What you can learn from someone who truly deserves the moniker, the Great
What was so great about the boy king with the piercing blue eyes portrayed by the up-and-coming Buck Braithwaite in Netflix’s recent sword-and-sandals docu-drama Alexander the Great: The Making of a God?
For starters, Alexander, a 20-year-old boy from a small Greek City State led a relatively small army against the largest and most powerful empire the world had known and won. Repeatedly. These days it would be like a teenager leading a rebel army from a lowly third-world Middle Eastern or Baltic country and utterly vanquishing the United States, repeatedly, with tactics that bamboozle the Allies. Then this mythical teenager goes on to Russia, and gives them a bloody nose as well, before dying prematurely. Unthinkable? Never happen?
It did. That’s the equivalent of what Alexander did back in his day. And only in a little over a decade or so. That’s why he’s called the Great. If by dent of your own will and self-belief, you change the world order and topple a superpower, well, you deserve to be called Great.
So How Did Alexander Become So Great?
Fortunate parents, and a good education, in short. Because he was the king’s son, he was taught by none other than philosopher and academic Aristotle, and so were his friends who’d later become his generals. He grew up within a tight crew of rich kids with the best education dad’s drachmas could buy. Notably, Alexander had a close emotional attachment to his companion, cavalry commander (Hipparchus), and childhood friend, Hephaestion, played by the dashing Will Stevens. Aristotle taught Alexander and his friends about medicine, philosophy, morals, religion, logic, art, and importantly, critical thinking.
From 13 Alex and his bros were taught to think and fight, all day, every day. His tactical mind probably came from his dad. Since he was 18, King Philip routinely gave Alexander command of elements of the Calvary in uprisings and border clashes and he learned quickly. He was taught to fight mano-o-mano by a guy called Leonidas; not of 300 fame, but he reputedly possessed the same fighting prowess and was considered an exceptional warrior.
How Did he Fuck Up?
Booze. He was a big drinker, and possibly an alcoholic. All his mates and generals were big drinkers, too. Alexander’s drinking bouts are legendary: in one, he killed his friend Cleitus, who had saved his life in battle, with a spear. He cried for three days supposedly.
One academic argues that it was his alcoholism that in reality killed him. Most academics attribute his death to typhoid fever, but the professor argues that it was alcohol. “In a feverish state, he insisted on drinking a huge quantity of wine to slake his thirst. A few hours later he was dead. ‘His insistence on wine – rather than water – only makes sense if the fever was an acute case of alcohol withdrawal.’” Who knows? Watch it on Netflix now.
How to Be Great Like Alexander
- Education pays off. Never stop learning.
- A good trainer/teacher is a good investment.
- Surround yourself with loyal friends.
- Believe in Yourself
- Dream Big
- Don’t Drink.
DID YOU KNOW?
In Die Hard when well-spoken terrorist Hans Gruber, says “And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept to see he had no more worlds to conquer” he’s supposedly quoting some poet writing about Alexander, but no one’s ever written that. Although it rings true, it’s completely made up by the screenwriters.