Alexander The Great – World Civilization I

Alexander the Great was King Philip II of Macedon son. He was born in 356 BCE and later died in 323 BCE. He inherited his father’s throne as a king in 336 BCE upon the death of his father and proceeded in conquering a good part of the world then. He was referred as the great due to his diplomatic proficiency and military genius in dealing with the most populaces of the areas he conquered. He is also acknowledged for spreading language and culture of Greek from Greece to India, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Asia Minor and therefore beginning the Hellenistic World era. The prowess of Alexander military was initially noted at the Charonea Battle in 338 BCE. Although very young, he assisted in turning the battle tide in the decisive Macedonian victory that defeated the allied Greek city-states (Mark, 2013).

Alexander in Persia

With an army of 5100 cavalry and 32,000 infantry, Alexander in 334 BCE went over to Minor Asia and sacked the Baalbek city, and renamed it to Heliopolis. He then liberated Ephesos which was a Greek city from Persian rule. He promised Ephesos to reconstruct Artemis Temple that was destroyed in the night of his birth by arson though the city refused his offer. Alexander and his army in 333 BCE defeated Persia’s King Darius III large force at Issos Battle. Darius ran away from the battle field abandoning his family in the war field. Alexander proceeded to sack Sidon, Phoenician city and later to Aleppo in the same year (History of Macedonia, 2013).

Alexander in 331 BCE again met with King Derius III on the Gaugamela battlefield where again he faced an overwhelming number of Darius III soldiers and decisively conquered Darius who just like the last battle fled way from the battle field. Darius was assassinated later by his own cousin and general Bessus, an act that was linked to Alexander. After his death Alexander declared himself the Asia king and proceeded on to March in Susa great city that unconditionally surrendered with no resistance. Although Alexander had destroyed their king, he had to fight and use force to conquer most of Persian cities afterward. This included Persepolis, Acropolis, Cyropolis, Sogdianna, and Bactria among other cities. He established a number of new cities which were named after him during this period. This was basically done to extend his public image as a hero and a god. He also adopted a new title of king of kings or Shahanshah utilized by the first Persian Empire rulers. To maintain his status, he introduced Persian proskynesis custom to the army, compelling those who addressed him to kneel first and kiss one of his hands before anything else. Alexander highly embraced the culture of Persian where he even intermarried with him to ensure firm cross culture, an aspect that was highly criticized and opposed by his men (History of Macedonia, 2013).

Alexander in India

With the firm of the Persian Empire, in 327 BCE, Alexander focused his devotion to India. Having heard of great Macedonia general exploitation, the Omphis of Taxila, Indian King submitted to Alexander authority without any resistance or battle, However the Assakenoi and Aspasios tribes resisted strongly to support their king’s move. This resulted to a fight between Alexander and the two tribes in the entire 327 BCE, a war that extended to 326 BCE where he cooled the two tribes down. He eventually met King Porus of Paurave at the Hydaspes River Battle in the 326 BCE. Alexander was charged by Paurave King with elephants, however, Alexander and his troop battled so bravely to a point of conquering Porus. During this fight, the horse of Alexander named Bucephalus was murdered and as a tribute, Alexander founded two cities with one of them being named after his killed horse Bucephala.

Alexander had the intention of matching on to expand his conquest across River Ganges. However, his army was worn out by the Porus battle where the troop lost about 1000 men. The troop refused to continue with the fight despite Alexander’s attempt to persuade them. He eventually assented to their desire and split them into two where half of them were sent back to Susa under Admiral Nearchus command via the sea by the Persian Gulf. The rest of the men were marched to the Gedrosian Desert. He still intended to conquer the hostile tribes of India along the way, despite of abandoning the Indian conquest. However, the harsh desert terrain and engagements of military exhausted Alexander troop a great deal. In 324 BCE when the troop managed to get to Susa, Alexander had experienced huge losses.

Alexander in Egypt

In 332 BCE, Alexander conquered Syria and in 331 BCE, he conquered Egypt where he established Alexandria city. Alexander the great was named as the god Zeus-Ammon son in the Egyptian eponymous oasis. Although alexander had captured Egypt, he had no interest in imposing his own notions of behavior, religion, or truth upon the population as long as they were ready to keep open the supply line to equip and feed his troops. However, he ruthlessly mishandled those who tried to oppose him or those who hesitated to adhere to his wish. He left Egypt after designing the Alexandria city, extending his conquest campaign to the Phoenicia land apart from the Tyre Island city. Tyre population was so suborn and were highly resistance and as a result, he slaughtered a huge number of them and sold the survivors into slavery. This is among the city that can be used today to demonstrate the extent of his ruthlessness (Mark, 2013).

