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Alexander the Great was antiquity\'s greatest commander
I really do not understand how any of your comments work against my arguments. Have I ever doubted the genius of Philip, Hannibal, Pyrrhus, Scipio or anyone else? Have I ever proposed that Alexander alone and not relying on his father's achievements accomplished his great deeds? Have I ever suggested that Alexander never was favored by any circumstances? I think Paralus that you are debating some kind of discussion completely on your own without letting us know what it is about. Are we to establish exactly how far Alexander was aided by his father's exploits? Are we to debate on whether it was Alexander or Parmenio's family that led the anabasis? No, we are to just make a comparison and nothing else. I agree with many of your points but I do not see any relevance with the question. Are you trying to doubt Alexander's exploits on the grounds that he had a great father who paved the way to Asia, so you are proposing that Alexander was less a commander than Philip? Or are we to scold him because he had very good and experienced commanders? Are we to say that he has achieved nothing because he had a very good (and experienced) army? I am at a loss here. And this only to come to the conclusion that Alexander "created little"? How about a new chapter in World History, art, letters... the Hellenistic era. How about a number of kingdoms that shaped the history of the region for centuries to come? Why do you limit Alexander's achievements in an area between Larisa and Amphipolis?

And you very easily come to the conclusion that Philip had achieved lasting supremacy. You tend to forget how easy it was at these times to lose everything, since all Greek states, Macedon included, were only a fragment of the Greek world and the balance tended to continuously shift about. No, Alex had to reestablish himself, to show he was fit to walk in his father's sandals. This is why he embarked north and why he had to crush revolting Thebes. And if you see a Parmenio or an Olympias or anyone else whispering to Alexander's ears, this again has nothing to do with Alexander's greatness, especially since we only try to diminish his ability because we cannot excuse his youth. We simply seem to not be able to accept that such a young man did so much in such a little time and have to find others working in the shady background, but it seems we do this out of scorn and not because we really have any evidence to that other than speculation and personal opinions.

If we are to discuss Alexander's ability and course in depth, we can do that in a new thread that doesn't have to do with comparisons.
Macedon
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George C. K.
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Quote:And if you see a Parmenio or an Olympias or anyone else whispering to Alexander's ears, this again has nothing to do with Alexander's greatness


Accepting wise council and delegating authority are surely characteristics of a great general. Many of the greatest failed to heed warnings or stripped their armies of competent generals that they could delegate to out of fear of usurpation and suffered for it.
Paul M. Bardunias
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Quote: I think Paralus that you are debating some kind of discussion completely on your own without letting us know what it is about. Are we to establish exactly how far Alexander was aided by his father's exploits?

Not at all. I took issue with several claims - one or two quite sweeping - such as the invasion army commanders were Alexander's men for example. The meaning of "commands" never being the issue.

Quote:Are we to debate on whether it was Alexander or Parmenio's family that led the anabasis?

That's a straw man never argued by myself. It was by way of illustrating the counter argument to the above proposition.

Quote:I am at a loss here. And this only to come to the conclusion that Alexander "created little"? How about a new chapter in World History, art, letters... the Hellenistic era. How about a number of kingdoms that shaped the history of the region for centuries to come?

I don't think Alexander created art and letters. His exploits certainly made history. The point, again, was that he did not create the empire, he took it from its previous ruler. What Rome was to "create" in the west, for example, was created from scratch. Alexander appropriated by military means an existing empire including its administrative structure. That is not a value judgement; rather an observation of fact.

The kingdoms that came after him were the work of the Diadochoi - built uopn satrapies of course, but their work.

Quote:We simply seem to not be able to accept that such a young man did so much in such a little time and have to find others working in the shady background, but it seems we do this out of scorn and not because we really have any evidence to that other than speculation and personal opinions.

I don't believe I actually said that.
Paralus|Michael Park

Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους

Wicked men, you are sinning against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander!

Academia.edu
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Quote:...On the one hand, the friend who is familiar
with every fact of the story may think that some point has not been set forth with that
fullness which he wishes and knows it to deserve; on the other, he who is a stranger to
the matter may be led by envy to suspect exaggeration if he hears anything above his
own nature. For men can endure to hear others praised only so long as they can
severally persuade themselves of their own ability to equal the actions recounted:
when this point is passed, envy comes in and with it incredulity... [Pericles, Epitaphios]
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
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So, your point is to just discuss some arguments you do not agree with then, not to propose that someone else is more worthy of the title? Again, I disagree with many of your conclusions as you do with mine, but as regards the issue in question what is your opinion?
Macedon
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Quote:So, your point is to just discuss some arguments you do not agree with then, not to propose that someone else is more worthy of the title? Again, I disagree with many of your conclusions as you do with mine, but as regards the issue in question what is your opinion?

