Is Alexander the Great actually as bad as some people say he is?

Sep 2019
13
'Merica
Not necessarily speaking for others, but I believe it would be nice for all if this rubbish were not to contaminate yet another thread. There are plenty of other threads (mostly locked I'd imagine) for this stuff.

Thanks in advance.
So Alexander did not run away? I have great respect for the historical method and all GREEK sources agree that the Nandas were too mighty for Alexander. Here's one :
"
As for the Macedonians, however, their struggle with Porus blunted their courage and stayed their further advance into India. For having had all they could do to repulse an enemy who mustered only twenty thousand infantry and two thousand horse, they violently opposed Alexander when he insisted on crossing the river Ganges also, the width of which, as they learned, was thirty-two furlongs, its depth a hundred fathoms, while its banks on the further side were covered with multitudes of men-at-arms and horsemen and elephants. For they were told that the kings of the Ganderites and Praesii were awaiting them with eighty thousand horsemen, two hundred thousand footmen, eight thousand chariots, and six thousand fighting elephants.
"
- Plutarch's lives

Here's another :
"
Gangaridai, a nation which possesses a vast force of the largest-sized elephants. Owing to this, their country has never been conquered by any foreign king: for all other nations dread the overwhelming number and strength of these animals. Thus Alexander the Macedonian, after conquering all Asia, did not make war upon the Gangaridai, as he did on all others; for when he had arrived with all his troops at the river Ganges, he abandoned as hopeless an invasion of the Gangaridai when he learned that they possessed four thousand elephants well trained and equipped for war.
"
-Megasthenes' Indika

You speak as if the Greeks were the only ones to consider a "combined arms" approach when both the Indians and Chinese had similar, older doctrines. Look up "Chaturanga-bala".

Eurocentric garbage is still garbage!
 
Nov 2011
1,146
The Bluff
Still not sure how historians substantiate Darius' ability to field an army 100,000 strong logistically.
As I've probably said several times, I don't necessarily agree on 100,000. Certainly the Persian force well outnumbered Alexander's 47,000 as is plain from the Macedonian's dispositions. Given Dareios' decision to fight in the heart of empire, he'd secure lines of both communication and supply. He also had plenty of time to put this force and its required supply lines into place - two years. He'd chosen the battleground - just as Artaxerxes had some seventy years earlier - and forced Alexander to come to him. This suited the army he would put into the field, one which played to his strengths: cavalry, including mounted archers. If Alexander's cavalry had won the day at Issos, Dareios would see him and raise him.

Conversely, Alexander's lines of supply and communication were stretched wafer thin and he'd Antigonos dealing with Persian insurgencies in his rear. Defeat here would be near enough to terminal. To topple the empire meant defeating its king and army in the field. Alexander had no choice but the follow the path laid down by Dareios and his high command and traipse well into dust of what is now northern Iraq. Not for Alexander, as Kyros, a comfortable trip down the Euphrates.

Dareios, with the time Alexander granted him, had time to assemble and supply virtually a small city. A force of 80,000, with near half of that cavalry, is not out of the question I'd have thought.
 
May 2015
305
villa of Lucullus
One thing I find a bit odd are all these people trying to argue that 20th century atrocities should be viewed differently than those in Alexander's time. People may be more uncomfortable with the holocaust than the atrocities of Alexander's day because it is more recent but I don't see much evidence for substantial improvement in people's morality between Alexander's age and that of Hitler.

The 20th century, especially the early part is absolutely full of atrocities. They were common enough that you can't dismiss them as aberrations totally unindictive of prevailing social norms.
 

fascinating

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
2,460
The 20th century, especially the early part is absolutely full of atrocities.
What does the word "full" mean to you? What about "absolutely full"? "Full" really means "entirely", a bottle full of water has no space left for any more water. "absolutely full of atrocities" must mean that every person, without exception, was involved in an atrocity. This was not the case at any time (and note I use the word "was" as it is past tense).

I don't like hyperbole, which means exaggeration, which means falsehood, which poisons reasoned discussion.
 
Nov 2011
1,146
The Bluff
What does the word "full" mean to you? What about "absolutely full"? "Full" really means "entirely", a bottle full of water has no space left for any more water. "absolutely full of atrocities" must mean that every person, without exception, was involved in an atrocity. This was not the case at any time (and note I use the word "was" as it is past tense).

I don't like hyperbole, which means exaggeration, which means falsehood, which poisons reasoned discussion.
More to the point, atrocities of modern times are called for such. The Japanese treatment of prisoners was deemed inhumane. The bombing of Dresden was called and questioned (with "Bomber" Harris defending it just as Curtis Le May would defend his incindiary bombing of Tokyo and other Japanese cities). The leveling of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still draws debate. There is little evidence that Alexander's surrounding and annihilation of Poros' forces was so remarked. Same for the siege of Tyre. There is no ancient moralising about Alexander's near genocide of the Mallians. Philip was criticised for being so uncivil as to campaign year around rather than the deliberate slaughter of his enemies at Crocus field. Polybios remarks unfavourably on the fate of Corinth but mostly in terms of the fact the Achaians brought this upon themselves through naive nationalism. Plutarch notes the Kerameikos "ran red with the blood of the slaughtered" during Athens' sack by Sulla. He does not say that this was a disgusting act of barbarity (Sull. 14.3-5):

There was therefore no counting of the slain, but their numbers are to this day determined only by the space that was covered with blood. For without mention of those who were killed in the rest of the city, the blood that was shed in the market-place covered all the Cerameicus inside the Dipylon gate; nay, many say that it flowed through the gate and deluged the suburb. But although those who were thus slain were so many, there were yet more who slew themselves, out of yearning pity for their native city, which they thought was going to be destroyed. For this conviction made the best of them give up in despair and fear to survive, since they expected no humanity or moderation in Sulla. However, partly at the instance of the exiles Meidias and Calliphon, who threw themselves at his feet in supplication, and partly because all the Roman senators who were in his following interceded for the city, being himself also by this time sated with vengeance, after some words in praise of the ancient Athenians, he said that he forgave a few for the sake of many, the living for the sake of the dead.
As I've said, life was a different commodity to what it is today.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Aelfwine

Devdas

Ad Honorem
Apr 2015
5,076
India
I was talking about military skill tho
In his Indian campaign, Alexander avoided fighting any large kingdom. Nanda Empire which ruled almost all of fertile Gangetic plains and known for their thousands of elephants was never confronted by Alexander's army.