March 9, 2011

Alexander the Great essay

Free sample essay on Alexander the Great:
With all of his accomplishments came the knowledge and influence of the different people in Alexander’s life. Alexander III was the son of Philip II and the Epirote princess Olympias. He was twenty when he succeeded the throne of Macedonia. Alexander followed in Philip’s footsteps with spectacular success but he did not stand in his fathers shadow. His mother Olympias was a great help in this. She was an iron willed woman who did everything in her power to protect her son and advance his career. She was an incredibly determined mother. It was Olympias who put the idea in Alexander’s mind that he would become successful in his own right, not just because he was the son of Philip.

The relationship between Alexander and his mother was an important aspect in Alexander’s life. According to John Maxwell O’Brien’s ‘Alexander the Great “The Invisible Enemy”, “The is little doubt that she was one of the dominant influences in his early life.” Even after Alexander succeeded Philip’s throne, their relationship was always marked by affection and loyalty. When Alexander crossed the Hellespont to Asia in 334 BC, Olympias stayed in Europe and remained as his supporting backbone the whole way, even throughout all his victories and conquests. Alexander’s profound dedication to his mother never wavered. However, he was desperately requested by his viceroy in Macedonia to rid of her interfering ways. This is when Alexander is said to have remarked, “that Antipater did not understand that one tear shed by [my] mother would wipe out ten thousand letters such as this”. Alexander also expressed some thought on his mother’s deification. He told close friends “the greatest reward for my efforts and my labours will be if my mother Olympias be granted immortality on her departure from life”.

Alexander loved his mother but most of her male contemporaries, however, found her to be overbearing. Even Alexander’s devotion was occasionally strained to its limits, and as king it seems he felt he was forced to reprove his mother when her words or actions did not suit his plans.

Olympias was a proud Molossian whose ancestry could be traced to Achilles, the legendary hero of the Trojan War. Neoptolemus, the son of Achilles, chose Andromache, the widow of Hector, as his prize after the fall of Troy. Together they produced Molossus, the founder of the royal dynasty in Epirus. Olympias’ bloodlines were said to run to Helenus, the son of the Trojan king Priam. Thus, she was able to claim the distinction of a lineage that included both Achilles and, at least indirectly, Hector, the tho great adversaries of the Trojan War. Alexander’s belief that he was a descendant of Achilles through his mother had a profound effect on his attitude towards himself.

Olympias loved her son yet this still does not keep her from being one of the most reviled women in history. She has been universally condemned as an evil, scheming, murderous with. The only good words written about her are that she loved Alexander greatly and that she was beautiful.

Philip II, Alexander’s father was also a great influence during his life. When Philip of Macedonia became the leader of Greece he followed a very clever policy; threatening and fighting when judging is necessary, making peace and arranging agreements or even making his enemies fight one another through political manoeuvring. He organised his state and army, minted new coins, invented new strategies and proved that he was one of the brightest politicians the world had ever seen.

As a father, Philip had noticed that his son was self-willed, and that while it was very difficult to influence him by force, he could easily be guided toward his duty by an appeal to reason, and he therefore made a point of trying to persuade the boy rather than giving him orders.

It seems that Philip II affected the world indirectly, in the way that he set the basis for his son Alexander’s expedition against Persia. He was also an admirable politician as well as being a capable military leader, making his methods an example for future generations – Alexander. In Philip’s death, Alexander built on his father’s work, and was able to continue it in the best possible way. He used many of his father’s ideas in every field and added his own ambition and skills he undertook the responsibility of the Panhellenic Expedition against Persia, the strongest empire of the time.

Alexander’s parents were both formidable influences in his life.

When Alexander turned 13 in 343 BC, his father selected Aristotle as his tutor. It was hoped that the authority and encyclopaedic knowledge of the philosopher would provide Alexander with “the rudder’s guidance and the curb’s restraint” needed at his restless age.

Aristotle was only in his early forties at the time and hadn’t yet written the great works that have given him the fame that he has today. Nevertheless, he was an outstanding student at Plato’s Academy and by this time had gained great recognition for his intellectual abilities. However, it is also possible that Philip’s choice was not only for academic reasons. Aristotle’s father Nicomachus had been the family physician to Amyntas III, Philip’s father, and so Aristotle and Philip may have been childhood companions at the Macedonian court.

In the when Aristotle was studying in Athens, Philip destroyed the young philosopher’s birthplace, Stagira, during his march eastward. However, he pledged a reconstruction of the city and restoration of its citizenry if Aristotle would return to Pella to teach Alexander. Aristotle accepted without hesitation.

Plutarch informs us that Alexander greatly admired Aristotle and grew close to him that to his own father, “for the one, he used to say, had given him the gift of life, but the other had taught him how to live well”. Aristotle, being a physician’s son, was trained in medicine and evidently passed these skills onto Alexander. Later in life it is said that Alexander would tend to his soldiers wounds, prescribe cures for friends, and even advise doctors. Aristotle taught Alexander to be wary of assumptions, to treat each situation as unique, and draw conclusions only after all of the evidence has been assembled and analysed. Alexander used his training, along with his gift for spontaneity, to accomplish one incredible military victory after another.

Aristotle also referred a lot to Achilles, which was likely to draw special attention from Alexander. Alexander believed that this hero’s blood ran through his own veins. To him Achilles was a heroic model. It was intended by Alexander to live up to his ancestor’s reputation and greatly compared himself to this legendary relative.

In conclusion, Alexander’s title is undoubtedly justified, however he could not have achieved the greatness he did without the help of the people that taught him “Olympias, his determined mother, Philip II his intelligent father and Aristotle is beloved and impressionable teacher. According to Tarn’s “Alexander the Great”, “He had, like Columbus, opened up a new world; it remained to be seen what he could do with it.”


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