Alexander's Legacy


Alexander died in 323bc - you can read theset-sources on his death here


It is difficult – actually, unfair – for students to know about Alexander’s legacy (what he gave to the world) when they have not yet studied history after Alexander.

Anyway, here are some ideas, and you will just have to learn them:



The following websites will help you complete the task:

This document contains the relevant sections of the set
OCR Textbook.





1.  Alexander Cult

Alexander was worshipped as a god for many years after his death, particularly in the Ionian cities which he freed from Persian rule.


2.  War, and the division into Hellenic kingdoms

Because Alexander died so young, and his son Heracles was so young, his generals fought to take over his empire and the empire split into the ‘Hellenic kingdoms’ – although these lasted for three more centuries.



3.  Hellenization and homonoia

Because of Alexander’s conquests and the ‘Alexandrias’, Greek culture, learning and philosophy spread all over the former Persian Empire:
* The Alexandrian scholar Eratosthenes noticed that Alexander's empire had the effect of ending Greek scorn for the 'barbarian' and making the world more cosmopolitan in its attitudes; William Tarn later claimed Alexander had a conscious policy of homonoia, which other historians dispute - but, as an effect, it doesn;t matter whether Alexander intended to do it or not ... it happened!
* Greek became the international language of trade and learning. 
* Alexandria became a centre of Greek science (Hero developed a simple steam engine, Eratosthenes measured the circumference of the earth, Herophilus and Erasistratus performed dissections and vivisections). 
* Greek art and sculpture affected the Middle East and can be seen in the art and sculpture of the Byzantine Empire, and there is evidence that it changed art and sculpture in India and Greece.

The 19th century German historian Johann Droysen called this: ‘Hellenization’.  Some scholars believe that this would have happened anyway, but Alexander’s conquests helped it happen.



4.  The Renaissance 

Although Greek learning disappeared in western Europe during the Dark Ages, because it had spread through the Middle East, in the years after 1200 it gradually spread back into western Europe from the Islamic states of the Middle East.

This ‘rebirth’ of Greek knowledge is called the ‘Renaissance’, and historians believe it to be the turning point in history which was the beginning of the modern world.



5.  Alexandria and Egypt

The destruction of Tyre may not have been important strategically, but economically it had a great effect. In its place, Alexandria-in-Egypt grew up as a great centre of trade and learning, and this revived Egypt as a strong kingdom.



6.  Military legacy

Alexander’s tactics have been studied and admired by generals ever since.  Hannibal felt bad because he could not defeat larger armies like Alexander had. Julius Caesar and the Emperor Augustus measured themselves unfavourably against Alexander.

Centuries later, Alexander was a role model for American generals conquering the wild west, and for British generals conquering the Empire.


7.  The Legend of Alexander

The coins in your set sources show that his successors tried to connect themselves to and tap into Alexander’s reputation. In the early Middle Ages, the Romance of Alexander was published – attributed to pseudo-Callisthenes – which grew into a huge corpus of myth and fiction.



8.   In Modern Culture

Alexander the Great is remember in a song by heavy metal group Iron Maiden, and in the historical fiction trilogy by the author Mary Renault.  He has been portrayed in film by Robert Rossen (1956) and Oliver Stone (2005); Baz Luhrman was also going to make a film about Alexander, starring Leonardo di Caprio, but the project was abandoned when Oliver Stone beat him to it. You can go online and play internet games where you are Alexander and try to conquer the Persian Empire.