Alexander The Great Leader History Essay
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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
When regarding historical events it is possible to identify successful and influential leaders. Often times a name is so famous that when mentioned, it is directly linked to certain events such as, Alexander the Great and the Macedonian take over. It is true that Alexander had made many contributions to the ancient world, but does he truly deserve the title “Great”? There are many other influential figures throughout history and none of them have left a legacy quite large enough to deserve the title “Great” let alone be studied over 2000 years after their existence. So, how should history judge “greatness”? Where does the criterion come from? In Alexander’s case, the proof lies in three aspects of his life; his astounding personal qualities, his ability to manage and overcome major obstacles and his outlasting effect on the world.
Right from a young age Alexander captivated the people of Macedon, for he had many admirable qualities that placed him on his path to “greatness”. Upon looking at the different leaders throughout history, for example Teddy Roosevelt, Ghandi and Napoleon Bonapart, they all shared the same personal qualities such as great orator skills, morale as well as intelligence and Alexander is no exception. Alexander possessed “great personal beauty, invincible power of endurance, and a keen intellect; he was brave and adventurous, strict in the observance of his religious duties, and hungry for fame. Most temperate in the pleasures of the body, his passion was for glory only, and in that he was insatiable. He had an uncanny instinct for the right course in a difficult and complex situation, and was most happy in his deductions from observed facts. … No cheat or liar ever caught him off his guard, and both his word and his bond were inviolable. Spending but little on his own pleasures, he poured out his money without stint for the benefit of his friends.” (Arrian) Alexander had also been very companionate towards women, which was remarkable for his time period for they were seen as spoils of war. One particular occasion was when the viceroy of media gave 100 Amazonian women to Alexander, but he did not accept the gift for fear of them being violated by the Macedonians or the Barbarians. (Arrian, 30).
There is a story about Alexander and a wild horse named Bucephalus. Philip and a few soldiers had corralled a horse and were attempting to figure out if it was wild or tamed. The horse was resilient to say the least and the men were just about to give up hope when 13 year old Alexander said “They will lose a magnificent horse, and only because they don’t know how to handle it”. (Jim Lindsay, The true story of Alexander the Great) At this point Alexander approached the horse and within minutes he was riding it shouting in victory. This becomes the horse that Alexander rides into battle on countless occasions. This event shows that Alexander was cunning and a natural born leader. It is anecdotes like this one that circulated his kingdom and provoked admiration from his people. But, one particular story that followed Alexander since the day he was born was that he was a potential son of Zeus. Because the very lives of the people of Hellas revolved around the gods, his people were awe struck and the enemy would tremble in fear. Alexander used his heavenly ties to aid him in more than one situation. It is this particular rumour that gave Alexander a lot of his strength and influence over people before he even began to speak. On top of his superior lineage he was also a skilled orator. He could easily subdue a crowd or whip an army into a fighting frenzy.
His father Philip had said that Macedon would be too small for Alexander, not long after that he was sent away to be tutored by the great Aristotle. It was with the famous philosopher that he furthered his education and his intelligence. “Alexander would say, His father had given him the gift of life, but Aristotle taught him how to live well”. (Jim Lindsay,2008) At the age of 16 Alexander, his father decided that he was ready to go to war. The two set off to the battle of Chaeronea where they would face Athens and Thebes. Alexander was placed in charge of the cavalry, the most important part of an army. Not only did Alexander lead the cavalry as though he was a skilled general, but the enemy was completely slaughtered in an easy victory. Many people had believed that this was the beginning of a successful ruling between father and son, but Alexander soon grew bitter. As he was growing up he watched the success that swept across Macedon under Philip’s rule but he was not as happy as an heir should be. Instead Alexander often exclaimed his unhappiness of being handed a prospering empire, he would rather take a country in ruins and work hard to make it successful. This hardworking attitude would be a useful and admirable characteristic when he became king. Surely enough when his father was murdered the entire kingdom of Macedon broke apart and rebelled. Alexander inherited what he asked for; a kingdom in trouble.
As soon as Alexander stepped up to the throne and throughout his reign, he was faced with many obstacles that he overcame with great success. The first of these obstacles was directly after his father Philip had passed. Under Philip’s rule, Macedonia was a vast and prosperous country but it had rebellions began to arise upon his passing. When Alexander was confronted with these rebellions, he immediately retaliated and subdued them; Thebes and Thrace in particular were completely obliterated. After the affairs had been dealt with, there were no further rebellions during Alexander’s reign.
