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Macedonian Lessons

Throughout the time in this class, numerous civilizations have been studied and explored in depth. Nearly all of these have some usefulness in the real world of the Navy, and nearly all of them can be applied in different ways to our own personal lives. One of the most feared and respected leaders that we studied was Alexander the Great, and his large army of Macedonians who conquered most of the surrounding countries in Greece and the Middle East. Both the Macedonian’s themselves and Alexander and his leadership are great examples of different traits and characteristics to bring into the fleet. 

To begin, Alexander was a fierce, but smart leader. He commanded his men with adeptness, ferocity, strategy, and good judgement overall. He took what was already a very polished machine and added his own leadership characteristics of boldness and courage. He is quoted at one point saying that he would not attack Darius at night because “he refused to steal a victory” ( This is very useful as an officer in the fleet because we are going into a Navy which has spent hundreds of years working to perfect its efficiency and effectiveness. As Naval Officers joining the Navy, we are simply joining an already effective military force. Similarly to Alexander we must bring our own leadership styles and characteristics to the table to increase the effectiveness of our Sailors or Marines. We must take our personal leadership qualities that we value, and instill them into the people that we lead. Alexander’s men respected and looked up to him as a leader and this enhanced their effectiveness to an extent that we could only hope to emulate.

In addition, Alexander’s army fought as a unified and cohesive unit. They utilized the Macedonian Phalanx with longer spears and lighter armor to gain an advantage over the enemy. They worked smarter in defeating their enemies, not harder as the Spartans at the time liked to do. They also fought cohesively. In the Anabasis of Alexander by Arrian he describes their battle formation, “his army arranged for battle, having drawn up his heavy-armed troops in a double phalanx, leading the cavalry on the wings, and having ordered that the baggage should follow in the rear.” (Anabasis). This shows two things that can be brought as an officer into the fleet, leading from the front and unit cohesion. Alexander leads his troops from the front, and leads them as a unit. This is something that can absolutely be taken to the fleet, as one should always lead their sailors or marines through example and from the front. Another thing is to lead your unit as a group, and go through everything with each other. This promotes unit cohesion and makes you and the people that you lead stronger. 

Lastly, in the case of the Macedonian empire as a whole, the main problem that ended their rule over such vast amounts of land, was spreading themselves too thin and over too much area. They overextended themselves and this ultimately led to their downfall. This can be applied to being an officer, in that you have to delegate some responsibilities so you don’t overextend and lose control of your people. 

In general, the Macedonians were a people we can learn a lot from. Both in their leaders, their civilization, and their warriors, they embody lessons that we can take and use in the real world.

Chris Gregoire

Word Count – 572

Anabasis of Alexander

One thought on “Macedonian Lessons

  1. Chris makes many great points in this paper. It is clearly a very well thought out piece of work, and I could not agree more with all of his points. I thought that some of Chris’s best points are when he highlights strategic characteristics of Alexander the Great’s that we need to try to replicate as future officers. The instance where Alexander the Great refuses to attack at night was especially interesting, and I would like to analyze it further. This decision went against a surprise attack, which would have been much surer victory and would have probably meant less casualties of his own men. However, it would have violated Alexander’s ideals and would have taken away from the reputation that he was building for his army, which then might have led to future armies having more courage to face him in battle.


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