Alexander the Great
There are many historic leaders who have left legacies for the world to fallow and retrace that help us understand their paths towards such significant achievements in their lifetime. Alexander the Great is one of many, historians aspire to answer questions of this great leader and his achievements and legacy he has left from as early as the 3rd BC. Scholars ask a specific question; did Alexander the great merit his exalted Historical Reputation. While there are scholars like N.G.L Hammond who sate that yes, with the proven research Alexander the great is deserving of his (esteemed) historical reputation, providing us with ancient sources and examples to exalt his theory. On the other end, there are scholars like E.E. Rice, who suggest that although he was a great conquer, his legacies were far from deserving or even established. We see though the use of different types of sources and ideas these two authors merit him for his great conquests and military tactics, but Rice offers us a different less glorified if you must, testimony of why Alexander the greats Merits were far from reputable.
N.G.L Hammond has written over three books on Alexander the great, and finds much to personify about his greatness. Hammond’s main argument is that Alexander the great is deserving of his historical reputation; he was a great statesmen and warrior, with personal qualities that attribute to this. Hammonds premises included the idea that Alexander had respected the sovereignty of the Greek city states; providing us with the evidence in the number of men who he recruited to join him on his quest to conquer Asia. Coincided with the fact that Alexander let all Greek exiles return home to Athens, in attempts to resettle the refugees; according to Hammond constitutes as an unparallel act of statesmanship. A second premise as to why Alexander’s legacy is deserved lies in the idea that Alexander had a great balance between being a King of Macedonia and a ruler of Asia, and his respectable attempts to spread Greek culture and civilization by founding cities throughout Asia. Hammond speaks a great deal of Alexander’s personal qualities and beliefs which in turn helped him achieve his legacy. Hammond suggests that Alexander had a great deal of respect for his father; these emotions would double when it came to the love and admiration he had for his soldiers. We see the amount of respect he holds for his soldiers through his willingness to stand up at the frontline with them to fight, some call reckless, Hammond identifies this with a great characteristic. While Hammond’s argument as to why Alexander’s reputation is deserved, one can see a hit of Alexander Romance present in his writing. This possibly could be due to the fact that Hammond relies on Ancient sources and writings, specifically those written a few decades after his death. Although these ancient sources are valid, we must look at the skepticism that is offered in whether or not his legacy was deserved. For this we turn to E.E. rice to offer scholars the other side to this controversy.
Professor E.E Rice is a historian who unlike Hammond, protests the idea that Alexander the Greats legacy was deserved. On the contrary Rice concludes that Alexander the Great was indeed a excellent conquer, but an ruler unworthy of such a legacy. Rice questions weather his military techniques which proved to be quite savage, and if his attempts to unite Greek and Asian cultures were close to anything but great. Rice implies that although he did accomplish great things during his rule, it was only in attempts to out due other greats who had lived; he attempted to do what Cyrus the great did and cross the desert with his military. While Hammond would contribute this to a great military accomplishment, Rice states that it was fool hearty and a major tactical mistake. Another premise that Rice offers us is the idea that Alexander the great was a visionary statesmen. In order to secure his rule and unite Greek and Asian cultures, he did a cleaver thing by marrying a Persian wife, as did his generals; eventually this proved to be inefficient once the soldiers returned back to Macedonia. Another argument which makes Rice’s point is that Alexander left no bloodline or arrangements as to who would take over once his death. Further enforcing him being a great conquer, but an unwise ruler. Rice is skeptical in his work and unlike Hammond is wary of ancient sources. Rice questions weather Alexander laid the groundwork for a fusion of cultures, although he married Persian wives in attempt, Rice questions his intentions.
Through the work of Hammond and Rice we see two different sides to an issue or historical debate that has been probed for many years. Alexander the great was a historical figure and massive conqueror during the ancient times. Scholars must be careful as to what sources and ideas they use when asking weather or not his historical reputation is deserved. It seams as though Hammond’s writings and his use of ancient sources to confirm them, is idealizing the Alexander Romantic age that fallowed many years after his death. While most of what Hammond argues is backed up by sources, it he fails at attempting to many any connection or sensibility to modern times. Although reading Hammonds piece on Alexander was fun and was a bit romanticist inspired. I think that Rice takes the more modern approach to answering this question and we see that although there is skepticism in his writings he offers a legitimate response.
With any great ruler or leader there will always be a two sided debate as to weather the legacy they left was a legitimate and deserved one. There are scholars who idealize “the great” while others do not. By providing realistic and legitimate sources and ideas I believe any person could argue either side of the issue. As scholars we must take into consideration what we are reading, who it is coming from, and not only the time and in response to what they are writing about, but as well as the sources that these scholars have used in order to create their arguments and premises.