Reasons why Alexander was great?

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alejandro
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Post by alejandro »

alexanthros wrote:About the 'Alexanthros' thing:

in Greek Alexander is written ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ.
In modern Greek the letter delta (Δ) is pronounced 'th' like in 'this'.
Many glossologists believe that in ancient Greek the letter delta was pronounced as the latin 'D'.
Even today this bipronounciation exists. some say Alexandros and others Alexanthros verbally. But there is only one way to be writen and thats ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ.
Thanks mate! :D

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Re: Bob Costas of NBC

Post by aleksandros »

jan wrote:
Greatness is a matter of opinion, by essentially it is usually measured by the amount of real good that a person has accomplished in his life.

Did Alexander do good in his journeys? Did he do evil?

That is all a matter of opinion, according to the story teller, but to my mind, it is apparent that in today's world, there are a variety of opinions.

I believe that Alexander accomplished much good for the Hellenic cause, and for the Greek-Macedonian cause. He accomplished his own personal goals, and his belief in his mission was dictated by his belief in his own Divinity. He did good! Thus, he is Great!
I have to disagree with that. It isn't so much about good and evil. I think its more about extraordinary persons doing extraordinary things. I have never heard of a monk ever been named great. It is about power in politics and military and great things have to happen for an upset on the world chessboard to occur.
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Sure, but

Post by jan »

8) at that time he was called great because of his speed, his victories over his enemies during battles, and the thing that is always omitted since he liked Homer so much, is the amount of times that the Gods intervened for him, helping him to achieve his success. One thing that always bothers me the most about modern day writers is that none of them ever credit the gods or goddesses as Alexander would surely have done.

His greatness is preordained in that sense. He was meant to be. He came at the right time to do the will of the Greek Gods and Goddesses and essentially his success is the power of his religious beliefs over those of the Persians whose had fallen into bankruptcy due to the corruption of the courts.

Alexander was the fresh air in a stale and defunct society. He was known then as Great because he achieved success in a short amount of time.

The real point is that religious men become saints which is b etter than great. In my opinion, Saint Alexander is an inspiration for clergy even today.
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alexkhan2000
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Post by alexkhan2000 »

I think it's a combination of so many factors. He was arguably the greatest military commander, general, and warrior ever. He set the standard for the ultimate soldier - courageous, daring, brilliant, cool in the heat of the battle, cunning, determined, and physically perfect. But as the old saying goes, the amateur focuses on tactics and the professional focuses on logistics. Yes, Alexander won many great battles and sieges - big and small, but in between those battles, he was moving a small city worth (by modern standards) of soldiers and support staff across hostile territories and environments that covered over 2 million square miles and a path that measured over 22,000 miles.

To lead that many people over so many miles through such hostile territories, he had to have amazing leadership abilities with incredible charisma and powers of persuasion. As Napoleon said, it wasn't the Macedonian army that marched all the way to the Punjab; it was Alexander. Through various deserts, the Hindu Kush mountains, and the jungles, Alexander eventually led a force that exceeded 100,000 - a mobile empire. It's easy for us to just read these figures but can you really imagine what such an expedition was like to manage and lead? Alexander had the undying love of his soldiers. Their devotion and love for Alexander and Alexander's return of that love was unlike any in the history of mankind.

Then there's Alexander's magnanimity in victory and overall generosity towards the vanquished. Yes, we all know about the ruthless brutality doled out on Thebes, Tyre, Gaza and the burning of Persepolis, as well as wholesale slaughters in India, but generally speaking, Alexander was a generous ruler of those he conquered considering the age he lived in. And if you look at the conquerors or empires that came afterwards, Alexander fares even better. The fact that he publicly regretted his actions in Thebes or the burning of Persepolis amazed the people of his day. His enlightened treatment of women was considered revolutionary. He had an almost naive trust of his friends and long-time associates. When that trust was betrayed numerous times as the campaign wore on, this is where we see Alexander breaking down in the later years.

There's a lot of debate over whether Alexander really sought to "free the people of the world" and "unite them in universal brotherhood" or if he only sought personal glory and riches. Most likely, it was a combination of a little of all of the above. He certainly lived his life with an iron-like sense of mission and purpose rarely observed later in history. It was obvious that he wanted to create a fusion of nations, races, and cultures. Was this an idealistic and noble pipedream or just a matter of practicality to govern such a vast territory of different peoples and cultures? Whatever the case, the sheer ambitiousness of such an undertaking is truly great in itself. He was simply so ahead of his time that it's truly mind-boggling.

