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Alexander the Great

Discussion in 'Somewhere In Time' started by IronDuke, Mar 5, 2004.

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How good is Alexander the Great on a scale of 1-10?

  1. 10

    54.2%
  2. 9

    20.8%
  3. 8

    16.7%
  4. 7

    2.1%
  5. 6

    6.3%
  6. 5

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  7. 4

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  8. 3

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  9. 2

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  10. 1

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. IronDuke

    IronDuke Ancient Mariner

    King Philip II of Macedon (reigned from 359-336 BC) would, if not for his son, be a household name today. The king took the backward state of Macedon and made it into a world power.
    Macedon, a glance at a map will show, lies north of Greece. The kingdom had been greatly Hellenized by the influence of its southern neighbours, but was viewed as barbaric and uncouth by the cultured Athenians, poor by the Thebans, and weak by the Spartans. Philip II was able not only to turn Macedon around, he also was able to defeat every Greek city-state (with the exception of Sparta).

    For those of you who aren't that familiar with the Classical period, this would have been equivalent to Canada invading and beating the United States in our time. A remarkable feat, to say the least.

    Philip organized his military along lines later copied by the Romans, medieval kings, and even into modern times. The basic infantry unit was the Macedonian phalanx. A modification on the Spartan unit, the Macedonian one was armed with two-handed pikes and massed in squares sixteen rows deep and wide. Members of the phalanx were trained to wheel in step in any direction or to double their front by filing off into rows of eight. His cavalry, known as the Companions, were the elite troops. Drawn mostly from nobility (horses were expensive, after all!), the Companions became the king's personal guard, as well as the core of the entire army.

    For all Philip's greatness, he could not hope to match his son in ability or ambition as a commander. Alexander was raised among the horsemen of the Companion cavalry. His friends, sons of Companions themselves, and he trained all their lives in martial exploits. This is not to say Alexander was nothing but a soldier. His education was undertaken by none other than Aristotle, pupil of Plato.

    Philip II died under dubious circumstances. He had recently had an arguement with his heir, Alexander. His second (and favourite) wife encouraged him to disown Alexander, and proclaim her own son by him as the heir to the throne. When Philip refused to do this, the second wife is said to have gone mad. She charged into a party Philip was having and killed him. Some historians have speculated that Alexander himself was behind this plot, but we'll never know.

    In what was, perhaps, the wisest political move in history, Alexander and his comparatively small Macedon-Greek army invaded the mighty Persian Empire.
    The Persians had tried to invade and conquer the tiny Greek city-states three times, and failed. Each time, however, it was a very close fight, wit the Greeks barely surviving (Athens itself was burned to the ground at least once!). As you can imagine, this did little to endear Persia to the Greeks.
    When the quasi-Greek Macedonians came marching in, the only way they could keep a hold over their new Greek subjects was by promising to attack and destroy the old enemy, Persia. This was not going to be an easy task. The Persian Empire was vast. It consisted of (in modern names): Turkey, Northern Libya, Egypt, the Middle East, Iran (Persia proper), Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the East Bank of the Indus River. Compare that with Greece. Not very good odds, huh?

    The Battle of Granicus (west of modern Istanbul), was an utter defeat for Persia. The small Macedonian Army massacred nearly every enemy soldier, taking very few losses of their own. This was a double blow for Persia, because not only was their army in shambles, but Greeks were flocking to join Alexander’s army in the thousands. Alexander decided to press his advantage and see how much of the Persian Pie he could get.

    Like any successful commander, his soldiers believed in him. Many thought he was of divine ancestry – Greece’s Gods had finally come through and given them a leader to eliminate the Persian threat once and for all. Indeed, some believed Alexander to be more powerful than even the Olympians. After all, they had barely been able to stand up to Persian might, whereas Alexander was able to destroy it. There are stories of hundreds of Persian troops fleeing before ever engaging Alexander’s army, entire cities simply opening their gates to him in hopes of receiving preferential treatment. Some even viewed him as a liberator from generations of Persian oppression.

    Alexander fell ill with symptoms we would now associate with malaria. He refused the bed-rest recommended him by his doctors. Combined with his battle-scarred body, his condition declined and he died on (by our calendar) June 10, 323 BC.

