Many scholars believe that Alexander the Great is one of the greatest military rulers. He was the son of King Phillip the second, who managed to bond all the Greek city-states. He is a motivational source for leaders such as Napoleon, Ceaser, and Hannibal the Carthaginian. Alexander the Great defeated his enemies and became the spearhead of the Corinthian League. He then proceeded to surmount the Egyptian and Persian empires, and he created twenty capitals under his name, for instance, he formed a large city which was named Alexandria. He also introduced the Greek culture in his colonies which resulted to the presence of Greek speakers in Eastern Anatolia till the beginning of the 20th century. Alexander’s military tactics are still taught in most of the world’s military academies, and many military rulers have always compared themselves to him. He is, therefore, one of the most influential leaders in history.
Keywords: Alexander, conquer, culture.
Conquests Of Alexander The Great
Alexander the Third of Macedon also referred to as Alexander the Great was born in July 356 and he died in June 323 BC. He was the son of King Philip the Second, and Queen Olympia. During his childhood, Alexander experienced how his father used the Macedonian army to win many battles in the Balkans. His father acknowledged his military skills when Alexander managed to tame an unruly stallion horse known as Bucephalus. Alexander took over his father’s kingdom when he was 20 years old, and he managed to conquer empires across the Mediterranean. This essay discusses his conquests, legacies, and the cultural impact on the empires that he conquered.
In 334 BC, together with 48,000 soldiers, 6,000 mounted militias, and 120 ships, Alexander crossed the boundary between Europe and Asia, which is known as the Hellespont. He invited Asia to challenge him by mounting a spear in the Asian land. Alexander managed to defeat the Persian governors of Asia Minor during his first battle with the Persian empire (Walbank, 2015). This victory forced the Persian provincial capitals to surrender to Alexander who proceeded to wage war with Caria, where he defeated Captain Memnon of Rhodes. He then proceeded into Pamphylian and Lycia, and he gained leadership over the coastal states.
In 333 BC, Alexander conquered Cilicia after defeating King Darius who later pleaded for a peace treaty. Alexander then took over Syria and the Levan coast. In 332 BC, he attacked Tyre, where he killed all men and sold the women and children as slaves. After conquering Tyre, many Egyptian towns except Gaza surrendered to him (Walbank, 2015). Alexander had to formulate a siege against Gaza because the city was heavily protected and it was also situated on a hill. Despite being discouraged on assaulting Gaza by his engineers, Alexander did not give up. He managed to conquer Gaza after staging three unsuccessful attacks.
In the late 332 BC, Alexander continued with his conquest of Egypt. In Egypt, the people referred to him as a freedom fighter. The people also declared him as the son of Amun, a god in ancient Egypt. Alexander left Egypt in 331 BC and headed into Mesopotamia where he overpowered King Darius the Third who fled to the city of Ecbatana.
Alexander the Great then seized the ancient city of Babylon and also advanced to Susa city and took its’ treasury. He then selected his best army and fought through the Persian Gates which were heavily protected by a Persian army. Alexander quickly moved to Persepolis because he feared that the capital’s treasury might be stolen. He stayed in Persepolis for half a year where he consented his soldiers to loot the city’s resources.
Years later, Alexander went to India and asked the chieftains to surrender. Some leaders surrendered while some decided to resist. For instance, Omphis the Taxilan leader adhered to Alexander’s requests but some Indian leaders who ruled the Assakenoi and Aspasioi refused to comply. Omphis feared Alexander so much that he offered him gifts and his whole army. Alexander restored Omphis’ title and he also rewarded him with treasured presents (Walbank, 2015). Together with Taxiles and 5000 soldiers, Alexander participated in the battle of the Hydaspes River where he won. Between the year 327 and 326 BC, Alexander waged war against the Aspasioi and the Gureans. Here, Alexander was wounded but he still managed to win against these clans. Alexander then invaded the Assakenoi who lived in Ora and Massaga. He won this war and burned the Massaga and Ora buildings. After realising their defeat, the Assakenians escaped to Aornos but Alexander followed them and captured the Aornos fort.
