The Art of War

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Ambrosia
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The Art of War

Post by Ambrosia »

Hail everyone, some good posts lately. I am reading Sun Tzu The Art of War. Pretty cool book, and a quick read too. 1) GÇ£Warfare is the greatest affair of state, the basis of life and death, the Way (Tao) to survival or extinction. It must be thoroughly pondered and analyzed.GÇ¥
2) GÇ£When the general regards his troops as young children, they will advance into the deepest valleys with him. When he regards the troops as his beloved children, they will be willing to die with him.GÇ¥
3) GÇ£It is said that one who knows the enemy and knows himself will not be endangered in a hundred engagements, one who knows neither the enemy nor himself will invariably be defeated in every engagement. GÇ£
4) GÇ£The general is the supporting pillar of state. If his talents are all encompassing, the state will be strong. If the supporting pillar is cracked, the state will grow weak.GÇ¥
5) GÇ£Before the engagement, the one who studies, and determines in the ancestral temple that he will be victorious has found that the majority of factors are in his favor.GÇ¥ I decided to share these quotes to display that commanding and leading an army is the most difficult thing to do, especially during the times of Alexander and many other great leaders before and after him. So many responsibilities and concerns that he must face everyday money, controlling the armies temperament and moral, controlling your informants; like spies, and generals, overlooking the construction of bridges, cities, etc. Protecting and keeping a close watch on your supply lies making sure they remain open, studying terrain and planning and preplanning your future expeditions. It is interesting to me because I read some authors and historians and I donGÇÖt think they always include these aspects of leadership and knowledge that one who is leading others in to battle has to know. A leader such as Alexander was pretty much always on the move campaigning in foreign unknown lands, where anything could have happened. He would have never lifted his thoughts from The Art of War, and in the moments of peace he wouldGÇÖve prepared for it even more. This brings up another point that I believe very strongly in when reading or discussing this topic is when authors or others depict Alexander as a vulgar drunken, megalomaniac, who indulged himself on every whim he had without contemplating the consequences. This was a very intelligent methodical thinking young man, who prided himself on balance and moderati
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Re: The Art of War continued

Post by Ambrosia »

This was a very intelligent methodical thinking young man, who prided himself on balance and moderation, trying his best to behave nobly and with excellence in front of his delegates and army. He was always focused on the important task at hand, more concerned with the logistics and the hardships it takes to run and command an army, then with sex and parties. His success on his campaigns backs this statement. He never lost and was always able to change his tactics in accord with the enemies. This can be attributed to luck in some cases but he definitely studied every angle and possibility before engaging in any battle. As far as the vulgar drunken behavior part history has shown time and time again that men do not follow vulgar drunks who selfishly satisfy their own needs and desires, and donGÇÖt concern themselves with how they may appear to others who risk their own lives for him on a daily basis.
I think we can all agree here that Alexander possessed many super human qualities that the normal average person does not have. He was not a slave to the desires concerning the flesh and bone; his body he felt was a vehicle and a slave to him. I believe he had much more important things to contemplate then sex and parties and very little if any time to indulge himself in such matters as many authors will have you believe when reading their books. Many will make the point of his sexuality which as I explained above was not very important priority in his life. I donGÇÖt believe Alexander was gay, and I donGÇÖt think he would have presented himself in that way in front of others, and given his army the opportunity to pass judgments and spread inappropriate gossip or talk amongst the ranks. I mean can you imagine Alexander receiving news from one of his messengers or perhaps from Eumenes his secretary general informing him that many of the men have fallen ill due to dysentery or the progress of a recognizance mission lead by Ptolemy, or Hephaestion isnGÇÖt going as planned, and Alexander responding by saying GÇ£hold on I am busy indulging myself with wine, and sex with women or boys, wait outside!GÇ¥Take care everyone.
Jim
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Efstathios
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Re: The Art of War continued

Post by Efstathios »

I agree. Alexander was able to see the entire battlefield in his mind and the details on the positions of his troops and the enemy troops,the possible scenarios, and the outcomes of different positionings of his divisions. All these are nicely described in "Virtues of War" by Pressfield.As well as the difficulties that you mention that the army had to face,the fears,the prejudices,the tireness. It is actually very interesting to see how this army marched all the way up to india,after fighting battle after battle.Alexander managed to keep his soldiers' courage and strength high for a very long time.And considering what the army had gone through, it was a great achievement.