    As he died, his friends gathered around him to hear his final words. Alexander had no children, so it was unsure to whom he would leave his empire. When asked, all he replied was “To the strongest.”
    Thus, the three strongest Generals divided Alexander’s empire amongst themselves. Antigonus and his successors ruled Macedon and Greece until the coming of the Romans. The Seleucid dynasty ruled Asia Minor, as far East as modern Pakistan. Eventually the Western portion of this kingdom were absorbed by the Roman Empire. Perhaps the most famous dynasty of Alexander’s successors, however, ruled Egypt. Ptolemy was allowed to seize Egypt with almost no opposition (it was believed to be a hot, dry, barren wasteland). The Ptolemaic Dynasty came to style itself like Pharaohs of Egypt’s past. While they ruled Egypt for centuries, the language of the court was always Greek. No Ptolemaic King bothered to learn Egyptian until the very last of the line – the infamous Cleopatra (of Caesar and Marc Antony fame).

    The lyrics and music of this song combine to make, perhaps, the best of Iron Maiden’s historically-based works. I put this song on, close my eyes, and can almost imagine myself as one of the Companions, marching with Alexander. Incidentally, this is the first Iron Maiden song LooseCannon ever heard (we were driving around in my car, and I put in this CD…..and it’s all been downhill from there [img src="style_emoticons/[#EMO_DIR#]/smile.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":)" border="0" alt="smile.gif" /])
     
  2. IronDuke

    IronDuke Ancient Mariner

    'alexander The Great'

    ok.....it looks like my quotes got screwed up....but it's still readable. Sorry for that.
     
  3. tabor

    tabor Ancient Mariner

    'alexander The Great'

    very well put but with most of the countries top half of Africa they threw the gates opened and gave Alexander the city ... Egypt was one especially they thought by giving Alexander the city they would be a favourite city under his rule they gave him the treasures that he wished .


    another reason as to why Alexander never had children let alone a wife was because of the homosexuality he prefered with his troops if you delve deeper in books you would find this states due to his troops following him everywhere comradeship....

    Also Darius II and third had major problems back at thier fronts as well the troops they wished to take to battle Alexander were limited and family friction seizing the power in Persia Darius III suceeded and tried to get the roaming armies of persia banded together but failed....

    Albeit i think Alexander was a master tactician the probably the best war monger ever risen on earth, due to the battles with the elephonts in Pakistan and India which no other nation dared at the time. A philospher in his own rights..

    very nicely put once again Iron Duke even though he fought alot more battles and lost a few on the way and went back after the defeats when he learnt of the terian and where he wanted to place troops he consulted alot with his foe after battles and learnt more of thier skill on combant thats wh yhe never rarely killed generals or Kings he learnt by them...
     
  4. IronDuke

    IronDuke Ancient Mariner

    'alexander The Great'

    I chose to leave the question about his sexuality out of the post, because I did not think it was relevent to what I was trying to say.

    His supposed homosexuality can easily be dismissed if you study the Classical (especially Greek) era in depth. The sentiment at the time was "Women for babies, men for fun"

    Homosexuality did not carry the stigma it carries today. Alexander, in fact, had planned to sire a child (or children)with the wife he took while campaigning in Bactria. Her names was Roxane, and Alexander chose her because the soothsayers spoke at lengths about her fertility (how they determined that is unknown to me!)
     
  5. tabor

    tabor Ancient Mariner

    'alexander The Great'

    true ... but back then if the rain fell and first drop landed on you...

    something was an omen a bunch of superstituos people back in the old days...

    I didnt mean any disrespect with the comment but it was a factor of the comradeship amongst the troops as he didnt allow women on campains at all ....
     
  6. IronDuke

    IronDuke Ancient Mariner

    'alexander The Great'

    That is true, of course.

    However silly the omens seem to us today, though, they were quite real to the Ancients. The power of beliefs/superstitions (call them religions, if you want) should never be under-estimated.

    And while women played no official role in Alexander's army, there certainly was a large number of "camp followers" - peddlers, journeymen, and, most importantly, prostitutes.
     
  7. gor

    gor Ancient Mariner

    'alexander The Great'

    One correction...

    Macedonians were Greeks, not "quasi-Greeks"and not what Canadians are to Americans... Ancient Greece was really a bunch of cities-countries, like Athens, Theves, Sparta, Macedonia, to ALL OF WHICH Hereodote reffers to as Greeks. Also, Macedonians spoke ancient Greek.

