Alexander the Great: villain or hero

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In the history of humanity, Alexander the Great is known as one of the most brilliant and powerful military rulers. Upon inheriting his father’s kingdom, Alexander the Great became wild with anyone who dared to conspire with the enemy. He conquered many cities, bringing a huge region under his control, and compelling his subjects to observe every rule of the kingdom. During this time, many families, women, and children were sold into slavery. Alexander the Great is a villain because he was extremely violent, enslaved cities and families, and treated his troops with great disrespect.

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Alexander the Great was Extremely Violent, Cruel, and Barbaric

In various accounts, Alexander the Great is depicted as a violent man with destructive nature (Elliott, 2022). When conquering regions, for instance, he desired to wipe the entire generation of the enemy. His ruthlessness is probably attributed to the fact that he was a self-centered psychopath (Elliott, 2022). At one point, he even declared that he should get the honors and respect of gods because of his barbarism. He thought he was better than mystical heroes such as Achilles who motivated him to be the king. It is argued that the king had a confrontational, short temper, and brash personality (Fernandez, 2020). On most occasions, he resorted to violent ways to solve problems. The personality proved ideal for the military and conquest. However, their personality got the king into trouble with the population and especially the Persians who set out to revenge.

At no point was Alexander the Great content with the titles accorded to him in his kingdom. His violent and cruel nature compelled and guided him to overpower every ruler of his time. To him, all that mattered was his power, authority, and fame. Upon his death, his entire kingdom collapsed and his land was divided into smaller kingdoms that were in a constant fight with each other for power, authority, and fame (Fernandez, 2020). The new rulers had to be heartless and harsh to maintain their confessed heritage and pedigree to Alexander the Great.

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Alexander the Great Enslaved the Cities and Families

When the king conquered Thebes, he enslaved everyone in the city because of his rage-filled and paranoid attitude (Stoneman, 2022). At the battle in Thebes, Alexander killed more than 6, 000 people. He also sold over 20, 000 Thebes into slavery (Fernandez, 2020). Similarly, when the city of Tyre was under attack, the king ordered his commanders to sell children and women into slavery.  In Macedonia, his military troops destroyed the city, villages, and whole empires (Stoneman, 2022). The move ensured the king gained control of a huge region.

Alexander the Great also took control of the Persian capital, destroying temples and subjecting the population to hardships and forced labor. During this time, the Persian temples were part of their way of life and culture (Siculus, 2019). In as much as the Macedonian society of Alexander’s day was based on practices, values, and ideals that were Homeric in form, origin, and function, most people in the kingdom were subjected to slavery and compelled to work for the king and his troops.

Alexander the Great treated his troops with great disrespect

The king was a reckless military leader who treated his commanders and the entire troop with great disrespect. Ideally, he did punish his troops but not in any conventional way. For instance, in the war, the mutiny was a real possibility. At one point in the defeat of the Persian Empire under King Darius I, Alexander proclaimed that the soldiers who would wish to return home to do so. However, it is evident that during the war with the Persians, he ordered the execution of the army doctor who was unable to save one of the commanders (Fernandez, 2020). He later retreated to Babylonia without putting a clear strategy on how to protect the troops before launching an attack on the Arabian in the coming spring (Olson, 2022). At this point, he became gravely ill with typhus and died. The illness was occasioned by the death of his close confidants in the military. By treating his army with utter disrespect, the king showed his unending cruelty and ruthlessness.


In his land, Alexander the Great was admired for courage, outstanding achievements, and noble qualities. He was the epitome of true leadership and governance. The king worked so hard to ensure the empire remained united under one rulership. While conquering many empires, Alexander learned from different cultures and spread their ideas, practices, and beliefs. Ideally, he allowed people to continue practicing their religions even after overpowering and bringing them under his control; an indication that he was willing to engage some populations. However, based on the many atrocities, Alexander the Great can be described as a villain who enslaved enemies, treated his army with great disrespect, and was extremely violent and cruel. Also, as a villain, Alexander refused to appoint a successor before he died. As king of the time, it is a custom that if a king were to unexpectedly die, he should appoint an heir to advance the ideals, practices, and beliefs of the kingdom.

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  1. Elliott, S. (2022). Alexander the Great versus Julius Caesar: Who was the Greatest Commander in the Ancient World? Pen and Sword Military.
  2. Fernandez, D. (2020). The modern image of Alexander the Great: Alexander in cinema (Doctoral dissertation, Rutgers University-Graduate School-Newark).
  3. Olson, D. W. (2022). The Campaigns of Alexander the Great, King John, and the Loss of the Crown Jewels. In Investigating Art, History, and Literature with Astronomy (pp. 159-192). Springer, Cham.
  4. Siculus, D. (2019). The Library-Philip II, Alexander the Great, and the Successors. Oxford University Press, USA.
  5. Stoneman, R. (Ed.). (2022). A History of Alexander the Great in World Culture. Cambridge University Press.
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