Alexander the Great

Saturday, March 26, AD 2011

Something for the weekend.  The song Macedonia to the tune of Sharona by the Knack, by the endlessly talented folks of History for Music Lovers.  Alexander the Great, living refutation of the idea that history is all grand vast processes and that individuals matter for little.  In his brief 32 years he had a larger impact perhaps on this world than any other one man in secular history.  The spreading of Greek culture in the East led to the vast cultural synthesis of Hellenism, and had a huge impact upon Judaism and, eventually, Christianity.  It is somewhat frightening to think that so much of our history depended upon the military prowess of one man.

What if Alexander hadn’t turned East?  What if he had turned West?  The Roman historian Livy, in one of the first examples of alternate history, mused about what would have happened if Alexander had marched against Rome.

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3 Responses to Alexander the Great

  • Being a two-bit, wannabe gold bug, I recently compiled a history-time line of gold. Of interest, Alexander obtained $1 billion in gold from his conquest of Persia. Previously, Egypt had become “wealthy” from Nubian gold, as did Rome, when it took Spanish gold mining areas from Carthage.

    Despite evident Livy’s chauvinism, I (it would have been extremely close-run) tend to agree that Aleander would not have prevailed against Rome. Rome would not have defeated him in the field. Alexander would not have been able to take Rome. We have the example of Hannibal to ratify that determination. It would have been close.

    Also, agree with Livy, Rome rotted from within.

  • A great and interesting read. The author of The Seven Deadly Sins recounts a story that Plutarch wrote about Alexander the Great. Alexander, in a drunken rage, seized a spear and killed an old friend and faithful soldier who had criticized him. At once Alexander felt remorse and drew the spear from the dead body and would have dashed it into his own throat but for his bodyguards. According to Plutarch, Alexander spent day and night in bitter lamentations and lay speechless worn out with his cries and wailing. His friends were alarmed enough to enlist the help of a philosopher who soothed him and told him that the whole world should not see him on the floor weeping like a slave in fear of law and censure of men, because Alexander should himself be a law and measure of justice since he has conquered the right to rule and mastery, instead of submitting like a slave to the mastery of vain opinion. The whole point of the story was that rather than encouraging Alexander to accept his guilt and mend his ways, the philosopher absolved him of guilt. Alexander wasn’t allowed to complete the process of repentence and become a better man, because he now thought himself guiltless and his ambition and vanity were fed by the philosopher.

    In contrast, consider the story of King David and Nathan. David put Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba, opposite the enemy where the fighting was fiercest in the hopes he would be killed so David could sleep with his wife. But Nathan, a prophet, told David of a cruel rich man who stole the only ewe lamb of a poor man and tells David he is the cruel man. David acknowledged his guilt and was able to repent.

  • “For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?” Mark 8:36