A Hero’s Hero – Alexander and Achilles


Alexander conquered most of the known world of his time. His empire stretched from Macedonia to Persia to Egypt to the North-Western border of India. He was a legend even during his time. There was speculation about whether he was god or demon, because of the kind of superhuman feats he performed. He himself believed that he was the son of Zeus-Ammon, a thought that was probably reinforced and kindled by his courtiers. It probably started as a mere whim in the oasis of Siwah, however, it later took roots in the depths of his being, and his self-aggrandizement  blinded him to the reality that after all he was merely human. And it is this fact, that he was after all a mere human being that makes him stand out; that makes you take notice of his unbelievable achievements. Here was a man, who walked in flesh and blood, a man who went on to conquer the whole world before he was thirty-two.

Such has been the impact of Alexander’s influence on the world that his legend lives on. Even today, 2300 years after his death. He appears as a character in epics and fables across various cultures in Asia and North Africa, sometimes as a god, sometimes as a two-horned demon, and sometimes as a beast. In India, he is popularly referred to by the name ‘Sikandar’, and his name is synonymous with being the best, the ace, the invincible. There is a proverb in Hindi, which loosely translates to ‘The one who wins is called Alexander’. Whether you view him as a hero or a bloodthirsty villain, who brought death and destruction to wherever he went, you will find it difficult to argue against his magnetism. His magnetism is probably a result of his skills as a warrior, his leadership, his unbending will and determination, his unbridled curiosity, his passion to be the best, his passion to emulate his hero, Achilles! Continue reading

The Greatest Legend of All was Real

I am not a historian. I don’t even claim to have an extensive knowledge of history. However, I can safely call myself a history enthusiast. I love reading about the past.

I guess it all started when I was in Class IV. My parents bought me a book  which dealt with the lives and times of some great names in history – Chandragupta Maurya, Ashoka, Julius Caesar, Akbar, Napoleon, Garibaldi, Mahatma Gandhi. I was fascinated by the book and the personalities that it described. However, the character that captured my imagination was Alexanderos Philippou Makedonon, known more popularly, as Alexander the Great.

AlexanderWhat appealed about Alexander to my young mind, at that time, was that he had managed to conquer most of the known world of his time. I marvelled at how this man, who was crowned king when he was barely 20, muster the courage to invade Persia, one of the most poweful countries of his time. I was amazed at how he won every battle that he ever fought. Most of all, what blew me over completely was that Alexander achieved all this by the age of 32. He had quite an impact on my young mind. Now, that’s a hero, I said to myself. Continue reading