Living under a parental shadow can be difficult, especially if that parent has incredible power and influence and expects their heir to continue their progress and greatness. In Alexander III’s case, he inherited the kingdom of Macedon from his father, Philip II. There is an argument that people are only great because they were alive at the right time to accomplish the things that they did. However, I disagree and believe that people become great not because of timing or inheritance, but because of the actions they have taken themselves.
I believe that Alexander deserves the credit for his greatness because he was the one who physically accomplished all that he was able to. While Philip II gave him the resources, he took them and ran with them when he had the option to do differently. While Philip II defeated the Greeks, Alexander defeated the rest of the world. As his empire expanded, Alexander changed his leadership. He adopted foreign cultures in order to make his rule more appealing. By staying humble to his men and seeing them as equals, he garnered respect from his Macedonian soldiers. By promoting himself as a God, he gave himself legitimacy in the eyes of the Persians.
In an account on Alexander’s death written by Arrian, a Greek historian, it states, “This information comes from the Royal Diaries, where we also learn that the soldiers wanted to see him, some hoping to see him before he died and others because there was a rumor that he was already dead, and they guessed that his death was being kept back by his personal guard, or so I think. Many pressed into the room in their grief and longing to see Alexander. They say that he remained speechless as the army filed past him. Yet he welcomed each one of them by a nod with his head or a movement of his eyes.” This shows that Alexander’s men cared for him deeply and were distraught to learn that he was dying. This kind of emotion is not one that is just inherited through a bloodline. Alexander earned his men’s respect through his actions, not his father’s. He may have been given an opportunity, but he took advantage of it and made himself known as Alexander the Great.
When Alexander died without an apparent heir and left the reign of his empire unknown, the lack of power was apparent because of Alexander’s leadership and personality. He was so well known for his charisma and likeability that with no one to fill his role, the many different people that had been under his authority began to grow apart and soon the empire was divided among Alexander’s generals.
In North Korea, Kim Jong-un is the current Supreme Leader. However, he inherited his power from his father, Kim Jong-il. Since the beginning of his coming to power, Jong-un has increased the country’s nuclear weapons development and made North Korea a world power to be reckoned with. However, he could not have done so had his father not given him the opportunity and resources.
While it does require certain characteristics or circumstances to become a powerful leader, it demands the ability to act to establish oneself as such. Alexander the Great took action to become the most powerful person in the known world when he could have easily remained king in Macedonia and lived a stagnant life. It takes the ability to recognize opportunity and take the appropriate actions in order to claim credit for potential success.
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