Alexander III, king of Macadonia from 336 until his death in 323 B.C. continues to be the subject of study and debate into the 21st centruy A.D..
Some scholars have devoted their lives to the man who was king, king of kings, and a god in his lifetime. The scarce evidence tantalized and invited speculation and theory. He has been pictured as everything from an alcoholic, homosexual, mass murderer, to the precursor of Christ sent to bring brotherly love to the world. He has been a Christain saint, an Islamic prophet, and a benefactor of the Jews. He remains a folk hero from Sophia to Kabul. To this day his name is invoked for good luck.Order now
For centuries Alexander has been erroneously judged by standards of conduct which have no relationship to 4th century B.C. Macedonian culture. He has been called an alcoholic in a time when consuming amounts of alcohol in excess of current limits is social unacceptable. Among Macedonian warriors it was not.Indeed, the drinking of large amounts of unwatered wine after battle was expected and may even have had a religious connotation.
Yet ancient Athenians, Victorians and modern day twelve steppers have stigmatized him for doing exactly what was acceptable at a time and place where strong warriors fought hard and drank hard far into the night. Throughout his life Alexander was scrupulous about behaving in a manner appropriate for a 4th Century B.C. warrior king of Macedonia.
Jewish, Christian, and Moslem scholars have been horrified at tales of Alexander’s homosexual affairs. The social stigmatization of homosexual activity is a relatively recent phenomenon.
It began in Judaism and was adopted early in the history of The Christian Church and later in Islam. This socio religious taboo was undreamed of in the Macedonia of the 4th century B.C..
Still Christian moralist scholars have spent lifetimes denying to Alexander that which his culture did not.The modern word, “homosexual”, has no place in 4th century B.
C. Macedonia. It is inapplicable to a culture where bisexuality was extremely common, if not the norm. In the culture of that time and place homosexual, bisexual, and heterosexual are not nouns.People were not grouped by sexual preference.
That Alexander was exclusively homosexual is impossible; he had two wives and a least one, possibly two sons.
That he was exclusively heterosexual is unlikely. His father was not, his grandfather was not and he had no reason to be.
In the beginning of the nineteenth century war began to be viewed as a moral evil. This idea would have been incomprehensible to any Macedonian in the 4th century B.C. and to Alexander it is entirely inapplicable.
He was a warrior king born to the crown and the sword; it was his raison d’etre. Macedonian kings fought and conquered and the more they fought and the more they conquered the better kings they were perceived to be.
He was born early into the Hellenization of Macedonia not far from a time when no young man was allowed to eat with the adult males until he had brought the head of an enemy to the table. Alexander yearned to be a great king, greater than his father Philip who had been the greatest king in the history of Macedonia. There was only one way to accomplish this and Alexander took it.
In later times the Romans greatly admired Alexander for his conquests.
If conquests came at the expense of tens of thousands of human lives, the conquests were honorable and the lives lost honorably.
This social value has only recently changed. Ironical in the last two hundred year period of constant human slaughter Alexander is criticized as having caused the deaths of tens of thousands of people. Again the application of contemporary mores is inappropriate. He did and for thousands of years was admired for it.
The study of Alexander, more than any other historical subject, must be deconstructed.
Only by seeing the facts from a fourth century B.C. Macadonian perspective can we hope to come closer to an understanding of the many questions which remain.
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