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“When you look at the imagination that was necessary to be Alexander, the effect he had on other people’s imaginations — he was head and shoulders above them,” said Thomas R. Martin, author of “Ancient Greece.”
“Alexander is a legend, but he’s not a myth. He’s real. What he did — for better or worse — shows in the starkest and most exciting terms the lack of limits of human possibility.”
One of the most successful (and some would say the most successful) military commanders of all time, Alexander has been inspiring would-be conquerors for centuries. He’s been immortalized in story and song. The latest movie version of his life, Oliver Stone’s epic “Alexander,” opens today with Irish bad boy Colin Farrell (sporting a bad blond dye job) as the Greek hero who never lost a battle.
“He has no failures,” said Elizabeth Carney, a history professor at Clemson University in South Carolina. “That’s the glamour — he’s the invincible, the unconquered one.”
Alexander is a pretty hot property these days. When Stone got the green light for his film, Baz Luhrmann (“Moulin Rouge”) was planning his own Alexander picture, with Leonardo DiCaprio tapped to play the conqueror. (That project has now been pushed back.)
The accomplishments of Alexander still sound pretty impressive today: Born in 356 B.C., he became king of Macedonia when he was 20 years old, on the assassination of his father, Philip II. Not long after, he set out in search of glory and had conquered most of the known world by the time of his death in 323 B.C., just before his 33rd birthday.
“He starts in Greece, crosses over what is today Turkey, gets down into today’s Syria, Lebanon and Egypt. Then he heads off into Iraq, which was just as dangerous then as it is today,” said Martin, the Jeremiah O’Connor Professor in Classics at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass. “Not only did he get past Iraq, he got into Iran, and he kept going.”
He made it as far as the Indus River, in what is now Pakistan, before his troops demanded they turn back. This is especially impressive, says Martin, because he was taking a leap of faith into the virtually unknown.
“In Alexander’s day, people lived in a world that was conceptually different from ours in the 21st century,” he said. “We know the world is a globe, we’ve seen maps, we have a geographic picture. They didn’t.”
Some latter-day Alexander admirers have posited that the Macedonian set out to bring Hellenistic culture to the rest of world, or to spread Greek ideals of democracy.
Not a chance, says Carney, author of “Women and Monarchy in Ancient Macedonia.”
“He was an absolute monarch,” she said. “He’s conquering to conquer, which is pretty much what conquerors do.”
In fact, some modern scholars consider Alexander an imperialist who committed atrocities as he battled his way east. Others contend he was comparatively humane for a warrior of his time.
Carney sees Alexander as “scary.”
“I’m not sure that he was unusually bad. I’m not saying he was an evil person. I’m saying he was a scarier person than his father,” she said.
Philip (played by Val Kilmer in the movie) was an extremely successful general, and his victories in Macedonia and Greece created a solid foundation for what would become Alexander’s empire. But Philip was easier to get along with.
“Philip is a sort of Lyndon Johnson-y type or Clinton-y type; he’s a glad-hander,” said Carney. “The kid is stiffer, not so much one of the boys, more humorless.”
Alexander was very much a product of the Homeric world of “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey.” “He is very much compelled by the desire to be a hero in the way that heroes were in Homer,” she said.
Alexander’s own personal hero was Achilles, the Greek warrior who is invincible until one lucky Trojan finds the weak spot on his heel. Alexander claimed descent from both Achilles and Herakles (known as Hercules to the Romans).
“He emulates both heroes, and he takes this heroic emulation much further than anyone else had,” Carney said.
Alexander experienced some kind of epiphany during a visit to the shrine of the god Zeus-Amon in the Egyptian desert. “I think he really did believe he could become a god by the remarkableness of his accomplishments,” Carney said. “I think it’s possible that he believed himself to be the son of Zeus-Amon.”
Whether or not he believed he had a divine dad, Alexander was certainly influenced by the strength of his mortal mother, Olympias.
“She was one tough cookie,” said Carney, who is working on a book about her. “She certainly kills a few people.”
After Philip’s death, someone disposed of his baby daughter and the child’s mother. That someone was probably Olympias, who would have wanted to rid her son of some potential rivals. “Lots of people think killing the baby is mean and nasty, but it’s clearing off the dynastic ranks,” said Carney. “All the deaths we know her to be responsible for are for political reasons.”
In the new movie, Angelina Jolie plays Olympias as a power-hungry woman who will stop at nothing to turn her son against his father. At 29, the actress is all of a year older than her on-screen son. Since snakes were prominent in the religious rituals the queen practiced, Jolie had to film scenes with serpents writhing at her feet or winding around her neck.
