The Life of Alexander the Great
If I had to describe the physical appearance , I would have to imagine him as having curly and dark blonde hair, a projected forehead, an extended chin, reddish skin that glistened in the sun with eyes that gave an intense gaze, and off course a highly buffed stature. (Matthew, 2014). This historic figure was not only known for his handsomely distinctive looks but he was also one of the many icons that made tremendous contributions during their time.(Hellenistic age).
This paper will explore the heroic life of Alexander the great, more specifically, his artistic, political, and religious influences during the Hellenic age.
On July 20th 356 BCE, Olympia, the, the daughter of King Neoptolemus and King Philip the second gave birth to Alexander the great in the ancient Greek Kingdom of Macedonia.(Metmuseum.org). Alexander had one sister and he was the only boy. (Metmuseum.org). One would think that because he was his father’s only son, they would have had a great father son relationship. Unfortunately, that was not the case. In fact, because his father was never around, he spent only a little time with him and this lead Alexander to go through his teenage years learning to resent his father. (Metmuseum.org). Later in his life, Alexander encountered a dreadful time when his father remarried to Cleopatra and forced Alexander and his mother to leave the kingdom because of difficulties between him and his father. Nevertheless, once his father died, he made it his duty to be heir to the throne and he did anything that was necessary for this happen.(Matthew,2014).
Additionally, during the earlier part of his education, his teacher was his uncle Leonidas of Epirus, and he was homeschooled.(Khanacademy). He was taught the basic life skills during that age. He learned math, hourseship, and archery. Because Alexander was such a rebellious student, he made it almost impossible for his teachers to successfully taught him. His parents finally decided to get him tutors to ensure that he was learning effectively but the only way his tutors made progress was if they used role-play because at that age he was not interested in learning.(Metmuseum.org). His final teacher was Aristotle, who taught him theology, poetry, science, politics, and drama for about three or more years. (Matthew,2014). After finishing his education, he became a soldier while he was only a teenager.(Khan academy).
Moreover, although Alexander the great was only a young boy, his first military encounter was when he fought and defeated the Thracian tribes. (Metmuseum.org). Alongside his father, they both could conquer Anthian and Theban armies.(Khan academy).He eventually defeated the persuasions and was crowned King of Babylon and Asia. (Metmuseum.org). After defeating Egypt, Alexander manifested one of his greatest accomplishments, which was discovering the city of Alexandria. One of Alexandria’s most prized possessions is its Museum, which housed the city’s library. (Matthew, 2014). Alexander’s influences shaped art to be more exotic, theatrical, and lively. (Matthew, 2014). Hellenistic art used influences from the Hellenic age and incorporated its own flavor and style. (Matthews,2014). Some examples include, Aphrodite who posed naked reflecting sensuality, Hermes and Dionysos, the bronze statue of Eros which depicted the power of bronze to capture life. (Matthew,2014).he dying Gaul that symbolized theatrical and anatomical features portrayed with exaggerated depth. (Matthew, 2014). In art, Alexander’s influence did not end in the Hellenistic age. In fact, when comparing Roman sculptures to sculptures during the Hellenistic age, similar traits stand out. For example, the way the clothing on the sculptures are usually in a draped like fashion. (Matthews, 2014).
Alexander and his army made several passages across the North Eastern world, which allowed opened avenues to commerce and trade between Asia and Europe. (Matthew, 2014). Alexander and his army made many voyages throughout the world, spreading his legacy at each stop. The spreading of his empire also opened many doors to his influential powers concerning Greek artistic styles and the way art was viewed. (Metmuseum.org). He influenced the spread one common language while on his journey and that was Greek. (Matthew,2014). His legacy even created a stable environment which expelled the fear of attacks from other regions and this allowed the free flow of trade and commerce. (Metmuseum.org). As the trade, business became more demanding in places like the Mediterranean, more small cities had to be built to expand the business. (Matthew,2014).
Further, the death of Alexander in 323BCE, gave rise to the start of the Hellenistic period. (Matthew,2014). Sadly, his death was as a result of a bad case of malaria at the age 32. (Matthew, 2014). Although his sudden death was unfortunate, while he was alive, he began to create an impacting legacy in such a short time. Nevertheless, his death seemed to have had an equally great influence on Hellenistic art and its culture. Not only was he culturally influential, but he made a political and religious impact as well. Greek language spreads to many lands, the language of the New Testament and Septuagint. (Matthew, 2014). Even after Alexander’s death, Hellenistic Kingship in parts of Eastern Greek continued to reign as the dominant political form of government. (Matthew, 2014). He also brought monarchy to the Greco-Roman World. (Matthew, 2014). To add, following his death, Alexander’s successors divided the empire into kingdoms of their own. (Matthew, 2014). These included The Ptolemies in Egypt, the Seleucids in the East and the Antigonids in Macedonia. (Matmuseum.org) (Matthew, 2014). These kingdoms continued to grow and divided into even smaller kingdoms. What allowed these kingdoms to flourish was the fact that they continued to rule politically in the same form that Alexander did. The Hellenistic period eventually ended when the last standing kingdom which was the Ptolemies fell to Rome. (Matthew, 2014). Despite its fall, during the Roman period while Augustus reigned as emperor, the Hellenistic tradition continued to govern roman arts influenced by the Hellenistic tradition.(Matmuseum.org).
In conclusion, although Alexander’s life was short lived, he was still known as the great because of his many influential duties that he carried out. What is amazing about his life is the fact that he began life in the military when he was only a teenage boy, and he continued in his victories until his death. His great impact to the Hellenistic age allowed the culture to strongly progress on its own by adding a diversely cultural environment. Alexander’s artistic, political, and religious influences all contributed to his long-lived legacy beyond his death. To sum it all up, Alexander’s main and greatest impact on art and other aspects was that he heavily influenced western civilization and created what is now studied today as the Hellenistic culture.
- Alexander the Great. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/world-history/ancient-medieval/alexander-the-great/a/alexander-the-great
- Matthews, R. T., Noble, T. F., & Platt, F. D. (2014). Experience humanities. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.(n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/haht/hd_haht.htm
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