Compared to other great conquerors and generals like Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, and Napoleon, Alexander perfected the art of warfare with a combination of tactics, motivational skills, strategy, logistics and leadership in such an overwhelming manner that the likes of him will probably be never seen again. Alexander became the unattainable standard for all those who followed, and many of them only sought the superficial aspects like territory, material riches and the inflation of their egos and power. Alexander sought so much more beyond such superficialities.

There's a heroic quality to Alexander's achievements that the likes of Caesar, Genghis Khan and Napoleon simply can't match. Sure, Caesar lasted longer and set the stage of what became the most enduring empire of all time. Sure, Genghis Khan amassed the largest contiguous land empire ever. And sure, Napoleon had more impact over the direction of Europe in a relatively modern era. Still, for various reasons, none quite approach Alexander or are as admirable. There's a timelessness to Alexander and his remarkable achievements. It's simply about what the human mind and will are capable of when the combination of a brilliant intellect, physical courage, steely determination, leadership acumen, strategic soundness, understanding of human nature, passion for the unknown, and magnetic charisma are so perfectly molded into one man.

Alexander was certainly human. He had numerous flaws and vulnerabilities and he certainly made his share of mistakes. But that's what makes him so fascinating. It's that human nature that makes his achievements seem even more spectacular. His life is a travel through peaks and valleys - both within him and without. It's like his peaks are like the Himalayas and the valleys are like the gorges in the deepest abyss of the oceans. His nearly 33 years of life reads like that of many men over 300 years. His life can't possibly be captured properly in a 3-hour movie or even a miniseries of 15 hours. There isn't even a book that has yet attempted to fully capture the essence of his history and the man himself. And perhaps that's how it should stay. Those mythical and mysterious unknown aspects about him allow us to individually envision him as we see fit in our own minds. Alexander the Great is an idealized figure of what each one of us would like to be in our own individual ways. It's ultimately about striving for greatness. Alexander strove for it and he achieved "greatness", but ultimately, even he fell short of what he sought out to do. Indeed, as Ptolemy states in the movie, "All men reach and fall... reach and fall..."
Last edited by alexkhan2000 on Mon Sep 17, 2007 4:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Semiramis »

Hi alexkhan2000,

I'm usually a bit of a detractor of Alexander on this forum (relatively speaking of course) but that was a great post! It was so well balanced, I agree with pretty much everything. :)
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Re: Sure, but

Post by marcus »

jan wrote:8) at that time he was called great because of his speed, his victories over his enemies during battles, and the thing that is always omitted since he liked Homer so much, is the amount of times that the Gods intervened for him, helping him to achieve his success. One thing that always bothers me the most about modern day writers is that none of them ever credit the gods or goddesses as Alexander would surely have done.

His greatness is preordained in that sense. He was meant to be. He came at the right time to do the will of the Greek Gods and Goddesses and essentially his success is the power of his religious beliefs over those of the Persians whose had fallen into bankruptcy due to the corruption of the courts.

Alexander was the fresh air in a stale and defunct society. He was known then as Great because he achieved success in a short amount of time.

The real point is that religious men become saints which is b etter than great. In my opinion, Saint Alexander is an inspiration for clergy even today.
Well, technically he wasn't, because the first reference to him as "the Great" was about 100-150 years after his death, in a Roman text. He was probably referred to as "the Invincible", as suggested by Plutarch.

I'm not sure how much your tongue is in your cheek when you describe the role of the Greek gods. I would be much more concerned if modern writers did attribute his greatness to the intervention of the gods ... :?

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Re: Sure, but

Post by Vergina Sun »

marcus wrote:I would be much more concerned if modern writers did attribute his greatness to the intervention of the gods ... :?
We'll have to give the gods some credit, I guess. They didn't directly come down and help Alexander, but they did at least give him some motivation. Being told that he was the son of Zeus wasn't a little feat. He must have held strongly to that belief. It also allowed some people to respect him. They made him a pharaoh in Egypt. So in my opinion, the gods did play a part in Alexander's greatness. Maybe not in the modern sense, but certainly in some way.
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Greatness, and the Marathon of Hope

Post by karen »

Some years ago, innovative writers doing an ad for an Alexander thing -- Discovery Channel, I think -- shot an ice hockey player by the name of Wayne Gretzky giving his definition of "great." The idea was to get someone great to define great, since Gretzky, or "The Great One" as he's been nicknamed, is held by all who know hockey as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, hockey player ever.

He said something along the lines of, great is someone who does something that you look at and just go "wow." Someone doing something completely unique, that's never been done before.

