Establish Alexander’s Aims and Achievements, and Consider Whether Any Key Principles Motivated Him During His Career

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Establish Alexander's aims and achievements, and consider whether any key principles motivated him during his career.


Alexander was one of the supreme military forces in history. "He lifted the civilized world out of one groove and set it another. He began a new epoch" (Tarn, 1979, 14). Alexander the Great was possibly the most revolutionary figure of all time.. His influences and personal ambitions for himself and the world were the driving force behind his vision of East and West united under one supreme leader. The question of what ultimately drove Alexander is a provocative one, and has been debated at length over the years ─ it was called "the biggest question of them all in a recent biography" (Cartledge, 2004, 192). Answers to this question range from personal glory, a union of mankind, harsh economic circumstances, to a panhellenic crusade intent on punishing the East for daring to invade and interfere in Greek affairs.

This essay analyses and discusses this "biggest question" as to what drove Alexander the Great to such conquests and beyond.


When considering the sources available on Alexander the Great one must remember that although some 20 contemporary historians wrote histories of Alexander, not one of their accounts survives. Among these lost historians, are Ptolemy, Cleitarchus, Aristobulus and Callisthenes. There are two specific subcategories based on the lost works available to scholars today; the vulgate tradition, predominantly the works of Quintus Curtius Rufus and Justin which seemingly are based on the works of Cleitarchus, and the non-vulgate tradition, which revolves around Arrian's Anabsis and to a lesser extent Plutarch's various works on Alexander. Arrian's narrative has generally and rightly been regarded as the best. Partly because of his "homeric aim, for his aim of celebrating Alexander as earlier Greek writers had celebrated their heroes,