Alexander the Great's is Military Leader
In many historical sources Alexander the Great is described as one of the most prominent and well-known military leaders. The King of Macedonia conquered many lands that are now called civilized world. The lands driven by this great ruler created the background of contemporary Western civilization. Moreover, Alexander’s divine ambitions about the world conquest and formation of the world monarchy provided much inspiration to the rulers of the other monarchies of the future centuries. The person of the King of Macedonia appeared to be a great example for the leaders of the lands who wished to be the rulers of the world (like Hitler, Stalin and Sultan Suleiman).
Even by his appearance Alexander the Great appeared to be a strong and handsome leader with one eye black as the night and other eye blue as the sky. The great King of Macedonia always led his navy on faithful horse Bucephalus. This was a strong army inherited from Alexander’s father King Philip. Long lances of warriors, strong and well armed, brought Alexander many victories. The great conqueror reached Egypt, Greece and Asia up to the western India. His victories brought to Alexander glory and respect. From country to country, from land to land he spread Greek life style and Hellenistic Culture. Together with Roman Civilization, Christianity, this culture made the foundation of the Western Civilization.
The image of Alexander and his glory spread all over the world. He created the empire and many world leaders thereafter saw in King of Macedonia the vision of success and the way to respect, though the many aspects of his life are still not studied and researched well. As Brian Bosworth points out, “the passionate popular interest in Alexander has never flagged” and “it may even be intensifying in this age of mass communication” (Bosworth 1). In spite of the immense interest to the personality, life style and leadership skills of the King of Macedonia, “the besetting problem of Alexander scholarship is the dearth of contemporary sources” (Bosworth 1).
Alexander’s parents were Philip II and Olympias, and according to an old legend, oracles predicted the divine origin of the child. The future King was born in Pella (Macedonia) in the end of July 356 B.C., on the same date when some man in seek of glory destroyed the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus by fire. The boy’s father, Philip II of Macedon, gained respect as a brilliant strategist and leader. Alexander’s mother was a princess of Epirus. Her attitude to the son was very protective, love and caring. According to the tradition, Alexander’s parents were supposed to be of the different ancestors: Olympia’s – Achilles, and Philip’s II of Macedon – Hercules, which were involved in the opposite sides of the Troy conflict.
Alexander the Great became famous even before he came to this world. As his parents were the followers of the cult of Kabira at Samothrace, they believed that dreams that come to people at night have some meaning. Before Alexander’s mother knew she was pregnant. She with her husband went to the oracles who after they treated their dreams, warned both of parents from giving birth to the child, suspecting he would have a character of a lion. In spite of this, Alexander was born to become a great emperor, strategist, ruler of the monarchy and a great representative of the Hellenistic period in the world history.
The Prince of Macedonia
From the young age Alexander was very strong and fearless boy. At the age of 12, he tamed horse Bucephalus that none could ride but him. His father was very proud of his son and told that the kingdom of Macedonia would be too little and simple for him. Even being a young boy, Alexander revealed his best leadership qualities, which helped him to become the leader of that time.
Being very young for the triumphs, Alexander the Great envied his father a little who performed great deeds while being a leader of Macedonia. Alexander dreamt of being a leader. He was very educated. For example, he knew Iliad by heart and always slept with a copy of this great Homer’s book under his pillow. A relative of his mother was Alexander’s first teacher, who taught him the basic things, including ascetics for which Alexander was famous in his future campaigns. It is known that he ate and slept together with his troops. Teacher Leonidas was replaced with the other teacher Lysimachus, who bred Alexander in a way of appreciating culture and arts.
By the beginning of the 5th century the Hellenistic culture and philosophy gained much popularity among the aristocracy. It caused the development of religion, traditions, literature, arts, crafts, Olympic sports, folklore, mythic history and philosophy. This period of Hellenistic culture arising was marked by the great cultural achievements. When Alexander was 13, his father Philip asked a great philosopher Aristotle to educate his son. The future king of Macedonia was being taught by a very wise man, which conquered the world with the thought, while the Alexander intended to do it with a sword.
