Alexander the Merely Mediocre

Discussion in 'History' started by S.A.M., Mar 19, 2008.

  1. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Came across this article on boloji and found it very interesting (edited quotes)

    "Many years ago I came across a comment in a Usenet posting, that said that there was no proof that Alexander won any victories in India and that it might be more appropriate to call him “Alexander the Merely Mediocre”.

    The comment amused and intrigued me and much later I had an opportunity to read Alexander’s biography by Plutarch. I was surprised to find out that Plutarch wrote his biography over two hundred years after Alexander’s death using oral legends as his source. It is possible that he may also have had access to a personal diary kept by Alexander’s physician, but that is about it.

    So what exactly happened to Alexander in India?

    Supposedly, Alexander first met some resistance from minor kingdoms in the Northwest, possibly from around Swat. He defeated these rulers...he fought Porus and Porus lost. Porus is captured and brought to Alexander in chains. Alexander looks at the tall (supposedly 6 cubits) Porus and asks him how he wanted to be treated. Porus replied, “Like a king” – his arrogance and pride aroused Alexander’s admiration.

    Promptly, Alexander released Porus, agreed to be his friend, restored his lost kingdom to him, and added to it lands that were part of Ambi’s Taxila.

    Huh? Let’s have that again.

    Then, having established himself as a magnanimous victor, Alexander asked Porus what it would take to win the rest of India. He made the mistake, I guess, of asking this in public with all his generals listening in, and Porus described the entire rest of the Gangetic valley with its multiple kingdoms, and the Magadhan empire downstream.

    As a result, there was no more stomach among Alexander’s generals for continuing. They had almost lost to Porus. How could they successfully confront even larger forces?

    And so Plutarch’s story goes that the army revolted against continuing... And Alexander – at the Indus delta he splits his force into two and sends one by sea and the other by land and they both return safely after three years.

    But, uh-ho?

    Why couldn’t he just retreat? He had just defeated Porus and obtained his eternal friendship. He had defeated the kingdoms along the way and set up his own warlords to rule them.

    There is a simpler explanation that does not require one to strain one’s intelligence. Alexander lost to Puru. Alexander negotiated a safe-conduct for his own troops, provided they went down the Indus, and did not trouble Taxila or Puru again.

    So there’s Alexander, having suffered his first major defeat, set adrift down the Indus with a much reduced army. They even pick up some “philosophers” from a city populated and defended by “philosophers”, i.e., Brahmins. Plutarch has some stories about these Brahmins, some of which remind one of prescriptions in Kautilya’s Arthashastra.

    Along the way, Alexander suffers a wound to the side.

    They reach the delta of the Indus and make a decision to split. Whichever half returned first, it would serve to spread a different story, a story of the victory and the magnanimity of Alexander the Great."


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    Link to complete article.


    This is the first time I have heard this perspective and it sounds intriguing. Any thoughts?
     
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  3. Kadark Banned Banned

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    Alexander the Merely Mediocre? Sounds like bitter Indian talk to me. I can't say I blame them, though - I'd be bitter too if Alexander wiped the floor with my nation. Of course Alexander won battles in India - completely destroyed cities like Masaga (spelling?) help prove this (among many other things). Alexander's conquest of India was one of the reasons the Indians unified to form the Mauryan empire.
     
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  5. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    The Pauravas were the antecedents of pressent NW India Pakistan tribes, could easily be related to the Pashtuns as well. Its not implausible considering that history is based on Plutarchs collection of oral legends 200 years after the fact.

    I always wondered why the Greeks turned back at the borders of one of the richest countries of the time and why Alexander never reached home.

    I wonder if he is buried somewhere in the NW
     
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  7. Kadark Banned Banned

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    Alexander died of an illness on his way home - not wounds.

    As to why he turned back, it was due to (in all likelihood) the size of the Indian cavalry and the sheer savageness of them. India's history is filled to the brim with uncensored bloodshed, so perhaps the task of conquering all of India seemed to be too great a risk to what Alexander had already accoplished.

    Seems plausible.
     
  8. countezero Registered Senior Member

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    His men were fed up with fighting, too. I seem to remember reading that there are suggestions of "turn back, or we mutiny."
     
  9. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Hmm so they reached a really rich country after battling for years in deserts and mountains and thought Nyaaaah, lets go home. Winning wars is so tedious

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  10. Kadark Banned Banned

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    No, they said to themselves, "hey, we've practically conquered the entire world, and have all the riches imaginable. Why bother with these self-warring savages?"
     