It is also very interesting to see that Alexander could have continued with Persian army and reserves from Macedonia if he wanted,but he didnt.He abandoned his dream of reaching the ocean because his troops, the troops that fought with him all the way until india could not continue anymore.And he did not want to reach to the end of the world without them...
"Hence we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks."
Sir Winston Churchill, 1941.
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Efstathios
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Re: The Art of War continued

Post by Efstathios »

And to reply about the "gay" part:(Sorry i do not want to turn this into a "was Alexander a gay" discussion,but it was mentioned) There is one thing that i do not understand.Why these people that state that Alexander was not a gay e.t.c are tagged as homophobics?Then we shoud put a tag to those people who state that Alexander was a gay (such as Spears and many others) as straight-phobics.But many of those people are gay anyway. I was browsing some sites yesterday and saw Spears',Ann Landers',Paul Cartledge's ,and many others' arcticles stating that Alexander was a gay.The problem is that they stated their oppinion as a fact.An indisputable fact.
And ok i will not comment on people like Spears and Landers who serve their own "gay" agentas and wishfull thoughts, but i expected more from people like Cartledge who are academics. How can an academic state something like this as a fact when only one or two of the ten sources that we have about Alexander imply his heterosexuality (and not homosexuality),and these sources are not even considered reliable.The different meanings of the Bagoas' kiss e.t.c have been discussed here not long ago.
If i would present a source (that Hitler wrote) and said that the germans were the supreme race,and then state it as a fact because Hitler wrote it,would it be right?But that is what these people do.
At least in Dr.Zimmermans' arcticle she clearly states that what she writes is her oppinion, not a fact. As for Mary Renault's book,that many believe that it gives you very well the atmosphere of the ancient world ,i totally disagree.She only gives the atmosphere that is in her mind.As she feels it.As a greek i have a different oppinion based on my own experiences.(which are a lot)
"Hence we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks."
Sir Winston Churchill, 1941.
xxx

Re: The Art of War continued

Post by xxx »

A novice tries to make Alexander he wants to believe, a scholar understands what he was. It's a critical point.The sources are pretty damn clear. He was bisexual by our modern definition. Whether he preferred the company of males or females is something only the man himself could answer. These kinds of posts are more about the writer's sexual hangups than about ancient history. So to the point - no he was not gay, but no he was not straight either.
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Re: The Art of War continued

Post by amyntoros »

Hello Jim, I don't think there is any evidence by which an author can claim that Alexander was a slave to the desires concerning the flesh and bone, or that he was a vulgar drunk who selfishly satisfied his own needs and desires and that the Macedonians would never follow such a man!! It should be acknowledged that the Macedonians were hard living, hard fighting, hard drinking men, here described by one of Alexander's officers, Ephippus of Olynthus, who wrote a work on the funeral of Alexander and Hephaistion. Athenaeus Book III. 120 d - e
"Crowding all the drinks at the beginning is a practice to be avoided, for they render it hard to absorb any additional moisture. But the Macedonians, as Ephippus* of Olynthus observes in his account of the funeral of Alexander and Hephaestion, never understood how to drink in moderation, but rather drank deep at the beginning of the feast. Hence they were drunk while the first courses were still being served and could not enjoy their food." And there's plenty of other support for this: Callisthenes was derided, even by Alexander, for rejecting invitations to drink and dine, for his disapproval of such events, and once for refusing to drink deep from a great bowl that was going the rounds. There was heavy drinking by all at Persepolis and the banquet at which Cleitus was killed. There's the Bacchanalian procession that lasted for days after the crossing of the Gedrosian desert and the drinking contest later at which several men died, including the victor. Not to mention the wine consumption at the banquets towards the end of Alexander's life. None of this can be brushed under the carpet, but I'm curious as to why it should be thought necessary to do so. There is never any mention of Alexander drinking before a battle or when on any kind of campaign. All recorded events are when the army is resting and not on active duty. This was a part of life back then - wine was a great gift from Dionysos and enjoyed by all - more so by the Macedonians than the rest of the Greeks, perhaps, but that's the way it was. They all fought hard and they partied hard and they never mixed one with the other. These were different times and I think it is necessary to understand this rather than to affect disapproval. . . .continued
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Re: The Art of War continued

Post by amyntoros »

