be different because of his temper which may be induced by intoxication, but almost always leads to brutality."

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    Default Re: Alexander the Great: The Man, the Life, the Legacy

    Quote Originally Posted by money View Post
    The burning of Persepolis and he kille d one of his friends and generals. He was a mean drunk. But fine let me reword that: most of his acts of brutality stem from intoxication.
    The burning of Persepolis was more a calculated move, for propaganda purpose in Greece and his new empire perhaps (afterall we have to remember that the public objective Alexander gave about Persia campaign was a cultural war, and he had to do something so at least motivated his Greek allies to continue believe this cause). It is same as what he did to the naughty Thebes (and be honest Thebes completely deserved it).

    His execution of friends and generals generally based on two causes - either the suspects of attempt assassination/plot, or publically opposed his pan-Hellenistic plan (a common sign from his Macedonian colleagues and arguably his biggest obscure during his last few years of reign). For the first case it is understandable they deserved nothing better, and for second case Alexander was ultimately proved by history his vision was right.
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    Hellheaven, sometimes you remind me of King Canute trying to hold back the tide, except without the winning parable.
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    The only reason why Charlemagne came into this at all is because Hellheaven thought it'd be a fun way to troll some byzantophiles.

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    Default Re: Alexander the Great: The Man, the Life, the Legacy

    200,000 infantry, 45,000 cavalry, and 200 scythed chariots.
    I believe any modern historian would see these numbers as an exaggeration. I believe that forces around half this size or less would be considered far more reasonable would they not? 200,000 men? That doesn't seem like a reasonable estimate at all.

    I'm sure a more reasonable modern estimate would be an upper number of 100,000 TOTAL including cavalry and other types of men. Even that is considered unreasonable by many as i've seen even more reasonable estimates of 50,000 suggested by the most reasonable of men.
    Last edited by Kanaric; February 18, 2013 at 02:50 PM.
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    Default Re: Alexander the Great: The Man, the Life, the Legacy

    Arguably the most influential individual in history, in terms of shaking up the established order and setting events on a new path. People often cite jesus or Buddha as influential men but (as Neo mentions above) Alexander created the Helenic cultural millieu which allowed the rapid spread of Christianity.

    He seems to have been a vain, insane, alcoholic with a mean streak and little sense of succesion planning (he may have assumed as son odf Zeus Ammon he was immortal) but he was one hell of a general who took a brilliant army and made it do amazing things.

    I take the point "no Phillip, no Alexander" it was dad who built the army but Phillip's plans were seemingly far less bold than Alexander's, he probably wanted hegemony over Ionia to go with his hegemony in North and Central Hellas. Alexander redrew the map, for a huge proportion of humanity, in a way that it was unlikely anyone else would have.

    Hitler made WW2 hell, worst war ever but I think a war of some sort was coming no matter what. Caesar failed at his project and was really a symptom of the decay of the Republic rather than the founder of the Empire. Ideas men like Buddha, Jesus, Einstein etc certainly plant seed s but so msany others cultivate them and change them along the way.

    Alexander stands out as someone who really changed history.
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    Default Re: Alexander the Great: The Man, the Life, the Legacy

    Quote Originally Posted by money View Post
    The burning of Persepolis and he kille d one of his friends and generals. He was a mean drunk. But fine let me reword that: most of his acts of brutality stem from intoxication.
    Instead of:
    "Alexander for example may be different because of his temper which may be induced by intoxication, but almost always leads to brutality."
    As N.G.L. Hammond notes, Alexander wasn't a drunk: A drunk has severe concentration problems and Alexander appears to have been very aware and ready for immediate action throughout his campaigns. Not to mention that his choices were characterized by logic and composure (such as his choice to return to save Parmenio's troops instead of hunting down Darius). Alexander was simply a heavy drinker, something that was a tradition in the Macedonian court.

    As for the burning of Persepolis, some historians attribute it to the incident just before his entrance to the city, where Alexander met amputated Greeks who had been captured by the Persians and others think that it was a well planned move, to support Alexander's claim that he was leading a campaign of revenge against the Persians. Xerxes' invasion had resulted in the destruction of what could be considered as the "capital" of ancient Greece, Athens and the destruction of the Persian capital was seen as the last chapter and the ultimate success of the campaign. The second theory is more realistic. We know very well that Alexander was trying to give a sense of righteousness to the campaign by connecting it directly to the past Greco-Persian wars.
    Last edited by Manuel I Komnenos; February 18, 2013 at 05:22 PM.
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    Default Re: Alexander the Great: The Man, the Life, the Legacy

    Quote Originally Posted by Kanaric View Post
    I believe any modern historian would see these numbers as an exaggeration. I believe that forces around half this size or less would be considered far more reasonable would they not? 200,000 men? That doesn't seem like a reasonable estimate at all.

    I'm sure a more reasonable modern estimate would be an upper number of 100,000 TOTAL including cavalry and other types of men. Even that is considered unreasonable by many as i've seen even more reasonable estimates of 50,000 suggested by the most reasonable of men.
    Consider Chinese at this period regularly mobilized 200k men for one to two year of attrition campaign, it is not unbelievable that Persia, bigger than any Chinese kingdom this time, could not do the same thing.
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    Hellheaven, sometimes you remind me of King Canute trying to hold back the tide, except without the winning parable.
    Quote Originally Posted by O'Hea View Post
    The only reason why Charlemagne came into this at all is because Hellheaven thought it'd be a fun way to troll some byzantophiles.

