Two Things That Struck Me About Alexander The Great

When you flip through the pages of history, the things you read will either make you proud or humble.

I was inbued with a sense of humility as I read the biography of Alexander The Great. His life on earth was not long but he achieved international fame.

You don’t have to be a good student of history to have heard anything about King Alexander. Though he lived several centuries ago, people in our days have not ceased making reference to him in their speeches and strategy meetings.

What made Alexander great
Alexander the Great, source: Wikipedia

As I studied about him, I began to better appreciate some of the things that made Alexander truly great, namely his many military and political conquests.

Of course there are other things about him that history did not forget to record. According to biography.com:

  • Alexander the Great was born in the Pella region of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia on July 20, 356 B.C., to parents King Philip II of Macedonia and Queen Olympia;
  • His mum, Queen Olympia became his role model because his dad, the King, was always absent from home – due to extended military campaigns.
  • Alexander was a student of the notable philosopher, Aristotle, studying “philosophy, poetry, drama, science and politics.”
  • Alexander was a teenager when he became a soldier and embarked on his first military expedition;
  • Two years after joining the army, he “took charge of the Companion Cavalry and aided his father in defeating the Athenian and Theban armies at Chaeronea.”
  • With the support of the army and his mum, Alexander claimed the throne at the of 20 years following the murder of his father, the king.
  • As king, Alexander went on to conquer several empires and territories including Egypt, where he founded the City, Alexandria, “designed as a hub for Greek culture and commerce.”
Who founded Alexandria city in Egypt

As you can see, Alexander the Great achieved so much in his short lifetime, but there are two things that struck me most about him:

  • How he died, and
  • The age he died.

1. How Alexander the Great died

“Some historians say Alexander died of malaria or other natural causes; others believe he was poisoned…”.(history.com)

However, one source, is categoric about what killed King Alexander:

“Conqueror and king of Macedonia, Alexander the Great… During his leadership, from 336 to 323 B.C., he united the Greek city-states and led the Corinthian League. He also became the king of Persia, Babylon and Asia, and created Macedonian colonies in the region. While considering the conquests of Carthage and Rome, Alexander died of malaria in Babylon (now Iraq), on June 13, 323 B.C” (emphasis added).

Alexander the Great died of malaria! For a man who conquered numerous nations and territories to have been felled by ‘common’  malaria was quite surprising.

What killed Alexander the Great

For the records, malaria is “A disease caused by a plasmodium parasite, transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes.”

So you can say that all it took to kill a man as a great as King Alexander was a bite of infested mosquito.

Unfortunately, several centuries after such a great leader was felled, malaria has continued to be a killer disease in endemic countries.

One report by the World Health Organisation, WHO, has it that, “In 2017, there were an estimated 435 000 deaths from malaria globally, compared with 451 000 estimated deaths in 2016, and 607 000 in 2010.

“Children aged under 5 years are the most vulnerable group affected by malaria. In 2017, they accounted for 61% (266 000) of all malaria deaths worldwide.”

In Alexander the Great, malaria killed a historically great world leader. In over 61% of the under fives victims of the disease today, malaria continues to kill children who might have become great leaders of the world.

2. The age at which Alexander died

Available records show that king Alexander was born on July 20, 356 B.C., and died on June 13, 323 B.C. That means he died at the age of 32 years old (shortly before his 33rd birthday).

Considering the fact that he became king at the age of 20 years old, it means he had less than 13 years to achieve all the military and political victories that are attributed to him today. Yet, it would seem that he had more than a lifetime of a few decades to rise to the top of global political fame.

One thing is clear from this, Alexander’s life is a testament to the saying that “It is not how long but how well you live” that matters.

It reminds me of our Lord Jesus Christ. He lived for only 33 and 1/2 years, yet His impact remains eternal.

Irrespective of how long or short we live on earth, we should make an impact.


What do you say?