    Macedonia is still a part of Greece, there is such a city here. Political agendas and bitterness are the reasons that have led to the dispute over whether Macedonia is Greek or not, from ancient times to this day. Nonetheless, the image of Macedonia as that was portrayed in most classical literary sources of the period, as well as in most testimonies of the period (Demosthenes, Herodotus, Thucydides, Plato, Isocrates) is Greek. Skopja, through a century of teaching "their version" of history in their schools (they went as far as to claim that Alexander used to speak Svlavic!! )(how naive of Greece not to have cared about the matter before 1990), claimed to be successors of the Macedonians, which is absurd because the Slav ppl went there 7 centuries after Alexander. True, Macedonia once reached until where the Former Yugoslavian Republic Of Macedonia is today, but it later shrinked back to its center, Greece's Macedonia. For The Same reasons that Skopja calls itself Macedonia, Pakistan should be called Macedonia too, since it was once part of it.

    Thus it is incorrect and insulting to Macedonians (the real Macedonians, not slavs) and all greeks to call them anything else but Greeks. Bare in mind That FYROM was forced to change it's flag from Vergina's star to sth that resembles it, because they had no right to use a symbol of Macedonia.

    And for those wondering why then is Skopja written Macedonia on the map, let me put it this way: U.S.A. could sure use another friendly country ( = one that bends over, not that Greece many times hasn't), and helped Skopja get recognised as Macedonia.


    "They clearly overlooked the unquestionable fact that the inhabitants of ancient Macedonia were Greeks and spoke the Greek language. Numerous excavations in all of the ancient Macedonia area have consistently unearthed relics clearly with Greek writings, and depictions of rulers clearly designated with Greek names. In ancient Greek culture, Macedonians celebrated the same festivals with the rest of the Greeks. They took part in the Olympic games which at the time was only participated in by the Hellenes. The regions that comprised the area of Macedonia all had Greek names. Furthermore, the architecture of the palaces, temples, theaters & ancient markets are all characteristic samples of ancient Greek architecture of the time. These Hellenic structures clearly included Greek writings on them which without a shodow of a doubt prove that they were dveloped by the Greeks and belonged to the Greeks. The ancient Macedonians believed in the same 12 Gods of Olympus as the rest of the Hellenes. In addition, the Macedonians fought together with the rest of the Hellenes against barbarians. To the Greeks at the time, a barbarian was defined as any group of people who did not share the same developed culture. Any group of people outside of civilized Greece was defended against by all of Greece, which included Macedonia. Last but certainly not least, Macedonia was a member of the Delphic Amfictiony, an institution which was open only to Greeks....."

    link to the site where this piece was taken form in the post bellow
     
  8. gor

    gor Ancient Mariner

    'alexander The Great'

    [a href=\'http://www.greece-2004.com/macedonia_is_greek/\' target=\'_blank\']more, for anyone who is intrested[/a]

    i just want to say that i am so glad that maiden made clear what they believed: Near to the east, IN A PART OF ANCIENT GREECE CALLED MACEDONIA
     
  9. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    'alexander The Great'

    The thing is that, despite the fact Macedonia belong at that time to the greek world, still Macedonians were seen (at that time) as the barbarians from the North by Athen, Sparte and other political cities.

    I want also to add a word about Philip because I really like this personnality. Iron Duke, you described the military points which were the strengh of Philip's army. The thing is Macedonia was nothing but a weak kingdom before his time. His skills as king : policy, diplomacy, knowledge of the world around and strategy made him a very high profile stateman. Alexander wouldn't have done what he did but for his father and the fact this latter "pacify" the greek peninsula under his power.
     
  10. IronDuke

    IronDuke Ancient Mariner

    'alexander The Great'

    Like Hibou said, the ancient Macedonians were not considered Greeks by the other Greek city-states. They were viewed as more-Greek than any other outsiders, but still not completely the same. Linguistically and genetically they were probably just as Greek as the Athenians, but their cultures were quite dissimilar.

    The only parallel I can readily think of to this is how the Japanese viewed Koreans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They weren't good enough to be Japanese, but they were a far sight better than the Chinese (in their opinions).
     
