Essay on Hellenistic Period: Role of Alexander​ ​the​ ​Great​

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Was​ ​Alexander​ ​the​ ​Great​ ​a​ ​Hero​ ​or​ ​a​ ​Villain?

Alexander​ ​the​ ​Great​ ​can​ ​be​ ​perceived​ ​as​ ​many​ ​different​ ​things,​ ​such​ ​as​ ​a​ ​villain,​ ​hero,​ ​or both.​ ​He​ ​did​ ​many​ ​good​ ​deeds​ ​and​ ​horrible​ ​ones​ ​in​ ​his​ ​lifetime,​ ​mainly​ ​while​ ​he​ ​was​ ​king​ ​of Macedonia​ ​and​ ​other​ ​areas​ ​he​ ​conquered.​ ​He​ ​was​ ​ruthless​ ​but​ ​also​ ​courageous,​ ​smart,​ ​and skillful.​ ​Alexander​ ​the​ ​Great​ ​was​ ​not​ ​a​ ​hero​ ​nor​ ​a​ ​villain,​ ​he​ ​was​ ​simply​ ​a​ ​prominent​ ​conqueror.

Even​ ​though​ ​he​ ​used​ ​force​ ​to​ ​violently​ ​expand​ ​his​ ​empire,​ ​he​ ​was​ ​also​ ​a​ ​skilled​ ​military​ ​leader and​ ​spread​ ​Hellenistic​ ​culture​ ​around​ ​the​ ​world.

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Alexander​ ​the​ ​Great​ ​showed​ ​villainous​ ​qualities,​ ​one​ ​such​ ​example​ ​being​ ​he​ ​used​ ​violent force​ ​to​ ​establish​ ​and​ ​expand​ ​his​ ​empire.​ ​Alexander​ ​wanted​ ​to​ ​continue​ ​his​ ​father's​ ​work​ ​and conquer​ ​more​ ​land.​ ​Alexander​ ​did​ ​not​ ​have​ ​a​ ​very​ ​polite​ ​or​ ​nice​ ​way​ ​of​ ​doing​ ​so​ ​, however.

“...When​ ​he​ ​came​ ​to​ ​Thebes...the​ ​city...was​ ​sacked​ ​and​ ​razed,”​ ​(Document​ ​1).​ ​Alexander​ ​came to ruin​ ​Thebes​ ​to​ ​not​ ​only​ ​conquer​ ​it​ ​but​ ​scare​ ​the​ ​rest​ ​of​ ​Greece​ ​into​ ​obeying​ ​him.​ ​Alexander sold​ ​thirty​ ​thousand​ ​people​ ​for​ ​slaves​ ​and​ ​killed​ ​six​ ​thousand,​ ​just​ ​in​ ​the​ ​city​ ​of​ ​Thebes, (Document​ ​1).​ ​Alexander​ ​was​ ​willing​ ​to​ ​do​ ​whatever​ ​he​ ​had​ ​to​ ​do​ ​to​ ​expand​ ​his​ ​empire.​ ​He wanted​ ​everyone​ ​to​ ​obey​ ​him​ ​and​ ​have​ ​the​ ​biggest​ ​empire​ ​of​ ​them​ ​all.​ ​Alexander​ ​believed​ ​that​ ​if he​ ​was​ ​ruthless​ ​and​ ​cruel​ ​then​ ​everyone​ ​would​ ​simply​ ​“bow​ ​down”​ ​to​ ​him,​ ​(Document​ ​1). Alexander​ ​was​ ​ruthless​ ​and​ ​used​ ​violence​ ​to​ ​be​ ​the​ ​greatest​ ​conqueror​ ​he​ ​could​ ​be.