So that would apply to Alexander, and yet for him it should have the added dimension of a life lived in such a way as to make a major difference in the world, another standard definition of "great." Of course with Alexander, whether you think that was for good or ill depends very much on which side you were on (at the time) or your perspective (looking at it from the present).

Being that it is Sept. 16, I'd like to tell you all a story which illustrates my own idea of what greatness is. I think you'll be hard put not to disagree. I need only think of these events to put myself in tears (it's happening again as I write this)... the kind of tears that feel good to cry, because they are tears of inspiration, of awe, and of joy that human beings can be so much better than they often seem to be.

Image

In Canada, Sept. 16 is the traditional date of the Annual Terry Fox Run, which people across the country have been participating in to raise funds for cancer research for 26 years.

Terry Fox was a high school student and an athlete of average talent but uncommon determination when he was diagnosed with bone cancer in 1977. To prevent the disease from spreading, his right leg would be amputated above the knee. Even so, he had only a 50-70% chance of surviving.

Quoting from a Sept. 1, 1980 newspaper article:
The night before his operation, his high school basketball coach, Terri Fleming, brought him a running magazine which featured an article about an amputee, Dick Traum, who had run in the New York City Marathon. And though his future was never more precarious, Terry dreamed that night about running across Canada.
He was haunted by what he had seen in the cancer ward -- kids being told they would die, kids screaming in pain, kids wasting away. "Somewhere, the hurting must stop," he wrote in his letter requesting sponsors. "I was determined to take myself to the limit for those causes.” I'm going to run across Canada to raise funds for cancer research, he told the Canadian Cancer Society, which was skeptical at first, and told him to find seed money and corporate donors. He found them.
“I'm competitive,” Terry said. “I'm a dreamer. I like challenges. I don't give up. When I decided to do it, I knew I was going to go all out. There was no in-between.”
Over 18 months he trained up to the point at which he could run a marathon -- 26.5 miles -- per day. On April 12, 1980, he dipped his artificial leg in St. John's harbor on the Atlantic Ocean, and began what he had named the Marathon of Hope.

Got that? Not 26.5 miles in a competition on one day, as the culmination of lengthy training. 26.5 miles PER DAY. Not 26.5 miles per day on two good legs with an even, balanced motion, as our bodies are designed to do, but on ONE leg and a prosthesis. He had a limping gait which came to be known as the "Fox trot." (Video) On one leg, this guy would have kept up with Alexander's army, no problem. Or got ahead of them -- Alexander knew to rest his army now and then. Terry Fox fox-trotted 26.5 miles per day, 143 DAYS STRAIGHT.

See, Canada is a really big country -- now that the Soviet Union no longer exists, I think it must be the largest in the world in land mass. Most people shrink even from driving across it, taking airliners instead. It takes two days just to drive across Ontario. Terry Fox's planned route was about 5,000 miles; that's why he started in April, which is still pretty chilly here. He wanted to get to Vancouver and dip his leg in the Pacific before there was serious cold and snow.

No one paid any attention at first. But gradually word spread of the incredible story that was unfolding. The media got on to it, prominent people started paying attention and lending their own cred to the drive, crowds started lining the streets in every town he passed through, and donations mounted. Gravenhurst, which is quite near where I live, raised $14,000 -- nearly $2 for every resident. He'd started with a goal of a million dollars. But he started thinking, what if everyone in the country donated just one dollar? That would be $23 million or so. Why not?

But he never made it to the Pacific.

About two thirds of the way, near Thunder Bay, Ontario (about a two-hour drive from where I live), he realized the chest pains he'd been suffering weren't going away. On Sept. 1, he had himself driven to the nearest hospital, where doctors discovered the cancer had spread to his lungs.

Did the incredible strain on his body contribute to that spread? It's hard to imagine it didn't. As well, running across the country for the last four and a half months had kept him away from regular check-ups.

The whole country was stunned and heartbroken. One of the national TV networks held a telethon the next day that raised $10 million dollars. Two provincial governments donated $1 million each.

Ten months of fighting the disease later, Terry Fox died, one month short of his 23rd birthday. The final tally of the Marathon of Hope was $23.5 million -- $1 and change for every Canadian.