Michael Flower calls this period the beginning of the Panhellism epoch. According to the researcher, this “political program… was the belief that the various Greek cities could solve their endemic, political, social, and economic problems by uniting in common cause and conquering all or part of the Persian Empire” (Flower 98). In the other words, this idea appealed “to Greek patriotic sentiment” much. Moreover, people liked these ideas, as the panhellenism discourse was based on the concept of “revenge for past wrongs, freedom of Greek cities, liberation from barbarians, and Hellenic territorial expansion” (Flower 98).
The Character of Alexander the Great
As it was already mentioned above, Alexander the Great, dreamed about success and conquests from the early age. Even being a young boy, he dreamt of the conquests. He read ancient literature with a feeling of admiration and imagined himself to be a great conqueror. His dreams would definitely come true after some years. He would gain a great power and opportunities to fulfill the ideas of Hellenistic culture and philosophy he was taught.
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As oracles predicted before his birth, the character of Alexander the Great was like lion’s. He was strong physically and mentally. Olga Palagia writes that the great emperor was fond of hunting, especially for lions. The researcher finds the evidence in the archeological artifacts from that period that are preserved in some museums of the world. For example, these are floor mosaic from Pella, Alexander Sarcophagus, Hunting Frieze from Tomb II at Vergina, Frieze Block from Messene and others. All these artifacts present the scenes of hunting for lions.
In Alexander’s character the features of a great warrior and very educated person were combined. His parents thought that the boy would not be able to gain success without good education. And Alexander was studying willingly, he was very talented. He realized that without good education it is impossible to conquer the world, and he was always armed with the book, as well as with a sword. That is why Alexander the Great gained respect and eternal glory. He is remembered in centuries not only for the leadership, but also for his serving to Hellenistic culture, which became the foundation of our civilization.
Alexander the Great Became the King of Macedonia
Although his father Philip was a great leader of Macedonia, gave freedom to each polis and finally proclaimed war against Persia, his personal life was not that simple. He intended to remarry. And after the quarrel at the wedding feast, Alexander went with his mother, taking her side in this life situation.
After Philip’s assassination, Alexander was proclaimed by the troops the new king of Macedonia. It happened in spring-autumn of 336 B.C. Then he was just 20 years old and already was respected, he began to open a path to his future conquests. Some historians even accuse Alexander of being alleged to his father’s assassination, though this fact has no evidences. But the new king of Macedonia executed all the persons, directly alleged to this crime.
At Corinthian assembly of the Greek League Alexander was confirmed as supreme commander of the Hellenes forces that were to fight against barbarians. In 335 B.C. Alexander moved across the Danube during blitz campaigns against the Ilyrians and Triballi. He burnt a settlement upon the opposite side of Balkans. Then a false rumor about king’s death in Illyria caused Thebanic revolt, favored by Athenians and the other Greek states. Anyway, although hardly, but Alexander the Great restored the prestige of Macedonia. In 7 days he reached Thessaly, and Boetia he reached in 5 days later. So we can notice that in 14 days only the king and the troops marched 380 km from Pelion (Illyria) to Thebes. And Thebans refused to be conquered, so Alexander wiped the city of existence, 6 thousand of inhabitants were killed and 30 thousands were sold to slavery. Such a cruelty made the other Greek states to live in constant fear. In his heart, their attitude to Macedonian hegemony was hostile and unfriendly. Though Panhellenic alliance was renewed against the barbarian spread.
The Invasion of Persia
The invasion of Persia was a deal, started by Alexander’s father. So in spring of 334, new king crossed Dardanelles, with 30 thousands of troops. The aim of this campaign was to liberate some of the Greek cities, which were taken by the Persians before. Alexander showed the best leadership qualities of his, during this campaign, as well as the Persian army seemed to be not ready for such a quick invasion.
