Wednesday, September 9, 2009

FLG Fears

...that The Maximum Leader has taken to blogging and smoking crack while drunk in the midst of an acid flashback after being hit on the head with a sledgehammer repeatedly because he's losing his senses. He writes:

1. Augustus Caesar. First emperor of the Roman Empire.
2. Qin Shihuang. First emperor of China.
3. Tokugawa Ieyasu. Shogun of Japan.
4. Peter I of Russia. Tsar of Russia.
5. Rameses II. Pharaoh of Egypt.
6. Charlemagne. Holy Roman Emperor and King of the Franks.
7. Alexander the Great. King of Macedona.
8. Kublai Khan. Emperor of China.
9. Louis XIV. King of France.
10. Heraclius. Emperor of the Byzantine Empire.

Your Maximum Leader notes that this list is unordered, except for number 1. Your Maximum Leader does believe that Augustus Ceasar would top his list in any circumstances.
FLG can countenance Augustus at number 2, but this is the correct order:
1. Alexander the Great. King of Macedonia. Son of Ammon. Conquer of the Known World. Biggest Badass In History.
2. Augustus Caesar. First emperor of the Roman Empire.

Then whomever you want.

Qin Shihuang. First emperor of China.
Tokugawa Ieyasu. Shogun of Japan.
Peter I of Russia. Tsar of Russia.
Rameses II. Pharaoh of Egypt.
Charlemagne. Holy Roman Emperor and King of the Franks.
Kublai Khan. Emperor of China.
Louis XIV. King of France.
Heraclius. Emperor of the Byzantine Empire.

FLG might add Osman I somewhere, but he's not sure who he'd replace.

Anyway, that's not particularly important. What is important is that Alexander of Macedon, aka Alexander the Great, aka Alexander Son of Zeus, was the greatest ruler ever. Perhaps, in some distant part of his mind, FLG might entertain the argument that Octavian was a more skilled political strategist and manager of an empire, but not for long.

Alexander didn't worry about things like management. Taxation? Roads? Where he was going he didn't need roads.* He had a world to conquer. He built a mole to capture Tyre. He conquered Egypt. He cut the Gordian Knot. He defeated the Persian Empire. He invaded India. Ptolemaic Egypt and the Seleucid Empire were mere scraps of Alexander's conquest, but they still resonate through the ages. Augustus himself even traveled to Alexandria to pay homage.

* Except maybe the Royal Road.


The Ancient said...

It's easy to make an argument for Alexander as the greatest conqueror in history (unless you want to go with Tamerlane), but a ruler? Where did he stand still long enough to rule? Where did he leave behind a well-functioning state?

Augustus, on the other hand, put paid to 100 years of civil war, reformed Rome's political system from top-to-bottom, and established a functional model of the state that lasted (through good times and bad) for another 450 years.

Alexander left behind nothing but the legend of Alexander.

P.S. Alfred the Great and Henry II should be on the list.

FLG said...

The Ancient:

I thought I'd lost you. Haven't heard from you in a while.

Alexander ruled through sheer force of will, not through institutions. So, when he died his rule died. The Diadochi, particularly Ptolemy who ran straight to Egypt which is particularly defensible, realized this right away and began to grab the pieces that they could reasonably hold onto.

So, yes. If you're talking about state building, then perhaps Alexander only left us with the legend. But what a legend it is. On the other hand, the argument in favor of Augustus is basically that he was an accomplished bureaucrat. FLG'd rather be Son of Zeus.

Also, I agree with Henry II, but must admit to not knowing much about Alfred the Great.

arethusa said...

Alpheus and I were just discussing this, and we both feel that someone who should be on any such list is...Philip II of Macedonia. Yes, Alexander's drunken, lecherous father. In fact, I'd (dunno about Alpheus) put him on any such list in place of Alexander. Philip made the Macedonian monarchy strong, reformed their army, conquered Macedonia and Greece to serve as an effective base, valued Greek culture as much as AG did, used many of the strategies of conquest AG did, and started that whole idea of conquering Asia. So most of Alexander's achievements were prepared for him by his father, and the whole idea of Alexander - conquering the world - was hardly original (it wasn't original to Philip either). For my money, Philip's No. 1 or 2. Alexander may be the biggest badass, but he's also the biggest hype machine. Like the Obama of his time.

(You did want an intellectual food fight...)

arethusa said...

Oh, and I'd also stick in Suleiman the Magnificent somewhere, but that may just be because I like saying Suleiman the Magnificent.

FLG said...

Your points about Phillip are well-taken, but...Alexander being the Obama of his time is not intellectual food fighting. It's fucking heresy!

Suleiman the Magnificent is fun to say.

The Maximum Leader said...

There is another Ottoman ruler who's name is even more fun to say: Abdul the Damned.

That is cool... Unless you are Abdul himself. In which case you probably went around with a complex.

The Ancient said...

FLG'd rather be Son of Zeus.

Well, isn't the difference here that Alexander made the rather bold claim that his father had been cuckolded (which would seem to make him an illegitimate heir to the throne), while Augustus could, thanks to his great-uncle and adoptive father, trace his own lineage back, one generation at a time, to Venus, who was, as best I can recall, the result of a bad bit of seafood eaten by Zeus ...

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