  11. Onhell

    Onhell Mexican Revolutionary

    'alexander The Great'

    Man you guys post so fast you don't let me do any research! so I'll have to do it from memory. I'm no historian [!--emo&:D--][img src=\'style_emoticons/[#EMO_DIR#]/biggrin.gif\' border=\'0\' style=\'vertical-align:middle\' alt=\'biggrin.gif\' /][!--endemo--] but I'm seeing this in college at the moment so I'll write what i've picked up. Ancient Greece wasn't a united country. Like all of you have pointed out they were seperate country-cities. There was an IDEA of Greek people and culture, but not nation. Not until Alexander the Great. Other Greek states definitely did not like macedonias (not even the way they spoke which today could be compared to a horrible southern accent in the U.S). So Alexander the Great unified Greece (which I THINK didn't become a true modern nation until the 1800's please check me on this) and later, like all megalomaniacs decided to conquer other lands and Hellanized the known world of the time.
    As for the Homosexuality...it is an important point. All Greek armies (Athens, Sparta, Thebes....) encouraged homosexuality and the superiors usually took a new recruit as a lover. When Thebes rose as a power after the Corinthian Wars and the rise of Epanimondas as their king. He Created a elite hoplite unit( a hoplite phalanx is comprised of ligh skirmishers and archers to enhance its effectiveness) Known as the "THeban Sacred BAnd" made up of one hundred fifty homosexual couples. Epanimondas also developed lighter-armed troops. by the early 370's he was ready for a trial of strength with the Spartans. He would go on to crush them. from my history book "Eaminondas eschewed convention placing his very best troops not on the right-hand side of his formation, but on the left. He stacked the left-hand side of his phalanx fifty rows deep, a surprise he disguised with a flurry of arrow and javelin attacks. When the two sides met, the wight of the Theban left smashed the Spartan right and with its best troops overrun, the Spartan phalans collapsed" YAY lol
    I have to check with my philosophy professor but i've made a curious observation, since ancient Egypt to ancient Greece and later Rome...The pantheon of Gods married their sisters (incests) and were Benevolant gods, not personal...not really caring for human beings. Judism condemed incest and homosexuality to make themselves as seperate as possible from this other groups (aparantly monotheism wasn't enough lol) of the time. That transfered to Christianity and thats why today homosexuality is look down upon...even in the military [!--emo&:D--][img src=\'style_emoticons/[#EMO_DIR#]/biggrin.gif\' border=\'0\' style=\'vertical-align:middle\' alt=\'biggrin.gif\' /][!--endemo--].
     
  12. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    'alexander The Great'

    AARRRGGGHHH !
    Please let me correct one thing there. Alexander did not unify greek world : his father, Philip II of Macedonia did. It is a common mistake, a short way to explain History. Philip made a fragile and weak kingdom the rising power of the greek peninsula. Mind you, even if he was a great state man, in policy, strategy and diplomacy as I already said, it happenned also because the greek cities like Spart and Athen were down at that time.
    As for Alexander, he was able to turn towards east because the peninsula was "pacified" and under control of Macedonia. That doesn't diminish what he had done, he was a great conqueror, but the greek peninsula had been unified by Philip.

    I've never had thought I would dive back in my university books and courses when I started posted in a maiden website. Out of subject anyway... [!--emo&^_^--][img src=\'style_emoticons/[#EMO_DIR#]/happy.gif\' border=\'0\' style=\'vertical-align:middle\' alt=\'happy.gif\' /][!--endemo--]
     
  13. Onhell

    Onhell Mexican Revolutionary

    'alexander The Great'

    Thanks for the correction Owl, as for checking old books..amazing isn't it? Part of the reason I love maiden...they go beyond good music.
     
  14. gor

    gor Ancient Mariner

    'alexander The Great'

    onhell has pretty much summed up my views. i a gree with him. if you look at the link i gave, it says:

    Numerous excavations in all of the ancient Macedonia area have consistently unearthed relics clearly with Greek writings, and depictions of rulers clearly designated with Greek names. In ancient Greek culture, Macedonians celebrated the same festivals with the rest of the Greeks. They took part in the Olympic games which at the time was only participated in by the Hellenes. The regions that comprised the area of Macedonia all had Greek names. Furthermore, the architecture of the palaces, temples, theaters & ancient markets are all characteristic samples of ancient Greek architecture of the time. These Hellenic structures clearly included Greek writings on them which without a shodow of a doubt prove that they were dveloped by the Greeks and belonged to the Greeks. The ancient Macedonians believed in the same 12 Gods of Olympus as the rest of the Hellenes. In addition, the Macedonians fought together with the rest of the Hellenes against barbarians. To the Greeks at the time, a barbarian was defined as any group of people who did not share the same developed culture. Any group of people outside of civilized Greece was defended against by all of Greece, which included Macedonia. Last but certainly not least, Macedonia was a member of the Delphic Amfictiony, an institution which was open only to Greeks.....


    anyway, this is a cool thread, and indeed maiden do make you want to find out stuff, i 've opened many many books because of them...
     