As for the discussion turning towards Alexander's sexuality, there are still active threads on this subject so I'm not sure why it has surfaced again so soon. Suffice it to say that the army certainly didn't abstain from sex - they took captured women along with them on campaign, Craterus had a mistress, Philotas had a mistress, there are male/male relationships recorded at Philip's court, during the page's conspiracy, the Philotas affair, etc. The Macedonians had sex and Alexander had sex! It wouldn't have been a problem for anyone then and it shouldn't be a problem now. I don't want to see Alexander become completely sanitized for modern consumption. Yes, he was a warrior king, a great commander and conqueror, an incredible military strategist, a diplomat and probably a genius to boot. None of this means that he didn't have a social life or that he wasn't entitled to one, or that his social life should be subject to our approval. I don't see the necessity to ignore the evidence of alchohol or sexuality any more than I understand the need to exaggerate it. There's a middle ground and I think we ought to celebrate the man and not judge him by our own or someone else's moral standards. Best regards, Amyntoros
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jan
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Re: The Art of War

Post by jan »

Thanks, Jim, for the recommendation of the Art of War. I will have to read it.
Ambrosia
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Re: The Art of War

Post by Ambrosia »

No problem on the recommendation of the book The Art of War Janet, it was rather enjoyable for me and a book I have read many times through, I hope you enjoy it. To comment on (XXX)GÇÖs comment about how my post is more about my sexual hang-ups than about ancient history. That is ridiculous you donGÇÖt know me dude, the point of my post was not to bring up the stupid discussion of AlexanderGÇÖs sexuality Although I have my own opinion on that matter, I can really care less if he was gay, straight, or bisexual AlexanderGÇÖs sexual preference is really secondary no matter what anybody says, this includes the sources, and for your information the sources really arenGÇÖt as clear as you make them out to be my friend and as some of us on this forum know; it is much more complex than that. WhatGÇÖs more important is his incredible accomplishments and his contributions to history and the world. I posted my comments to explain that based on Sun TzuGÇÖs book The Art of War a leader has to be very cautious about how he can and should conduct himself in front of his army that is all. Alexander had to hold himself to a higher standard, because he was such an important figure to so many people. This means that he would have to a given special thought and consideration on how to conduct him self in certain situations, this means who or what he slept with, ate with, drank with, who he told certain things to, then say a common soldier would have. YouGÇÖre other comment about how a novice tries to make Alexander what he wants to believe, and a scholar what he was is also very humorous. So these authors because they have written books are now scholars and we should hang our heads and thoughts on every idea or concept they write about? We should of course read books, which is why I mentioned The Art of War so others could pick it up and read it, and see that commanding an army, and being someone in that position so far from home is so difficult on so many different levels; and would also play a very important factor on who this man was. Which I thought was the reason why, we come to this web site. I am not saying that Alexander was not human and flawed, or that he didnGÇÖt have a social life, drink, nor have sex, I am not trying to sweep that under the carpet and I agree with our friend Linda when she says understanding and finding the middle ground is important. I think these sources should be read, but not necessarily believed on all accounts; a lot of these books
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Re: The Art of War

Post by Ambrosia »

I agree with our friend Linda when she says understanding and finding the middle ground is important. I think these sources should be read, but not necessarily believed on all accounts; a lot of these books like all media I suppose are slanted, and sometimes very bias. I am just simply making the point that a person who commands men must try and hold him self to a higher standard and cannot be seen making an ass out of himself in front of others, and if he does he should make sure it happens as little as possible. This doesnGÇÖt necessarily include just sex; imagine we are soldiers and we are putting up tents, digging trenches, or whatever and word falls on our ears that the King/General, is relaxing and drinking martinis, or that he is having a good time some where else. This would cause some resentment I am sure? As soldiers we would have to know that are King/General was hard at work and concerned with our wellbeing, or else I wouldnGÇÖt seeing fight! Just for kicks I am also in the process of reading The Prince by Machiavelli another great book that touches on things of this nature.Take care everyone, Jim
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Re: The Art of War

Post by Efstathios »

Scholars are also humans.Do not forget that.And the fact that many scholars disagree in their books and essays shows us how there are many different beliefs and explanations about something.
"Hence we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks."
Sir Winston Churchill, 1941.
xxx

Re: The Art of War continued

Post by xxx »