  11. nietzschefan Thread Killer Valued Senior Member

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    hmm that's something - by greek cubits that makes Porus about 9 feet tall.

    And that's actually the only little piece of that line of bullshit I half believe.

    I think ancient royal lines do trace to "giants"(Huge people - inbred bloodlines - well feed generations).
     
  12. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Porus was known for his height, probably suffered from gigantism

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    Why do you believe Plutarchs account?
     
  13. nietzschefan Thread Killer Valued Senior Member

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    They always claim gigantism - even when dozens of "giant" bones are found in mass graves.

    As it happens I checked the western references of Porus and they have him at 5 cubits...basketball player height.

    Well you know what Plutarchs account is pretty close to your biased articles - cept perhaps the biased part and it's conclusions. A lot of his men did not consider the battle with Porus a "victory"(though they would have been slaughtered to the man if they lost - so ya they won) and yes they were mutinous to find out Alexandros wanted to take on massive southern Indian nations with even more elephant archer/mounted units.

    I think the arrow that pierced his lung did eventually do him in(infection or poison tipped). Like many arrogant men he died because he figured he could do the job of taking a wall better than 20 of his best men.
     
  14. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    So why didn't he just retreat through lands he had already won? Why did he and his men go through the desert and then split instead?
     
  15. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    btw, I don't necessarily believe the scenario, I just think it makes for a great "what if" possibility.
     
  16. greenberg until the end of the world Registered Senior Member

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    After I have seen Alexander, a great range of what-if possibilities opened up for me about what Alexander could and couldn't have been like.
    That nervous, bleached, uppity, horny, hyper-emotional, unpredictable, hurt, hungry character played by Farrell actually offered me some food for thought like few historical films do.
    In fact, it opened my mind so much that if history as we know it were to be completely rewritten, I wouldn't be much surprised.
     
  17. nietzschefan Thread Killer Valued Senior Member

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    Even the best historians wildly speculate that ill-fated decision. He sent most of his force to what is modern Iraq, left enough to enforce power over satraps, and then this expeditionary force across the Gedrosia abyss. Since he commissioned a fleet to explore waters off arabia - he probably wanted to take lands from the sea, rather than cross a huge army over the desert and I suspect they grossly underestimated one of the most horrible places on earth. Having lost 3/4 of the men on that trek he probably abandoned any ideas of taking lands in southern arabia.

    Some historians think he was punishing the men for going no further in India and the causes of that mutiny are also wildly debated, from general exhaustion to veterans actually being pissed they might not get to campaign as he was sending them home as "thanks" or maybe to avoid them assassinating him...the joys of being the big guy on top of the pile...
     
  18. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

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    Alexandar was a great man, I admire him as much as I do Napoleon and Saladin.
     
  19. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    I think Alexander is highly overrated. Whats the big deal about a man with megalomania? :yawn:
     
  20. Kadark Banned Banned

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    Highly overrated by backside! He conquered almost all of the known world. One of greatest and bravest warriors in the history of mankind. He has truly earned his title of "the Great".
     
  21. S.A.M. uniquely dreadful Valued Senior Member

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    Who cares, he killed a lot of people and then he died, at 33 years of age. Bah!

    What did he achieve ?
     
  22. Kadark Banned Banned

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    You don't appreciate the brilliance, vigor, valor, bravery, and leadership he displayed in battle. He conquered the known world at his tender age, defeating various armies with ingenious ideas. He killed a lot of people? So what? We don't judge him for his army's bloodshed. The man was one of the greatest conquerers of all time.
     
  23. nietzschefan Thread Killer Valued Senior Member

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    His victories over Persia were incredible. Even eastern pitifully survived accounts have him grossly ounumbered at each contest. He schooled the world in combined armed tactics that would not be seen again for 100s of years and even then only sparingly until WWII.

    Because he did megalomania better than anyone else ever did. Porus wasn't the first king he simply "led".

    Each of his generals was powerful in his own right(indeed each commanded great nations after Alexandros' death) - to control the egos of so many powerful men(and they were often older than he too, remember) to do his will must have took insane amounts of charisma and *******. They followed him beyond the white edges of the Greek map. Many thought he was insane and they still followed him.

    The ultimate ego in a time of egotistical powerful kings.
     

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