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Plutarch on Alexander

Plutarch describes Alexander as a pillar of unity among his people as well as with other kingdoms at that time. He respected the rights of his people and gave credit where it was due. This made him to solve some of the calamities that faced the city. Moreover, this fostered peace among his people and mutual understanding. He reconciled with the Athenians. As a result, they were able to solve some of the misfortunes that had faced them. At a time, Thebans sought refuge in their city. Due the kindness of Alexander, he allowed them to stay in their city for safety reasons. His courage enabled him to fight his enemies even in a moment, when his owned people feared fighting. For instance, the Macedonians cowardly refused to follow him, when he was preparing to fight against the Indians. This resulted in robbing of expedition as well as his glory in consummation. After the expedition against Asia, Alexander sought the advice of gods. He decided to summon the prophetesses who declined his order of performing in his office. In anger, Alexander went up to the prophetesses and dragged her to the temple. His main desire was just hearing from the oracle, but was not interested in the prophetesses. This was one sign of weakness on the part of Alexander who thought that he would force the gods to intervene in his condition of expedition.

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Alexander conquered and won battles with few forces compared with other kingdoms. According to Arostobulus, Alexander was able to operate with few resources for the benefit of his people. He had a maximum of seventy talents (Plutarch, 233). Thus, one can deduce that he was a good manager of resources. Onesicritus maintains that due to meager resources that he was operating with, he could not set his foot upon his own ship until he enquired into the situation of his companions on the other side. From the fact that he declined possessions that had been allotted to him, he portrayed one of the rare characters by kings who have the tendency to own everything. Instead, he decided to give his share to his friends who would share. Indeed, most of his properties in Macedonia were distributed to meet some of the needs of his forces. He also declined favors in form of gifts.

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He offered sacrifices to the gods. This was a sign of respect to the gods of Athena. He also poured libations to the heroes. In addition, he observed customs. For example, he anointed the gravestone of Achilles with oil and ran around it naked as the custom dictated. Another positive character is that he was a good listener. Despite his position in the kingdom, he did not despise his subjects. Plutarch notes that as he viewed the sights of Athena, someone approached him and asked him whether he was willing to see the lyre of Paris (Plutarch, 241). He answered that although he cared very little, he would be happy to see that lyre that was used by Achilles to sing and glorify the brave men.

Dareius had assembled a great army in order to fight against Macedonia. Unfortunately, this event coincided with the month of Daesius, where the kings of Macedonia were not required to take any army to the field. However, Alexander decided to violate this custom in order to protect his kingdom. He prepared for war. Although, most of Alexander’s forces were slain including the loss of his horse, he went on with the battle and escaped. Before he could proceed to Cecilia, where Dereius was waiting for him, he felt sick, however, Philip brought some medicine to him that made him to regain his voice and energy (Plutarch, 237). At this point in time,        

Macedonians were deeply distressed by the condition of their king. They demanded to see him. Consecutively, they refused to be comforted in any way by Philip until they could see Alexander. Alexander never laid his hand over Dereius` wife and children. He regarded his kinship more important than the conquest of his enemies. Eventually, he gathered his army whereby he destroyed about ten thousand armies. He took their wealth from their camp in Barbarians among them tubs and caskets of gold. His humane nature was also seen, when he gave the Persians freedom to bury whoever they were pleased of (Plutarch, 235). He also gave his slaves honorable maintenance, where they enjoyed peace in their captivity. This was simply because he considered his key enemy as Dereius who was main target. Dereius was seeking supremacy by bringing trouble in his kingdom. Since he was unable to kill him during the war, he did not consider it worthy to punish his captives.

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As analyzed above, Plutarch portrays both positive and negative actions and characters of Alexander since his youth to his kingship. The life of Alexander incorporates the history of the ancient dynasties such as the Greeks, Macedonians, Thebanians, and Asians among others (Plutarch, 249). These dynasties were involved in frequent battles whose main aim was to conquer each other and increase their territories. Thus, Plutarch portrays Alexander as having unique character different from that of his father Philip. Indeed, his success is attributed to his ability to unite the army and as well as foster unity with other neighboring states. Despite the fact that he was a great worrier who won various battles, he had great regard for human rights.

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