Alexander The Exaggerated (RELS 348)

Alexander the Great is perhaps one of the world’s most renowned military commanders and is considered one of the greatest conquerors. Unlike many other rules, Alexander the Great has been depicted as merciful to those he defeated and conquered, modern rulers are described to aspire for his moral virtues. On January 19, 2013 Christopher Allen writes “Alexander the Great, Missing In Action.” Christopher Allen uses historical art prints and pieces of poetry on display in the “Alexander The Great: 2000 Years Of Treasures” exhibit to illustrate Alexander’s influence on the cultures he conquered and his everlasting effect on today’s world. He is explained to be responsible for creating stable environments of trades in cities, helping them flourish without fear of attack, and spreading culture and tolerance to many cities. Allen uses a famous painting by Charles Le Brun, a 16th century a French painter, to reveal the adventurers of Alexander and his’s generosity, and altruism towards defeated enemies.

As briefly discussed during a lecture on February 5th, Alexander is widely understood to have not only encouraged and fostered culture, but as a result of his outstanding moral virtues, his legacy is responsible for the spread of Greek influenced culture that would last to this current day. Professor Hexham explains that the understood concept of colonialism of a culture or city will dictate a culture’s reaction to colonisers or imperils.

Alexander’s rule stretched from Greece to Egypt and onto northern India. Undefeated in battle he is considered one of history’s most successful military commanders. Countless books, and films feature Alexander the Great’s grandeur, enthusiasm, passion and leadership. Despite this predominate understanding that Alexander was truly “Great”, it is naïve to believe that Alexander would conquer such a great empire simply with generosity and kindness. In reality Alexander’s rule staggered between cruelty and generosity. In “Alexander the not so Great: History through Persian eyes” by Ali Ansari, we are able to examine war stories through the eyes of the conquered rather than the victors. Perspective is the truly a powerful thing, while many remember Alexander’s actions in kindness, many neglect to perceive an opposition to being conquered. Persepolis, the ceremonial capital of Achaemendi Empire was mercilessly burnt by to the ground, after of course looting its treasures by Alexander and his army. This was not the only recorded act of Alexander’s ruthless actions. The spread of culture and tolerance is undeniably a benefit to the world, however few detect the implication this has on conquered cities. As Ansari demonstrates, Zoroastrianism similar to multiple other ancient religions were attacked by the invading Greek, temples were destroyed, priesthoods and organizations were disassembled, and often the practice simply became illegal. Through the eyes of many conquered cites, Alexander is better identified as “Horrible”.

Centuries after his rule, Alexander the Great is still admired and respected, rulers and kings have been said to strive to achieve his generous and kind leadership. As a culture we often romanticize historical events, and cultures. Many cultures are ashamed of humanity’s empirical history, while neglecting current empires of trade and intellectual property. I do not disagree that Alexander III of Macedon positively influenced many cities and cultures he conquered, I do however believe it is critical to demonstrate impartiality by examining the conquered aspects of a historical event to ensure accuracy and validity when regaling humanity’s history and experiences.


Ansari, Ali. “Alexander the Not so Great.” BBC News. BBC, 14 July 2012. Web. 20 Feb. 2015. <;.

Allen, Christopher. “Alexander the Great, Missing in Action.” The Australian. The Australian, 19 Jan. 2013. Web. 10 Feb. 2015. <;.


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