Alexander the Great was a conqueror and King of Macedonia prior to the Hellenistic Period. He succeeded to the throne after Phillip II of Macedon’s death brought his reign to an end. However, the continuance of the promised legacy his father left behind did not satisfy this power crazed King for fame and glory. Alexander the Great’s resentment towards his father led him to continue conquering because he wanted to overshadow his father. Under his headship, his unification of Greek city-states led to one of the largest empires known today. Alexander was born in the summer of 356 B.C. to Phillip II King of Macedon and Olympias of Epirus. Born into a royal household with a great military leader as the head of it, Alexander spent most of his early childhood watching a distant father transform Macedonia. Alexander was always left behind for his father’s military conquests and expansion. “Whenever he heard of Philip's having taken some city or won some famous victory, he used to look unhappy at the news, and would say to his friends, "Boys, my father will forestall us in everything; he will leave no great exploits for you and me to achieve." Indeed, he cared nothing for pleasure or wealth, but only for honour and glory; and he imagined that the more territory he inherited from his father, the less would be left for him to conquer.” Alexander realized that his father’s absence meant that he was out conquering ("Plutrach Lives: The Life of Alexander" p. 304). This led to tension between the two men and Alexander’s growing resentment for his absent father. In the absence of his father, Alexander was greatly influenced by his mother. “He inherited from her his energy, his passionate, mystical nature; from his father he inherited his energy and practical sense.” (Fuller p. 56) Phillip confined his thirteen year old son to Aristotle, a Greek philosopher. The young prince had a strong impact from both his parents and teacher Alexander became a ‘lover of learning’ through his teachings of Greek culture, especially mythic stories such as the Iliad (Fuller, p. 56-57). Plutarch also emphasized that Alexander’s passion was to be forever instilled in him. (“Plutrach Lives:The Life of Alexander” p. 306) These influences in Alexander’s life lead to the development of his personality. He became a “man entirely wrapped up in his destiny and completely devoted to his task.” (Fuller, p.58) Alexander, from a very young age, always strived to be the best. After three years of studying under Aristotle, Alexander returned home at the age of sixteen. When King Philip went away one of his conquests, he left Alexander in charge of Macedonia. During his entrustment of Macedonia by King Philip, Alexander “defeated and subdued the Mædian rebels, took their city, ejected its barbarian inhabitants, and reconstituted it as a Grecian colony, to which he gave the name of Alexandropolis, (“Plutrach Lives:The Life of Alexander” p. 307-308) ” proving his courage, skill, and worthiness of the promised throne. However, King Philip’s “…the domestic dissensions produced by [his] amours and marriages caused an estrangement between them...” (“Plutrach Lives:The Life of Alexander” p. 308) Soon after, Alexander learned that King Philip remarried and produced another possible successor to the throne. The threat of another possible successor to his promised throne drove Alexander to rage and further resentment of his father. This was the start of a spiteful relationship between a boy and his father, filled with disputes and rivalry, naturally causing Alexander’s need to outdo his father’s success. The hostility between Alexander and his father, lead to his and his mother’s flee from Macedonia, but still kept in touch through letters with his father. Phillip, up until the time of his death, was in the process of a great campaign to take over Asia. Alexander was left behind on this this project. He wasn’t going to able to obtain fame and glory like his father. However, before the campaign had begun, King Philip died a sudden death. This left the young prince, age twenty at the time, the entire empire and strong developed army of Macedonia. However, this left Alexander in the shadow of his father. “At this point, the shadow of his dead father turned into a political obstacle for him. After his accession it had been necessary for him to show his devotion to Philip and to guarantee the continuity of his politics to secure his position.” (Carney and Ogden, p31-32 ) Alexander tried to outshine Phillip’s legacy during his reign as the new King of Macedonia. Upon receiving the throne, young Alexander had to establish himself as the new ruler of Macedonia. Alexander refused to take his advisor’s advice and went forth to “establish the safety and security of his kingdom through boldness and determination…he put an end to the barbarian unrest and wars which threatened…” (Austin, p25) Alexander believed that doing so would help his new empire to see him in a greater light than his father. After establishing his rule politically in Macedonia, Alexander decided he was not satisfied with what he had; he wanted more than what was left to him by his father. He had to go out and conquer more territory to feed his thirst for fame, glory, and adventure. Since King Philip’s death caused himself to fall short of his plan to conquer Persia, a rival empire at the time, Alexander had his shot at earning the great fame that would accompany such a plan to conquer the great empire. However, his ambitious nature wasn’t nearly content with just the takeover of Persia; Alexander wanted all of Asia. Alexander’s developed personality helped him to become an great general to his strong, well-ordered army, which in turned helped him to conquer. The resentment he grew for his father throughout his father’s life time and preceding his death fueled Alexander’s fire and there was no stopping him to become greater than his father ever was. He was going to overshadow Philip II and his legacy. Alexander III set out on his journey to be greater glorified that his father’s ever was, to become Alexander the Great, leaving behind a legacy superior to his father’s. Alexander was able to conquer and declare himself king of Persia, something his father was not able to accomplish. Alexander conquered for eleven years before falling short to his death. Alexander the Great left behind one of the greatest empires ever built, one he believed to be superior to the one his father, Phillip II, left behind. The spark and fuel to become a conqueror of land beyond the walls of Macedonia, was kindled by the resentment he built up for his father over a life time. Bibliography:
Plutrach Lives: The Life of Alexander. III. London: GEORGE BELL & SONS, YORK ST., COVENT GARDEN, AND NEW YORK., 1892. 300-379. eBook. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/14140/14140-h/14140-h.htm Fuller, J. F. C. The Generalship of Alexander the Great. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1960. Print. Carney, E. , and D. Ogden. Philip ii and alexander the great: Father and son lives and afterlives. Oxford University Press, print. Austin, M. M. The Hellenistic World from Alexander to the Roman Conquest: A Selection of Ancient Sources in Translation. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2006. Print.