To what extent does Alexanders' leadership of his men deserve the praise Arrian gives?
Alexander of Macedon is widely hailed as being one of the most successful and prolific military leaders of all time, earning himself the name Alexander the Great. One of the classical writers that recorded his life was Lucius Flavius Arrianus, who heaps a great amount of praise on the young leader, including all aspects of his leadership. It has been argued though that Alexander as a leader is reckless, incredibly lucky and even childish at times, and is undeserving of the praise given to him by Arrian. However I believe that this praise is to a degree wholly deserved and that it is one of the reasons his story still resonates so strongly 2000 years later.
As a military leader Alexander surely has to be regarded as one of the greatest in all of history. At the Battle of Gaugamela Alexander was faced by a huge Persian army, while Arrian cannot be entirely trusted on these figures, he estimates that there are 1,040,215 Persians in total men in total compared to Alexanders 47,000. Included in the Persian army are the feared war elephants and the famous Persian scythe chariots, yet still somehow Alexander manages to emerge victorious, even causing the Persian king Darius to rout. Guagamela also shows the immense difference in character between Darius and Alexander. While Alexander is willing to take on the entire Persian army with a significantly smaller force Darius flees from an army a fraction of the size. Alexanders bravery in the face of such a massive army and the cowardice of his opponent, must have inspired so much confidence in their leader that any of his more reckless or self-indulgent activities would pale in comparison to his greatness.
Upon arriving in Asia the first battle that Alexander fights is the Battle of Granicus. Here he ably defeats the Persian resistance and starts to show the leadership as well as the military prowess that he becomes so praised...