After a fashion, yes. I've never really seen the point in such comparisons as so many variables exist (shown in many posts above): it's a bit like comparing Kingston Town to Secretaiat (thoroughbreds) or different cricket elevens.

On the Philip / Alexander thing, Alexander certainly seemed to think he needed to outdo the "old man". The phalanx, in Babylon, also seemed to remember the old man with some affection: as they would considering the expansion of the landed population had taken them from serf to citizen.

I have to admit to a wry chuckle when watching the opening ceremony of the Athens' Olympics. As the heroic images of Alexander drifted accross the screen two things struck me: Demosthenes might have caused a quake rolling in his grave and that ithyphallic hymn to Demetrius. Athens is constant even 2300 years later!

Again, that's not a comment on modern politcs nor a judgement; it just tickled my eclectic sense of humour. My wife in no way understood...
Paralus|Michael Park

Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους

Wicked men, you are sinning against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander!

Academia.edu
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Quote:... Pays to keep in mind also that Philip did not have a “pacified” Greece during his forays northeast. Whilst Alexander might have had to deal with his succession he had a recently annihilated Greece facilitating his adventure northwards. Philip was much engaged in politics and warfare attempting to but Greek heads into some sort of compliance. If anything is clear about Alex’s old man it is this: he wanted Greece behind him – by political as much as military methods or belted and cowed if necessary which, in the end it was. Clearly he wanted Macedonia to be part of Greece – the part that mattered of course; the ruler – but, at heart, Greek as did Macedonian monarchs before him who had not the means to achieve it. Alexander saw it rather differently: at Thebes he demonstrated that Greece was now Macedonian; a subject for her king to rule and do not forget it ...

Which is a very interesting point and perhaps deserving of a thread all to itself.

That the Makedonians (for the most part) were Greek is generally uncontested by the majority of modern historians - language, religion, customs, culture, artwork - all attest to this. As far as I can determine, they were a branch of the Dorians (or the latter were a branch of the Makedones), and they spoke a rougher version of North West Greek and had much in common with neighbouring Epeiros. Of course their (expanding) territory also embraced non-Greek peoples like Thrakians; Illyrians; Paeonians etc. (as did Epeiros' lands) and other migratory Greeks. It is a particularly 'ancient' (as opposed to the more modern pan-Hellenic all embracing) strand of Greek mentality that had them denying each other their basic common Greekness. The cultural aloofness of for example Athenians, who even sought to deny these northern peasants any Greek nationality, is perhaps more a testament to the inate snobbery (and self-belief in the superiority) of Ionians who in many ways considered themselves to be your original indigenous Greeks. Therefore others were by definition less Greek than themselves.

There is a discussion to be developed (perhaps elsewhere) that revolves aorund how various Greek powers arose and fell. Makedon was clearly the most powerful and lasting and its grasp extended the furthest. Whether this would have happened without Philip and then Alexander is highly unlikely. However, it was merely one of a number of Greek states or territories who achieved a forced hegemony over the other Hellenes. Perhaps the earliest had been Sparta with her 'Peloponnesian League' to be followed by Athen's maritime empire and then in defeat herself once again by Sparta's hopeless attempts at trans-Aegean empire. In quick succession we have the brief dominance of Thebes before the arrival of Makedon herself. Also very brief attempts at hegemony were made by Thessaly and later Epeiros. In most cases key individuals were always at play, rather than any great desire of the popular masses. It is also interesting that somehow the various four main Greek groups had periods of hegemony as well (via their key cities or states) with Dorians (Sparta/Makedon?/Eperios?); Ionians (Athens); Aioilans (Thebes/Thessaly/Epeiros?); Achaians (later Achaia) all having a crack at dominating the others.
[size=75:2kpklzm3]Ghostmojo / Howard Johnston[/size]

[Image: A-TTLGAvatar-1-1.jpg]

[size=75:2kpklzm3]Xerxes - "What did the guy in the pass say?" ... Scout - "Μολὼν λαβέ my Lord - and he meant it!!!"[/size]
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Quote:That the Makedonians (for the most part) were Greek is generally uncontested by modern historians - language, religion, customs, culture, artwork - all attest to this.

It is, generally, a subject well steered away from. Far too many modern ethnic and political overlays that have no bearing on the how the ancients saw things. My view above is simply an observation of the actions of Macedonian kings attempting to "Hellenise" themselves and their courts (Archealus for example). Thus I find it ironic that the southern Greeks eventually became "Macedonian".

