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