Alexander the Great was a great military leader for many reasons. His life was filled

with events that would provide him with valuable experience. The people with whom he

was close while growing up urged him to try his hardest, and this also contributed to his

great leadership. In the following paper, I will explain how Alexander's parents and

education, among other things, helped him to gain the necessary experience and qualities of

a good leader, and how he used this experience as he got older and became a greater

military leader.

Alexander's youth played a great role in his development into a great military

leader. Many aspects of his youth contributed to this development, including his parents,

his education, and the military experience he had early on in his life.

Alexandros was born in the summer of 356 BC to Philip II and Olympias

("Alexander the Great" 1). Alexander's parents both wanted him to become a great leader,

both pushing him to do his best. When Alexander was young, his mother, Olympias,

poisoned Philip's other son so that he could not compete with Alexander. She also once

commanded Cleopatra to commit suicide, and then threw Cleopatra's infant son into a fire

(Roselle 28). Alexander received not only support from his mother, but probably inherited

her hot temper. One of the men who played the greatest role in Alexander's life was his

father, Philip II. As Alexander was growing up,

Philip always treated him like an adult, and Alexander in turn treated him with

respect (Gunther 8). This bond between father and son was never broken, although it was

weakened by one event. When Alexander was a teenager, his father and he got into an

argument, and Alexander then ran away from home. Alexander soon returned, and

although he and his father made peace, he never actually forgave his father ("Alexander the

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Great" 1). There was one other man who affected Alexander's life nearly as much as

Philip did.

This man was Aristotle, Alexander's teacher and mentor. Alexander once said "It

was my father who gave me life. But it was Aristotle who taught me to live" (Gunther 33).

Alexander also loved to read works by Homer, his favorite being the Iliad, which was one

of the two things he kept under his pillow at night, both as a child and as an adult. As an

adult, the other was a dagger.

Alexander was a great leader as an adult, but he also displayed leadership and

military skill when he was younger. At the age of 14, Alexander rode a horse that no one

else could ride. This horse was Buchephalus, and he and Alexander would be companions

for 16 years (Gunther 2). As Alexander grew older, his father bestowed on him more and

more responsibilities. At the age of 18, Alexander was the leader of the left wing of his

father's army. Both these things, learning to ride a monstrous beast that no one else could,

let alone a normal horse, and leading a section of his father's army, gave to him military

experience that would help him throughout life.

At the age of 20, Alexander took the throne, for his father, Philip, was

murdered(Roselle 98). At the time, Alexander was prepared to lead his people, because he

had gained experience from leading a part of his father's army, and from other

achievements such as riding Buchephalus.

At the time, Alexander was described as "a handsome, energetic young man who

loved sports. He was a fine runner and an excellent horseman and hunter" (Roselle 98).

Alexander's greatest fear ever was not that he would be killed in battle, or that his men

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would betray him. His greatest fear was that his father would conquer all the lands, and

leave none for him (Roselle 98). This, of course, was not the case, and Alexander built a

great empire, using both his military skill and his great military.

Alexander's military was unique in one important manner. Most armies at the time

were made up of farmers, who would report to their commanders once a month to be

drilled. Alexander's military was made up of full-time soldiers, which allowed him to drill

them regularly ("That Group that Went..." 1). He was able to have a full-time military

because he paid well, and the soldiers could then afford to pay people to tend to their crops

("That Group that Went..." 1). Alexander's military soon became the most fierce fighting

machine ever created.

Another thing that gave Alexander's army an advantage over others was the

invention of Alexander. His greatest invention was the phalanx, a six meter wooden pike

with a metal tip, which was used to spear enemies from a short distance. Alexander's

military, in addition to the phalanx, had divisions of light auxiliaries, archers, a siege train,

and a cavalry ("That Group that went..." 1). Alexander's army conquered many of the

surrounding lands, and at one point his empire stretched from Greece to India (Roselle 99).

Thus, Alexander the Great was a remarkable leader because of the influence his

parents had on him, his education, and various other events in his life. These events

provided him with the experience he needed in order to succeed as a leader. He used this

experience to become one of the most respected and well known military leaders of the

ancient times.

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