Now this would be fun if I actually was responding to your post, but I was not if you look at the thread diagram completely. That was for the one who bills himself as an Athenian. But since you think I did, I will.As to your statement he would not have presented himself in front of the army as 'gay' let's make a very strong distinction here - Alexander could and did sleep with males. That does not make him gay and for the record, sleeping with males was perfectly normal for Macedonians and had been done by prior Macedonian Kings well before Alexander and Philip, usually from the page ranks. Now there would have been men who preferred only the company of males, and those who preferred only the company of females as well, he just wasn't one of them. Male/Male relationships were fostered in their warring society where frankly females were as Aristotle said, somewhere between dogs and men and not always available unless there was a handy village to pillage. Females were for war conquests and making heirs and that's about it. True friendships could only be had with other males. While Athenians were shocked in Macedonia men with beards were sleeping with each other, they weren't Athenians. And Philip was not the only Macedonian King to be killed by his male lover.The only complaint soldiers would have had about Alexander's sexuality was his lack thereof, i.e. he didn't sleep around as much as he should have and where the hell are the heirs they were waiting for? But that was the kind of pressure he would have had on a constant basis, but you're not going to read it in a book by one of his friends such as Ptolemy or Aristobulos. They would have seen this as Alexander typically denying himself, as a source of his 'moderation' which was very important to his persona. He never took more than his soldiers. But he was not entirely a stone. Alexander was 'protected' in death but only where he veered from what they thought was appropriate for a Greek/Macedonian. Crucifixions, mass killings, pillaging et al were normal Macedonian behavior so this was not what he was protected from. Now that is source analysis, not dismissing things you don't think are true because it doesn't fit your opinion of the King. However his enemies can and did point out that Alexander was not exactly Cassanova if you get my drift or if you've read Theophrastus. So even amongst the enemy there is valuable source material that needs analysis.Not all professors who write books a
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Re: The Art of War continued

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Hello,Yes, I think it is simply fascinating how he managed to do it. I mean take the soldiers on battle after battle- after the main objective had been attained(revenge). He, I guess, used the subtle tactic of keeping very short term goals that would seem easily achievable. To the soldiers, the end would seem just around the corner- when the reality was that Alexander's ambition meant that there could be no ultimate achievement of the goal- if it was left up to Alexander, there would be always one more mountain to climb and one more army to fight and one more problem to resolve, one more river to cross,- he would never be satisfied- some Macedonians discovered this quite late- some were about 65 years old and still fighting but even them, Coinus for example, got sick of it in the end. They finally had to call his bluff and call it a day because they probably didn't even know why they were fighting anymore. This joined to the other problems and difficulties of integration of Persian troops into the ranks, of proskynesis, of Philotas, Parmenion well, you know what I mean, meant it couldn't go on forever....
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Dean.
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Re: The Art of War continued

Post by dean »

Hello,Yes, I think it is simply fascinating how he managed to do it. I mean take the soldiers on battle after battle- after the main objective had been attained(revenge). He, I guess, used the subtle tactic of keeping very short term goals that would seem easily achievable. To the soldiers, the end would seem just around the corner- when the reality was that Alexander's ambition meant that there could be no ultimate achievement of the goal- if it was left up to Alexander, there would be always one more mountain to climb and one more army to fight and one more problem to resolve, one more river to cross,- he would never be satisfied- some Macedonians discovered this quite late- some were about 65 years old and still fighting but even them, Coinus for example, got sick of it in the end. They finally had to call his bluff and call it a day because they probably didn't even know why they were fighting anymore. This joined to the other problems and difficulties of integration of Persian troops into the ranks, of proskynesis, of Philotas, Parmenion well, you know what I mean, meant it couldn't go on forever....
Best regards,
Dean.
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Efstathios
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Re: The Art of War continued

Post by Efstathios »

"That was for the one who bills himself as an Athenian" I do not bill myself as an Athenian, i am an Athenian.There is a difference. "Alexander could and did sleep with males" Your oppinion.But kite the text (source) where you got this "fact" from.I would be interested to see it.I bet it is Curtius.But then i will kite too the text from Plutarch where he says about Alexander's raging denial of the young men that they would bring to him.
If you make something a fact by only using one source that suits you best and completely overlooking the other source that is saying the opposite thing,then you probably have taken the wrong turn. "Females were for war conquests and making heirs and that's about it." So most of the men in Macedonia were gay.At least that's what you are saying. They only used women in order for their race not to perish.I wont even comment that. But because you mentioned about Ptolemy and Aristovoulos,if homosexuality in Macedonia was so spread and most men were homosexuals,then what was the problem with these two men not writing about Alexander being one as well?What did they want to hide?If things were as you said then they wouldn't be writing anything out of the ordinary that should be kept in the dark.
"Hence we will not say that Greeks fight like heroes, but that heroes fight like Greeks."
Sir Winston Churchill, 1941.
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