But supporters were determined that the Marathon of Hope would never end, and began organizing Terry Fox Runs every Sept. 16. All over Canada, people are invited to run, walk, wheel, bike, roller-blade or otherwise propel themselves, so long as the propelling force is muscle alone, to raise funds for cancer. And they do, in virtually every town. Not counting this year, as it's too early, the total raised has been about $400 million. Terry Fox has gained the distinction of being named, in that register of modern greatness the Guinness Book of World Records, as the world's greatest fundraiser. In Canada he's been showered with every honour from our version of knighthood to his face on a stamp to a mountain being named after him. On the side of the highway where he had to stop, there's a beautiful bronze statue, that even has beads of sweat on the forehead, and stands on a base of amethyst.

...continued...
Last edited by karen on Sun Sep 16, 2007 9:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by amyntoros »

Vergina Sun wrote:
marcus wrote:I would be much more concerned if modern writers did attribute his greatness to the intervention of the gods ... :?
We'll have to give the gods some credit, I guess. They didn't directly come down and help Alexander, but they did at least give him some motivation. Being told that he was the son of Zeus wasn't a little feat. He must have held strongly to that belief. It also allowed some people to respect him. They made him a pharaoh in Egypt. So in my opinion, the gods did play a part in Alexander's greatness. Maybe not in the modern sense, but certainly in some way.
The thing is, the gods were a part of everyone's life, all the time, which is quite different from most people today. Now Alexander's belief in his own divinity may have inspired him, but during his campaigns I wouldn't say that it allowed some people to respect him in the sense that it helped further the campaigns. There's no evidence that the Macedonian army was inspired by Alexander's beliefs and some small evidence to the contrary - at least while he was alive.

IMO, Alexander would have had the same motivation had he never been told or believed that he was the son of a god. In a polytheistic society much depended on which god or gods you chose to call upon or made an offering to according to the situation. Of course, there was also a limit as to how much credit one might give to the gods. It's evident that Alexander was deeply religious, but there's nary an instance where a victory is said to have been won because of the gods. They believed the gods could assist, but ultimately it was down to Alexander (or the army) for the victory. Of course, if they lost they could then blame the gods or believe that they had chosen the wrong one and/or neglected the one(s) who could have helped with the victory. Here’s an example of how this works from Plutarch's Life of Eumenes

And at night, having resolved on marching, he fell asleep, and had an extraordinary dream. For he thought he saw two Alexanders ready to engage, each commanding his several phalanx, the one assisted by Minerva, the other by Ceres; and that after a hot dispute, he on whose side Minerva was, was beaten, and Ceres, gathering ears of corn, wove them into a crown for the victor. This vision Eumenes interpreted at once as boding success to himself, who was to fight for a fruitful country, and at that very time covered with the young ears, the whole being sown with corn, and the fields so thick with it that they made a beautiful show of a long peace.

And he was further emboldened when he understood that the enemy's password was "Minerva and Alexander." Accordingly he also gave out as his "Ceres and Alexander," and gave his men orders to make garlands for themselves, and to dress their arms with wreaths of corn. He found himself under many temptations to discover to his captains and officers whom they were to engage with, and not to conceal a secret of such moment in his own breast alone, yet he kept to his first resolutions, and ventured to run the hazard of his own judgment.
The death of Cleitus is another example where one "excuse" given was that Alexander should have made offerings to Dionysos that day instead of the Discouri. There was very much the same sense that "the gods are on our side" that you see today. Except that in monotheism you don't see the losing side blaming their choice of god. In polytheism, one could do that.

One of my favorite poems (well, an epitaph really) about how the gods could affect a situation follows. It's by Dionysios of Andros via Pure Pagan: Seven Centuries of Greek Poems and Fragments

No wonder I slipped, and fell, and died,
Soaked by Zeus outside,
Soaked by Bacchus within.
The odds were two to one
And they were gods.

:)

Best regards,
Amyntoros

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Greatness and the Marathon of Hope II

Post by karen »

Now Terry Fox lived recently, so we have lots of information about him, including his own words. And, in my opinion anyway, some of the keys to greatness can be found in them. Emphases mine:
“I loved it,” Terry said. “I enjoyed myself so much and that was what other people couldn't realize. They thought I was going through a nightmare running all day long.

“People thought I was going through hell. Maybe I was partly, but still I was doing what I wanted and a dream was coming true and that, above everything else, made it all worthwhile to me. Even though it was so difficult, there was not another thing in the world I would have rather been doing."
If you are going to do something so incredibly hard... you have to really love doing it. Else you're not going to finish. Can you imagine how hard it is, how much it tires, and hurts, to run 26.5 miles a day -- through every kind of weather a Canadian spring and summer can throw at you? Or how boring it is? Sure it must have been party time in the towns, with crowds cheering him on... but most of the journey across Canada isn't towns, but miles and miles and miles of trees or fields. He had to take huge joy in what he was doing to get through it.

