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In Greek history many
men have earned the title of Hero. Many of these heroes are the feature
character in an epic or tragedy. These classical heroes are character such as
Achilles and Odysseus. In order to become a hero an individual had to possess certain
qualities. He had to be of Royal or divine birth. This means that from birth
they have already been raised to a higher standing than other humans. A hero
must also possess great strength in any field.The skill didn’t matter. Just so
long as no one else was better than he was. In order to be fully recognised as
a hero it was not enough to be great at something, a hero had to accomplish
feats which no other human could possibly accomplish or be involved in
incredible events. Traditionally a hero should also be able to show admirable
traits such as courage, loyalty and fairness. However it was also quite common
that a hero has a serious flaw in their character.docx#_ftn1″ title=””>[1].
It is a widely discussed topic about whether or not Alexander the Great was a
hero. This report will discuss the qualities of a hero in contrast to Alexander’s

Unlike other classical heroes Alexander was
not of divine birth nor had an ancestral divine lineage. He was simply a
mortal. However he was born a prince in a royal family. This is ultimately what
gave him access to the title of hero. Without it there is fair cause to believe
that he never would have accomplished the great things he did. At the age of 12
Alexander accomplished his first great accomplishment in taming the horse
‘Bucephalus’.docx#_ftn2″ title=””>[2].
It was not uncommon for heroes to accomplish a great feat at a young age. Doing
so showed that in the future the child would become a great man and in this
respect Alexander certainly accomplished it as his feats grew larger and more
daring as time went on.

After his father king Philip II died,
Alexander immediately had everything he would need to wage a war and campaign
into the east against the Persian Empire. A newly reformed permanent standing
Macedonian army, and the support of the other Greek states where key to his
abilities to embark on the campaign as quickly as he did. The ability to seize
the opportunity and wage this campaign is a great feat in itself and definitely
stands out as a grand event for Alexander and demonstrates his courage and

During Alexanders many campaigns it could
never be said that he was a coward as he was always in and amongst the combat
fighting with his men. This quickly gained him the respect and trust of his
armies and is definitely one of his most heroic qualities. His abilities to
fight, lead and inspire the loyalty of so many, stands out as the sole reason
for all his conquests as only once in 13 years did his men refuse to fight. As
cited by BBC article ‘Alexander was acknowledged as a military genius who
always led by example, although his belief in his own indestructibility meant
he was often reckless with his own life and those of his soldiers’.docx#_ftn3″ title=””>[3].
It is often said that Alexander would carry a personal copy of Homers Iliad
with him on all his campaigns and that he often tried to mould himself after
the great hero Achilles.docx#_ftn4″ title=””>[4].
This is evident in the way he behaved in battles and appeared to be dismissive
of his own mortality to the point of recklessness. This can be seen at one of
his battles against the Mallian forces at one of their fortified settlements.
In this event Alexander was part of an advance force onto the walls of the
settlement. When reinforcements were not able to assist Alexander and his men
he jumped off the wall and into the settlement. This resulted in him suffering
one of his worst wounds as an arrow pierced his lung.docx#_ftn5″ title=””>[5].
This is a prime example of Alexander’s recklessness but also courage and
bravery. It also shows how he tries to mimic Achilles in the sense of Pride and
glory before survival.

Alexander was much more than just an
accomplished warrior though. He was also a cunning leader and a master
tactician. At the siege of tyre he constructed a causeway or ‘mole’ that
stretched 0.8km off shore to the island city. In this siege it is believed that
the Macedonian troops only suffered 400 casualties compared to the Tyrians 6000
slain and 2000 crucified with a further 30,000 being sold into slavery.docx#_ftn6″ title=””>[6].
This successful outcome for Alexander was done over the course of several
months, and demonstrates his patience and resolve for victory. Before this
point taking the city of Tyre was thought of as being near impossible and would
surely result in more than 400 casualties for the aggressors. Taking the city,
despite the odds was a feat accredited to Alexander that no other commander had
ever before achieved. This is another heroic quality that Alexander has shown
in addition to his combat abilities, leadership and strategies.

