Alexander the Great: Was He Really Great?

Alexander, son of Philip II of Macedon, was a king and general since he was a teenager. What justifies his title ‘The Great’?

Greatness can be based on achievement. Alexander conquered vast tracts of territory in his short life; but also destroyed much, notably in Persia. After his death his empire fragmented and was marked by conflict.

Or perhaps his posthumous impact on the world makes him great. He did introduce the idea of absolute monarchy, built many cities named Alexandria, and gave the known world Greek as a common language. This facilitated trade and communications.

Finally, Alexander’s legend has been embellished to make him an almost magical person. Does this make him ‘great’?

History is what we make it, as much as what happened.

I graduated in English language and literature with Latin subsidiary. I write poetry, act, and have worked in reference and educational publishing for decades. I was commissioned in 1994 to write The Ladybird Book of Kings and Queens, did extensive editing and writing for Harraps 20th-century History series, and was one of the contributors to Helicon's Book of the Millennium, a 4-volume children's world history book.