  15. LooseCannon

    LooseCannon Yorktown-class aircraft carrier Staff Member

    'alexander The Great'

    The point on homosexuality is interesting. It must have promoted a very interesting band of fellowship that we do not see in modern militaries. Even with the integration of females into the mainstream forces, relationships between people in the same unit are banned. Sexual intercourse, as well, is banned while on duty. These regulations extend to both heterosexual and homosexual couples. So you have perhaps less of a comradeship that you'd have seen back then.
     
  16. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    'alexander The Great'

    It's funny how many people caught on Alexander's homosexuality. If my memory of my numerous readings on History is right, the term "homosexual" was only coined in the 19th century and made a taboo, as well as something 'dirty' at that time.

    In the Antiquity, there was no problem with this. Even Caesar is known for being what is nowadays called "bisexual" -- Brutus, after all was also his lover, as well as adopted "son".

    There was a belief at the time that we were put on this world as 'halves' and were spending our lifetime looking for the other half of ourselves (an interesting variation on the theme of the meaning of life! [!--emo&:p--][img src=\'style_emoticons/[#EMO_DIR#]/tongue.gif\' border=\'0\' style=\'vertical-align:middle\' alt=\'tongue.gif\' /][!--endemo--] ). A man whose 'other half' was also a man was considered a 'real' man. The same went for women. Strictly heterosexual people were considered just 'average'.

    Homosexuality is considered quite differently nowadays -- may it be shameful or some sort of pride-thing -- but remember that the mentalities were VERY different some 2-3,000 years ago.

    I just thought that I'd add my twopence to the discussion, and I also want to stress that I've never been attracted to members of my own gender -- in this respect, the Ancient Greeks and Romans would look down at me and not consider me a 'real man'! [!--emo&:D--][img src=\'style_emoticons/[#EMO_DIR#]/biggrin.gif\' border=\'0\' style=\'vertical-align:middle\' alt=\'biggrin.gif\' /][!--endemo--]
     
  17. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    'alexander The Great'

    Now you can read other visitors' comments on 'Alexander The Great' as well as post your own. Any contribution to the commentary will be much appreciated, may it be cultural references relevant to the song (links to related websites, interpretations that may have been overlooked in the Commentary, and the like) or personal essays related to the topic of the song. Just be aware that messages that are either off-topic or too wacky may be deleted.
     
  18. SinisterMinisterX

    SinisterMinisterX Illuminatus Staff Member

    'alexander The Great'

    My vote: 5 stars. I love this song more every time I hear it, though I'll admit I didn't have that opinion when it first came out. I didn't have the patience to give this song much of a chance when I was 15; it wasn't until the mid-90's that I 'rediscovered' it and realized how great it was.

    The foreshadowing of the main guitar lick at the end of the intro is a nice touch. Using the same melodic motif in different parts of the song unifies the song; it's a techniques composers have been using since at least the time of Bach (probably even longer than that).

    The verse riff ends on a V chord (B in the key of E minor) to allow a V-i cadence at the end of the riff; Bruce's vocal melody in the verse uses the same technique. This gives the song a bit of a classical feel, which strikes me as appropriate for the subject matter. (Classical music relies on V-I cadences to mark the separation of sections within a piece).

    Once you get past the second chorus, the modus operandi of this song becomes 'let's surprise the listener'. Imagine it's 1986 and you're hearing this song for the first time. You've listened to all of Maiden's previous albums, and you think you know their style. You think you know when to expect a solo and what it'll sound like. You think you know what's coming next. Steve Harris knows you're thinking this, so he's about to give you some shock treatment.

    The first solo section (after the 2nd chorus) is in 7/8. Shortening the typical measure length by half a beat propels the section along; you hear the next measure begin before your subconscious mind expects it. The brief interlude after this section uses another classical composing technique, melodic augmentation. A melody is played three times, but becomes longer with every repetition. The shifting time signatures here confound all listener's expectations: by the end of this part, someone hearing this song for the first time should have no idea what to expect next. The 2-beat bass licks which pop up every now and then in the next solo section serve the same purpose: just when you think you've got this tune figured out, Maiden throws a monkey wrench in the works.