I think what he is talking about here is something that I have only felt myself in short flashes, and don't know that I can describe -- the joy of total and utter commitment to something one totally believes in and wants. Only people willing to undertake total and utter commitment ever get to feel that joy -- the joy of living life entirely according to a self-chosen and beloved purpose. I also think that living life entirely according to a self-chosen and beloved purpose is a path to greatness. And that purpose has to be so strong inside you that it enables you to overcome all the obstacles.

From the sponsorship letter:
The running I can do, even if I have to crawl every last mile.
Thunder Bay Press Conference, Sept 1:
"I just wish people would realize that anything's possible if you try. When I started this Run, I said that if we all gave one dollar, we'd have $22 million for cancer research, and I don't care, man, there's no reason that isn't possible. No reason."
I guess it's almost a truism that no one's going to be great without the can-do attitude -- and, if he's going to make a difference in the world, without expecting it of other people.

Sponsorship letter again:
Somewhere, the hurting must stop... We need your help. The people in cancer clinics all over the world need people who believe in miracles.
Now this is where Fox alludes to the necessity of his mission, the source of his resolve. He's not saying, "Oh, wouldn't it be nice if the hurting would stop" or "Hey, sometime we should get around to working towards making the hurting stop." He's saying, "the hurting MUST stop." It's a command. He couldn't stand seeing the suffering of cancer victims without doing something... something very very big. That sense of mission gave him a moral authority and made him a natural leader. I think it is a key to greatness also.

Journal, Day 15, South Brook Junction, NF [Newfoundland]:
"Today we got up at 4:00 am. As usual, it was tough... I went out and did fifteen push-ups in the road and took off. I want to set an example that will never be forgotten."
Thunder Bay Press Conference, Sept 1:
"That's the thing about cancer. I'm not the only one, it happens all the time to people. I'm not special. This [the resurgence of his cancer] just intensifies what I did. It gives it more meaning. It'll inspire more people… "
In both these quotes he speaks in the future tense, setting out his determination to make a difference in the world. Here too is the willingness to sacrifice -- even to make the ultimate sacrifice. The resurgence of the cancer, and his eventual death, did indeed inspire more people to donate. I return again to the theme of total commitment. I think total commitment brings automatically an awareness of the effect it will have on other people.

It also brings the sense of destiny. Again, the idea first came to him in a dream -- a dream of running across the country, which he had on the eve of the amputation of one of his legs. Which brings me to the last point: transcendance.

Journal, Day 15, South Brook Junction, NF:
"If I died, I would die happy because I was doing what I wanted to do.
Sponsorship letter:
I am not a dreamer, and I am not saying that this will initiate any kind of definitive answer or cure to cancer. But I believe in miracles. I have to.
Terry Fox wasn't just a very determined athlete. He was also a cancer victim, who'd been told he had only a 50-70% of surviving the first bout. And cancer, even if it seems to have been beaten, can come right back, in a more vital part of the body. People who get cancer when young don't have good odds of long life. He knew all that.

But just as he wanted to transcend the physical limitations of having lost one leg -- who would have thought it possible for an amputee to run 26.5 miles a day for four and a half months? -- I think he wanted to transcend the time limitations of the likely shortness of his life. That meant taking on a mission that was bigger than himself, and that could continue even after he was gone.

He also wanted to transcend the sort of emotional limitations that seriously ill people have to face -- fear, depression, despair, a sense of weakness or inadequacy. He absolutely refused to let these things stop him, refused to have anything to do with them. Part of why he stopped getting check-ups was that each time he went in, he was afraid. So he decided, the heck with that -- I'll do this huge thing I dream of doing, and if it kills me, so be it -- the dream will go on. It could even be that at some level he knew for sure he was going to die -- and wanted to accomplish something major in a short time.

More excerpts from his trip journal here.

Now to bring this back on topic, to Alexander: I know some people would be deeply offended even by the comparison of a conqueror to a person who raised funds to beat a disease. And I think it goes without saying that Terry Fox's motives were much more altruistic than Alexander's. But in the ethos of Alexander's time and culture, war, even aggressive war, was seen as a worthwhile, even noble or sacred, activity. Working from that, we can see the similarities. The sense of mission, the sense of destiny, the can-do ethic, the love for what he was doing (can we doubt it?), the joy of total commitment, the willingness to sacrifice (e.g. putting himself on the front line, pouring out the water in the desert, which his army would have recognized as a libation, and paying off the army's debts) ...and the desire to transcend limitations (which I wrote about previously in a message that got posted on the main Pothos website here), physical or emotional... all add up to both motivation and ability to accomplish what he did, which accomplishments led to him being called "Great."