There’s been some controversy over the movie’s treatment of Alexander’s relationship with best friend Hephaestion (played by Jared Leto, wearing gobs of eyeliner). Some have been angered by the film’s suggestions of a sexual relationship between the two men — which almost certainly existed. Others think it should have been more explicit: While there’s plenty of innuendo about Alexander’s interest in men, his only sex scene is with a woman.
Whether Alexander was gay, straight or bisexual shouldn’t be an issue, scholars say, because the ancient Greeks just didn’t think that way.
“You have to remember that ancient conceptions of sexuality don’t map exactly onto ours, and you could have loving, even sexual, relationships with persons of the opposite sex and persons of the same sex,” said Martin.
Scholars think Alexander was probably married three times, mostly for political reasons. He also had a longtime mistress named Barsine (who isn’t in the movie). He had two young sons, neither of whom survived him very long. But Carney thinks Alexander was always more interested in military conquest than in sex of any sort.
Nevertheless, when Hephaestion died, Alexander was consumed by grief. He was already on edge because his army, exhausted after more than a decade of fighting, had flatly refused to push on into India.
“The traditional interpretation is that he worsens in character in the later stages of life,” said Carney. “Most people who want to modernize it go with clinical depression.”
Alexander also — like many of his time — was a heavy drinker. When he fell ill in Babylon, he knocked back a lot of wine, which undoubtedly made things worse. He died in Babylon on June 10, 323 B.C.
No one knows for sure what caused his high fever. At the time, poison was widely suspected. But in an age when there were no antibiotics, any minor illness could prove fatal. The general consensus is that he died of natural causes.
It’s tempting to imagine what else Alexander might have conquered if he had lived longer. One thing is sure, said Martin: “Alexander was never going to stop.”
Throughout our history, amazing people have lived and died. So many important people inspired people along the way through the life’s journey.Without them, certain things we know today may have not existed. From war, to music, inspiration comes from all walks of life and it is amazing to explore it! Here is a list of some significant inspirational people from different categories who shaped our world:
– Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was born Feb 12, 1809, in Hardin Country, Kentucky. His family upbringing was modest; his parents from Virginia were neither wealthy or well known. At an early age, the young Abraham lost his mother and his father moved away to Indiana. Abraham had to work hard splitting logs and other manual labour. But, he also had a thirst for knowledge and worked very hard to excel in his studies. This led him to become trained as a lawyer. He spent eight years working on the Illinois court circuit; his ambition, drive and capacity for hard work were evident to all around him. He also had a good sense of humour and was depreciating about his looks.
“If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”
He married Mary Todd and had four children, although three died before reaching maturity.
As a lawyer, Abraham developed a great capacity for quick thinking and oratory. His interest in public issues encouraged him to stand for public office. In 1854 he was elected to the House of Representatives and he tried to gain nomination for the Senate in 1858. Although he lost this election, his debating skills caused him to become well known within the Republican party. In particular, during this campaign he gave one of his best remembered speeches.
Caesar was a politician and general of the late Roman republic, who greatly extended the Roman empire before seizing power and making himself dictator of Rome, paving the way for the imperial system.
Julius Caesar was born in Rome on 12 or 13 July 100 BC into the prestigious Julian clan. His family were closely connected with the
Marian faction in Roman politics. Caesar himself progressed within the Roman political system, becoming in succession quaestor (69), aedile (65) and praetor (62). In 61-60 BC he served as governor of the Roman province of Spain. Back in Rome in 60, Caesar made a pact with Pompey and Crassus, who helped him to get elected as consul for 59 BC. The following year he was appointed governor of Roman Gaul where he stayed for eight years, adding the whole of modern France and Belgium to the Roman empire, and making Rome safe from the possibility of Gallic invasions. He made two expeditions to Britain, in 55 BC and 54 BC.
Caesar then returned to Italy, disregarding the authority of the senate and famously crossing the Rubicon river without disbanding his army. In the ensuing civil war Caesar defeated the republican forces. Pompey, their leader, fled to Egypt where he was assassinated. Caesar followed him and became romantically involved with the Egyptian queen, Cleopatra.
Caesar was now master of Rome and made himself consul and dictator. He used his power to carry out much-needed reform, relieving debt, enlarging the senate, building the Forum Iulium and revising the calendar. Dictatorship was always regarded a temporary position but in 44 BC, Caesar took it for life. His success and ambition alienated strongly republican senators. A group of these, led by Cassius and Brutus, assassinated Caesar on the Ides (15) of March 44 BC. This sparked the final round of civil wars that ended the Republic and brought about the elevation of Caesar’s great nephew and designated heir, Octavian, as Augustus, the first emperor.