    I love how they intensify the 3rd verse by using more words and shorter vocal notes. Returning to the style of the 1st/2nd verses would have been the expected path. Instead, they don't give us anything 'old' until the final chorus. When that chorus comes around, the payoff of finally hearing a familiar melody is greater than if you'd known ahead of time to expect it there.

    The moral of the story: never take Maiden for granted, they will always surprise you with something new if you give them a chance.
     
  19. Anonymous

    Anonymous Guest

    'alexander The Great'

    I was still carefully growing attached to Maiden sometimee in 2000, having only "The Number Of The Beast" and "Brave New World" at that time, when I noticed one song in their discography named "Alexander The Great". I was a total nut on that subject at that time, and couldn't wait to hear it. I was totally blown away by the music, but I didn't quite like the lyrics. I had expected something more subtle, maybe from the eyes of someone who experienced it, much in the same way as "Invaders" or "The Trooper" (which I didn't know at that time). Lyric-wise, it's the worst of Maiden's historical epics, while music-wise, it was their best until "Paschendale", with its magnificent guitarwork and the great vocals. It proved to me that what I was hoping for was true: There was more where "The Nomad" came from.
    Apart from the fact that the lyrics are at best in the league of a better children's encyclopedia article -which is more than most people would expect from a Metal song anyway- it bears some historical inaccuracies as well as some common omissions that would stain the hero image and throw a different, disturbing light on the much-fabled "greatest conqueror of all times".

    To be picky, the second line is already questionable. "In a part of ancient Greece, in an ancient land called Macedonia". It depends on your subjective point of view whether Macedonia was ancient Greek or not. Historically, the Macedonians regarded their country as Greek, whereas the Greeks didn't. There had been profound Hellenization since the days of Alexander I (495-450 BC) and had become an integral part of the Greek world ever since, after they became independent from Persian rule. They adopted the Greek language, lifestyle and religion, and every once in a while attempted to become a cultural centre of Greece.
    Note that geographically, ancient Macedonia is not the same as today's Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. This has lead to some disputes between Greeks and Macedonians. Note that also, modern-day Macedonians are Slavs, who arrived in Europe in a second great wave of migrations in the European Dark Ages.
    The song then runs through a very quick but historically correct description of Alexander's early career. Maybe the line "and swore to free all of Asia Minor" needs to be elaborated a bit. Asia Minor, roughly speaking modern-day Turkey, had many Greek cities lined on its coast which were first conquered by the Persians in the 540ies BC. Before that, they had been more or less part of the powerful Lydian empire based around Sardis. They had been more of tributary dependancies at that time, but the Persians sought to bring them under more direct control. Fourty years later, many of them revolted in what became known as the Ionian Revolt, which started the classic Greek-Persian Wars culminating in the battles of Marathon (490 BC), Thermopylae (480 BC), Salamis (480 BC) and Plataeae (479 BC), but dragging on until 449 BC, when finally a peace treaty was signed between Athens and Persia. The Greek cities in Asia Minor came free of Persian rule until the Pelopponesian and Corinthian Wars. In 386, the Greeks and Persians signed a treaty which not only gave the Persian back the Greeks cities in Asia, but also de facto control over most of the Aegean world, i.e. Greece. This resulted in some very strong nationalist anti-Persian movements in Greece, the biggest one led by the demagogue Isocrates, who found pupils like Iason of Pherai and Philipp of Macedon who vowed to unite Greece and lead a big war against Persia. Iason failed due to an untimely death, and Philipp managed to unite Greece and begin preparations for a Persian campaign (in fact, some troops were already dispatched in the Persian empire), but was murdered shortly before he could begin.
    Alexander needed two years to secure his power as hegemon (de facto ruler) of Greece, entirely destroying the city of Thebes in the course, and could launch the Persian campaign in 334 BC. He "utterly beat the armies of Persia" at the battle of Granicus. This defeat was of minimal importance to the vast Persian empire, which stretched from the Aegean to the Indus, because only a small force hastily set up by the local satraps (governours) was beaten; the "real" Persian army had not yet seen action.