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    Default Re: Alexander the Great: The Man, the Life, the Legacy

    Quote Originally Posted by Manuel I Komnenos View Post
    As N.G.L. Hammond notes, Alexander wasn't a drunk: A drunk has severe concentration problems...
    A drunk is someone who is inebriated, which Alexander frequently was. He may have been an alcoholic, (a very loaded term with lots of definitions) or alcohol addicted, or alcohol dependent. I think he regularly drank himself silly for a couple of reasons.

    1. He was Makedonian and they had a hearty drinking culture (more excessive than some fussy southern Hellenes-I'm looking at you Demosthenes) probably based around loyalty groups like the Companions, and

    2. He was quite likely under a heap of pressure as King. His father was assasinated and before Alexander inherited the throne I think there hadn't been a peaceful handover from father to son for generations (no wonder he got paranoid and had people tortured and executed on suspicion of treason).

    He also had a rather complicated mother pushing him and seems to have believed he was a god or at least a hero of divine origin. Thats a recipe for self-medicating in my mind, I'd be drunk in the saddle if I was him so its a credit to his constitution that he fought a ten-year campaign and still found time to impregnate some princesses in between his drinking and special time with Patroclus er I mean Hephaistion.

    That said Hellenes in general liked to pick on the Makedonians as hillbilly types with drinking problems so the whole stoy mauy be a beat up. Arrian's story (from Ptolemy was it?) about him spearing Cleitos may have used drunkeness as an excuse: if Alexander killed the man who saved his life sober it'ds look pretty savage.

    We have the stories of persnal violence and paranoia, and we have the stories of being drunk. I think it fits.
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    Default Re: Alexander the Great: The Man, the Life, the Legacy

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    A drunk is someone who is inebriated, which Alexander frequently was. He may have been an alcoholic, (a very loaded term with lots of definitions) or alcohol addicted, or alcohol dependent. I think he regularly drank himself silly for a couple of reasons.

    1. He was Makedonian and they had a hearty drinking culture (more excessive than some fussy southern Hellenes-I'm looking at you Demosthenes) probably based around loyalty groups like the Companions, and

    2. He was quite likely under a heap of pressure as King. His father was assasinated and before Alexander inherited the throne I think there hadn't been a peaceful handover from father to son for generations (no wonder he got paranoid and had people tortured and executed on suspicion of treason).

    He also had a rather complicated mother pushing him and seems to have believed he was a god or at least a hero of divine origin. Thats a recipe for self-medicating in my mind, I'd be drunk in the saddle if I was him so its a credit to his constitution that he fought a ten-year campaign and still found time to impregnate some princesses in between his drinking and special time with Patroclus er I mean Hephaistion.

    That said Hellenes in general liked to pick on the Makedonians as hillbilly types with drinking problems so the whole stoy mauy be a beat up. Arrian's story (from Ptolemy was it?) about him spearing Cleitos may have used drunkeness as an excuse: if Alexander killed the man who saved his life sober it'ds look pretty savage.

    We have the stories of persnal violence and paranoia, and we have the stories of being drunk. I think it fits.
    English terminology kinda confuses me but wouldn't being a drunk indicate that every hour and every activity could be okay for drinking? I mean we only read of Alexander being drunk in huge symposiums but otherwise he seems perfectly capable to lead his troops and rule his dominion. The choices he makes, especially the most difficult ones seem to be very logical.
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    Default Re: Alexander the Great: The Man, the Life, the Legacy

    Quote Originally Posted by hellheaven1987 View Post
    Consider Chinese at this period regularly mobilized 200k men for one to two year of attrition campaign, it is not unbelievable that Persia, bigger than any Chinese kingdom this time, could not do the same thing.
    I think its a question of logistics. The Romans (superb masters of logistics) brought armies had difficulty mustering armies that large (80,000 or so at Cannae, that was pulling out all stops for the Republic). To assemble that force at one place is possible but to keep it on a war footing for more than a few days is unlikely.

    The Persians did have vast pools of manpower available, the million man army of Xerxes fopr example is possible in terms of men in the Empire who could fight, but its pretty much agreed the figures for Thermopylae and Alexander's battles are inflated to increase the magnitude of the victor's acommplishments and defy logistics.

    The Marechal de Saxe opined in the mid 18th century that 80,000 men was about as large a force as a general could effectively lead and feed, and that held true until the French Revolution and its heir Napoleon utterly transformed war with modern methods. This hoilds true for Gaugemela and Issus: if Darios III had 100,000 men no wonder they fought so clumsily and were beaten so thoroughly.
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    Default Re: Alexander the Great: The Man, the Life, the Legacy

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclops View Post
    2. He was quite likely under a heap of pressure as King. His father was assasinated and before Alexander inherited the throne I think there hadn't been a peaceful handover from father to son for generations (no wonder he got paranoid and had people tortured and executed on suspicion of treason).
    It seems Alexander's paranoia only got increased until second half of his reign, particularly after his push for pan-Hellenistic program to Persians which many his close advisors and colleagues opposed. Although look at Philotas' case it probably not surprise why Alexander went paranoid.
    Quote Originally Posted by Markas View Post
    Hellheaven, sometimes you remind me of King Canute trying to hold back the tide, except without the winning parable.
    Quote Originally Posted by O'Hea View Post
    The only reason why Charlemagne came into this at all is because Hellheaven thought it'd be a fun way to troll some byzantophiles.

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