Alexander The Great Leader Essay, Research Paper
Alexander “The Great” (356 – 323 B. C.)
King of Acquisitions and Mergers
Alexander was born in 356 B.C. His father was, Philip, the King of Macedonia and his mother was Olympias, daughter of King Neoptolemus I of Epirus (Albania). Philip was very proud of his son Alexander, but they had a very stormy relationship. Philips multiple marriages took a toll on Alexander. Olympias was very jealous and spiteful towards Philip’s “lesser” wives. Alexander had a half-sister named Cleopatra (not the famous Egyptian Queen) and a half-brother named Arrhidaeus. Arrhidaeus was brain-damaged, it was rumored that Olympias had given the boy drugs in vengeance and fear for Alexander’s inheritance.
Philip made sure that Alexander was well educated. He sent for Aristotle to be one of his tutors. Alexander became friends with a boy named Hephaestion, they would remain loyal to each other for life.
Early characteristics of a leader:
· He had a thirst for knowledge
· He was extremely observant
· He was straightforward
· He was brave
Life As the Prince
Philip often left Alexander in charge when he was taken away from Macedonia on business. At the age of sixteen, during one of his father’s absences, Alexander led an army to subdue the rebellious “barbarians” (Maedi). He managed to move the Maedi out and renamed the city Alexandropolis, after himself. After this, he became the general of his father’s army.
During the celebrations for Philip’s marriage to his final wife, a falling out occurred between Alexander and his father. The bride’s uncle toasted the couple, saying that he hoped that a legitimate heir to the throne would result from the marriage. Alexander became enraged shouting “What about me? Am I a bastard?” and threw a goblet at the uncle. Philip, who was intoxicated, drew his sword and lunged at
Alexander. He lost his balance and fell on the floor. Alexander sneered and publicly insulted his father saying “the man who makes preparations to pass out of Europe into Asia, overturned in passing from one seat to another.” (Plutarch, 1952) (Philip had been planning on invading Asia Minor) Both Alexander and his mother were banished.
They later reconciled, but Philip continued to mistrust his father. Philip was murdered during the celebration of his daughter’s arranged marriage. It was rumored that Olympias and/or Alexander were involved, but many historians believe that they were innocent.
Leadership characteristics as a Prince:
· While King Philip was away, Alexander handled his father’s affairs with precision and efficiency.
· He had a passion for fame – he lamented over his father’s victories, worried that there would be nothing left for him to conquer.
· He was determined to seek action and glory, rather than pleasures and riches.
King And Conqueror
After his father’s murder in 336 B.C. 20-year-old Alexander became King Alexander III of Macedonia. He proceeded with his father’s plans on conquering Persia. In a few years he managed to acquire and merge half of the known world.
After conquering Bactria, Alexander spotted his soon-to-be wife amongst the captives. Roxane was the daughter of the King. He fell in love with her at first sight and went through all the proper Bactrian ceremonies for official marriage out of respect. This marriage was very beneficial to Alexander, as it endeared them to the “barbarians”. Alexander began adopting foreign customs and dress to the displeasure of some of his Macedonian followers. His army began to resent his change.
Alexander could see the strengths of the Persians and the Macedonians, he tried to amalgamate them accordingly. It was his belief that they should share the empire. He allowed the foreign leaders to govern over their territory.
Although Alexander was very patient and fair with his follower’s mistakes, he could not tolerate them in himself. After slaying Clitus, a good friend who had saved him earlier during a war with the Persians, during a heated argument Alexander was devastated.
Later, Alexander went on to invade India which took several months. Many died in the track through the desert including his beloved old war horse Bucephalus. Alexander built a city on the spot where his horse died and named it Bucephalia.
Fortunately, Alexander had put over 30,000 Persian boys into Greek military training – by the time they got back, these boys were warriors – the Macedonians became jealous.
In 324 B.C. Alexander’s best-friend Hephaestion died of fever. Alexander was devastated and reeked havoc on the doctor who had treated his friend. He never truly recovered from his friends death. He drank heavily and caught fever. On June 10th, 323 B.C. he died at 33 years of age. His dreams of a united empire were soon to crumble.
Leadership characteristics as a King:
· He respected all and treated people fairly, he was generous and compassionate.
· He was a master at integration – of people and their cultures
· He easily adapted to environmental and cultural conditions
· He ruled by example
· His wars were not personal vendettas
· He was an expert in strategic planning.
· He had a policy of assimilation and became ruler of half the known world in a hand full of years.
· He ruled with the people, not over them.
· He was extremely loyal to his friends
1. Why was Alexander such a “great” leader?
2. Did Alexander have any weaknesses as a leader? If so what were they?
3. Was the unity of Alexander’s empire destined to fail after his death? How could he have ensured the survival of this unity?
4. Can you think of some modern-day examples of leaders that have similar characteristics to Alexander the Great?