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"Alexander: Not So Great?" Topic

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©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian11 Dec 2017 6:38 a.m. PST

In the book Great Generals of the Ancient World, Richard Gabriel asserts that all of Alexander's achievements were merely an implementation of his father's policies. Therefore, Philip of Macedon should get the credit.

Do you agree?

Dynaman878911 Dec 2017 6:53 a.m. PST

Did he ever have his picture on a Bubblegum card?

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP11 Dec 2017 6:57 a.m. PST

While I am more of a fan of Cyrus and both his policies and implementation skills.

Even if Alexander had no original policies just implementing what he did was quite an accomplishment

Stryderg11 Dec 2017 7:15 a.m. PST

So we should change their names to:
Philip the Great of Macedon and Alexander the Usurper of His Father's Policies
The academics might agree, the general population won't care…because most of them don't know who either Philip or Alexander are anyway.

Philip may have come up with the policies, but Alexander implemented them. Back in the 90's I had a great idea for a robotic vacuum cleaner. Roomba implemented that idea, that's why it's not called a Stryderg-ba.

Archaeologist1970 Inactive Member11 Dec 2017 7:35 a.m. PST

I almost wrote a undergrad thesis on this topic. Most people don't realize Phillip actually had a military science group funded that was trying to develop cutting edge siege weapons. Without that kind of forethought lil Alex dosent go far in history.

Legion 411 Dec 2017 8:38 a.m. PST

No one around then was going to tell him he was not so great … and lived to tell about it …

Vigilant11 Dec 2017 9:36 a.m. PST

Don't know about great, but he was better than that awful film about him!

Earl of the North11 Dec 2017 9:39 a.m. PST

Well Alexander certainly benefited from Philip's efforts and ideas, but it was Alexander who actually turned that foundation and plans into a reality and conquered an empire that dwarfed his own domain.

So who gets more of the credit the guy who beat up some greeks and built a powerful kingdom in Northern Greece or the guy who went on a 'World' tour of ass kicking before burning out and dying young?

Personal logo Pictors Studio Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Dec 2017 9:40 a.m. PST

I really liked the film about him. They did a great job of capturing the character of many of the important people in it. They also depicted a number of the events in a pretty authentic manner, like the murder of Cleitus the Black.

A well done film all around. Done about as well as a film could capture the life of such a complex individual.

USAFpilot11 Dec 2017 9:49 a.m. PST

If the argument is that it was his father's policies and Alexander just implemented those policies and therefore it is Phillip who should be great; I would would say that established history disagrees with that argument and has clearly decided and thus labeled Alexander as the Great.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP11 Dec 2017 9:54 a.m. PST

Hannibal thought well of him. I respect his opinion.
Tellingly, part of Hannibal's ranking was that he took his army to lands that nobody had ever heard of. I don't think Philip would have had that drive.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP11 Dec 2017 10:01 a.m. PST

By the way, Napoleon didn't invent the musket. Nor the cuirassier. Just sayin'.

And Patton and Rommel didn't invent the tank.

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Dec 2017 10:01 a.m. PST

Perhaps Alexander the so so would be more appropriate?

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP11 Dec 2017 10:14 a.m. PST

His military successes and tactical flair were at least as impressive as Frederick the Great.!

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP11 Dec 2017 10:56 a.m. PST

How many of the great actually built his/her army?
I can only think of Peter, sure it wasn't a fantastic army. But at least he did build it.

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP11 Dec 2017 10:58 a.m. PST

I would rate Alexander as one of the two greatest commanders of history, the other being Ghengis Khan. Nice guys don't build empires.

whitejamest11 Dec 2017 11:24 a.m. PST

Phillip certainly deserves a huge amount of credit for his policies. He was an extremely capable man in his own right. But it's not like "just implementing his father's policies" was an easy thing. It doesn't have to be an either/ or sort of thing. They were both extremely capable.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Dec 2017 1:18 p.m. PST


They should equally share the credit. The plan was essential. So was the execution.

Dave Jackson Supporting Member of TMP11 Dec 2017 1:29 p.m. PST

I agree with a lot that has been said here. Implementation is much more difficult than developing policies. Philip was brilliant and harnessed Greece…….but Alexander took things further, in both geography and militarily. He made the Macedonian army into a flexible force able to handle many stresses as well as completely different and foreign tactical and strategical situations. He even completely revamped the logistical arrangements for the army….all in all , he exceeded Philip by a huge margin.

