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Historical Essay Example: Alexander the Great Legacy and Empire

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Harvey Mudd College
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Alexander was born in Pella, the capital of Macedonia; at the time, his father became the king. Alexanders boyhood was dominated by the expansion of the Phillip IIs kingdom, an unfolding of the saga of excitement and glory. At an early age, Alexander proved himself as able to share in the military adventures. He was left in charge of Macedonia at the age of sixteen as his father campaigned against the Byzantium in the East. In just ten years, Alexander had conquered most of his known empires. As this analysis shows, Alexanders conquest was a success; in battle, he remained undefeated and is considered amongst the most successful military commanders of all times.

In a decade, Alexander became the greatest conqueror in the ancient world (Worthington, 2014). He was able to consolidate control over his native Balkans in Europe; he was also able to invade and conquer the mighty Persian Empire. Alexander was also able to subjugate the tribes of Afghanistan and central Asia, as well as invade India. He also had plans for the conquest into the present day Spain, Rome, Arabia, and Carthage at the time of his death. He died at the age of 33 years after which his vast empire was subdivided among his warring generals.

As such, Alexander was a man of unusual military and political talents. His mother was of Achilles descent; he became involved in Homeric poetry and had already become self-confidence with endless curiosity by his late teens. After the death of his father, he moved quickly to secure the armys loyalty and would kill anyone who questioned his rule. After assuming power, he attacked Greece and destroyed Thebes, which was by then a powerful city and forced Greeks to recognize his rule. He went ahead and fulfilled his fathers plan of invading Persia. His justification for the invasion was that he was championing the Greek culture against the barbarian values and as revenge for the 480 invasions by Xerxes.

His conquests in the third century BC had a huge effect on the western, as well as the eastern cultures. Following his expanded empire, Greek or Hellenism influenced culture spread to Asia. The Mediterranean Trade routes between Asia and Europe were expanded following the movement of his armies across the hilly areas of Tibet and Afghanistan (Holt, 2016). The opening of the trade routes allowed unprecedented religious and cultural exchanges and increased trade between the West and the East. The expansion of the expansion of Greek language was among the main components of the Hellenistic culture. Greek was quickly adopted as the main commerce and trade language, and many people within the empire were beneficiaries of its common usage (Judge, 2015). People were now able to understand one another regardless of their language and culture easily. The use of Greek as a common language also resulted in the increased appreciation of the Greek art, philosophy, and drama (Heckel & Tritle, 2011). Numerous philosophical thought schools were established focusing on the individual such as Epicureanism and Stoicism. The emergent cosmopolitan world as a result of the conquest by Alexander eliminated Great city-states competition power. The result of this was the development of a more individual-centered mentality as compared to the city-states identification, which had for long been a crucial part of the Greek culture.

Even so, Alexander faced a huge challenge in ruling over the former Persian Empire. But, his wise decision to retain satrapies among other Persian government features played a big role in his success. He tried to fuse the Greek and Persian cultures by taking some Persian wives and advising his officials and commanders to do the same, as well as placing both the Persians and Greeks in crucial administrative and political positions. This was a move that won him more praises, especially in Persia.

Apart from the diffusion of the Hellenistic culture, his empire was able to create stable trade environment for towns to grow with no the fear of any attacks. The administrations that were now under Alexanders rule all promoted, as well as protected trade. Their actions led to the development of primary trading routes, an example being the Silk Road. Chinese Silk remained a very crucial commodity, considering that its demand was always high within the Mediterranean. The increased trading activities were also responsible for the emergence of caravan cities such as the Greek-influenced cities of Palmyra and Petra along the Silk Road (Heckel, 2012). These cities were among other cities that thrived in the new Alexanders multicultural world. Alexandria city in Egypt was a commerce and culture center. Alexandria, a city that Alexander founded, became the Egyptian capital ruled by the dynasty of Ptolemaic. Alexandrias Great Harbor that is located directly on the Mediterranean became a crucial center for trade in the sea. Egyptian and Greek regions merged when Ptolemy I developed Serapis, the anthropomorphic god (Briant, 2012). The god combined the Egyptians god of the departed known as Osiris with the living dead referred to as Apis. The aspect of religious change that was Greek-based occurred throughout the Mediterranean.

However, the increased chattel slave trade was one of the biggest downsides of the Mediterranean unification aspects by Alexander. Slave plantations were instituted by a small group of the elite citizens who became wealthy as a result of successful trade. On these slave plantations, the crops grown were solemnly for profit, and the workers were mainly slaves. These slaves created a situation where jobs were lost for the majority of the free peasants. The plantations exclusive use of slave labor increased uprisings in Italy. A good example of the uprisings is one that was headed by Spartacus, as well as immigration of free peasants to cities that were already overcrowded looking for employment.

But, one has to note that, Alexander, apart from creating a prosperous and stable trade setting, also laid the foundation for fresh systems of politics and government. After his death, his generals sub-divided the entire territory and made themselves the complete leaders within Asia and the Mediterranean. The generals created three main regional states. These included Macedonia, the dynasty of Ptolemaic located in Egypt, and the Empire of Seleucid. As the three kingdoms grew, the Greek cultural aspects were passed to the neighboring people (Holt, 2012). Alexander was even able to stabilize the political landscape within the Valley of Indus River. His efforts resulted in the emergence of the first Empire in India by the name, Mauryan Empire.

The spread of the Hellenism culture and the change in the Indian political landscape also led to a crucial shift in religious thoughts and beliefs. The spread of Buddhism was from the Indian Mauryan Empire towards the East into Central Asia and China. Along the Silk Road, Monks traveled converting sacred text into Chinese and spreading Buddhist ideas. The Monks were less successful in their mission when they traveled westward and encountered a region that was formerly a Persian Empire, where Zoroastrianism was established firmly. Through the formation of religious communities along the Silk Road, Zoroastrian traders were successful in slowing down the westward spread of the Buddhism and their ideas. The Roman and Hellenistic art might have even had some impact on the Buddha representation (Waterfield, 2012). The Buddha was originally represented symbolically only, and not with any human being portrayal. A fresh Buddha anthropomorphic image that was Greek influenced might have been designed with the purpose of reflecting the human aspect of his teachings and life.

In conclusion, although the rule by Alexander was short, his impact and influence on the western and eastern cultures were huge. His reputation included the growth of the Greek-influenced cultures towards various parts of the known globe; the culture continued for some years even after he died. After Alexanders death, fresh empires developed, which bonded their own cultures with the Hellenism creating some of the most influential and powerful ancient worlds civilizations. Alexander the great was successful in spreading the Hellenic culture over quite a large part of the world. Many generals and conquerors emulated his genius status in the military throughout the world.


Briant, P. (2012). Alexander the Great and his empire: a short introduction. Princeton University Press.

Heckel, W. (2012). The conquests of Alexander the Great. Cambridge University Press.

Heckel, W., & Tritle, L. A. (Eds.). (2011). Alexander the Great: a new history. John Wiley & Sons.

Holt, F. L. (2012). Into the land of bones: Alexander the Great in Afghanistan (Vol. 47). Univ of California Press.

Holt, F. L. (2016). The treasures of Alexander the Great: how one man's wealth shaped the world. Oxford University Press.

Judge, E. (2015). Connections: A World History Volume 1. Ashworth College Pearson Custom Library ed. edition. Pearson.

Waterfield, R. (2012). Dividing the spoils: The war for Alexander the Great's empire. Oxford University Press.

Worthington, I. (2014). By the Spear: Philip II, Alexander the Great, and the Rise and Fall of the Macedonian Empire. Ancient Warfare and Civilization.

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