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

May 2015
283
villa of Lucullus
There were protests to Vietnam but I think its especially telling that despite numerous war crimes by American soldiers none of them received any punishment for their crimes. The American public seemingly had no qualms about these guys not facing any consequences for their atrocities, which sort of backs up my point that many of these criticisms are politically motivated. Many of these guys survived well into the 2000s and 2010s yet nothing was ever done.

The argument I am making is that I see no reason Alexander should be judged more leniently than Stalin, Eichmann, etc

Stalin and others can reasonably argue that morals in the 1940s were radically different than they are today and cannot be judged by current standards.
 

Caesarmagnus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,572
Australia
There were protests to Vietnam but I think its especially telling that despite numerous war crimes by American soldiers none of them received any punishment for their crimes. The American public seemingly had no qualms about these guys not facing any consequences for their atrocities, which sort of backs up my point that many of these criticisms are politically motivated. Many of these guys survived well into the 2000s and 2010s yet nothing was ever done.

The argument I am making is that I see no reason Alexander should be judged more leniently than Stalin, Eichmann, etc

Stalin and others can reasonably argue that morals in the 1940s were radically different than they are today and cannot be judged by current standards.
Punishing crimes of this sort isn't always feasible, because proving what is and isn't acceptable in a war to a legal standard is tough. Sometimes soldiers from Western countries are prosecuted though. Regardless of whether they are, societies in modern times judge them. Many American leaders are remembered harshly for pursuing the wrong wars for the wrong reasons, or supporting brutal policies in those wars. That commentary may not be as critical as you like, but it exists and is a strong part of their modern legacy. It had no place whatever in ancient times. To say the situations are the same is simply you ignoring the evidence. Where were the holocaust museums in ancient times devoted to the victims of genocide? There weren't any. Stalin was a brutal dictator. He avoided criticism within Russia by being a brutal dictator. Morals have changed somewhat since the 40's, but not nearly as much as they've changed since ancient times. I don't know how else to explain it to you, the mass of evidence has been pointed out already. If a modern leader killed, raped and enslaved people on the scale of most ancient conquerors they'd be regarded as the worst monster in the world. Times were different back then, and Alexander's behavior was the norm; which you can tell because a bunch of ancient conquerors I pointed to were very brutal, but beloved nonetheless (and criticisms of them are always about other stuff, like being too ambitious, or not nationalistic enough, not for the brutality).
 
Nov 2011
1,051
The Bluff
There were protests to Vietnam but I think its especially telling that despite numerous war crimes by American soldiers none of them received any punishment for their crimes. The American public seemingly had no qualms about these guys not facing any consequences for their atrocities, which sort of backs up my point that many of these criticisms are politically motivated. Many of these guys survived well into the 2000s and 2010s yet nothing was ever done.
The American public seemingly had no qualms? You seemingly have no recollection of soldiers returning home and being labelled "baby killers" or "murderers". The many crimes committed by the US military in Vietnam were assiduously covered up by that same military (see operation "Speedy Express" under General Ewell for example). Just why do you think that was? The reaction will have been swift had they come to light in all their gory ugliness. It took Seymour Hersh to expose Mai Lai and despite the resistance of the US military and its trenchant defence to limit the fallout, it went to trial. So should others. That they did not has very little to do with the American public from which such was hidden.

None of "this", which you write above, backs up any point you make. That crimes are covered up does mean that they were acceptable to the public who, while aware of snippets and protested their reaction to such, remained ignorant of same.

The argument I am making is that I see no reason Alexander should be judged more leniently than Stalin, Eichmann, etc

Stalin and others can reasonably argue that morals in the 1940s were radically different than they are today and cannot be judged by current standards.
And that's the problem: you fail to see reason. The western world view altered irretrievably after the spread of Christianity and more so into the twentieth century with the refining of that moral framework. In the time of Philip, Alexander, Sulla and Caesar, life was a different and far cheaper commodity. Modern "christian values" had no place in a world where a Spartan commander, at the end of a siege, could murder the entire male population of Plataia for not siding with Sparta. Where another Spartan admiral, under a formal process, murders the Athenians in the fleet at Aigospotami. Where Roman generals were rewarded based on the number of enemy killed. Where Sulla could sack Athens. Where life and its loss was a sport. Where ancient commentators pass no judgement on these actions. To judge the actions of the ancients by modern moral standards is a nonsense.

On Alexander specifically, the sources do remark upon his actions and almost always positively. However else the complimentary remarks about his treatment of the enemy, women and others may be viewed, the fact they are noted in the first place is significant. The same may be said for Philip post Chaeroneia where the relief of Athens at being spared is palpable and remarked upon. Why? Because it was not the norm.

As for Stalin and "others", Joe, Hitler, Pol Pot and whomever else your amorphous "others" may contain, were judged by the same basic framework which exists today. You are stretching mightily.
 
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Caesarmagnus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,572
Australia
I actually agree with Sal, except about the Christianity part. But no need to get into that. For whatever reason, morals changed over time. It's objectively true.
 
Nov 2011
1,051
The Bluff
I actually agree with Sal, except about the Christianity part. But no need to get into that. For whatever reason, morals changed over time. It's objectively true.
Yes, it's almost like the Hittites and Egypt coming together post Kadesh.

Without diverting into a discussion of comparative religion, despite the propensity for "Christian states" to commit atrocities, it remains the fact that Christian values underpin the morality of the west and have done since its original "takeover". Certainly, pagan mores and morals have been supplanted. Thus, although of western "Christian values", states will commit attrocities or crimes which Christian-based morality calls out for such.
 

Caesarmagnus

Ad Honorem
Jan 2015
3,572
Australia
Yeh I don't agree on that aspect in any way, shape or form, but I'm not going to divert this into a discussion of Christianity. As far as morality changing over time that's indisputable.
 
May 2015
283
villa of Lucullus
I don't think Stalin can reasonably be judged by current moral standards.

During the 1940s and well into the cold war liberal democracies tolerated and even encouraged mass atrocities like the Indonesian genocide or the mass killings in South Korea in 1950 as well as the numerous American atrocities in Vietnam, mass bombing of civilians, etc.

Actions speak louder than words and if such things were truly no longer acceptable we wouldn't see western democracies allow such things.
 
May 2015
283
villa of Lucullus
I would say that morals started to shift perhaps in the late 1940s/1950s and even then it has been a slow progress and it remains to be seen how long this trend lasts.