    King Darius the third defeated fled Persia the Scythians fell by the river Jaxartes
    Then Egypt fell to the Macedon King as well and he founded the city called Alexandria


    These lines are a bit sad, because they are so glowingly inaccurate that they ruin a bit of the song for me.

    Darius did not care for Alexander after the battle of Granicus. He did not take the threat seriously, and half-heartedly assembled an "imperial body", an army consisting of units from all over the Persian empire, and faced Alexander himself, on bad terrain, at the battle of Issus in 333 BC. The Persians were barely defeated, only because Darius, commander of the army, fled the battlefield after seeing that Alexander himself was after him in person. He did not "flee" Persia, but he went back to Persia to assemble an even greater army to face Alexander two years later on favourable terrain- more about that later.
    Why the Scythians are in here beats me. The people living by the river Jaxartes (modern-day Amu-Darya in Uzbekistan) were related to the Scythians, who lived in modern-day Ukraine, but were commonly known as the Sacans. To make it even worse, Alexander faced them in 329/28 BC, a whole three years after he took Egypt (332 BC). Alexandria in Egypt (one of more than seventy cities founded by him, and most of them named Alexandreia) was founded under supervision of Alexander himself, a rather surprising move given the fact that there were more important things to consider at that time. During Alexander's lifetime, the city had little significance, but became the capital of Egypt shortly after Alexander's death, and, eventually, the biggest centre of Greek culture in the world.
    Note that there is no mention of the bloody and atrocious sieges of Tyrus and Gaza here.

    By the Tigris river he met King Darius again and crushed him again in the battle of Arbela
    Entering Babylon and Susa treasures he found took Persepolis the capital of Persia


    It is surprising that the battle is called "battle of Arbela" here, because it is commonly known as the Battle of Gaugamela. The battle was the turning point of Alexander's campaign. The Persians had chosen a battlefield in the north-Mesopotamian plains, where they had full space for their dreaded cavalry. Once again, Darius had assembled an "imperial body", this one being even bigger than the one at Issus. He even had a contingent of war elephants! The Persians were once again close to winning this battle, with the cavalry already looting the Macedonian camp, when Darius fled again, after Alexander went after him, again.
    As in Egypt, Alexander was hailed as a liberator in Babylon. Ironically, the Persians had been hailed as liberators too, when they conquered the city in 529 BC under Cyrus the Great, who also ended the Babylonian captivity for the Jews.
    "Treasures he found" is a bit of an understatement for Susa. There are detailed descriptions of the treasures in the royal palaces of Susa, the value of which was probably inestimable, both in monetary and artistic fields. According to Greek writers, the Macedonians even found the myth that the Persian king slept with a million gold pieces under his pillow to be true!
    In Babylon, Alexander did not find so much in terms of treasure, because the city had not been a capital of the Persian empire (there were four) since the days of Xerxes I (480-465 BC). Nevertheless, it was the biggest city in the world at that time with a population of over one million people.
    Alexander did find treasures in Persepolis, though. The treasure house of Persepolis, one big palace in the midst of many magnificent palaces, was filled beyond its capacity, even though it had been expanded twice! There were so many treasures in Persepolis that the Macedonians could not steal them all, and some were unearthed in excavations during the 1930ies.
    Claiming that Persepolis was the capital of Persia is not entirely correct. It was one of four, strictly speaking. The other three were Susa in southwestern Iran, close to the modern-day Iraqi border, Ecbatana (modern-day Hamadan) and Pasargadae, north of Persepolis. Pasargadae had no significance other than being the religious and ceremonial capital of Persia, where the kings were crowned. The royal tombs were between Persepolis and Pasargadae, in Naqsh-e Rostam. The last two predecessors of Darius of importance, Artaxerxes II (404-359 BC) and Artaxerxes III (359-338 BC) were buried in Persepolis, and the unifinished tomb of Darius III has been found there too.
    The song does not mention the needless and tragic destruction of Xerxes' palace in Persepolis. This was supposed to be a revenge to the destruction of the Acropolis of Athens under Xerxes in 480 and 479 BC (which in turn was a revenge for the destruction of Persian shrines in Sardis by the Greeks in 498 BC). This destruction has had no archaeological impact, because the fires only ate away those parts of the palace made of wood and cloth, which would have disappeared anyways.
    There is some evidence of the burning though. The palace seems to have been cleared up before that, with the throne and everything of value being removed carefully. Maybe this is the origin of the Iranian myth that Alexander had destroyed the Persian throne.

