Alexander the Great: Villain or Hero

Subject: Famous Person
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Alexander the Great was born in 356 BCE to King Philip II of Macedonia and Olympias. However, his parents were in an unhealthy marriage for over twenty years. Then, his father was assassinated in 336 BCE when Alexander was twenty years old. After his father’s untimely demise, Alexander succeeded the throne and became the new king. He ruled for thirteen years and died after returning to Babylon at age thirty-two. Alexander the Great had many achievements and faults during his tenure as the king. In contrast, many historians and researchers have highlighted the heroic acts and the bad deeds of Alexander the Great. However, his achievements and faults highlighted in this article explain how he was more of a hero in the making.

Achievements of Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great is associated with several heroic acts that many historians and researchers have highlighted in their works. One of his achievements is that he was considered the greatest military leader of all time, who was wise and brave. Alexander used advanced planning and attack techniques as he exercised his wisdom to anticipate the reaction of his enemies (BBC, 2014). He always led his army to attack kingdoms and empires and, most of the time became successful in the raids. His bravery drove him to conquer many lands and amass resources for his kingdom.

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Alexander was philosophical and a learner of different cultures. His philosophy was to respect the kingdoms and empires he conquered (Bridges, 2018). Therefore, he allowed the people of the conquered lands to continue practicing their beliefs and customs. The act made the captives feel less oppressed and continue enjoying their freedom even under the leadership of the captor. Alexander also took the initiative to learn the people’s cultures from the lands he captured. He was curious to know the people’s livelihood, their traditions and practices, and the things that differentiated them. Therefore, his actions made his captives respect and value his leadership as they viewed him as reasonable, moralistic, and less of an oppressor.

He also played a part in preserving and spreading Greek culture and ideas. Alexander the Great helped preserve Greek culture by spreading it in every land he conquered (Worthington., 2020). He spread the culture and ideas by establishing more than twenty cities, mostly Alexandria. The cities allowed him to impose the Greek culture on the people of those lands through specific cultural observations and practices in the cities and beyond.

Alexander the Great was a student of Aristotle. Alexander was on a quest to gain knowledge and understanding in different subjects. Aristotle, one of the most outstanding scholars in history, was the teacher of Alexander (Ionescu, 2014). He taught Alexander political philosophy, medicine, natural history, and literature. The knowledge gained was very important for the king while he pursued his ambitions of being a conqueror. He applied the knowledge of political philosophy to treat his captives adequately to prevent them from revolting against him and his administration. His thirst for knowledge propelled him to accommodate, learn and integrate his culture and that of his captives.

He was involved in battlefield command from a very young age. Alexander was a commander of the Greek Empire at the age of sixteen years. Finally, at the age of 18 years, Alexander attained the first major victory against Theban troops (Liotsakis, 2019). He dedicated the victory to his father and the land of Greece. It was an outstanding achievement to become a commander of a massive army due to the pressures that came with the responsibility of being in its command.

Faults of Alexander the Great

He neglected his kingdom. He left to conquer other empires and kingdoms and never came back. He left his kingdom exposed to the enemies and his people unprotected from imminent attacks. The local leaders he left in charge of his kingdom ignored the people’s needs and abused power by violating the rights of the people they led. That is viewed as one of Alexander the Great’s faults during his tenure as the king.

Alexander was a heavy consumer of alcohol. The heavy consumption of alcohol impaired his judgment and led to many casualties during the conquests. His decision-making was compromised. The consequence was the loss of his army in large numbers on battlefields. Alexander also did not designate a legitimate heir to the Macedonian throne. Not appointing the heir caused the empire to fall after his death (Liotsakis, 2019). The generals and relatives fought to control the entire empire, causing more divisions and rivalry.

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Conclusion

According to the findings, it is evident that Alexander the Great was a hero, as many describe him. This is a fact because he achieved so much in such a short time. He conquered more lands than his father did, built many cities over the lands he conquered, and spread Greek culture and ideas. Moreover, he became a battlefield commander at a very young age and learned much from Aristotle. Therefore, his achievements supersede his faults, and to many, Alexander the Great still remains a hero.

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  1. BBC. (2014). BBC – History – Alexander the Great. Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/alexander_the_great.shtml.
  2. Bridges, V. (2018). Medieval narratives of Alexander the Great (pp. 1-306). Boydell & Brewer.
  3. Ionescu, D. (2014). Articles: Alexander the Great in the Persian legends: from the Pseudo-Callisthenes’s Greek Romance about Alexander of Macedon to the Sikandar of Firdousi’s Shah-Nameh. Miscellanea Anthropologica Et Sociologica15(4), 100-117. https://doi.org/10.5604/20842937.1138976
  4. Liotsakis, V. (2019). Alexander the Great in Arrian’s ›Anabasis‹, 78. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110659979
  5. Worthington., I. (2020). Athens After Empire: A History From Alexander the Great to the Emperor Hadrian (pp. 1-424). Oxford University Press.
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