What role did Alexander the Great take to try and create a unified empire?

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mfhajduk eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Alexander, is referred to as the Great, for a reason. He obviously was the driving force of Greece. He helped to make his father's dream of conquering Greece and defeating Persia a reality. He and his father introduced new military methods to the Greeks including the battering ram, catapult, new battle formations and the use of an infantry and calvary. He encouraged his men to fight and they willing fought alongside him. He spread Hellenistic culture throughout the conquered lands, which gained him favor. As oppose to leaders of the past, he did not destroy the conquered lands and force them to submission. Instead, he allowed them to carry-on. They were allowed to continue with their religious beliefs and daily customs. Alexander did leave Greek men behind to help govern, but the people held on to their same way of life. The Hellenistic culture that Alexander helped to create and spread helped to unify the empire as it was a blend of Greek, Persian, Indian, and Egyptian ways of life. In addition, Alexander helped to enrich his empire with the building of the Temple of the Muses (a large museum), the lighthouse of Alexandria, and the Library. 

Alexander accomplished many of his goals and left behind a legacy. His desire to securely unify all of his conquered lands failed in the end. After fighting and being away from their families for 10 long years, his men wanted to return home. Alexander wanted to continue fighting and conquering further into India and China, but he returned with his men. Unfortunatley, he fell ill and died before the empire could truly be unified. The empire was eventually divided amongst 3 of his generals. Nonetheless, he is remembered for being great and doing great things for Greece. 

timehiker75 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In order to create a unified empire, Alexander the Great encouraged a rapprochement between the new Macedonian and the older Persian ruling elites. He married Roxane, the daughter of the Bactrian (Central Asian) prince in 327 B.C.E. and in so doing modeled intermarriage among the royal and elite of various tribes; subsequently, many of his companions married the daughters of local nobles. Alexander the Great also experimented with including native Asian troops in his army. In this way, he came to serve as an intermediary among his Greek, Macedonian, and Persian subjects.

While the unruly Macedonian nobility had generally considered each of their previous kings the first among equals, Alexander strived to enhance his personal authority by declaring himself an absolute monarch and maintaining that he was a son of Zeus and partially divine. This elicited much resentment and skepticism among the Macedonians and Greeks, but those who dared to challenge it openly sometimes paid with their life. Alexander did not tolerate insubordination; he suppressed opposition ruthlessly and punished all dissidents.

Alexander founded numerous cities throughout his empire, and these became the backbone of his new political system. He organized rural areas into agricultural districts and assigned the peasants in each to provide for the needs of Greek settlers and Macedonian garrisons in nearby cities. The most famous and populous of these cities was Alexandria in Egypt; the easternmost among them arose in Central Asia and Afghanistan.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We could say that there are at least two roles that Alexander the Great played in trying to create a unified empire.

First, Alexander clearly played the role of conqueror.  It is not possible to have a unified empire (or an empire of any sort) unless you first go out and conquer that empire.  Alexander seems to have been a great leader of warriors.  The fact that he could conquer such a huge empire shows that he must have been very effective in this role.

However, Alexander also played the role of unifier.  He did not really want his subjects to think of his empire as something that was exploiting them for the benefit of a faraway emperor.  He did not try to destroy the cultures of those he conquered.  Instead, he did things like respecting their religions.  He allowed Persians to serve as administrators in his new empire.  He married Eastern women.  By doing these things, Alexander was sending the message that he was ruling for all the people of his empire, not just for his own fellow Macedonians.

In these ways, Alexander played the role both of a conqueror and of a unifier and conciliator.