What was the major impact of Alexander the Great on Western Civilization?

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Alexander III of Macedon (356 BC – 323 BC), usually called Alexander the Great, was the son of Phillip II of Macedon and succeeded his father on the Macedonian throne in 336 BC after eliminating rival claimants to the throne.

King Philip, with the help of his son Alexander who...

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Alexander III of Macedon (356 BC – 323 BC), usually called Alexander the Great, was the son of Phillip II of Macedon and succeeded his father on the Macedonian throne in 336 BC after eliminating rival claimants to the throne.

King Philip, with the help of his son Alexander who was a precociously skilled military commander, expanded Macedonia from a small barbarian kingdom to the north of Greece by conquest. Greece had consisted of many warring city states and Philip presented himself not just as a conqueror but also a savior and unifier of Greece and a legitimate Hellenic king. Alexander was educated by Aristotle as a young man and thus firmly embedded in a cosmopolitan Greek cultural milieu.

After Philip's death, many Greek cites rebelled but Alexander quickly subdued them, and then continued a dramatic series of military conquests, including south to Egypt and east through Persia and Mesopotamia, and even to India. In the wake of his conquests, Greek cities were planted in many of these areas and after his death, Hellenized Macedonian dynasties continued to rule and exert cultural influence.

Perhaps the key impact of Alexander's actions was the creation of a cosmopolitan Hellenistic culture throughout the Mediterranean and extending into Persia and Mesopotamia, extending Greece's cultural influence far beyond the area of Greece proper. Although Alexander's empire quickly fell apart as his successors squabbled among themselves, the areas he conquered continued to develop strong cultural bonds among Greek-speaking elites and many artistic and architectural commonalities such as theaters and gymnasia. The Roman empire, as it expanded, subsumed the areas Alexander had conquered, but the cultural heritage remained.

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Putting aside the almost incomprehensible level of barbarity involved in Alexander the Great’s military campaigns, his impact on Western civilization was substantial. As a direct result of Alexander’s conquests, Hellenistic (i.e., Ancient Greek) culture was spread across much of the Middle East and South Asia, intermixing with indigenous cultures. Ancient Greece, of course, provided the intellectual foundation for a great deal of Western thought regarding politics and government. Greek language, religion and artistic influences were imposed or absorbed by local cultures—influences that continue to be visible, especially in the arts and architecture.

While Alexander’s methodology with respect to conquering new territories left much to be desired, he was liberal regarding the preservation of indigenous cultures, thereby helping to cement the tradition in Western civilization of tolerance (relatively speaking) towards those cultures. By exporting Greek philosophies, ideas and practices to such areas as Babylon, Egypt, Persia and the Indian subcontinent, Alexander’s impact on Western civilization was enormous. Commercial activities and urban development owe a great deal to Alexander’s influences. In short, it is difficult to exaggerate Alexander’s impact.

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Alexander the Great ruled after his father, Philip II. He conquered various areas including Greece, India, Egypt, and Persia. The Greek Empire covered a great deal of land. Alexander the Great impacted western civilization: as he conquered different places, he spread Greek ways of living and thinking. There are several examples of this occurring. Greek literature, architecture, and statues have been found in places where the Greek influence extended. Greek literature was found in the Persian Empire and in Palestine. The Great Library found in Alexandria, Egypt, which became a major center of learning, was begun and influenced by the Greeks. Greek theater and the building of amphitheaters were evident in the places conquered by the Greeks. The Romans, throughout the Roman Empire, also spread Greek ways of living and Greek culture. The spread of Greek ways of living and culture went on to western civilization in many ways.

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Alexander the Great's main impact on Western Civilization was that he helped to create Hellenistic culture and definitely was the cause of its spread throughout the Middle East.  This may be said, for example, to have helped lead to Christianity in that it brought the Middle East into close connection with the European world.  The Romans would make this connection closer, allowing a Middle Eastern religion to spread to Europe.

Alexander also helped create Hellenistic civilization.  His conquests, and those of his father, helped to destroy the classical Greek civilization.  This led to new ideas such as those of the Sophists and Epicureans that have become part of our cultural heritage.

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