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP11 Dec 2017 1:45 p.m. PST

I think Bill has thrown this in to provoke some comment. How about we get back to "moving Historicon" as a topic?

Yellow Admiral11 Dec 2017 1:49 p.m. PST

I once had a conversation with a Persian-American immigrant in which I mentioned "Alexander the Great". She looked me right in the eye and said, "We don't think he was so great". No, I don't suppose so…

- Ix

evilgong11 Dec 2017 2:19 p.m. PST

hi there

I once had a conversation with a Persian-American immigrant in which I mentioned "Alexander the Great". She looked me right in the eye and said, "We don't think he was so great". No, I don't suppose so…

From what little we know about the contemporary average Persian view, the population saw Alexander as just another regime change or hostile corporate take over at the top of the elite structures.

The Shahnameh makes Alexander the (publicly unknown) son of Darius and therefore a legitimate King of Persia.

David F Brown

lugal hdan11 Dec 2017 3:23 p.m. PST

Phillip may have built that army, but it didn't lead itself to victory.

Nikator Inactive Member11 Dec 2017 3:54 p.m. PST

Ghenghis Khan didn't invent the hors archer. Caesar didn't invent the Legion. Hannbal didn't invent the elephant. They all sucked.

This argument is old and tired, Mr. Editor.

Tarantella Inactive Member11 Dec 2017 4:09 p.m. PST

The Michael Wood series In the footsteps of Alexander is always worth a revisit and whilst it maybe it was not his original intention the effect of Hellenistic ideas and people coming into contact with both China and India via the later successor kingdoms (Bactria etc)and the trade routes were perhaps critical in shaping the later classical world.

skinkmasterreturns11 Dec 2017 4:44 p.m. PST

I dont care about the "Great" argument,but to say that Phillip didnt implement his own policies is wrong-there is a little matter known as "Chaeronea". Not as big as the Persian empire,sure,but not exactly sitting on his ass,either.

Cyrus the Great11 Dec 2017 4:51 p.m. PST

No! The greatest plan in the world will come to nothing without someone to implement it and the devil is in the details.

platypus01au11 Dec 2017 8:18 p.m. PST

Back in the 90's I had a great idea for a robotic vacuum cleaner. Roomba implemented that idea, that's why it's not called a Stryderg-ba.

Indeed. In the 80's I came up with the idea for Netflix. Look how that turned out for me!


basileus66 Inactive Member11 Dec 2017 10:22 p.m. PST

No, I do not agree. Alexander was an unsavory character, and there is no question that without the army forged by his father he would have not had the means to smash the Persian Empire. However, it was him, not Philip, who took that army to Asia; it was him who re-shaped it into an unstoppable war machine; it was him who had the political acumen and will to trascend his original remit and transform it into a successful empire-building program. It is like if the son of a successful local bussinessman inherits his dad's company and transforms it into a multinational bussiness able to force a hostile takeover of Microsoft from Bill Gates, in just a few years. Maybe his daddy provided him with the starting capital, but the rest is all his.

Earl of the North12 Dec 2017 6:04 a.m. PST

Philip is unlucky in that his successor dwarfed his achievements so much that he is relegated to a footnote.

daler240D Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member12 Dec 2017 7:45 a.m. PST

same could be said for Frederick the Great. He used the army his father created.

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP12 Dec 2017 8:08 a.m. PST

And his father never used it.

JJartist12 Dec 2017 1:50 p.m. PST

Alexander wins by dying young. If Napoleon had suddenly died of an aneurysm in 1808, the world opinion might be entirely different, since he was cheated of the opportunity to mess everything up.

His story is more compelling that the achievements, which fragmented immediately, which led to the eradication of his dynasty.

So as a conqueror -- highest scores…

As a king he would be looked upon poorly because his family and heirs were rubbed out.

Tarantella Inactive Member12 Dec 2017 5:30 p.m. PST
dejvid Inactive Member14 Jan 2018 1:46 p.m. PST

>>political acumen and will to trascend his original remit and transform it into a successful empire-building program.

Successful empire-building? Seriously? He certainly won a lot of battles but clearly found empire-building tedious. There is a reason his son never lived long enough to rule.

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