My take on it, anyway.

Warmly,
Karen
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Post by Fiona »

alexkhan2000 wrote:I think it's a combination of so many factors. He was arguably the greatest military commander, general, and warrior ever. He set the standard for the ultimate soldier - courageous, daring, brilliant, cool in the heat of the battle, cunning, determined, and physically perfect. But as the old saying goes, the amateur focuses on tactics and the professional focuses on logistics. Yes, Alexander won many great battles and sieges - big and small, but in between those battles, he was moving a small city worth (by modern standards) of soldiers and support staff across hostile territories and environments that covered over 2 million square miles and a path that measured over 22,000 miles.

To lead that many people over so many miles through such hostile territories, he had to have amazing leadership abilities with incredible charisma and powers of persuasion. As Napoleon said, it wasn't the Macedonian army that marched all the way to the Punjab; it was Alexander. Through various deserts, the Hindu Kush mountains, and the jungles, Alexander eventually led a force that exceeded 100,000 - a mobile empire. It's easy for us to just read these figures but can you really imagine what such an expedition was like to manage and lead? Alexander had the undying love of his soldiers. Their devotion and love for Alexander and Alexander's return of that love was unlike any in the history of mankind.

Then there's Alexander's magnanimity in victory and overall generosity towards the vanquished. Yes, we all know about the ruthless brutality doled out on Thebes, Tyre, Gaza and the burning of Persepolis, as well as wholesale slaughters in India, but generally speaking, Alexander was a generous ruler of those he conquered considering the age he lived in. And if you look at the conquerors or empires that came afterwards, Alexander fares even better. The fact that he publicly regretted his actions in Thebes or the burning of Persepolis amazed the people of his day. His enlightened treatment of women was considered revolutionary. He had an almost naive trust of his friends and long-time associates. When that trust was betrayed numerous times as the campaign wore on, this is where we see Alexander breaking down in the later years.

There's a lot of debate over whether Alexander really sought to "free the people of the world" and "unite them in universal brotherhood" or if he only sought personal glory and riches. Most likely, it was a combination of a little of all of the above. He certainly lived his life with an iron-like sense of mission and purpose rarely observed later in history. It was obvious that he wanted to create a fusion of nations, races, and cultures. Was this an idealistic and noble pipedream or just a matter of practicality to govern such a vast territory of different peoples and cultures? Whatever the case, the sheer ambitiousness of such an undertaking is truly great in itself. He was simply so ahead of his time that it's truly mind-boggling.

Compared to other great conquerors and generals like Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, and Napoleon, Alexander perfected the art of warfare with a combination of tactics, motivational skills, strategy, logistics and leadership in such an overwhelming manner that the likes of him will probably be never seen again. Alexander became the unattainable standard for all those who followed, and many of them only sought the superficial aspects like territory, material riches and the inflation of their egos and power. Alexander sought so much more beyond such superficialities.

There's a heroic quality to Alexander's achievements that the likes of Caesar, Genghis Khan and Napoleon simply can't match. Sure, Caesar lasted longer and set the stage of what became the most enduring empire of all time. Sure, Genghis Khan amassed the largest contiguous land empire ever. And sure, Napoleon had more impact over the direction of Europe in a relatively modern era. Still, for various reasons, none quite approach Alexander or are as admirable. There's a timelessness to Alexander and his remarkable achievements. It's simply about what the human mind and will are capable of when the combination of a brilliant intellect, physical courage, steely determination, leadership acumen, strategic soundness, understanding of human nature, passion for the unknown, and magnetic charisma are so perfectly molded into one man.

