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Friday, 4 January 2013

By the end of his life Alexander believed he was a god. Comment
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Alexander was brought up to believe that he was descended from Hercules, and hence Zeus, this was mainly due to his mother, Olympia.
He was then subjected his followers to a forced polykenysis which meant that they had to kiss him on the cheek because they were of a lower rank than him. This was regarded as a barbarian, Persian, custom.
In the East the idea of a ruler being divine was unknown. However it was acceptable to Egypt and to the Greeks. The Greeks would give honours if someone was superhuman or had completed superhuman tasks, like Hercules.  For the Greeks there was no sharp distinction between god and men.
When Alexander visited the Oracle of Ammon at Siwa he first had to cross the desert and face many dangers. According to Plutarch Alexander asked two questions to the Oracle, whether any of Phillip’s assassins escaped and more importantly whether he would conquer the entire world. Before this Alexander was called by the priests as the son of Ammon. The Fact that Alexander wanted to publish this statement of him being the son of Ammon shows that he wants to be portrayed as the son of a god.
Plutarch also suggests that that Alexander used his divine status for purely political motives. Alexander restored the exiles which overstepped his legal right as the leader of the Corinthian League. However this interference could be justified if he had higher status i.e. that of a god.
There is some evidence suggesting that Alexander was seeking recognition for his “divine status”. There are records of discussions both in Sparta and Athens about dive honours for the “Son of Ammon”.
Alexander was also faithful to Zeus. He was always brought up to believe that he was descended from Heracles, and hence Zeus, by his mother Olympia. This is shown as before the battle of Gaugamela he sacrificed to Zeus.
Plutarch was writing his biography in parallel to Julius Caesar, who was deified. This means he could adjust the facts to make the two lives more comparable. Plutarch was also a priest at Delphi so this would have influenced his opinions. Arrian is openly biased towards Alexander. They are both writing long after the events actually occurred. Both the sources are strongly against the Persians, when they call them “barbarians”, this would be important when talking about when Alexander adopted Persian customs and Persian Dress. The sources are also inaccurate as they are often quoted to have said that the Persian Army was one million when it was in fact only 60000. 


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