I’ve been scrolling around on the Alexander the great tag on Tumblr and there are all these posts where people are writing about how they just want to KNOW him, to meet him, to really know what he was like. And it’s not just idle curiosity, there’s a feeling of connection, of longing, that I can relate to and really GET. Alex does something to you.
So sooner or later in these posts someone brings up reincarnation. Maybe we did know him. Maybe we met him. Maybe we fought beside him in another life.
So let’s, for the sake of argument, assume that reincarnation is literally real.
Think about the size of Alexander’s army. At gaugemela the army was about 47,000 in number. And that’s not the highest it ever was. Think about all the men who died, and were replaced, who came later in the campaign, who were dropped off to colonize a new city. Then add to that the number of camp followers: wives , children, slaves, cooks, merchants, carpenters, tailors, metal workers, that needed to follow and interact with this army to make it run.
Now imagine the size of Darius’s army. High estimates say there were 100,000 troops at gaugemela alone. Add to that the size of the opposing army of every battle this man fought. Then add THEIR camp followers, and remember that Persians travelled with even larger and more elaborate entourages.
Now think of the size of the Persian court. Darius’s family, advisors, generals, servants, and courtiers. And then add every small city, state and citadel Alex conquered and passed through. Their nobility, peasants, servants and slaves.
Now add the population of every Greek city state he passed through as well.
And finally, add the population of Pella, a small town on a hill side, nowhere in particular, finally finding its place on the world stage. It was not as big as it would be under Cassander’s reign, it was likely most of the citizens would have interacted with Alex personally at some point. These would have been the people he knew best, cared about, loved.
Alexander interacted with so many people during his short life. We know he was a very hands on king and general who knew the names of many of his men. It is likely he exchanged words at least once with a sizable percentage of this number but even if he did not, think of how many people knew of him, who were affected by him and all he did. Who fought him, who feared him, who finally saw him coming and ,in many cases, realized he wasn’t the monster they had been warned about
Think of how many people would have wanted to know him, to understand him, to meet him, and how many did. And realize that in this number there is room for you. In fact, it is statistically likely.
How big is an army? How big is an empire?
Alexander the great ruled through love. He thrived on it. He needed it, the love of his men, his people, his country. I think, if he too is out there somewhere, he’d be amused, flattered, and somewhat humbled by all the love he still gets. He’d probably want to know us all too. That’s just the kind of man he was.
This is a graceful, two-chamber monument with an Ionic facade of four semi-columns which support the entablature and the pediment. In the pediment’s hollow, a semi-declining couple is depicted in fresco. The three fleuron points which decorate the pediment retain their intense red and blue colours untouched, while the whole vaulted roof of the antechamber is painted with water lilies and fleuron (anthemia) in white and violet tones on a light blue background. The tomb gets its conventional name from these flowers.
The facade’s entrance was blocked by simple stone plinths, while the passageway from the first to the second chamber used to close with a monumental two-leaved marble door, which today we see fallen to the chamber floor. Inside the main death chamber, a four-sided stone base is preserved which contained some kind of metal vessel or reliquary with the bones of the dead.
Funerary crown of Philip II (father of Alexander the Great): gold sculpted to look like oak leaves. Got to see this in the museum at Aigai (Vergina), in MacedoniaGreece built around the funeral mounds of Philip & other of Alexander’s relatives.
Thessalonike (352 or 345 – 295 BC) was a Macedonian princess, the daughter of king Philip II of Macedon by his Thessalian wife or concubine, Nicesipolis, from Pherae. History links her to three of the most powerful men in Macedon—daughter of King Philip II, half sister of Alexander the Great and wife of Cassander.
‘Art and Architecture of Greece’ poster (1946). Poster is in form of a map of the land bordering the Aegean Sea; illustrating the locations
of the main cities and temples of Ancient Crete, Mycenae and Greece.
Alexander the III of Macedon, Hegemon of the Hellenic league, Pharaoh of Egypt, Lord of Asia, Khaleesi of the great grass sea, mother of dragons, breaker of chains, considered among the greatest commanders of all time, tutored by aristotle, given command of an army at 16, proclaimed king by 20, conquered the Perisan empire by the age of 26, and dead by 32. In terms of personality alexander was calculating, clever and charismatic, however he was prone to violent bursts of anger, impulsiveness and arrogance. Despite this Alexander never lost a battle. But how did he do this?
Citizens army - Alexander became king after his father was assisinated in 336 BC, he inherited a large army. This army was a professional army made up of macedonian citizens. This army was paid a good wage and was able to be drilled everyday. This was not a mob of peasants and conscripts, this was their job. Each company of troops came from the same area of macedon, ensuring close bonds of friendship and shared culture which lead to greater cohesion on the battlefield.
Combined arms - Alexander made sure every possible man was part of the action. He used variety, his army could be made up of Phalanxes, archers, javelin throwers, siege towers and companion cavalry. Each unit would be assigned a job that played to their strengths and complimented the other units weaknesses.
