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EXPERT AVAILABLE: Expert on Alexander the Great Suggests Current Global Policymakers, Strategists Could Learn from Ancient Conqueror

March 21st, 2016

Story Contact: Jeff Sossamon, 573-882-3346, sossamonj@missouri.edu

The views and opinions expressed in this “for expert comment” release are based on research and/or opinions of the researcher(s) and/or faculty member(s) and do not reflect the University’s official stance.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – For history buffs, Alexander the Great is arguably one of the more exciting figures from the ancient past. An accomplished warrior, Alexander is known as one of the greatest military strategists of all time. Ian Worthington, Curators Professor of History and adjunct professor of classical studies at the University of Missouri, suggests that contemporary political strategists dealing with an ever-changing climate in the Middle East and Afghanistan could learn from the problems Alexander faced as he waged battle almost 2,300 years ago.

“In his conquests, Alexander faced diverse populations and cultures so the strategies he used are what might now be called nation building and are very relevant today,” Worthington said. “Currently, political and military strategists are dealing with a similar diverse multi-cultural and religious people that Alexander dealt with so long ago. Additionally, they had the same resistance to western involvement as they do today, so those proposing policies in these regions of the world could benefit by reading ancient history and understanding how Alexander dealt with similar complications and disputes.”

Alexander the Great was born in 356 B.C. to an ancient Greek royal house. He was tutored by the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, until he was 16 years old and succeeded his father, Philip II, to the throne at 20. As a military leader he conquered a great expanse, from Greece in the west to as Far East to what is now known as Pakistan and Kashmir all in a relatively short time; Alexander was not quite 33 when he died.

“Alexander is still important today because you have a youth who, in a decade, conquered and created an empire that stretched from Greece to India and all points south,” Worthington said. “He was a genius at military strategy; at the end of his campaign, he promoted Western culture from Greece to the Far East. His conquests did more to open trade, travel and cultural literacy in the East than any other leader before him.”

Although many other kings and generals forged empires, Alexander produced one that was without parallel, even if it was short-lived. In his book, “By the Spear: Philip II, Alexander the Great, and the Rise and Fall of the Macedonian Empire,” Worthington explores Alexander’s military narrative and compares it to today’s global political climate.

Worthington will present his views in an invited public lecture by the Hellenic American Leadership Council as part of the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago’s major exhibit, “The Greeks: From Agamemnon to Alexander,” on March 26. In addition, that afternoon he will discuss his book and moderate a question- and-answer session at the home of the Greek Consul General in Chicago. Ian Worthington holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Hull and a master’s degree from the University of Durham both in the U.K. He received his doctoral degree from Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. He has published seven sole-authored books, nine edited books, two volumes of translations in the University of Texas Oratory of Classical Greece series, and more than 100 peer-reviewed articles.

 Editor’s Note: For more on the story, please see: “History Professor’s Lecture to Accompany Major Exhibit at the Field Museum.”

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