Alexander Death

In 324 BCE, Alexander was strongly hit by the death of Haphaestion his second-in-command and a longtime friend. Upon his recovery to this shock, Alexander planned to expand his empire further however this never came to be. In 323 BCE, Alexander also suffered a fever which resulted to his death 10 days after at the Babylon. He was only 32 during his death but with a great legacy in the way and building of a strong and big empire. His fever has been associated with many causes that range from Malaria, bacterial infection, meningitis, to poisoning. Upon his death, his empire was divided among four of his generals Seleucus, Antigonus, Ptolemy, and Cassander, since he had proclaimed that he should be succeeded by the strongest. Cassander his longtime friend ordered the execution of alexander wife from Persian and her son as well as Alexander mother to mark his ruling. His body was also stolen and split into two as it was marched to Macedon with one part going to Egypt since it was prophesied that the city holding its remain shall never be conquered. However, among all his successors, none was able to retain his legacy due to lack of military genius, intelligence and understanding like that of Alexander (Mark, 2013).

Alexander the Great – Annotated Bibliography

Heckel, W., and L. A. Tritle. Alexander the Great: A New History. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2011.

Waldemar Heckel and Lawrence Tritle are experts in classical history and painstakingly embarked on a controversial project to reevaluate the major themes rarely discussed in the mainstream academic circles. Consequently, they develop their thesis using little-known facts regarding the connection that existed between military techniques and sexuality in the ancient world. As leading experts in the field, Heckel and Tritle utilize traditional scholarship to explore one of the most enigmatic historical figures. The authors draw their evidence from written accounts on Alexander’s sexuality, religious views and the imprint he left on his contemporaries.

In addition to this, thirteen additional essays were commissioned to bolster the books point of view and serve as a clear depiction of Alexander’s short life. The main point in the book is that Alexander success was connected to his flagrant sexuality and its influence on subsequent militaristic views. A concise background is first provided before delving into a chronological overview of the connection between Alexander’s philosophy and military triumph.  The author’s intention is to provide a comprehensive overview of the major campaign conducted by the Macedonians and how they were connected to Alexander’s principles. History scholars and aficionados are the target audience in this particular case.  The systematic nature in which the book was crafted suggests that the author’s intention was to enlighten the reader and help them gain a better understanding of the Macedonian way of life. The book’s strength lies in the stimulating discussions included by the authors from historical authorities. Its main weakness lies in the inconsistency found when referencing pertinent art pieces and campaign routes. The book helped me gain a better understanding of the topic since it is a highly informed resource with in-depth discussions on a broad range of historical issues.

Martin, T. R., and C. W. Blackwell. Alexander the Great: The Story of an Ancient Life. Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Alexander the great was one of the most intriguing historical figures. Some even regarded him as a deity owing to his military success at a tender age before proceeding to expand his late father’s kingdom. Martin and Blackwell also acknowledge this reality. Their thesis suggests that a life wrought with complexities is what shaped Alexander’s temperament and the success that soon followed in the battle field. The author’s draw their evidence from written accounts regarding Alexander’s humanity and the warrior mentality pushed him eastwards. Apart from being a fierce warrior, Alexander also doubled up as a deep thinker fond of the art of contemplation. The text suggests that the hyper competitive world in which he was born in influenced his ambition and the success that soon followed.  Royal court machinations and the intense training that soon followed serve as a general outline of the main points in the text. The authors explore the intrigues that surrounded Alexander’s life and the major influences that shaped his destiny. In particular, the authors mention Aristotle as a major influence in Aristotle’s life and the influence of his teachings had on his perspective on life. The author’s goal was to aid laymen understand critical factors that motivated Aristotle to undertake such an arduous task. It is clear that the authors have a historical bias towards pointing Alexander as a flawless warrior king using historical sources. The strength of this source is in its reactionary nature to a prevailing tendency in Alexander scholarship. A resource based view is thus more reliable and rejects stereotypes regarding his overall demeanor. This book helped me gain a better understanding of Alexander’s human and purported divine nature which motivated his campaign.