The Phalanx - The phalanx was often the most used unit in alexanders army. 256 men arranged 16 across and 16 deep. Each armed with a small shield and a Sarissa, this 18ft macedonian pike gave the phalanx greater reach than the spearman. This formation was a bristling hedgehog of spearpoints. Although inflexible. The phalanx was Skilled at both defense and offense. The phalanx dominated the ancient battfields of persia and asia minor.
Hammer and the anvil - Alexanders preffered tactic and highly effective, the phalanx would pin the enemy in place either by a frontal assualt or a defense. Remember horses would not charge a row of spears. While the enemies main force was engaged. Alexander would send his companion cavalry on the flanks. This cavalry was heavily armoured and the finest in the ancient world, this is called “Shock cavalry” their frightening charge and long lances would force the enemy to retreat inward. The enemy now completley surrounded would be sandwhiched between the infrantry and the cavalry.
Flexibility - Alexander was a clever man. Tutored by aristotle himself. This is shown most prominently at he battle of Gaugamela. Alexander faced a persian force commanded by darius III, estimates vary but the persian army was around 250,000 strong compared to the macedonian force of 40,000 men Alexander took his cavalry and rode parralel to the persian heavy cavarly. He had hidden spear throwers and skirmishers called peltasts behind the cavalry, they ran beside him, keeping up with the pace of the horses. Alexander was taunting darius and he took the bait. The persian heavy cavalry gave chase and left a hole in the battle lines, alexander did a 160 turn and poured his cavalry into the gap, his skirmishers let loose at the persuing persians, which unbalanced the perisan cavalry preventing them from turning and chasing alexnader. Alexander then cut a bloody path to darius, who fled into the mountains. The battle was won.
Leading by example - Alexander realised morale was key. He led his personal unit of companion cavalry, 300 strong into battle. Fighting alongside the men in his army, giving them hope and courage. He suffered wounds himself in battle, and bled beside his veterans. At Gaugamela, alexander cut off his pursuit of darius and turned to rescue his friend and general Parmenion. Showing his troops he really did care about their wellbeing.
Campaigning through egypt, babylon, and asia minor. At its height his empire stretched from greece to northwest India.
If you have any ideas for what I should post for next military monday, it can be anything, a battle, a leader, an idea, a concept or tactic, a military unit or formation. Do not hesitate to send in your suggestions, either by message or comment.
“There is nothing impossible to him who will try” - Alexander the great
At the foot of the hill of the Acropolis, in a raised terrace that dominates the area and is marked by an ancient oak tree, the impressive remains of the palace lay.
The floor plan of the ancient housewas of a peristyle courtyard with rooms surrounding it. The house coudl accomosdate 4,000 residents and 500 guests.
The palace is organized around a large colonnaded courtyard and includes a temple dedicated to Hercules Patroos and luxurious banquet rooms for the king and his officials. In one of them the mosaic floor was preserved beautifully.
The architect was famous Pytheas, who designed the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus (355-350 BC), one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and the temple of Athena Polias in Priene in Asia Minor. This important monument, dating back to the second half of the 4th century BC, was a major attraction of the building program of Philip II. It should have been completed in 336 BC, when King to excuse the wedding of his daughter Cleopatra to the king of Molossos Alexander of Epirus.
Thessaloniki, the second most important byzantine city and second to Athens in modern Greek state.
The name Thessalonica/Salonika/Saloniki and many other variations derives from the Greek “Thessalon Niki” meaning “Victory over Thessaly/Thessalians”; Thessaly is the largest plateau in central/northern Greece and after defeated they supported Phillip in his wars against the southern Greek City-States.
The importance of the city was noticed from the ancient/classical times; an important trade port from the times of the Macedonian kingdom, the city grew in importance when the Romans arrived and the city became an important stop on the via egnatia.
During the Byzantine era, Thessalonica resisted the invading barbarians ie Goths and the strong land walls protected the city against the Slavs, Bulgars etc. Many inhabitants attributed these victories to St Demetrios and his cult grew massively in the city. A big fair held every year in the city in his honour. From here the two brothers/monks Constantine and Methodios started the pacification/assimilation of the local Slavic populations and eventually founded the first Slavic alphabet based on Medieval Greek and started spreading the Byzantine orthodoxy to the South Slavs and beyond. The city remained the most important port of the Balkan byzantine provinces throughout byzantine history, second only to Constantinople.
The importance of the city remained after the Ottoman conquest and the city became a cosmopolitan trade centre with Ottomans, Greeks, Slavs and Jews sharing relatively peacefully the city and everybody leaving their mark in the city’s identity.
In modern times, the city became the focus of both the Greek and Bulgarian states in their struggle to expand in the lands both considered homelands. Led the Greeks into a civil war caused by the disagreement between the prime minister Eleutherios Venizelos and King Constantine regarding whether Greek armies should march in Thessalonica or Monastiri/Bitola during the Balkan wars..
What is very interesting about Thessalonica today is that the city kept much of its byzantine character unalike Athens which because of its classical past became the focus of the revival and construction of a modern Greek identity based on the links with the classical Greece. In Thessalonica Byzantium still can be felt throughout the old town, the byzantine walls and the churches of the city.