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Does Alexander the Great Deserve his Reputation?


Alexander the great lived in 356-323 BC. He was the king of Macedonia. He conquered Asia Minor, Egypt, Babylonia, and the Persian Empire.  He was one of the greatest commanders to have ever lived as well as a favorite historical figure. He was a skilled politician who possessed strong personality and a fascinating compassion. This essay will discuss the greatness of Alexander the great as discussed by Plutarch.

Alexander the great

Plutarch proves that Alexander the great deserves his reputation. He starts by asserting that the day Alexander was born there was an omen, when the Temple of Diana burned down, that fortune tellers interpreted as a sign that a force that would destroy the world was born. Alexander the great is arguably one of the greatest historical figures. According to Plutarch, judging by Alexander’s many successful skills; it is easier to conclude that he was ‘great’.  The paper will shed more light on the greatness of Alexander the great especially on his abilities as a military leader, his personality and as a politician.

The military leader

When it comes to describing the military prowess of Alexander the great, superlatives like ‘genius’ and  ‘brilliant’ will better describe and characterize him. According to Plutarch, it was his genius that gave soul to his army. This is well explained by Alexander’s strong presence, ambition, determination and his many war victories. All these achievements instilled a sense of awe and admiration in his troops. Alexander had the ability to successfully adapt strategy and tactics to every kind of warfare thus setting him apart from other commanders. He was able to deal with sieges, minor skirmishes, revolts and guerrilla oppositions. For ten years, between 335 and 325 BC, he never lost a war. As a military commander and a political autocrat, he understood that military was a means of ending war and starting peace. Alexander’s power of speech is cited as being part of his leadership style.

The statesman

Alexander seemed to understand the statesmanship and skilful use of both political and diplomatic means. He was free to use and balance his political power the way he felt like to, his idea was about the goodwill of the population that was the moral foundation for his military power. He was thus seen as a liberator rather than an invader by the Asians. He also respected the Asians traditions and showed them respect. To the Iranians, he decided to win over their leaders by a partnership policy and appealed to their self interest. He knew what to do and where to do it, he took advantage of his reputation when he encountered Iranians and the cowardice of their ruler, Darius, he extended his policy to Persia.

His personality

Plutarch also talks much about Alexander’s scorn for luxury things. He did not desire pleasure or wealth but instead preferred excellence and glory. There is also the believe that he had charm, was self-confident and was compassion towards others. This is shown in some of the battles like when he pardoned starving soldiers who stole food during the Gedrosian desert march. Also, he treated Porus who he had defeated at Hydaspes as a king and let him rule over his Indian people, but at the same time extending his borders as well. He was also compassionate enough to treat Darius mother and wife as queens.

Despite the fact that Alexander made some mistakes and killed people, he still deserves his reputation. No one human being is perfect and we make several mistakes and this also applies to other great leaders. Alexander did many things to help his empire and although he caused his own people’s death, he did what he thought was best for them.      

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