Alexander was certainly human. He had numerous flaws and vulnerabilities and he certainly made his share of mistakes. But that's what makes him so fascinating. It's that human nature that makes his achievements seem even more spectacular. His life is a travel through peaks and valleys - both within him and without. It's like his peaks are like the Himalayas and this valleys are like the gorges in the deepest abyss of the oceans. His nearly 33 years of life reads like that of many men over 300 years. His life can't possibly be captured properly in a 3-hour movie or even a miniseries of 15 hours. There isn't even a book that has yet attempted to fully capture the essence of his history and the man himself. And perhaps that's how it should stay. Those mythical and mysterious unknown aspects about him allow us to individually envision him as we see fit in our own minds. Alexander the Great is an idealized figure of what each one of us would like to be in our own individual ways. It's ultimately about striving for greatness. Alexander strove for it and he achieved "greatness", but ultimately, even he fell short of what he sought out to do. Indeed, as Ptolemy states in the movie, "All men reach and fall... reach and fall..."
What a good summary. Thank you, I enjoyed reading that. As you say, it's the combination, isn't it? The greatest military leader, the visonary ahead of his time, the hero with his mind fixed on his goals, and the human being. I loved your bit about his highs and his lows - very well said, indeed!
If anyone ever deserved to be called 'the Great', he did. It's true that a lot of things came together to give him the opportunity to prove his greatness - he was in the right place, at the right time - but everything he did, he did to the utmost, the bad as well as the good, and that's why he's still so inspirational. Even with all his talents, no-one could do again what he did, the world has changed too much. But anyone and everyone can aspire to live a life with the quality of his, and that's part too, I think, of what you rightly call his timelessness.
Fiona
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Post by alexkhan2000 »

Fiona wrote: What a good summary. Thank you, I enjoyed reading that. As you say, it's the combination, isn't it? The greatest military leader, the visonary ahead of his time, the hero with his mind fixed on his goals, and the human being. I loved your bit about his highs and his lows - very well said, indeed!
If anyone ever deserved to be called 'the Great', he did. It's true that a lot of things came together to give him the opportunity to prove his greatness - he was in the right place, at the right time - but everything he did, he did to the utmost, the bad as well as the good, and that's why he's still so inspirational. Even with all his talents, no-one could do again what he did, the world has changed too much. But anyone and everyone can aspire to live a life with the quality of his, and that's part too, I think, of what you rightly call his timelessness.
Fiona
Hi Fiona,

I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I'm glad to be here and sharing my thoughts. I've spent the past year or so reading over 30 books about Alexander and I've come to analyze and distill his life in a more thoughtful manner recently. I've always been interested in the stupendous figures of history - ranging from Alexander to Einstein, Caesar to Leonardo da Vinci, Genghis Khan to Thomas Jefferson, Newton to Darwin, Rousseau to Nietzsche, Bach to Beethoven and Wagner, Napoleon to Gandhi, Roosevelt to Bill Gates, etc. They are all fascinating and inspiring in their own individual ways, but there's just something about Alexander that seems to eclipse them all. He somehow seems approachable as a down-to-earth human being as remarkable and colossal of a historical figure as he was.

He remains a fascinating and inspiring figure to many people today, including some of the world's brightest minds in the field of politics, business, and the arts. Political leaders ranging from Caesar and Augustus of Rome, Charlemagne of the medieval times, Frederick the Great, George Washington, Napoleon Bonaparte and others sought to emulate and capture the glory that was Alexander's over so many centuries. John F. Kennedy's presidency has been compared to Alexander's rule. Business leaders ranging from ex-IBM CEO Lou Gerstner to Ted Turner also viewed Alexander as a role model in leadership. Alexander is a beloved and admired historical figure in the Far East. I should know: I'm a Korean-American who grew up in Korea and Alexander was my first "hero" as an impressionable 7-year-old.

Yes, some people say he was lucky, that he had it easy based on what his father Phillip had established by the time he took over, that he had a weak and cowardly enemy in Darius, and that the dominos just seemed to fall in his favor wherever he went. But there's a saying that goes, "Luck comes to those with the prepared mind." Was Bill Gates lucky? Of course, he was! It seemed like Microsoft was Macedonia when IBM (the evil empire) had a Darius-like CEO named John Akers. :lol: Gates won fair and square, just like Alexander did. I've read a lot about Genghis Khan as well. As admirable as he was, the rest of the world just wasn't prepared for what he and his hordes were about to unleash and that's why they got run over. Genghis Khan really didn't have a worthy opponent to speak of. In contrast, Napoleon probably had the toughest set of opponents amongst all of the great conquerors and that's why he lost his share of the battles.

I like to think that Alexander's greatness goes beyond his Mozart-like command of his army and the battlefield although that's what he's ultimately known for. Having been educated by one of the greatest intellectuals of history in Aristotle, Alexander also had the intellectual capacity and the love of the arts that puts him in the most refined and rarefied realm amongst the history's greatest conquerors and warriors. He developed a love for medicine and other sciences such as botany, zoology and astronomy under the tutelage of Aristotle. Obviously, philosophy and ethics were a major part of the curriculum as well. He was also an accomplished musician (lyre) and knew the plays of Euripides by heart. A bookworm during the long evenings and nights of his campaigns, he would order to have the latest books from Greece sent over so he could keep his mind sharp and entertained. He had an insatiable thirst for knowledge and he sought to share and spread that knowledge wherever he went. Could that be said for Genghis Khan or Tamerlane? Apparently not...

