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Difference Between Julius Caesar and Alexander the Great

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Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar are two very important and influential men in the history of the world. Alexander was a Greek king and a military commander of one of the most successful armies in the world during the ancient times. Likewise, Julius Caesar was a military leader and at the helm in the founding of the Roman Empire. These two great men sought to rule and conquer the world, and they almost did, though using different tactics. Their leadership styles were different.

An analysis of Alexander achievements and deeds indicates that he espoused democracy and admonished to the totalitarianism. Early philosophers who revered Alexander write about his greatness and how the states that he conquered felt, as Nicholas Martis notes; “states which never got to know Alexander were as though they had never seen the light of the sun” (http://www.helleniclemserve.com)

Although both are deified, it is Alexander’s deeds that are considered to be the foundation of western civilization while Caesar is noted for his despotic and autocratic tendencies. Julius Caesar conquered and spread the influence of the Roman Empire as well as its civilization deep into Europe to a point that almost all the future leaders were to be named after him. Caesar was born into a traditional influential and respected family. It is this influence that he used to mount his way to the top of the Roman leadership. His exploits in warfare and military conquests are legendary although he had at first concentrated in pursuing political endeavors (Thomas, Carol G, 17).

He won the first elections in his political career at the early forties. He was elected into the consul, an influential post at the time. He possessed both charisma and leadership tactics that would see him enjoy a fanatical following. His first deed upon the entry into the counsel was to initiate efforts to curtail the influence and the powers of the democratic government and the senate. His election into the consul was however not without controversy. There were allegations of bribing and collusion between the parties involved to see Caesar being elected into the senior most magistry post in Rome.

Julius was so cunning and after the amassment of power and wealth. In pursuit of that he joined forces with other two wealthy and very influential individuals in the empire to form what came to be known as the First Triumvirate. This is further seen in his personal choices of the family he married into or to those he gave his hand to. He married off his daughter to Pompey, a member of the First Triumvirate, thus sealing the informal association. The members of the first triumvirate had taken control of the various portions of the state. He was rather forceful in his pronouncements and legislations in his bid to distribute the vast tracts of land to the needy, he went further as to intimidate the opponents through the use of military if need arose.

His dictatorial traits are further seen in the way that he extended his territory and consequently extending his term in office as a consul, contrary to the legislations. Although Caesar enjoyed a fanatical following, Alexander was more deified and revered more for his good deeds than for his immense weaknesses.

This was to a point that he was considered to be almost equal to a god especially to the Romans who bequeathed him the title “Great”. He was a great orator and his speeches were driven by the hope for good governance and the spread of western civilization. In his greatest speech ever as addressed to both the Greeks and the Asians, he meant to pave way for a new dawn, after a period of war. It was the basis of international organization and attack on the belief that some people could be more preferred than others.

This great speech emphasized on equality especially between the Greek and other races. This was in his bid to quell the fears that the Greek would dominate the huge territories that he had conquered. Like his counterpart in history, Julius Caesar, possessing unmatched military prowess, had acquired vast territories spreading his influence even further into Asia.

Just like Caesar after him, Alexander the great was also born into an influential family. His father family was a Greek leader who had made huge contributions in uniting the Greek cities and regions into a nation. He is said to have had great influence into moulding Alexander who himself was a military leader at the age of eighteen years.

Alexander’s deeds are a clear demonstration of the sort of philosophy espoused by Aristotle who was his mentor, he had written about benevolent leadership and the role of a philosopher king. Alexander fought many wars, most of which he won big states and kings and leadership were slayed by his army but he did not wish to conquer them by force. As some historians and philosophers say, he was focusing on winning their hearts rather than to over power them, and winning them he did. Rather than setting up dictatorial and autocratic regimes on those that the defeated, he sought to incorporate and integrate them into his rule. For example, he conquered Persia and urged his soldiers to intermarry with the locals to integrate both communities into one. To him power and influence were not important, unity was (Fildes, Alan, 13).

He urged for unity and brotherhood driven by the pursuit of the same culture without necessarily lording it over the people he conquered. This is a major difference between him and Julius Caesar who would be seen to extend his influence and power to his subjects using all manner of machinizations (Woolf Greg, 19).

There is more than unanimity among scholars that Alexander in all his ambitions was more concerned with civilizing the world more than with conquering it. This explains why he was always at a good rapport with those that he defeated. He believed in the unity of the people and legitimacy of a leadership or king as emanating from a good relationship one holds with the subjects. He would punish those that mistreated his subjects but reward accordingly; those that he thought were fairly mistreating the people. He would also punish those that plundered public funds (Lonsdale, David J, 19).

He strived for excellence. This is seen in the way that he demolished leaderships that were centered around oligarchs and in their place replacing them with the ones that were to rule with the consent of the ruled. Where as the leaders would enslave the territories they conquered, Alexander was installing democracy seeking first and foremost to legitimize his rule. This is unlike Julius Caesar whose intent and purpose was to amass power and control Rome. He was paying every price to do so even if it meant destroying his allies. He conquered the territory held by Pompey and indication that he was vengeful. His dictatorial tendencies are however captured by his efforts to usurp and reduce the powers of the senate.

The senate under the Roman law was supposed to be a legislative body and hence one of the most important constitutions of governance, having a final say on important issues. His first mission was to crush it, this he did by forming an alliance with the most influential personalities in the land. He sought to control the government without any effort to reconcile with the subjects. He was furthering the influence of the Roman Empire but made no effort to unite the acquired territories. He was misusing his powers in eliminating his enemies. People would become fearful of his immense powers and this would lead to great animosity within his own rank and file and finally to his assassination (Goldsworthy, Adrian, 36).

A look at both Julius and Alexander the Great reveals great differences between the two. Although both would extend the influence of their empires and were astute soldiers, the major differences exist in their motive for executing such influence and the way they did. This is why their qualities come into a sharp contrast. Julius emerges as a despotic and power hungry leader. He exerted his influence over others and over the system of governance no matter the cost. He did not seek for legitimacy but rather lorded his powers over his subjects. This is in a sharp contrast to Alexander the great who was more of a philanthropist wishing to spread civilization far across the land with no intention to lord his influence over the subject.

His major concerns were the subjects themselves and he would be seen to eliminate despotic leaders or those who plundered public treasury. He was furthering unity and integration for all the races and his intermarriage and his efforts to have his soldiers intermarry with the Persians in order to seek legitimacy are indicators that he was hoping to represent his subject’s welfare rather than pursue his own interests. He also would maintain the leaders who he thought were popular amongst their subjects in the territories that he conquered.

Work cited
Nicholas Martis, Alexander the great. Hellenic communication service, L.L.C. Retrieved on 10/12/2007 from http://www.hellniccomserve.com/alexander.html

Thomas, Carol G. “What You Seek Is Here”: Alexander the Great. Oxford: The Journal of Historical Society. 2007; 27

Fildes, Alan. Alexander the Great: Son of the Gods. J. Paul Getty Museum: Getty Trust Publications. 2004; 13

Lonsdale, David J. Alexander the Great, Killer of Men. New York: Carroll and Graf. 2004; 9

Goldsworthy, Adrian. Caesar: Life of a Colossus. United States: Yale University Press. 2006; 36

Osgood, Josiah Caesar’s Legacy: Civil War and the Emergence of the Roman Empire. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2006; 46
Robin Lane Alexander the Great. Fox, 1994; 15
Woolf Greg, Et Tu Brute? – The Murder of Caesar and Political Assassination, 1999; 19

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