Whatever one makes of Alexander the Great today – blood-soaked mass-murderer or enlightened advocate of the fellowship of nations – his achievements instantly captured the imagination of peoples from Ireland to Afghanistan, from Iceland to India. Part of the reason is that the ancient world understood military force and thoroughly approved. O, to be as powerful and ruthless as the Romans, as charismatic and all-conquering as Alexander! By contrast, the modern world’s greatest living hero, Nelson Mandela, would, I suspect, have been seen as rather a drip: largely useless as a terrorist, he was then locked up for twenty-seven years.
But nothing can be created out of nothing, and Alexander is no exception. Ian Worthington’s purpose is to give Philip II of Macedon, his father, the due he deserves, and he does a splendid job in a clear, detailed and balanced account that judiciously