Naiden, F. S. Soldier, Priest, and God: A Life of Alexander the Great. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, USA, 2018.

Even though Alexander the Great was an astute soldier and a gifted soldier, his role as a religious leader has largely been ignored by major historians. Naiden’s main argument is centered on the religious aspects of his Near East campaign and how this belief system acted as a major motivator. Additionally, the author endeavors to paint a new picture of the warrior king as a brave soldier who also played the role of a priest. The author utilizes the latest archaeological findings to reconstruct the role of religion in Alexander’s conquest campaign. Evidence uncovered in the Near East and India reveals that Alexander relied heavily on religion to control his army. At the crux of the main points is the use of religion to control soldiers who would otherwise have given up after encountering constant setbacks, disease and suffering. Alexander initially paid homage to Olympian gods but was soon sucked into Persian Zoroastrianism. Naiden endeavors to reveal to his scholarly audience that Alexander played the dual role of a general and chief priest. The strength of this book is in the detailed accounts of Alexander performing his ritual duties before eventually planning his campaigns. The only limitation in this account is that the author fails delve deeper into the responsibilities of a priest at the time. Naiden’s account has been instrumental in aiding me to come to grips the influence of religion to individuals during this period and what it meant to the practitioners. The general trend evident from the text is a glimpse into the lost world of iconic conquers who changed the course of history.

Romm, J. S. The Landmark Arrian: The Campaigns of Alexander. New York, NY: Anchor, 2012.

Alexander is still remembered by many for his brilliance as a military commander. His innovativeness and open-mindedness was even responsible for a majority of the successes that were witnessed during his stint at the helm of power.  The author’s thesis is that many of the conquests achieved by Alexander only happened because of his perceptive ability. This historical classic draws its evidence from Ptolemy’s memoir which is an accurate account of the military campaigns undertaken by the Macedonian army. The main point expressed in the book is that the cult of personality also played a major role in the victories that Alexander enjoyed during the initial stages of his campaigns. His enemies had already received reports about his victories and readily lost morale when facing such a formidable opponent. As a professor of classics, James Romm is most certainly biased when approaching Alexander’s role as a mighty commander.  The author’s primary objective is to provide and authentic reconstruction of Alexander’s military achievements and the tactics employed during his campaigns. Even though Arrian sought to provide an accurate depiction of his contemporary, his admiration of Alexander may also result in a grandiose depiction of the latter. Nevertheless, its strength lies in the fact that it is a definitive text and of the most reliable sources ever recorded regarding Alexander’s exploits. Additionally, his description of the campaigns breathes life to the accounts that had initially been recorded by writers such as Ptolemy. It helped me understand the true nature of the entire military campaign especially by utilizing a trend that avoids any contradictions in the narrative provided.

Waterfield, Robin. Dividing the Spoils: The War for Alexander the Great’s Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011.

Alexander the Great’s empire was one of the largest to ever be recorded in history of conquest. Stretching from Macedonia to the Indian subcontinent, it encompassed an assortment of cultures that were would now have to contend with the presence of a foreign ruler. Waterfield uses a cultural study approach to explore the events that took place after Alexander’s untimely death.  The author’s thesis therefore focuses on the word-changing events the accompanied the ruler’s death. Part of the reason why this was the case was because Alexander had failed to explicitly spell out his successor.  Courts were filled with intrigue, treachery and assassinations since the elite were eying the throne.   Waterfield’s evidence is drawn from Alexander’s closest companions who survived him; Anigonous the One-Eyed and Ptolemy.  The main point as captured in the book is that Alexander’s death led to a protracted conflict in his expansive empire which was largely decentralized. Also, the author’s primary objective is to expose the successors as mere plunderers who did not care about the kingdom but their selfish ambitions. Waterfield’s text is also important and useful since it eventually explores issues of contention that eventually led to the empire’s disintegration. The strength of this story is that it explores a forgotten history rarely investigated by scholars. It provides a clear Hellenistic historiographical account before and after Alexander’s death, thus providing the audience with the facts. The only limitation present was the presence of digressions regarding Hellenization and divine kingship which were unrelated to the main points. The text helped me to further understand the events that accompanied Alexander’s death, which contrasts Romm’s account.

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