Alexander​ ​the​ ​Great​ ​displayed​ ​more​ ​hero-like​ ​qualities,​ ​such​ ​as​ ​being​ ​a​ ​skilled​ ​military leader.​ ​One​ ​of​ ​the​ ​reasons​ ​Alexander​ ​was​ ​able​ ​to​ ​conquer​ ​so​ ​much​ ​land​ ​and​ ​have​ ​a​ ​huge​ ​empire was​ ​because​ ​of​ ​his​ ​military.​ ​“Very​ ​renowned​ ​for​ ​rousing​ ​the​ ​courage​ ​of​ ​his​ ​soldiers,​ ​filling​ ​them with​ ​hopes​ ​of​ ​success,”​ ​(Document​ ​4).​ ​Alexander​ ​always​ ​made​ ​sure​ ​that​ ​his​ ​army​ ​was​ ​confident in​ ​themselves.​ ​He​ ​wanted​ ​them​ ​to​ ​be​ ​able​ ​to keep​ ​their​ ​heads​ ​high​ ​and​ ​go​ ​into​ ​a​ ​battle​ ​with​ ​the​ ​idea that​ ​they​ ​could​ ​win.​ ​Alexander​ ​also​ ​used​ ​a​ ​military​ ​formation​ ​called​ ​a​ ​phalanx.​ ​The​ ​phalanx made​ ​it​ ​seem​ ​like​ ​there​ ​was​ ​more​ ​men​ ​than​ ​there​ ​actually​ ​was,​ ​which​ ​could​ ​frighten​ ​other armies.​ ​In​ ​the​ ​song​ ​“Alexander​ ​the​ ​Great”​ ​by​ ​Iron​ ​Maiden,​ ​a​ ​line​ ​from​ ​the​ ​song​ ​says​ ​that Alexander​ ​defeated​ ​King​ ​Darius​ ​and​ ​he​ ​feld,​ ​and​ ​then​ ​Alexander​ ​battled​ ​King​ ​Darius​ ​again​ ​and crushed​ ​him.​ ​Alexander​ ​would​ ​have​ ​had​ ​to​ ​have​ ​a​ ​pretty​ ​strong​ ​army​ ​to​ ​defeat​ ​Darius​ ​twice.

Darius​ ​would​ ​have​ ​already​ ​known​ ​how​ ​Alexander’s​ ​army​ ​fought​ ​and​ ​could​ ​have​ ​figured​ ​out​ ​his weaknesses,​ ​but​ ​Alexander​ ​still​ ​won.​ ​Alexander​ ​also​ ​kept​ ​the agreements​ ​and​ ​settlements​ ​he​ ​made and​ ​did​ ​not​ ​fight​ ​for​ ​the​ ​land,​ ​(Document​ ​4).​ ​This​ ​is​ ​a​ ​smart​ ​move​ ​on​ ​Alexander’s​ ​part​ ​because he​ ​will​ ​not​ ​lose​ ​any​ ​men​ ​in​ ​a​ ​battle​ ​to​ ​claim​ ​land​ ​for​ ​which​ ​he​ ​has​ ​an​ ​agreement​ ​on​ ​already. Alexander​ ​was​ ​an​ ​expert​ ​military​ ​chief​ ​and​ ​very​ ​confident​ ​in​ ​his​ ​army.