It should be noted that Alexander from the
very beginning sought to raise himself above the standing of a mortal man and
attempt to conquer mortality itself. He ultimately wished ‘To complete an
achievement that would turn a man into a god’.docx#_ftn7″ title=””>[7].
In a way he accomplished that goal as he has become immortalized throughout the
ages and is still widely studied and talked about in the modern age. This sort
of an accomplishment is definitely something he shares will all heroes, whether
they be classical or modern in that they are forever remembered for their deeds
and accomplishments.

One of Alexander’s greatest feats came
after his death. This feat was his empire and the legacy that he left with it.
So great was his mark on the east that when his generals split his empire after
his failing to name a suitable heir, many smaller empires where created. This
was the extent of the land that he had conquered. When Alexanders close friend
Ptolemy seized his body and brought it to Alexandria in Egypt, named after
Alexander himself, it is believed he was mummified and encased in a golden
sarcophagus. Many people came to give tribute and honour Alexander even after
his death. This formed into a type of hero cult, something which all the best
heroes had attributed to them after their deaths. By doing so this cult raised
Alexander to the level of a kind of divine being and granting him the honour
which he had been seeking all his life. So prominent was this cult that Ptolemy
himself eventually claimed that he was not born of his father Lagos and was
instead the illegitimate child of Philip II and as such Alexanders half-brother
and rightful heir to his empire. After Ptolemy’s death he was honoured
alongside Alexander.docx#_ftn8″ title=””>[8].
So even in death Alexander the Great still inspired and influenced those around
him. A sure sign of a hero.

With all these heroic traits and grand
accomplishments it is not possible to discredit Alexander as conforming to the
classical Greek heroes of epics and tragedies. It is also evident to see that throughoutAlexander’s
life, short though it was, he accomplished a great many things which previously
would have been thought of as impossible. He was revered and loved by all his
soldiers for these accomplishments and deeds as well as for his own person
strengths. In his life he managed to defeat the Persians and raise an empire
that spanned from Greece to the border or India and down into Egypt. As a man
he demonstrated the strength and resolve of a classical hero and was loved as
one as he lived and in death. So it is possible to state that Alexander the
Great conformed to the ideas of a classical Greek hero in every aspect of his
life and death. He demonstrated a great many individual strengths in which he
was never matched, he showed great courage in combat, loyalty to his army and
men in every situation. He was also fair to the nations he conquered. He
definitely accomplished more than any other human in his time or indeed in any
time has been able to accomplish, especially given the short amount of time in
which he did it. He also showed signs of having a slightly flawed character in
his dismissal of his own mortality. However all of this corresponds directly to
the idea of a classical Greek hero. So with confidence it can be discerned
that, yes Alexander conforms to the notion of a classical Greek hero.


Ancient Sources:


Modern Sources:”>”>”>″>″>”>

.docx#_ftnref1″ title=””>[1] J. Darnell, ‘The Greek Hero Ideal’, viewed 3 May 2014,

.docx#_ftnref2″ title=””>[2] N.S. Gill’s Ancient/Classical History Glossary, ‘Bucephalus’,
viewed 5 May 2014,

.docx#_ftnref3″ title=””>[3] BBC, ‘Alexander the Great (356-323BC)’, viewed 4 May 2014,

.docx#_ftnref4″ title=””>[4] Kallistos Alexandros, ‘Achilles and Alexander’, viewed 2 May 2014,

.docx#_ftnref5″ title=””>[5] Arrian VI. 4-10, ‘The Second Achilles’, viewed 4 May 2014,

.docx#_ftnref6″ title=””>[6] Arrian, ‘Anabasis of Alexander 2.18-24’, viewed May 3 2014,

.docx#_ftnref7″ title=””>[7] Thomas R. Martin, ‘The Nature of the “Noble Man” for Alexander the
Great, the “Man who loved Homer”, viewed 4 May 2014,

.docx#_ftnref8″ title=””>[8] Elizabeth Kosmetatou, ‘The Aftermath: The Burial of Alexander the
Great’, viewed May 5 2014,

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