Vince Lombardi was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1913. As head coach and general manager of the Green Bay Packers, Lombardi led the team to three NFL championships and to victories in Super Bowls I and II (1967 and 1968). Because of his success, he became a national symbol of single-minded determination to win. As coach, general manager and part owner of the Washington Redskins, Lombardi led that team to its first winning season in 14 years in 1969. He died from colon cancer in 1970.
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”
Famed football coach Vincent Thomas Lombardi was born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 11, 1913. The oldest of five children and the son of an Italian immigrant, Vince Lombardi was steeped in a life dominated by the Catholic Church. At the age of 15, Lombardi enrolled at the Cathedral College of Immaculate Conception, where he intended to study to become a priest.
Two years later, however, Lombardi changed his mind and bolted for the St. Francis Preparatory School. There, he starred as the football’s fullback, paving the way for a football career at Fordham University. At Fordham, Lombardi was one of the football team’s “Seven Blocks of Granite,” a nickname for the team’s sturdy offensive line.
Following a short stint as a pro football player, Lombardi started studying law, before getting swayed back to the field as a coach at St. Cecilia High School in Englewood, New Jersey. He stayed there for eight seasons, and then left for a new coaching position at Fordham.
Lombardi’s coaching career at his old university was brief, lasting just a few seasons. In 1949, he left for West Point, whose iconic coach, Red Blaik, hired Lombardi as his offensive line coach. Lombardi stayed at West Point for five seasons before packing his bags again, this time for the NFL, as head coach of the New York Giants.
Lombardi’s five seasons in New York, which saw him lead the franchise to the 1956 league title, only elevated his status and his value to NFL owners. In 1959, Lombardi changed employers again, when he signed a five-year deal to head up the Green Bay Packers.
Under Lombardi’s tight-fisted leadership, the struggling Packers were transformed into hard-nosed winners: Over the course of his career with the team, he led the club to a 105-35-6 record and five championships, including three straight titles, from 1965 to 1967. The team never suffered a losing season under the Hall of Fame coach.
After retiring from coaching following the 1967 season and working strictly as the Packers’ general manager, Lombardi left Green Bay in 1969 to return to the field as the head coach of the Washington Redskins. With his new franchise, Lombardi proved to have his old touch, leading the club to its first winning record in 14 years.
A second year with the Redskins, though, never materialized for Lombardi. In the summer of 1970, he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of colon cancer. He died nearly two months later, on September 3, 1970.
As a tribute, the NFL’s Super Bowl trophy was named in his honor shortly after his passing. In 1971 the late coach was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In 480 B.C., the Persians arrayed one of the largest forces the ancient world had ever seen — 120,000 soldiers by conservative modern estimates, and over 1 million according to the ancient chronicler Herodotus — to invade and enslave Greece. Dispatched in a desperate attempt to stop them were less than 7,000 Greeks, led by 300 elite Spartan warriors.
Even the Greeks knew it was probably a suicide mission, yet the volunteers from Sparta and Athens faced thousands of Persian conscripts at a narrow coastal mountain pass called Thermopylae or “Hot Gates” after a volcanic spring nearby. Xerxes, the Persian king, sent emissaries to negotiate with the vastly outnumbered Greeks. When Xerxes asked for their weapons and surrender, Spartan King Leonidas told him, “Come and take them.”
There used to be a time where philosophy and inspiration were at the forefront of society. The Ancient Greek Society is one of these civilizations who thought of “thinking” of more than just thinking. Aristotle, Socrates, and many more philosophers set out to inspire and captivate people for generations to come.
Wisdom begins in wonder. – Socrates
We live in a time period now where this love, curiosity, and desire for inspiration has taken a backseat in the lives of many Americans. The stories of corrupt politicians or the spiraling downfall of Amanda Beynes are in the drivers seat. After reading the prior sentence, I’m sure 95% of you are thinking the same thing: why? (unless you’re a corrupt politician or Amanda Beynes!). And that is a good question: why and how has our society dropped so low, that we as a human race are regressing intellectually?
This is the premise of this blog and the Inspire One. brand. Inspiration captivated explorers from all around the globe to search for the New World. Inspiration captivated Americans to grab their musket and prepare for war to protect their dreams and family for a better life. Inspiration made it possible for a man to devote his life to a company that is today the most lucrative business ever created. Lastly, inspiration caused me to create this blog, so I cannot only reinvent, but to revitalize “inspiration”; for me, for you, and for everyone. Enjoy.
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