    A Phrygian King had bound a chariot yoke and Alexander cut the 'Gordian knot'
    And legend said that who untied the knot he would become the master of Asia


    This part has no chronological significance. The Gordian Knot was cut in 334 BC in, well, Gordium, close to modern-day Ankara.
    Whether Alexander really cut it or not is subject to dispute. Most historians agree that the cutting in this sense never took place; some say that it crumbled of old age and he could simply untie it then; others believe the entire incident is just a myth.
    The Phrygians were a people of Asia Minor who had established a relatively powerful empire with the capital of Gordium after the mysterious fall of the Hittite empire in the late 13th century BC. The Phrygians could never make a real breakthrough in the Middle Eastern world and were eventually succeeded by the Lydians.

    Hellenism he spread far and wide the Macedonian learned mind
    Their culture was a western way of life he paved the way for Christianity


    Historically, Hellenism is regarded as the era of Greek history which succeeded the Classical age and began with Alexander's death in 323 BC. This is just a landmark date, and human reason allows us to regard Hellenism as an epoch that gradually evolved before and after Alexander's death. Likewise, some Classical ideals survived long into the Hellenistic era.

    Some trademarks of Hellenism as opposed to the Classical age are:
    -Absolutely realistic and mass-produced plastics and carvings
    -Paedophilia was condemned. Gradually.
    -The woman became a symbol of human beauty, while in the Classical age, it had been the man
    -Bigger states in Greece
    -More contact to the non-Greek world, mostly Rome and Carthage, but also the Middle East

    Note that the Greek culture could set foundations in the Middle East and Central Asia but gradually died out. There was a strong Hellenistic empire in Bactria (mostly
    modern-day Afghanistan) for a long time, and the Gandhara culture in India (mostly modern-day Pakistan) had deep Hellenistic influences, combining them with Buddhism. In Iran and Mesopotamia, Hellenism was long present, but it never had a real chance of becoming the predominant culture. Therefore, Alexander did not pave "the way for Christianity". The Greek culture was no more receptive to Christianity than any other Mediterranean culture. It was only the first to get Christians because of the geographic location, being the easiest accessable to the Christians in Roman times.
    There were Christian communities in Mesopotamia and Iran, but they were of minor importance and could not destroy the deeply-rooted Zoroastrian faith there. Even Islam needed more than a thousand years for that, and Zoroastrianism still exists in parts of Iran.

    The battle weary marching side by side Alexander's army line by line
    They wouldn't follow him to India tired of the combat, pain and the glory


    This refers to the mutiny of Alexander's troops at the river Hyphasis in modern-day India, close to Pakistan. In ancient times, India began at the Indus river in modern-day Pakistan, so at the understanding of these times, the Macedonians were already deep in India. But Alexander wanted to go further, as he had heard tales about the Ganges and rich empires beyond the desert of Tharr in Rajasthan. The homesick and tired troops, who were mostly Iranians now, did not want to go any further, and after sulking for three days (no joke!), Alexander gave in. His entire madness now showed, as he lead them into bloody battles and sieges in the Indus Valley, and made them march through the Gedrosian desert in Beluchistan, where more than a third of his army died. He could have avoided this by taking a route more north, as he had instructed his general Krateros to do, but he was so obsessed with crossing the desert because he had been told that no other army ever had done so, and because his army refused to march further into India that he lost all reason. After weeks of torture, a band of half-starved, thirsty and broken men, who had lost their families and all they had plundered in this dreadful march, arrived in the city of Pura in southern Iran. This is a part of Alexander's history that many like to leave out.

    There is much more to Alexander, and the above article barely scratched the surface. If you speak German, you are welcome to visit my homepage on this subject that I have made for a school project at: [a href=\'http://www.alexanderthegreat.de\' target=\'_blank\']http://www.alexanderthegreat.de[/a]

    In conclusion, this is a great song despite the somewhat questionable lyrics, and I, like most other Maiden fans, would love to hear it live.

    Rating: 4
     
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  20. LooseCannon

    LooseCannon Yorktown-class aircraft carrier Staff Member

    'alexander The Great'

    Alright, Perun. I've read it, with my Encyclopaedia of World History and Encyclopaedia of the Ancient World in tow, and I can find no fault with your essay.

    I've asked Maverick to make Perun Maidenfans.com's third historian!
     

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