When history assigns the words ‘the Great’ after your name, it is usually for good reason. And so it goes for Alexander the Great, the next in the line of my ‘Warrior Poet Profiles’ (to check out other Warrior Poet Profiles, check out my YouTube page).
For the new reader, ‘warrior poets’ are those who possess a calculating, well-studied mind, a heart moved to lovingly defend others, and hands skilled in violence.
I did not choose Alexander because he was a saint. He was not the idealistic Warrior Poet I would like him to have been. No, Alexander was both a hero and a villain. He was a friend and an enemy. He was a king and a tyrant. He was a liberator and an enslaver.
In spite of however we may judge Alexander, he did possess certain Warrior Poet-like attributes that can inspire us today. I was drawn to Alexander the Great for his genius. And perhaps even the word ‘genius’ is an understatement for who might have been the greatest general the world has ever seen.
By the age of 32, Alexander the Great grew from being the new-kid King of Macedon, Greece, into the King of the world. How was this possible? Only Alexander knows.
He was without question, a military mastermind. He was a man who understood the science of war, and felt its art. He was a charismatic leader, adored by his men. He was a man of such talent, drive, passion, and sheer will, that no matter how bad the odds were against him, Alexander never lost a battle.
As a boy, Alexander the Great studied directly under the renowned Aristotle. His education in philosophy, history, politics, geography, and literature were all grooming him to rule over an empire of his own crafting.
Alexander fell in love with the works of Homer. In Achilles, he found a hero who held out a glimpse of what lay in store for him. He was destined for greatness.
When the teenage Alexander succeeded his father Philip of Macedon’s throne, he immediately set upon the business of war.
He felt destined to conquer the same Persia that had conquered Greece before his time. It was this sense of destiny and self-assuredness in his own gifting that led Alexander to attempt what no one else would dream possible.
He was courageous in battle, leading his men from the front as a fellow soldier. This type of inspirational leadership was held in stark contrast to the kings of the East who would stay to the rear of the fight.
Through this example, Alexander was able to garner such awe-inspiring respect that his men would have followed him anywhere (and did). It was not only his ambition and drive that drove the men forward, but it was his love for them which they all felt.
After victories, it was common for Alexander to praise the courageous and shower riches and lands upon everyone.
Alexander the Great was best known though for his unsurpassed gifting as a tactician. It was common for him to be outmatched in men, resources, and technology while fighting on a field that had been prepared in advance by the enemy for his slaughter.
Despite all this, Alexander was able to see the battlefield as a grandmaster may look on a chess board.
For example, in the battle of Guagemela, he would unpredictably push his main assault element radically right to draw the enemy further out to the flank, and in so doing, thin out their center. Then with perfect timing, a hidden element would break off and directly assault the enemy’s center where the line had grown thin. His far flanking element would continue the wide flank to close on them on the side.
It is simply amazing to see how Alexander would quickly adjust tactics to suit different enemy such as the guerrilla fighters in Afghanistan, the war elephants of India, or the Persian chariots.
Those who desire to be better leaders, more courageous warriors, and influencers of people, Alexander the Great still speaks to us today with lessons to valuable to pass up.