Alexander's Impact on the Western Civilization

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Historical dictates describe Alexander the great as the most brilliant military minds, ruler of Macedonian and Persia one of the largest empires in the ancient world extending from Egypt, India to Greece and Iran. Through the adoption of different tactics depending on the location and situation such as charismatic, diplomatic, ruthlessness, the king inspired loyalty among his men and territories (, n.d). As the empire grows, Alexander employed Greek systems of governance, ways of living and thinking thus resulting in cultural influences in the entire colonies. Despite dying before realizing his dream to unite the kingdoms through the creation of new realm from the intermarriages, Alexander policies had created a profound influence both the Asian culture and the Greek ways of life inspiring Hellenistic period. Accordingly, most of the cities he founded survived to the 21st century contributing significantly as major cultural and trade centers of different countries. Therefore, the paper aims to investigate ways through which Alexander impacted and contributed to the western civilization.

Hellenistic Kingdoms

The Hellenistic period is often used to refer to over 200 to 300 years of Alexander introduction and domination of Greek forces in the different kingdoms he conquered (, n.d). Arguably, the introduction of the Macedonian rule to most parts of Asia remains the most immediate legacy of Alexander the great. Notably, as the Kingdom expanded, and Alexander grew older, the eastern borders began to collapse. Additionally, the northwest of Indian subcontinent which had experience power vacuum developed to become powerful Indian dynasties in history led by Chandragupta who later took advantage of the resources and power to control Punjab and acquire Nanda Empire (, n.d).  


The introduction and spread of the Greek language, population and culture in the former Persian empire during Alexander conquest became known as the “Hellenization” (Boardman 26).  Although the introduction of Hellenization policies in every community could be interpreted as Alexander’s intention to disseminate strategies that would help him in ruling and managing the enormous empire, this intervention subsequently led to spread Greek culture in different parts of the Asian continent thus introducing the Greek civilization. Alternatively, Alexander’s Hellenization policies just as the influence of his obsession considering that most of his successor later rejected the plans. However, Hellenization occurred throughout the kingdom despite the opposition developing later in the successor states.

According to editors (n.d), the spread and development of the Athenian among the conquered kingdoms can be considered the core of Hellenistic culture inception (, n.d). Through the interaction of men from different parts and cultural background across Greece joining Alexander’s army, led to the development of Greek dialect Attic-based “koine” (common). This dialect quickly spread throughout the Hellenistic world and becoming differentiated lingua franca that forms the basis of the modern Greek, otherwise, known as the classical Greek.  The significant development of the classical Greek in relation to western civilization can be traced to the change in different aspects of life such as ways of education, town planning, Art practice, as well as the local government systems (, n.d). Accordingly, various study findings attribute these significant changes as ideals made during the Hellenistic period and were based on the classical Greek philosophies.

The Founding of Alexander Cities

The rise of Alexander the great and his quest to expand the Macedonian kingdom resulted to creation and naming of over 20 cities most located to the east of Tigris River named after the great king: Alexander. For example, Alexandria in Egypt, considered the first and the greatest, the city grew to become a significant contributor to the growth and development of the Mediterranean region (Mark, n.d). Considerably, the strategic location of the cities was more considered defensive positions despite the little trade activities practiced. However, as security in these locations stabilizes, the businesses thrive, and they quickly develop into trade routes and centers. However, the constant aggression that made these places more of a defensive garrison proved to be inhospitable for most people as noted in the attempts of the majority of the Greek population to return to Greece after the death of Alexander (Boardman 31). However, a century later, these cities continue to thrive supporting local governments with elaborate public buildings and a population of both locals and Greeks.

Most of the Alexander cities must have been intended to serve as central locations and headquarters to the empire inhabited by Greek soldiers. As the towns help to contain and control the newly conquered population, Alexander saw the need to unify the empire and promote peace. Strategically, he proposed and initiated intermarriages among the local community and the Greek men particularly in Persia (, n.d). Additionally, He accepted the incorporation of some Persian court culture elements imitating some court ceremonies and own royal ropes. Although the policies were resented among most of the Macedonians who thought the cultural integration was irrelevant, the king did not stop in his pursuit. Moreover, Alexander declared all the hybrid soldiers born from the intermarriages between Persians and Greek soldiers would be loyal and serve his military campaigns. Subsequently, Alexander facilitated training of Persian soldiers in Macedonian military style and placing them within the Macedonian army ranks to solve increasing power struggle as well as workforce issues due to the expanded kingdom (, n.d).