I feel that Philip's dealings with the Amphyctions and Athens, whilst mostly politically driven, were also informed by that need for "Hellenic acceptance".

I take the well made point about snobbery but I still inwardly chuckle at thoughts of a restless Demosthenes in Athens 2004...
Paralus|Michael Park

Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους

Wicked men, you are sinning against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander!

Academia.edu
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I don't agree that we should steer away from any such subject, and am well aware of the huge complexities of this issue - not least of course the modern problems that have been created because of it. I do take you points though.

Hellenic acceptance was critical to Philip, and Alexander also made good use of this for political ends. A pan-Hellenic enterprise against the ancient enemy to the east, really needed to be mainly composed of Greeks, led by Greeks, and in the interest of all the Greeks. However, it is my belief and one that can easily be argued and backed up, that Philip and Alexander totally deserved this acceptance. The Temenids/Argeads were Greek. The Makedonian population was not 100% Greek - but its core group was - certainly prior to its major expansion. By all standards, epithets and tests we can apply to any of the ancient Greek tribes, the Makedonians qualify - even if Demosthenes would have it differently (and thereby disgree with Herodotos!).

I am aware of strands of historic examination (Hammond included) that have sought to explore the Makedonian's 'otherness', but I don't think they really stand up to serious scrutiny. It would be just as easy to promote the differences of Dorian Spartans to Ionian Athenians and others as well. It is true that the ancients saw things differently - but by using their standards rather than our own we surely arrive at the same conclusion? Quite often you see references to Monty Python on this site. I have used it myself, and will again because there is something hugely Pythonesque about the Greek's internal strife and critiques of each other. Such a remark might not be so easily comprehendable to non-English speakers, but to those of us that occupy the Anglo-American-Australasian orbit - the remark holds true. The Life Of Brian quote "only the messiah would deny his own divinity" rings true here - as would the response ... 'well what chance does that leave me with?'
[size=75:2kpklzm3]Ghostmojo / Howard Johnston[/size]

[Image: A-TTLGAvatar-1-1.jpg]

[size=75:2kpklzm3]Xerxes - "What did the guy in the pass say?" ... Scout - "Μολὼν λαβέ my Lord - and he meant it!!!"[/size]
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Quote:
Macedon:98nhsl5d Wrote:So, your point is to just discuss some arguments you do not agree with then, not to propose that someone else is more worthy of the title? Again, I disagree with many of your conclusions as you do with mine, but as regards the issue in question what is your opinion?

After a fashion, yes. I've never really seen the point in such comparisons as so many variables exist (shown in many posts above): it's a bit like comparing Kingston Town to Secretaiat (thoroughbreds) or different cricket elevens.

On the Philip / Alexander thing, Alexander certainly seemed to think he needed to outdo the "old man". The phalanx, in Babylon, also seemed to remember the old man with some affection: as they would considering the expansion of the landed population had taken them from serf to citizen.

I have to admit to a wry chuckle when watching the opening ceremony of the Athens' Olympics. As the heroic images of Alexander drifted accross the screen two things struck me: Demosthenes might have caused a quake rolling in his grave and that ithyphallic hymn to Demetrius. Athens is constant even 2300 years later!

Again, that's not a comment on modern politcs nor a judgement; it just tickled my eclectic sense of humour. My wife in no way understood...

By all means we could make a new thread and discuss all that. I just found myself very tempted to answer but without unacceptably digressing it appeared to me kind of impossible. As for Demostenes, I guess that he would be very happy to know that Athens managed to conquer Greece again... Big Grin
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Et voila:

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[size=75:2kpklzm3]Ghostmojo / Howard Johnston[/size]

[Image: A-TTLGAvatar-1-1.jpg]

[size=75:2kpklzm3]Xerxes - "What did the guy in the pass say?" ... Scout - "Μολὼν λαβέ my Lord - and he meant it!!!"[/size]
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Well... actually I meant the issue about Alexander and his tactics, strategy etc... A discussion about what it meant to be "Greek" at the time and what it means to us now (even in a historical context) is always a hot and extremely debatable issue.
Macedon
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Quote:... A discussion about what it meant to be "Greek" at the time and what it means to us now (even in a historical context) is always a hot and extremely debatable issue.

Of course, but isn't that what forums (fora?) are for? There has been plenty of heated debate on this site about all sorts of things. Vive l'expression 8)
[size=75:2kpklzm3]Ghostmojo / Howard Johnston[/size]

[Image: A-TTLGAvatar-1-1.jpg]

[size=75:2kpklzm3]Xerxes - "What did the guy in the pass say?" ... Scout - "Μολὼν λαβέ my Lord - and he meant it!!!"[/size]
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