Alexander the Great’s Impact on the World

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Alexander the Great is without doubt one of the greatest military leaders of history. Not only did Alexander of Macedon conquer enormous areas of the known world but also he demonstrated dynamic leadership and masterful strategy on a large scale and tactics on the battlefield. During his life, he ruled the largest empire the world had ever seen, which stretched from ancient Greece to India. The son of King Phillip II of Macedon, Alexander was educated by the philosopher Aristotle and first led Macedonian troops at age 18.

Many times Alexander was worshipped as a god in some of the countries he ruled. He had a huge impact on world history spreading the seeds of western culture and philosophy across the world and has legends and stories about him in over 80 languages. He was head strong, violent, extremely brave, politically cunning, loved by his men, and a gifted leader. Few individuals have had the sort of impact on history that Alexander did. With his death, what was called the Hellenic Age becomes the Hellenistic. No longer was Greece a minor collection of city states, but a mighty empire.

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The western world, for better and for worse, became almost a single place, united by a common culture that left its mark on language, literature, and politics. Alexander extended the boundaries of European civilization as far as India, and left behind a definite impact on the history, art and religion of the areas he conquered. Alexander sparked what is known as the Hellenistic period. This period was the pinnacle of Greek influence in the ancient world; the Hellenistic period was the time after Alexander’s death when Greeks, Persians and other cultures were mixed together with Greek culture being the main influence.

Before his death, Alexander created a unified ruling class for his huge empire; he placed a mixture of Persians and Greeks in charge of different satrapies in his empire. He encouraged the inter-marrying of Greeks and Persians and the result was the combination of the two cultures and the spread of Greek culture throughout the world. Alexander the Great’s military expedition brought many Greeks and Macedonians to the East through the Persian Empire and into India.

The men in his army, families, historians, philosophers, poets, scientists and others traveling with Alexander carried their Western customs with them and he made sure to place Greek and Macedonian people in charge of his conquests along the way. As a result, Western culture mixed with Eastern culture to create a new culture throughout Alexander’s Empire. Many people fail to realize that Alexander has had a definite affect on us today, although not as great as he would have had on people of the past.

In most parts the world today, Alexander The Great is considered a legend; however, in some places, Alexander is considered a god. One of the most notable people in history, Alexander has reached an iconic status in our world today. He possibly may have even been referred to in the Quran (Surah 18:89-98). There are still many stories told about him including folktales, and movies. In modern Iran, Alexander is still known as an evil king who nearly destroyed the ancient Persian culture and religion.

Although the effect of “Alexander Mania” has died down since the time of his reign, you can still see the mark that he has left on today’s world. One particular side effect that Alexander’s conquests inspired admiration in the military leaders that followed after him, though he may have also made them feel a bit of status anxiety. Scipio Africanus, and his Carthaginian counterpart Hannibal Barca were both recorded to have felt a slight sense of inadequacy at being unable to achieve the same level of military prowess as Alexander.

Hannibal, in particular, can be seen as having felt status anxiety when he compared himself to Alexander. According to classical accounts, he felt that Alexander would not have been defeated in the Battle of Zama, despite the superior tactics and numbers of the Roman legions. It was said that he believed that, if he could have beaten The Romans during that critical battle, he could claim the same level of military genius as Alexander. Julius Caesar, often heralded as the greatest man to have come from ancient Rome, also felt pressured by the myth of Alexander.

Roman society, the military in particular, often felt status anxiety whenever the topic of Alexander the Great was brought up. Due to his status, Caesar often felt a great deal of pressure to at least appear to have the same status of greatness as the fabled Macedonian ruler. Napoleon Bonaparte, perhaps one of the few generals that can be considered in the same league as Alexander, often compared himself unfavorably with the Macedonian. By most accounts, Napoleon was a man who was supremely confident about his talents and skills. He possessed great faith in his ability to command the French army from victory to victory.

However, he was once said to have uncharacteristically humbled himself when some of the people around him compared him to Alexander. Some stories claim that he was disappointed, for he could not even begin to conquer the world, whereas the Macedonian came so close to total world domination. Alexander held in his hands a power than no man, before or since, has known: the power to bring peace and stability to the known world, uniting it under one banner. Not only did Alexander create the greatest empire of his time and become the most powerful man in the known world, he also brought new ideas to the table such as the thought of unity.

Alexander wanted his empire to last more than anything else so he organized it into satrapies led by people from Greece and Persia. He encouraged acceptance of all races, he even encouraged his soldiers to marry the native Persian women to keep ties strong between satrapies. Before Alexander, unity was a foreign concept for many people, he introduced this idea and his empire was successful and led to the Hellenistic Period of ancient history. Initially, Alexander’s goals were to unify Greece by defeating the Persians, however during his 10 year reign, he was able to rebuild Greece and spread culture throughout the east.

Alexander envisioned an extensive monarchy fusing Greeks, Macedonians, and the Persians into one ruling class. Of course, with the destruction of the Persian monarchy he was able to spread Greco-Macedonian rule over a larger area. Alexander’s adoptions of eastern cultures and his interest in spreading those ideals allowed his empire to become more diverse in literature, art, and architecture. Therefore the city-centers he had established were springboards for the diffusion of Greek culture. A frequently asked question that shows the great impact of Alexander is what if Alexander the Great had gone west?

If he had gone west, instead of east, we would have had a united Europe centuries before the Romans did it. And the Roman Empire might never have happened. So Alexander is as important for what he did not do, as he is for what he did do. Had he done things differently, world history would have been different, so we can see that he did, indeed, have an impact on history itself. He is also important for the potential he possessed- if he had really conquered India, if his men had not refused finally to go on, if he had not died…. hat would have happened? Whether or not Alexander had plans for a world empire cannot be determined. He had accomplished greater conquests than any before him, but he did not have time to mold the government of the lands he had taken. Incontestably, he was one of the greatest generals of all time and one of the most powerful personalities of antiquity. He influenced the spread of Hellenism throughout the Middle East and into Asia, establishing city-states modeled on Greek institutions that flourished long after his death.

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