Alexander​ ​the​ ​Great​ ​was​ ​able​ ​to​ ​be​ ​more​ ​like​ ​a​ ​hero​ ​when​ ​he​ ​spread​ ​Hellenistic​ ​culture around​ ​the​ ​world.​ ​Hellenistic​ ​is​ ​a​ ​culture​ ​that​ ​is​ ​mainly​ ​Greek​ ​but​ ​has​ ​other​ ​cultures​ ​mixed​ ​into it,​ ​so​ ​it​ ​is​ ​a​ ​Greek-like​ ​culture.​ ​Alexander​ ​conquered​ ​so​ ​many​ ​different​ ​cities​ ​that​ ​as​ ​he​ ​started​ ​to conquer​ ​more​ ​their​ ​culture​ ​became​ ​mixed​ ​in​ ​with​ ​his​ ​to​ ​create​ ​Hellenistic​ ​culture.​ ​Since Alexander​ ​had​ ​conquered​ ​so​ ​many​ ​different​ ​cities​ ​and​ ​states​ ​that​ ​it​ ​was​ ​easy​ ​for​ ​him​ ​to​ ​spread his​ ​new​ ​culture.​ ​“For​ ​I​ ​myself​ ​believe​ ​there​ ​was​ ​at​ ​that​ ​time​ ​no​ ​race​ ​of​ ​mankind,​ ​no​ ​city,​ ​no individual​ ​the​ ​name​ ​Alexander​ ​had​ ​not​ ​reached,”​ ​(Document​ ​3).​ ​Alexander​ ​was​ ​known​ ​all​ ​over the​ ​world​ ​so​ ​his​ ​culture​ ​would​ ​be​ ​known​ ​along​ ​with​ ​it.​ ​The​ ​more​ ​cities​ ​and​ ​states​ ​Alexander conquered​ ​the​ ​more​ ​known​ ​and​ ​learned​ ​Hellenistic​ ​culture​ ​was.​ ​In​ ​the​ ​song​ ​by​ ​Iron​ ​Maiden “Alexander​ ​the​ ​Great,”​ ​a​ ​verse​ ​talks​ ​about​ ​how​ ​he​ ​had​ ​so​ ​much​ ​land​ ​and​ ​he​ ​spread​ ​Hellenistic culture​ ​far​ ​and​ ​wide.​ ​Every​ ​city​ ​or​ ​state​ ​that​ ​was​ ​taken​ ​under​ ​Alexander's​ ​rule​ ​was​ ​exposed​ ​to Hellenistic​ ​culture​ ​and​ ​most​ ​embraced​ ​it.​ ​A​ ​map​ ​shows​ ​all​ ​of​ ​Alexander’s​ ​empire​ ​or​ ​states aligned​ ​with​ ​Alexander​ ​and​ ​the​ ​area​ ​of​ ​land​ ​is​ ​over​ ​thousands​ ​of​ ​miles​ ​big.​ ​An​ ​empire​ ​that​ ​big with​ ​a​ ​new​ ​culture​ ​will​ ​be​ ​spread​ ​very​ ​quickly.​ ​If​ ​another​ ​group​ ​of​ ​people​ ​passes​ ​through​ ​the area​ ​and​ ​picks​ ​up​ ​on​ ​some​ ​of​ ​the​ ​cultures​ ​and​ ​brings​ ​it​ ​back​ ​to​ ​their​ ​hometown,​ ​the​ ​culture​ ​will​ ​be span​ ​across​ ​many​ ​different​ ​people.​ ​“Alexander,​ ​by​ ​founding​ ​more​ ​than​ ​seventy​ ​cities​ ​among​ ​the barbarian​ ​tribes…”(Document​ ​2).​ ​Alexander​ ​founded​ ​cities​ ​and​ ​with​ ​those​ ​new​ ​cities​ ​came​ ​more people​ ​learning​ ​about​ ​Hellenistic​ ​culture​ ​and​ ​practicing​ ​it.​ ​Alexander​ ​was​ ​able​ ​to​ ​stretch Hellenistic​ ​culture​ ​to​ ​different​ ​areas​ ​all​ ​over​ ​the​ ​world.

Alexander​ ​the​ ​Great​ ​was​ ​just​ ​easily​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​best​ ​conquerors.​ ​He​ ​was​ ​nor​ ​a​ ​villain​ ​or a hero.​ ​He​ ​was​ ​violent​ ​at​ ​times​ ​to​ ​get​ ​what​ ​he​ ​wanted,​ ​but​ ​he​ ​was​ ​also​ ​an​ ​intelligent​ ​military leader​ ​and​ ​circulated​ ​the​ ​Hellenistic​ ​culture​ ​all​ ​over​ ​the​ ​globe.​ ​Alexander​ ​was​ ​able​ ​to​ ​affect​ ​the way​ ​we​ ​live​ ​today.​ ​Our​ ​culture​ ​today​ ​is​ ​very​ ​similar​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Hellenistic​ ​culture​ ​Alexander expanded​ ​all​ ​over​ ​the​ ​world.​ ​Although​ ​he​ ​was​ ​villainous​ ​at​ ​times,​ ​he​ ​was​ ​also​ ​good​ ​and​ ​proved he​ ​was.​ ​Alexander​ ​was​ ​able​ ​to​ ​impact​ ​our​ ​lives​ ​today​ ​by​ ​being​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​best,​ ​if​ ​not​ ​the​ ​best, conquerors​ ​in​ ​history.

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Essay on Hellenistic Period: Role of Alexander​ ​the​ ​Great​. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 22, 2024, from
“Essay on Hellenistic Period: Role of Alexander​ ​the​ ​Great​.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022,
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