1. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Alexander / Temujin / et al.

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Steerpike, Jul 9, 2010.

    This came up in a discussion I was having. Thought I would present it here because I think it's an interesting off-topic discussion :)

    The topic initially concerned Temujin (aka Genghis Khan), and focused on the destruction he caused in eastern Europe. We moved to other military conquerors, like Alexander the Great, and everyone had more of a mix of admiration and respect for Alexander, to go along with the recognition of some of the horrible things he did.

    My view is that this stems from those of us in the discussion being of Western ancestry. Alexander conquered his immediate area, then struck out east, conquering as he went. Temujin did the opposite. So from a standpoint of European history, Alexander is more revered and Temujin is hated. But in Mongolia, Temujin is revered. I don't think Alexander ever made it up there, but I suspect that in the histories of Persia and India, Alexander doesn't get favorable treatment.

    Of course, you can't separate the barbarism from either man, but both of them were also forward-thinking in ways (Temujin especially) and accomplished some really astounding things.

    What do you guys think? Does Temujin get a bad rap in the West? Or should Alexander be thought of as worse than he is generally considered? Or maybe they were both brutal killers, and that outweighs any positive accomplishments they brought to their people.

    Interesting characters for historial novels. I have the first of Conn Iggulden's books on Temujin, but I haven't read it.
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i lump them both in the same category as atilla, caesar and napoleon, tojo, benito and adolph... the key to what they were is in what they're called... conqueror; dictator; despot; et al. ... if you were one of the 'conquered' and/or a victim of such megalomania you definitely wouldn't see any of them in a positive light...
     
  3. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Very true. And you can't separate the brutal aspects of them from the rest. But I don't know if any of the others had quite the same impact on their own people, in a positive sense, a Temujin. You look at the Mongols before he came along, and it is almost incomprehensible that he did what he did. Unified the people, encouraged literacy, banned slavery, instituted religious freedom, and just made their quality of life a bit better. But he was also a ruthless conqueror, no doubt about it, but I wonder how much the fact that his enemies ended up being the one that wrote the histories in the West have to do with our current view of him.

    Seems like he's the only one who is currently still revered by his own people.
     
  4. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    Tell me about it. He's the poster-boy on people's friggin' furniture!

    But, yes, I put them in the same category, personally. Temujin was far more barbaric for far more ridiculous reasons, but it comes down to the same thing. At least he wasn't convinced that he was a god, which Alexander was. And he was generally a more talented politician. Same as Shaka Zulu, the first King of Hawaii, and Somhairle Mor MacGillebridge - every one of them a nation-founder, none of them particularly likeable.
     
  5. Fantasy of You
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    Fantasy of You Banned

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    Chaka was an extremely liked leader. Granted, those who broke the laws were likely to find themselves sitting on a spear, but some of his stories are amazing. Ever heard of Chaka's Gate?
     
  6. Shadow Dragon
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    Shadow Dragon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Alexander wasn't nearly as destructive as Ghengis Khan. And he treated the conquered people with a lot of respect. The Persians, Egyptians, Indians, etc, generally did have a positive opinion of Alexander.
     
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    To refer back to the original concept pointed out by the OP, it would seem obvious that the opinion of the people is going to be vastly affected by what side of the conquering line they happen to be on. One person’s glorious leader is going to be another’s Devil Incarnate.

    No need to even look at ancient history. Modern history plays out the same as concerns the way propaganda can paint a leader as either a demigod or the devil himself depending on which side of the propaganda machine one is on.

    And remember that history is written by the winners which has a way of skewing future POV's.
     
  8. Sabreur
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    Sabreur Contributing Member Contributor

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    Heroic people have heroic flaws, so the cliche goes. Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Brian Boru, William the Bastasrd Conqueror were all heroes to someone and demons to others. Personally, having never met any of the fellows I can't say how they were. We only have the incredibly biased, distorted and often-downright-wrong lens of history to view such warriors and leaders through.
     
  9. Nobeler Than Lettuce
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    Nobeler Than Lettuce Contributing Member

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    There was a town, and in this town was a knot, signifying it's unity. No man could untie this not. Then Alexander came, and with the stroke of his sword severed the knot.

    Read that somewhere once. Guy sounds like a clownboat. He better not come in to my town and sever our knot.

    But here again, Alexander had a professional army with an educated retinue. He wrote some good history. Khan had no such luck.
     
  10. Addison
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    Addison Member

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    Alexander is a hero to many Greeks and Macedonians, actually. Even in India, in response to your original post, he gets pretty good press. I don't know about Persia, though - I can't see them liking him much, particularly after the burning of the palace of Persepolis, but then, I didn't expect him to be as highly regarded in India either.

    The difference between Alexander and Genghis Khan is that the latter had a policy of eliminating whole populations, razing cities and carrying off artisans to Mongolia, whereas Alexander generally spared conquered populations from reprisals of any kind (he deviated from this rule, yes, but only on rare exceptions). In terms of who was responsible for more wholesale butchery and wanton destruction, Genghis Khan is certainly more culpable than Alexander by a wide margin. And therein lies the rub - Alexander is admired even by the people he conquered; Genghis Khan, while regarded as a great warrior, was pretty much universally despised by Chinese, Koreans, Persians, etc. Perhaps that's fair. They're both certainly more to be admired for their skill than their virtue.
     
  11. hoist
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    hoist Member

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    Disney told me that the Mongolians were jerks with snaggle teeth and falcons who tried to kill Ping.

    And Ping's, like, such a great guy!
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    a dear friend of mine is mongolian... she's a beautiful woman with no snaggle teeth, no falcon... and she's too gentle to kill anything...
     
  13. Fantasy of You
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    Fantasy of You Banned

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    But Disney said so?
     
    1 person likes this.
  14. Addison
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    Addison Member

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    Clearly one of you is lying.
     
  15. Fantasy of You
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    Fantasy of You Banned

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    But Disney can't lie because they made The Lion King.
     
  16. Sabreur
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    Sabreur Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ask whose nose is longest.

    Sure bet, my friend.
     

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