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Alexander's metamorphosis after the battle at Gaugamela in 331 BC?

Uploaded by Kerrytom on Aug 10, 2013

John Maxwell O’ Brien contends that Alexander the Great’s personality suffered a metamorphosis after the battle of Gaugamela in 331BC. This statement places O’ Brien on one side of an ongoing debate about the personality of Alexander. This contention is that Alexander was a good man and leader until he crossed into the East, where he became power-mad and corrupt. The other side of this argument has a more sympathetic view on Alexander’s behaviour in the East, whereby his actions can be explained as one of a cultural unifier. When discussing which side of these arguments holds more truth, one must discuss the elements of Alexander’s personality and behaviour after the Battle of Gaugamela, which gives credence to O’ Brien’s metamorphosis theory.


The first and most obvious place to start is Alexander’s newfound ‘orientalism’, after his conquering of Persia. This included Alexander wearing elements of Persian dress, the appointment of 30,000 Persian ‘Epigoni’ and the attempted introduction of Persian customs, such as ‘proskynesis’. This caused much resentment towards Alexander from his Macedonian and Greek subjects, who saw this as Alexander favouring Persian ways over Macedonian. Issues arose from Alexander’s new Persian ideals such as bowing down before him (proskynesis), as Persians did to their King. This was something which the Macedonians were not accustomed to and “did not perform the act, considering it appropriate only for gods and, when performed for the Great King (who was not a god, though everything just short of it) as a mark of Oriental servility.” The historian Callisthenes was a loud voice in the objections to this practice and his denouncement of the act of proskynesis, and as he saw it, Alexander’s new god-like self-opinion, would find him implicated in a plot to assassinate Alexander.
The ‘Pages Plot’ was important because it shows how formerly devoted followers of Alexander were suddenly compelled to plot against his life. The incident which supposedly led to this showed a difference in Alexander’s treatment of his people as Arrian described. “He was led to copy Persian extravagance and the habit of barbaric kings of treating their subjects as inferior beings.” Hermolaus orchestrated the plot because of his humiliating disciplining by the king after a hunting incident. When the plot was discovered Callisthenes was implicated and put to death like the others involved, although his involvement seemed unlikely. Before his death Hermolaus declared “That it is no...

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Uploaded by:   Kerrytom

Date:   08/10/2013

Category:   History

Length:   7 pages (1,552 words)

Views:   1185

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