The Battle of Granicus. Spring 334
At Ilium at the River of Granicus, near the Marmara Sea, Alexander confronted Persian army that was led by 3 satraps. In fact, Asians were ready to meet the invader, as their navy was to some extent larger than that of Macedonian. Some Alexander’s strategic considerations were ruined by the Persian chivalry. The beginning of the battle at Granicus was optimistic for Persians. They intended to tempt Macedonians across the river and kill their leader. This plan almost succeeded, but the Persian lines broke and Alexander got the complete victory. By the victory at Granicus, Asia Minor opened for Macedonians, and most of the cities opened the gates. Asian tyrants were expelled by Alexander the Great, and in contrast to the European policy, Asia was supplied with democracy. Alexander’s aim about liberation of the Greek cities in Asia was reached. Moreover, on the conquered territories he spread Hellenistic culture and philosophy. The victory at Granicus brought Alexander a great success and glory.
Alexander and Asia Minor
In winter of 334-333 B.C. Alexander conquered the western part of Asia Minor. At this point the King of Macedonia benefited from the death of the competent Persian Commander Memnon. Then Alexander, before Persian king Darius III, had thrown the forces against him, crossed Cicilian Gates. Then in the autumn of 333 B.C. Alexander came against Darius in the battle of Issus, which took place on the north-east coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Though Alexander was intended to go to the south and he was much surprised to find Darius’s troops coming from north. In the end, this battle was also won by Alexander the Great. Alexander took Byblos and Sidon, and then met immense resistance at Tyre. Anyway, it was also conquered by Macedonians. As Ernst Fredricksmeyer points out, “in the Persian tradition Alexander was execrated as the destructive, godless foreign invader, who among other misdeeds ordered the destruction of the two existing copies of the Avesta”. (Fredricksmeyer 149) The other copy of the book he ordered to deliver to Alexandria for the further transliteration of its content in Greek, with everything concerning to the culture, medicine, philosophy, agriculture and astronomy.
Alexander Conquered Egypt
In November 332, when Alexander reached Egypt, people there welcomed their liberator. After conquering this land, he was crowned like the pharaoh. His internal policy encouraged Egyptian priests and their religion. Moreover, the King of Macedonia founded the city of Alexandria near the western arm of the river of Nile.
One of the main reasons of Alexander’s death, as his closest friends believed, was the poisoning. Although in 2010, the other evidences were found. In 2010 Discovery News, with the reference to the XII International Congress of Toxicology, reported about one more version of Alexander’s death. “An extremely toxic bacterium found in the Styx River, now known as the Mavroneri, may have killed Alexander the Great” (Lorenzi 2010). According to myth, “Styx was the portal to the underworld… here the gods swore sacred oaths”. So the rivers of Styx were claimed to be full of poison and were called “Black water”. Modern researchers believe that the mythical poison was calicheamicin, an “extremely toxic, gram-positive soil bacterium” that “only recently came to the attention of modern science” (Lorenzi 2010).
Alexander the Great from the young age revealed his best leadership qualities. So, undoubtedly, he was believed to become a great warrior. After his father’s death, he was proclaimed to be a new King of Macedonia by the troops. Under his leadership, Macedonian forces managed to conquer the part of Asia and Egypt, and also give liberty to some Greek cities in Asia.
Moreover, Alexander was a well educated man, who was ready to lead the army, even in his 20. He was learned a skeptical way of life, that is why he lived simply, ate and slept together with his army. This brought a great respect to Alexander from his warriors, who seemed to believe in his divine nature. Alexander the Great was proclaimed dead just before his 33d birthday. His closest friends believed that he was poisoned. In 2010 the new evidences were found by some researchers. In the river of Styx that claimed to be the place of the great king’s death, a very dangerous bacterium was found. As at Alexander’s time, only few kinds of poison were known, the version about bacteria was accepted by some historians.
No matter, what really killed Alexander the Great, as his death is not of so much importance as his life. He was a great commander who managed to conquer the lands which were situated far away from Macedonia. He was a very strong leader, physically and mentally. Each of his victory is marked by a great success of Macedonian army, and this they thought to be a great gift from heavens. Alexander’s life is an example of to which extent the person of action and powerful mind can reach.