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

Expert Answers
kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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.

gordonlon | Student

Alexander the Great's major impact on Western Civilization was the spread of Hellenistic culture throughout the known world at the time. His empire split into three kingdoms after his death: the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt, the Seleucid dynasty in Asia Minor, and the Antigonid dynasty in Macedonia. Each brought an enduring Hellenistic influence that can still be seen in the art and architecture of the areas today.

These three kingdoms, established by three of Alexander's generals, ruled vast areas of territory. Greek culture and learning spread throughout these lands.
Alexander's policy of tolerance and absorption of other cultures, as exemplified by his marriage to Roxana, Bactrian chief Oxyartes’ daughter. His successors continued this scheme, and these regions became heavily Hellenized.

The rise of Rome shortly after the death of Alexander helped solidify Greek influence on Western Civilization. Hellenism influenced Roman culture, ultimately, for example, fusing the Roman pantheon with the Greek Olympian deities. Rome brought Hellenism to the new lands it conquered, further spreading the legacy of Alexander the Great.