Alexander the Great’s Legacy
Alexander’s heritage spread past his conquests. His crusades improved trading between the West and the East because most of the people in the East had adopted the Greek culture. He founded cities such as Alexandria, Alexandria Arachosia, Alexandria on the Indus, Alexandria Prophthasia, Alexandria on the Caucasus, Charax Spasinu, Nicaea, and Old Kandahar. Among these cities, Alexandria was the largest city and it developed to become on of the greatest Mediterranean capitals because it was a vital trading point between European and Asian traders (Mark, 2012). It was also considered a cultural centre because people of different religions and ideals lived in it. Lastly, Alexandria was also considered an intellectual city because it had a large library which housed thousands of books including religious books. 100 years after Alexander’s death, Alexandria and his other capitals became very successful and they were characterised with decorative buildings.
Alexander also introduced the Macedonian rule in Asia. Even after his death, Alexander’s Asian empires persisted the Macedonian rule for approximately 300 years which were named the ‘Hellenistic period.’ One of the Indian capital that was under his control also developed and became the most influential Indian empire, it was named the Maurya Empire. After Alexander’s death, Sandrokottos became Punjab’s leader, and he used his power to defeat the Nanda Empire.
Many Romans, especially Roman Leaders such as emperor Trajan adored Alexander, and they always praised his achievements. Pompey the Great, a Greece political leader, admired Alexander so much that he copied his haircut (James, 2011). The Roman kings praised Alexander so much that they painted the images of Alexander on their clothes and valuables. Roman writers wrote books on how rulers should adopt Alexander’s leadership values, namely: friendship, clemency, anger, and desire for glory. Apart from inspiring Greece leaders, Alexander also motivated a local African chieftain known as Sundiata Keita who unified the Mandinka people and created the Mali Empire, which became one of the most powerful empires in Africa.
The Hellenistic Period
Alexander the Great conquests led to the infiltration of Greek culture and language into the Persian Kingdom. Alexander always wanted to incorporate Greek fundamentals into the Persian way of life. However, the intimate relationship between the men in Alexander’s army led to the development of ‘Koine,’ a Greek language (James, 2011). This dialect gained access in the Hellenistic world that it became the bridge vocabulary of the Hellenistic region. Classic Greek principles were the basis on which the education, artwork, and the local government of the Hellenistic world were created (Mark, 2012).
The Greek culture penetrated the Buddhist culture to form Greco-Buddhism which stimulated the growth of Buddhism and Greco-Buddhist art. The Greco-Buddhist empires assigned Buddhist priests to Sri-Lanka and China. Historians reveal that the ancient Greek religion has played a big role in influencing a large percentage of Buddhist traditions. For instance, part of Mahayana ceremonial performs like placing foods on altars and scorching incense are not different to those adopted by ancient Greeks (James, 2011). Most of the Buddha paintings were almost similar to statutes of the Greco-Buddhist culture. The Greek astronomical beliefs also had an effect on Indian astronomical beliefs. For example, the Indians accepted the Greek idea of a round earth in the midst of several circular globes. Alexander’s death forced the Macedon empire generals to divide the Greece empire into three territories: the Egyptian Ptolemaic Kingdom, and the Middle Eastern Seleucid Kingdom. These kingdoms always engaged in warfare during the entire Hellenistic age.
Therefore, the Hellenistic age changed the Greek civilisation from an introvert culture to a culture that allowed the building of relationships with people from other cultures. Despite the fact that the Hellenistic age was composed of different people from various cultures, the Greek principles of life were the most dominant and the most respected. For instance, the Greek language was made to be the official language. Therefore, Alexander the Great will always be remembered not only for his conquests but also because his leadership left a cultural impact that is still felt today.
James, G. (2011). The Legacy of Alexander the Great and the Hellenistic World. Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Retrieved on January 16th from http://www.coplac.org/publications/metamorphosis/metamorphosis.php?id=156.
Mark, J. (2012). The Hellenistic World: The World of Alexander the Great. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved on January 16th from http://www.ancient.eu/article/94/.
Walbank, F. (2015). Alexander the Great: King of Macedonia. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved on January 16th, 2017 from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Alexander-the-Great.