The Latymer School History Magazine - page 35

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some historian argue, lover
Hephaistion. In Hephaistion
Alexander saw the Patroclus
to his own Achilles, the
immortal warrior whom he
wished to emulate with his
every action. This Alexander
began under his education
with Aristotle, which lead to
Alexander and his
Hephaistion visiting the
tombs of Achilles and his
Patroclus at the ruins of Troy.
In fact when Hephaistion
died of poisoning in
Ecbatana just eight months
before Alexander’s own
death, the King was so
inconsolably depressed that
it is speculated that he may
have killed himself out of
grief. Alexander was hugely
loved by his army, to the
extent that some even
refused payment, with one
man reportedly telling him
that “to serve in your army is
payment enough for me, my
King”. This love that his men
had for him was a key factor
in persuading his troops to
make the journey of over
5200 km² from one end of
his empire to the other,
fighting countless battles
and even building a mile
long bridge, out of whatever
stone they could find, during
the Siege of Tyre which
lasted almost seven months.
Alexander was not unaware
of this love his army had for
him, and so on many
occasions he would leap
over the walls of a besieged
fort in an attempt to coerce
his men into attacking.
Perhaps most unique was his
commitment to his army and
the fact that actually he
listened to their thoughts,
especially after a Pyrrhic
victory in India, when he
turned around and headed
back to Babylon. For such a
powerful individual to submit
to the desires of his own
soldiers, costing him
significant personal pride
and ambition, was extremely
rare, and highlights his
compassion and empathy.
For a person to command
the respect and love of
40,000 men requires skill,
but to be able to command
the love of 40,000 men who
are fighting constant battles,
seeing the deaths of their
friends is an ability that in
itself makes Alexander
remarkable.
Whist Alexander achieved
such Greatness at such a
young age, there are valid
arguments against his title,
as for all his
accomplishments he did
have several faults. On of this
was an inherited love of
alcohol from his father.
Towards the end of his reign,
Alexander was known to take
strong wines with his
breakfast and continue to
drink throughout the day,
throwing massive parties in
the evenings and refusing to
sleep for more than three or
four hours at night, which led
his friends and soldiers alike
to begin to question his
judgement. It was during
one of these such night time
escapades that Alexander,
whilst blindingly drunk, killed
his General Black Kleitos, a
man whom he had known
and loved since his
childhood. Not such an
inspiring figurehead after all
then. This was not much of
an anomaly in his behaviour
either, for he grew
increasingly ruthless and
bloodthirsty in the latter
years of his campaign,
although this may be
attributed to the many
injuries he received and his
increased alcoholism. Even
to this day, Alexander is
remembered in the Middle-
East for his violent
conquests, and is used as a
monster figure for little
children. Mothers warn their
child that if they do not
behave, Iskander (the Arabic
version of his name) will
come for them. This savage
memory of him is to be
expected however, for a hero
in one culture is going to be
a villain in another, because
to win a battle there must
naturally be a loser. Although
this is not necessarily a
positive memory of the Great
Conqueror, the fact that a
man can influence others
over 2000 years after his
death is indicative of his
greatness and is one of the
main reasons that Alexander
is often recorded as one of
the most influential figure’s in
world history. Another flaw,
however minor it may be,
was his unbending
stubbornness. This quality
led to him exiling himself
after his father married an
eighth wife, and refusing to
return until he and his
mother Olympias, the King’s
principle wife, were given
formal apologies. Despite
these flaws, it would be a
very harsh judgement
indeed to remove his title
when he changed the world
in such a phenomenal
manner.
So, does this man deserve
recognition? Does he
deserve to retain his title as
Alexander the Great? Does
he deserve to be regarded
as one of the greatest
people to walk the earth? I
think so. For a man to have
such a startling effect on the
world in such a short span of
years strikes me as
completely extraordinary.
Alexander’s was not the
largest empire in history,
although it was the second
largest contemporary empire
at its height, nor was he the
greatest fighter of his
generation, but he is a man
who still puzzles historians to
this day. He possessed
unsurpassable vision and
ambition which furthered
human history, not least with
the charting and mapping of
hitherto unknown parts of
the world by geographers.
Of course, contemporary
sources are few and far
between, but from what we
do know about this
outrageous man, he clearly
deserves to be remembered
as Alexander the Great,
conqueror of the known
world.
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