- Jul 2018
- Hong Kong
Just taking contemporary people as example : Philip II, Seleucus, Ptolemy, Memnon of Rhodes, Eumenes, or even Darius III (yes, do not underrate this Persian king)....dare you assert that Alexander was greater than them because he had stronger leadership, charisma or ability than them ? It's just like saying that Cao Cao was greater than Yuan Shao in military leadership, or Tokugawa Ieyasu was greater than Ishida Mitsunari in charisma and political ability. Indeed, indeed, throwing away the veil of heroism based on the standard of victors and defeated, you'll find that situation is much complicated beyond your comprehension focusing on several key leaders' ability or role only.
We Chinese have a proverb : It's the tide creates heroes, rather than heroes create the tide. (時勢造英雄)
Ability and leadership are essential for being great, but it also requires status, rank, bloodline, patrons, reputation or vast support to make you great.
Why Liu Bei personally "invited" Zhuge Liang for joining his cause ? Just because Zhuge Liang had extraordinary talents !? If you think so, then surely you do not comprehend the huge impact of those "prominent-scholar families" (I could not find a better translation of 豪門世族). Zhuge Liang was heavily mythified as a godlike person just like Alexander the Great somehow, so powerful, so amazing ! Just like their subordinates, their contemporaries were nothing more than a "symbol" in comparison with this holiest person in the contemporary era.
Darius III might be inferior than Alexander the Great in overall military leadership and bravery as popular evaluated, but there were a dozen of Persian satraps / generals / admirals ever fought Alexander's army or navy. Historical records didn't narrate their deeds, planning and thought in detail doesn't mean they were inferior than Alexander in these field. And Alexander the Great had numerous able generals and right-hand men as his aid.
Alexander the Great might be one of the greatest military commander in antiquity. But if someone is fantastic enough to attribute the fall of the Persian Empire entirely to his incredible talents of military leadership and even treat him like the "God" who is invincible and undefeatable, then I have to say : their mind is stuffed with all of those "fairy tales".
Indeed, no matter how talented a person was, how charismatic and noble he is, he would be abandoned if he violates or fails to satisfy the "common interest" — think about how Eumenes was betrayed to Antigonus by the Silver Shield mercilessly, you'll understand what is the meaning of "every person is bornt with blood and brain" — my point is : those so-called great military or political leaders are so holy and exalted merely because their cause earned the majority of their men's support. Their leadership could satisfy all factions within the internal camp, that's why he could continue to be "great" by performing his courage and skillful rule keeping his men united.
Moreover, it requires extraordinary luck for achieving astounding success like of Alexander the Great. Imagine it, if a single arrow from the Persian army struck him in the Battle of Granicus River, and his career ended there as he perished, anybody would still think him a "great conqueror" ?
History is the result of great game involved with multiple sides and players. Yes, nobody deny that Alexander is one of the greatest people whether in the contemporary era or later era, but mythify him by claiming that it's all (or largely) his credit for the conquest and victory he had done while ignoring all the other relevant factors / figures promoting his triumph is not helping us comprehend about Alexander's role in leadership and planning of the campaign.