Division of Empire and Rise of Power Blocks

While Alexander had significantly contributed to the development of the Macedonian kingdom, his sudden death was not immediately believed even in Greece. Additionally, there was a significant challenge in the power succession considering Alexander IV, son to Alexander the Great had not yet been born while his father did either name an heir to the Macedonian throne. According to (Mark, n.d), Diodorus, an ancient Greek historian, claimed when asked to name his successor at the deathbed, Alexander replied, “, tôi kratistôi” simply implying the strongest could take over the kingdom leadership .On the other hand, other stories elude to Alexander passing over his signet ring to Perdiccas who had to serve as a leader of the companion and a bodyguard to the king thus nominating him as the successor to the throne.

Considerably, Perdiccas had claimed the young Alexander IV would be king offering himself among three others to protect the unborn baby until he is of age to rule the empire instead of claiming power (Mark, n.d). However, the exclusion of the infantry in the decision resulted in the rejection of the power arrangement from Perdiccas as they resolve to support Alexander’s half-brother Philip Arrhidaeus towards acquiring the power. However, the two sides later reconciled and Philip III and Perdicas were appointed jointly to rule over Macedonian empire, but the unity soon collapsed after the assassination of the of Perdicas marking 40 years of war between successors (mark, n.d). These struggles resulted in the division of the Hellenistic empire into four stable power blocks: the Macedon, Pergamon in Asia, Seleucid Empire in the east and the Ptolemaic kingdom of Egypt. Notably, the creation of these new kingdoms resulted in the assassination of both Phillip III and Alexander IV. 

Role of women in the Hellenistic society 

The introduction of Hellenization and cultural influence resulted in new perspectives on social life. According to Spielvogel (99), the social role of women changed significantly in the Hellenistic world as it presented new opportunities for women, particularly among the upper-class population. The Hellenistic world resulted to the subordination of the cities to the kings, presumably this influence how men relate to each other and the subsequent role of Hellenistic queens contributing a new status for the women in the upper-class. Considerably, Hellenistic monarchies presented new roles to be performed by the monarch’s wives. For example, Spielvogel denoted that the Macedonia kingdom experience a pattern of alliances between sons and their mothers thus offering women an opportunity to participate in active politics (99). Moreover, the Egyptian adoption and expression of this opportunities provided royal women with even more opportunities particularly after the approval of the Ptolemaic rules allowing kings to marry their sisters. For example, the Egyptians worshiped Ptolemy II and his sister-wife as gods throughout their lifetime. Politically, the Arsinoe played a significant role in the expansion of the Egyptian Army and became the first Egyptian queen whose portrait appeared on coins together with the king (Spielvogel,99). On the other hand, other women of higher social status notable gains perhaps come in the economic era with increasing opportunities to participate in the managing of properties, slaves, and making loans. Considerably, women allowed to own land and manage their economic affairs especially in Sparta become wealthy as their husbands died in the wars or were often absent from home. While this situation might have remained an exception particularly on the Greek mainland, the Athens women were considered to have least been impacted by the Hellenistic period as they remained supervised and restricted on the activities, they could ensure participation (Spielvogel, 99).


Alexander’s kingdom expansion greatly increased trade and contact between the west and the east as the vast region to the east covered in his empire was greatly exposed to Greek influences and civilization prompting domination of the successor states for the next 300 years a period is known as the “Hellenistic period.” Hellenization was commonly used to denote the spread and integration of the Greek culture, language, as well as the population majorly in the Persian empire after it was conquered by Alexander.  During his conquest Alexander also found over 20 cities bore under his name that will later serve as cultural, trade and diversity centers such as the Alexandria in Egypt. However, the sudden death of Alexander quickly resulted to the disintegration of the empire due to lack of a designated heir and later divided to form four major power blocks known as the Macedon, Ptolemaic kingdom of Egypt, the kingdom of Pergamon in Asia and Seleucid Empire in the East.  

Work cited

Boardman, John, et al. The Oxford Illustrated History of Greece and the Hellenistic World. Oxford University Press, 2001., Editors. “Alexander the Great.” HISTORY, Aug. 2018,

Mark, Joshua. “The Hellenistic World: The World of Alexander the Great.” Ancient History Encyclopedia, Nov. 2018,

Spielvogel, Jackson J. Western Civilization: Volume A: To 1500. Cengage Learning, 2014.

November 13, 2023



Ancient Greece

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