Reflections on Alexander

On June 11 of this year, 2023, it will be two millennia, three centuries, four decades and six years since the death of Alexander III of Macedon, really of Macedon, Greece, Persia, Asia, and the world.  And not just the “world” he ruled but from many perspectives, our own world as well.

His dynastic family[1] was the Argeadai (Ἀργεάδαι) which colonized Macedonia from Argos (famous for the Golden Fleece sought by Jason and the Argonauts) around 750 b.c.e., 400 years before Alexander’s birth. “Argeadai” was the family name his ancestor, Alexander I, used to prove to the hellanodikai (the judges who decided if you were Greek), that he was Dorian, and as a Dorian, Alexander was thus also part of the Heracleidae (Ἡρακλεῖδαι, the purported sons of Heracles).  More proximately, he was known to his contemporaries as Filipidis (Φιλιππίδης), son of Philip, which was his father’s name.  Almost everyone, everywhere today however just refers to him, in whatever their native languages are, as “Alexander the Great”.  That’s been true for more than 2,346 years now.

Alexander has always fascinated me.  I named my second son after him.  My first’s son’s Greek name, “Basileus” (“great king”, the title by which Alexander was addressed) was also, from my perspective, a link to the Alexander that I so admired.  My fascination was not premised on his renowned military prowess or on his charisma, but rather, on the fact that he considered all men brothers, regardless of their nationality, their race, their religion or their sexual orientation, and that he treated those his armies conquered as one people, much to the distaste and despair of his Macedonian brethren.  An attitude which, after more than 2,346 years, we have yet to fully accept although hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of people have claimed to do so, unfortunately, usually, in an extremely hypocritical manner.

His tomb, eventually located in Egypt’s Alexandria, a city Alexander founded, was revered for hundreds of years.  Both Iulius Caesar and his grandnephew, Octavian, visited it almost three centuries after Alexander’s death.  Unfortunately, as so often happened in antiquity, the tomb was looted and his amazingly preserved body, it apparently refused to decay, has vanished.  The Roman emperor Gaius (Caligula), may have been to blame; he wanted Alexander’s armor, but other Roman emperors or popes evidently eventually needed the gold of his sarcophagus, and ultimately, apparently looters just wanted whatever they could get to sell, although there are legends that it was Christians from Venice who stole the body, believing it to be that of Mark the Evangelist, or perhaps Matthew, or maybe Luke.  Christians and looters are synonymous to people all over the world, especially in the Americas.

His vision of the brotherhood of man was adopted by the stoic philosophers, and eventually, by the early Christian churches, adopted but pretty much ignored.  An attitude all too similar to ours today.

What might he have accomplished had he lived beyond his span of a bit less than thirty-three years?

We could sure use an Alexander, in the latter sense, today.

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2023; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  However, he is also fascinated by mythology, religion, physics, astronomy and mathematics, especially with matters related to quanta and cosmogony.  He can be contacted at and much of his writing is available through his blog at

[1] Information obtained from a post by Achilles Monomaxos.

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