Ultimately, it was this intellectual refinement and understanding of human nature that seem to set Alexander apart from the rest over the course of history. It became fashionable in the second-half of the 20th century to heave Alexander amongst the likes of tyrants like Hitler, Stalin, Mao and other autocratic and totalitarian villains of the 20th century, but I think the pendulum is swinging back to a more balanced view about who Alexander was and what legacy he leaves behind. Comparing Alexander to the likes of Hitler and Stalin is just foolishness. :roll: If the likes of them only had 1/100th of the talent and genius that Alexander had, we'd all be living in a hell-like world.

No single figure in history had as much absolute power as Alexander had over the known world. And it's a good thing that such power had only rested in Alexander's hands. He could have slaughtered so many more and burnt down so many more cities but he didn't. He could have imposed Greek culture and religions over those he conquered but he didn't. He actually offended his own Greek/Macedonian officers by adopting the cultures and the dress of those he vanquished. Aristotle told him that Persians should be treated like plants and animals but he disregarded such advice. There was much he liked about Persia and their culture and he envisioned the creation of a greater nation/empire by fusing the best of the West with the best of the East. It's a vision that'd be considered "progressive" in the current age and environment. It is still too idealistic and is now more difficult than ever with religions that didn't exist in Alexander's time (Christianity and Islam) dividing the West and East and threatening the very survival of the human race.

He let things fall where they may even though he had the power to impose his absolute will over the lands he conquered. You wonder how different the world would be today if he had been like a Hitler-type butcher. Thankfully, he wasn't. In the macro-view of world history, Alexander certainly made it possible for Christianity to develop into what it is today - the pillar of Western civilization. Can we imagine Christianity forming under the auspices of the Persian Empire? It's simply impossible to envision a history and the world today without what Alexander achieved in his brief 32 years of existence. As I said, it all has to be viewed in a macro manner.

The Hellenized Middle East and western Asia was what made it possible for the emerging Roman Empire to get a foothold there. Without that Hellenized Asia, the Romans, with so many other problems on their other frontiers such as Gaul, Germania, and Carthage, would have been too distracted and their resources too scattered to mount an effective campaign against the Persian Empire. Just by defeating the weakened Macedonia, all of the Middle East and Asia Minor were essentially just turned over to Rome. And, of course, the model of imperial Rome under the likes of Caesar and Augustus was based on the empire that Alexander had established. Alexander's own empire may have crumbled with his death, but the Hellenization that he brought about and the adoption of the remains of his empire by Rome ensured that his legacy was far greater than his mere territorial conquests. Truly, over the long haul, it really was an empire of the mind, a legacy that is felt to this very day...

Ed
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Post by athenas owl »

Karen, great posts (as are everyone's). I hadn't thought about Terry Fox for a very long time, but I remember now when that happened ( I watched CBC back then, it was the closest channel).
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Post by karen »

AO, you're in Canada right? (Where? I'm in Huntsville -- 2 1/2 hours roughly north of Toronto)

What I wonder is how much people outside of Canada have heard of Terry Fox. I assumed that no one had, but then I read somewhere that there are Terry Fox runs in 60 countries. I didn't think the international media followed his story. ??

Ed, I think your posts would make even Alexander blush.

Warmly,
Karen
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Post by athenas owl »

karen wrote:AO, you're in Canada right? (Where? I'm in Huntsville -- 2 1/2 hours roughly north of Toronto)

What I wonder is how much people outside of Canada have heard of Terry Fox. I assumed that no one had, but then I read somewhere that there are Terry Fox runs in 60 countries. I didn't think the international media followed his story. ??

Ed, I think your posts would make even Alexander blush.

Warmly,
Karen
No, I'm in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S., lived in places around here where the CBC came in (pre-cable) better than American news (which in Alsaka in the early 80's aired a week later, I kid you not..imagine life before the 24 hour news channels, it was wonderful), both in Alaska and northern Washington.

I have great firends in Canada, visit them a lot, Vancouver and then in Alberta, Calgary, and out on the prairie. Maybe that's why I know more about it. But like you say, his story is known outside Canda. It should be.

You did a great job tying his story into ATG's btw. The drive and the inner motivations, though Terry Fox' were more "pure", certainly by our modern standards. An incredible kid.
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