Alexander the Great According to Arrian

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Alexander and His Campaigns: How He Changed The Alexander portrayed by Arrian in his The Campaigns of Alexander, is an interesting and complex Alexander, a character that slowly grows, matures and evolves throughout his adventures in new lands. Arrian is able to give an in depth description of the battles Alexander took part in as well as the lands he traveled to, while at the same time describing Alexander’s character.

He is able to describe how Alexander goes from an over-confident youth, with great dreams of grandeur, to an adult who remains almost the same but more wise, and then finally a sad shadow of his former self who finally dies in depression. As a youth Alexander set out with his army to Egypt with a confidence that he could do almost anything. After conquering Egypt he describes himself as being part god, to the dimay of some Greeks. He even refuses Darius’ offer for Alexander to marry his daughter, because he says he does not need his permission to marry Darius’ daughter.

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This part of Alexander’s life serves to show his “young and stupid” phase, where is extremely cocky, acting as if he could take over the entire world if he wanted to, even though he does see most of the world in terms of what people during Alexander’s time thought the world was. Although Alexander does become more wise to the ways of the world as he ages, he never really sheds his over-confidence until right before his death. Alexander shows more signs of maturity as he travels through Asia into India, where he battles Porus with his fleet of Indian elephants, which Alexander’s horses were not used to.

Although the battle between Alexander and Porus was long and hard fought, Alexander comes out victorious. But before that Alexander rides up to the dying Porus and asks what the defeated king wants. He answers that he wants to be treated as a king and Alexander proceeds to give Porus’ kingdom back. Although Alexander showed some sense of mercy all throughout his life, this part of the story serves to show how Alexander begins to grow up and realize that Kings of other countries are to be respected.

This is in stark contrast to the way in which Alexander treated Darius when he was asked to marry his daughter, when he was younger and even more over-confident. Although he still shows that trait, he has now matured enough to show respect to leaders of other countries who deserve it. Alexander continues to show changes of character in his battles with Darius and the Persian army. Although the Persians have Alexander’s army outnumbered, Alexander continues to prevail over Darius. As Alexander drives Darius further into Persia he captures the royal family but treats them with respect because he views them as political equals.

Darius continuosly sends Alexander letters thanking him for the treatment of his family as he is driven further into Persia. Unfortunately for Darius, A general in his army named Bessus does not want to be killed, so kills Darius himself hoping that he was achieving Alexander’s goal for him and that his life will be saved. Unfortunatelty because of Alexander’s respect for Darius it has the opposite effect, and Alexander orders that Bessus is executed. This part of Arrian’s The Campaigns of Alexander serves to show yet another step in the evolution of Alexander’s character.

Not only does he respect the king who he blatantly disrespected while he was younger, but he even treats his family with respect. Alexander showed his respect for equals by honoring Porus’ wishes. Alexander takes even another step forward by not only respecting Darius but avenging his death as if Darius was a family member, thus showing yet another point in Alexander’s personal evolution. Alexander seems to show considerable evolution in his character,but this all goes downhill when his friend and lover, Hephaestion dies.

Alexander begins displaying inconsolable grief and begins drinking heavily. He falls into depression and dies before he gets back to Macedonia. This is an unfortuanate end to Alexander’s life, especially after he experience so much positive personal growth, but he was always destined to end this way because as Arrian said “None of these things, I say, can make a man happy, unless he can win one more victory… the victory over himself. ” The Campaign of Alexander by Arrian is a great story of the adventures of Alexander, the growth of his character, and then his steep decline.

Through learning respect for others, improving upon that respect, and then eventually becoming depressed Alexander experienced more sights and personal changes than most people would in two lifetimes. Books like The Campaign of Alexander by Arrian show that an important history and a biography can easily fall into the same category. ——————————————– [ 1 ]. Pamela Mensch, translation. Arrian:The Campaigns of Alexander(New York: 2010, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group) [ 2 ]. Ibid [ 3 ]. ibid [ 4 ]. ibid [ 5 ]. ibid

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Alexander the Great According to Arrian. (2016, Dec 19). Retrieved from

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