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

Nov 2008
1,417
England
What are the thoughts of forum members, in particular participants of this thread, concerning Alexander ordering the death of his general Parmenion? Modern terminology, I know, but was it judicial murder or justified homicide?
 
Nov 2011
1,111
The Bluff
Yes, the cruelty toward citizens of Athens, to which the democratic government was accountable, was largely restrained, and toward foreign enemies, to which the government was not accountable, seems to have been largely unrestrained.
The decision to execute the successful generals was illegal in the end. It has occasioned countless academic papers not to mention resulting in the bunch of dullards - Konon excepted - at Aigospotamoi. Accountability, though, is not the point. The point is that the actions of those generals at Melos or Scione were accepted as the way to do business. In fact, Kleon had asked for and received the assent of the demos to deal with Scione as eventually happened. This was not the first time. Athens had declared exactly the same punishment for Mytilene after its revolt. This occasioned the "Mytlilenian Debate" (Thuk. 3.36-49) where Kleon asked that punishment be carried out as decided. Diodotos, on the other hand, argued the opposite: repeal the edict. He did this not because of some moral view that the execution of the males and selling off of the women and children was wrong, far from it. He argued it was neither in Athens' financial interest to do so nor was it in her political interest as the demos of Mytlilene was on her side.

In all this, it mattered not whether Athens or her generals were accountable to foreigners, it was simply how you did the business of empire and war. The only reason there is discussion is that the demos made the decisions just as the Ephors at Sparta. If there is any accountability it is to Athens and her citizens in terms of their benefit. Athens, rightfully, feared the exact same treatment after the disaster of Aigospotamoi.
 
Nov 2011
1,111
The Bluff
What are the thoughts of forum members, in particular participants of this thread, concerning Alexander ordering the death of his general Parmenion? Modern terminology, I know, but was it judicial murder or justified homicide?
Judicial murder. The justification, if it is such, came from the trial of his son. Highly political and a final weeding out of an old guard Alexander now no longer had to bother with. The 'high command" were now Alexander men with the exception of Krateros who, though loyal enough, did not get on with Alexander's favourite, Hephaistion. He would be sent back west from India and eventually sent to "retirement ion Macedonia. There remained only Antipatros of Philip's men.
 
Aug 2015
1,952
Los Angeles
Sal, if you think these old guards were left, could Alexander's children have a better chance at maintaining their rule?
 
Nov 2011
1,111
The Bluff
Sal, if you think these old guards were left, could Alexander's children have a better chance at maintaining their rule?
I think not. At the time of Philotoas' trial, there were only Parmenion, Antipatros and Antigonos left of Philip's men. Koinos had died in India. Parmenion was no longer at court and had been sidelined while Antipatros was back in Macedonia and Antigonos holding the rear in Phrygia. The influential men at court were already Alexander's men. Had Parmenion lived, he will still have been sidelined. The younger generation were the movers and shakers and the removal of Parmenion and Philotas sealed that with the promotion of Hephaistion and Krateros. These men, with the possible exception of Krateros, were always were ruthlessly ambitious. Antigonos, last of the old guard in Asia, was quite possibly the most ruthless and ambitious. With the death of Alexander the Argead line was always mouse in a cage of vipers.
 
Jul 2018
539
Hong Kong
Sal, if you think these old guards were left, could Alexander's children have a better chance at maintaining their rule?
Alexander's children could do nothing but haplessly watching themselves become a puppet of one or another.
Alexander died too early and had no time to choose an heir, train him and foster a "power base" for this future king.
You can't have any fancy that your successor with direct bloodline could hold on his throne when he personally have no strength at all.
This "strength" includes his courage, talents, leadership, social net of relationship and the strong faction loyal to him.

Oda Nobunaga spent extraordinary time and energy, ended up making an outstanding heir Oda Nobutada.
But the cruel fate ruined his effort. Both his heir and him were killed in the AD 1582 coup....
So the consequence was quite similar to the "War of the Diadochi" until Hideyoshi totally controlled the Oda powerbase.

When Philip II died, Alexander the Great was only 20 years old, but luckily he was a genius.
In the earlier "confrontation" with his father, he already displayed the shrewdness and audacity in the game of "bargaining".
Whether in the game of thrones, or in the battlefield, he proved highly capable and owned a large group of supporters within the court.
His "diplomatic card" of collaborating with the Satrap of Caria was one of his brilliant moves.

At least most of the Macedonian nobles was convinced that having Alexander the Great as their king would be at their advantage,
that's why Antipater and Parmenion quickly swore allegiance to Alexander after Philip II was dead.
And after Attalus was "executed" by one of Alexander's confidate, no troops mutined.
This was a clear evidence that Alexander the Great was pretty popular among the army before his takeover of the throne.

Theoretically, hereditary monarchy stipulated that only the sons (and even daughters in some states) of the current monarch have the first priority in lawful succession order, and have to be respected for their bloodline and overlordship. But in reality....

When you're powerful enough to overcome other factions, you don't give such "royal house" a damn ; but in most of the occasions, you have too many potential rivals you could hardly overcome with, so as a result of the compromise, the "weak royal house" is used as a bargain and "buffer force" to balance all factions' — that's why, the half-witted Arrhidaeus could become the "king", titled Philip III of Macedon.

When Cassander found that the retarded king was no longer useful as his "pawn" in keeping other warlords in check, he killed the entire royal house just like slaughtering pigs in his courtyard. This is the reality of politics, no deity, no sacredness, no "singular ethics".