After internal affairs had been dealt with, Alexander had decided to address the challenges pertaining to external affairs. Macedonia had outstanding conflicts with Persia but Alexander did not have to go far looking for a fight, the Persian leader Memnon had already begun marching his army towards him. Eventually Memnon had captured the Aegean Islands in hopes of cutting off all of Alexander’s supplies at the Hellespont. Memnon had also gotten in touch with the Spartan king Agis who wanted to free Greece from Macedonian rule. This caused a huge disadvantage for Alexander because he could not leave Greece because it would be undefended from an inevitable attack. Alexander organized the siege of Mytilene in which Memnon was killed, so now the Macedonian army could move eastwards.
After Memnon had passed, the king Darius the third himself was finally convinced that they needed him present on the battle field. Alexander confronted Darius during several battles; Issus, Tyre and Granicus. At the battle of Granicus in fact Alexander almost lost his life but, he was saved during the battle by one of his best trained soldiers. The largest and greatest battle between Alexander and Darius was the battle of Gaugamela. This battle exhibits how Alexander was able to overcome obstacles with ease and with force. Not only was the Macedonian army on a terrain they were not accustomed to, they were completely out numbered five Persian warriors to one Macedonian warrior. Because they were so greatly outnumbered, Alexander was not able to use all the tactics he had previously planned, thus having to come up with a whole new battle strategy right on the spot. Alexander was given the opportunity to negotiate peace with quite agreeable terms, so he could have avoided the entire battle especially since it required him to restrategize. But, instead he took the peace treaty and threw it back at Darius by saying “Why should I negotiate on something that is already mine?” (History Network, 2010) Again Alexander was given an option to take the cowards way out. His leading commander came to him and recommended that they attack at night time and catch the Persians at a disadvantage. Alexander’s reaction to the suggestion was complete disgust “I will not disgrace myself by taking victory like a thief” (Michael Burgan, 9).Not only did he come up with revolutionary new tactics, but he won the battle with hardly a struggle.
As Alexander moved farther to the Northeast, conquering as he went and never losing a battle, it became increasingly colder. A type of weather that the Macedonians were not accustomed to because they came from an area with very mild temperatures. In one night Alexander lost 2000 men due to a snowstorm. They were all frozen in place as if mid conversation. Everyone was reduced to eating raw meat and pillaging for warmer clothes but still Alexander pushed on and killed the person who inherited the Persian throne thus making him King. The Macedonian army was even nicknamed the “Flying Macedonian army” because they used tent picks in order to scale mountain sides.(Kristin Romey, Forgotten Realm of Alexander). Eventually Alexander decided to turn his troops around and walk home in victory.
Alexander not only influenced Macedon, but he made a long lasting impression on the world around him securing the title of “Alexander the Great” all across the Ancient World as well as leaving his mark over 2000 years after his time. During Alexander’s campaign he had expanded Macedonia throughout Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is much larger than Philip of Macedon could ever have imagined. He not only expanded the borders of the country but, he had expanded the influence of Greece as well. To begin with every one of the colonies were required to speak Greek. All official papers and business were required to be in Greek. Because the colonies were mostly in Persia, the people already knew how to speak Persian but when Greek was thrown into the mix, new dialects began to spring up across the empire. Besides spreading language, Greek art and religion was also spread amongst the empire. Especially with the empire of Rome it is possible to see all the similarities between Roman sculpture in particular and their polytheism. Also, Christianity had begun to make an appearance; the first translation of the bible was made in Macedonia and then spread throughout the Ancient World.
In present time Alexander has left his mark as well. Besides being studied in school for being a great political leader, but his military tactics are still used and studied as well. The tactic called “the mouse trap” is exceedingly famous. This is when Alexander discovered an interesting way to trap the Persian’s secret weapon. The Perisan’s had devised a ruthless killing machine, chariots that had blades attached to the wheels so when the chariots were moving the wheels and thus the blades would spin at an alarming rate so they could cut through an entire wall of people between the slashing of the blades, the pounding feet of the horses and the ruthless warrior steering the chariot. Alexander had commanded his men to form a wall of men and when the chariot drew near the middle group of soldiers would walk backwards with their Phallanx facing the horses making a stable that the horses were drawn to. The Phallanx would then stab the horses immobilizing them and then the surrounding groups of men would take down the warriors. Needless to say after Alexander created this tactic the chariots were never used again. Famous figures such as Napoleon Bonapart have aspired to be like Alexander, and have often compared themselves to him. “Read over and over again the campaigns of Alexander, This is the only way to become a great general and master the secrets of the art of war…” (Napoleon Bonapart).
In conclusion, Alexander does indeed deserve to be titled the “Great”, not just in his time period, but for many years to come. He had remarkable personal qualities that made him an excellent political leader, he was a very gifted and intelligent individual that was able to outsmart his adversaries and overcome great obstacles and he deeply influenced the culture of the ancient world and amazed the new one. He is a historical hero, and has done more than enough to deserve the title “Alexander the Great”
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