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As one of Achilles' acknowledged descendants, Alexander the Hero felt that his triumph over King Darius III represented his true density. By the time he died in 323 BCE, Alexander was persuaded that King Philip II was not his father, but that he was the son of Zeus-Ammon, the almighty Greek deity (Arrianus, 2014). Alexander even traveled the Libyan Desert to learn the truth about his actual father. Upon arriving at the divine temple in the Oracle of Siwa, Alexander met with a priest who later confirmed to him that he was truly the son of Zeus-Ammon and was given the power to rule the world. After confirming the news about his father, Alexander the great returned to Memphis where he made some sacrifices to his father, Zeus-Ammon (Brunt, 1965).
It was in Egypt that Alexander confirmed that he was the true son of Zeus-Ammon. Furthermore, many Egyptians were in deep joy when they saw Alexander in Egypt. They hated the Persians for not showing even little respect for their culture and religion. Fortunately, Alexander respected their culture and even offered some sacrifices to their gods. Before Alexander had visited the Oracle of Zeus-Ammon in Siwa, Greek people had identified the Egyptian god with their Zeus (Bosworth, 1993).
As a young soldier and a warrior, Alexander believed that he had to be a hero before his death. Therefore concerning the issue that he was a god or not, most of the Greek gods were immortal people, and Alexander was injured many times he was at the battle. This was a clear indication that Alexander the great was a mortal being (Fredricksmeyer, 2012). Alexander also knew that one of his parents was a mortal being and therefore, ruling the chances that he was a god. However, Alexander might have presented himself as a god to many people who he conquered.
According to the Ancient Greeks, most of the divine heroes were usually men and occasionally with a few women. Some of them even possessed god-like traits, which indicated that they might have descended from a god. In spite of their accomplishments and superhuman attributes, the ancient heroes did not enjoy an easy life. They normally face massive struggles and end up dying in violent deaths (Heckel, 2007). The struggle they normally go through result in fame, which is passed in the form of immortality. Like the previous heroes, Alexander had accomplished an incredible amount of glory. He even sustained several injuries while he was on the battlefield (Heckel & Yardley, 2008). Therefore, many people believed that he was supposedly the descendants of gods. Achilles was his ancestor on the side of his mother while Zeus was his ancestor on his father’s side. The closeness a hero had to god played an important role in Alexander’s life.
Alexander the Great was an exceptional hero. He did not demand people to worship as their god. However, the impression that he was the son of god predated his life, including birth. Moreover, some people dismissed his divinity and even questioned the ruthlessness of his nature, especially his responsibility on the death of more than hundred thousands of people (Plutarch et al., 2004). However, how he related to people was overshadowed by how people remember him in history. At a personal level, Alexander was a religious person and did not force people to worship him. According to him, Zeus was the father to the Egyptians, Persians, and Indians and not all humanity. Alexander was also open-minded about the customs practised by barbarian (Plutarch et al., 2004). He even offered some sacrifices to the god of Egyptians Apis when he was at Memphis. Even though Alexander respected the religious beliefs of barbarians, he still had the belief that Greek Civilization was still superior. According to Alexander, Aristotle was the leading supporter of Greek culture.
Alexander also came to realised that the gods of Olympus were everywhere and their wishes were only revealed to humankind through omens and oracles. This was also observed by the oracles they experienced in Siwa and Delphi. Alexander also used to pray and sacrifice to the gods because most of his victories were sanctioned by the gods. Throughout his life, Alexander had constantly earned respect from his people. The people saw a soldier who can withstand danger and hardships alongside them. He was fighting beside them and eating with whatever was available. He even ensured that the available food was enough to satisfy everyone.
Even though there were many cult rulers in Ancient Greece, Heroes were not considered to be gods. For instance, the oracle at Siwah could not make Hephaestion god when was asked to do so by Alexander (Worthington, 2012). According to the message sent back by the oracles, Hephaestion should only be worshipped as a hero and not god. Therefore, it was difficult to worship Alexander as a god but as a hero considering several successes he had on the battlefield. Moreover, the Persian peopled did not worship their rulers; instead, they regarded them as heroes. The Zoroastrianism people were monotheistic who believed in one God. However, they acknowledged that their leaders were chosen by God. The Greek People did not understand the religion of the Persian people and instead confused them with being worshipping their rulers (Worthington, 2004).
Although the empire built by Alexander did not flourish after his death, many people still remember him as an icon. Some people still see him as both a villain and a hero who changed the world. It was through the great empire that he managed to spread art, literature, and Greek Philosophy (Worthington, 2011). According to the Greek people, Alexander was a hero was blessed with courage and intelligence. He was described as an ambitious, audacious, and a risk-taker who will fight with any opponent. Alexander was a loyal hero who guided many soldiers in the frontline. However, some people did not see him as a hero but a murderer who caused the deaths of many Greeks, including Persians and Macedonians (Worthington, 2011).
Arrianus, F., & Brunt, P. A. (2014). Arrian: Anabasis of Alexander. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
Brunt. P. A. (1965). “The aims of Alexander”, Greece and Rome 12, pp.205-215
Bosworth, A.B. (1993). Conquest and empire: the reign of Alexander the Great, pp. 178-290. Cambridge.
Fredricksmeyer, E.A (2012). “Alexander’s religion and divinity”, in Alexander the Great: a reader, ed. I. Worthington, pp. 335-356. London.
Heckel, W. (January 01, 2007). The Conquests of Alexander the Great. 560-588.
Heckel, W. & Yardley, J. (2008). Alexander the Great: Historical sources in translation.
Plutarch, ., Dryden, J., & Clough, A. H. (2004). The life of Alexander the Great. New York: Modern Library
Worthington, I. (2011). Alexander the Great: A reader. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.
Worthington, I (2004). Alexander the Great: man and god.
Worthington, I. (2012). “Man and god” in Alexander the Great: a reader, ed. I. Worthingtonpp. 328-334. London
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