Why did Alexander the Great Weep?
In my research this morning… I’ve been thinking about the standard answer to why he wept… because “There were no more worlds to conquer.” I’ve called this “Alexander the Great Syndrome.”
Its the idea of the sorrow an over achiever feels when they believe they’re at the very pinnacle of their career and begin to lose a driving purpose in life.
Upon further study, I think the real reason he wept was exactly the opposite.
Alexander knew there were domains that he had not moved against. He and Phillip had fought Germanic tribes to the NW along the Danube River and that most of Europe was unconquered. He knew that the African continent existed by his time in Egypt. He knew there were whole worlds to the north of the Black, Caspian and Arial Seas. He knew of China and the Pacific Ocean, (it was called the Great Eastern Sea.)
The goal of his father Phillip II and of the army was to take revenge on the Persian Empire for invading them 150 years previously (remember the “300?”) And Alexander captured Persia relatively quickly considering the immense size of Persia and her armies against the small size of the Macedonians. But Alexander wanted more conquests and because few armies in history ever loved their commander more, his men said yes. They went into what is today Afghanistan, which became by far their toughest fight, and then down into India where again, they were victorious. By then Alexander and his men had been marching and fighting continuously for 13 years and they were exhausted. Alexander learned the lesson that even if they love you, you can only go as far as your soldiers will.
Alexander died within the year from sickness or poison.
I believe why Alexander wept was “There were too many lands to conquer and not enough time.” Not because he had a limited scope on the size or number of worlds within it.
So, how does this affect what I’ve called “Alexander the Great Syndrome”? It doesn’t… except by name perhaps. The syndrome of the super successful losing perspective and drive for a real calling and mission in life is still very real. But it does add depth to the real story behind it. And, it gives me even more insight into my own battles with creation and time.
In his book “Way of the Superior Man”, David Deida illustrates the idea that the “Superior Man” continues to build (aka conquer) his kingdom(s) even though death will come. Even though time is limited and ever so precious. The key point is having a mission. One so important that it transcends your very own ambition. One so sacred that we will continue to pursue it even though we will die and leave it all behind.
Ahhh yes… thank you Hunter S. Thompson for your insights… “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
– The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967.
Yep… well… thank you for allowing me to share my Friday thoughts. – Keith Waggoner