THE ART OF LIVING WELL

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Ariel Fana’afi Ioane

William Shakespeare once wrote, “Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” One man who fit into all three categories with ease was Alexander the Great. Born in 356 B.C., estimated around July the 20th, Alexander III was prophesied to have been a gift from the gods in human form. He was the son of Phillip II, king of Macedonia, and Olympias, his fourth wife. 

From a young age he practiced valuable traits such as boldness, strength, and courage. He especially showcased these by taming a wild horse at the age of eight!! This horse became his most favored, whom he named Bucephalus. (Remember this horse because he’s sure to pop up throughout the article). At the age of sixteen, his father left him in charge of the kingdom while he left to fight the neighboring Thracians. Little did the King know that a wave of the Thracian tribe had been sent to destroy the Kingdom of Macedonia, now unarmed and without a leader.

Or so they thought. 

The young regent managed to round up his limited soldiers and with tactic and logic, he was able to drive out the Thracians. Not only did this exercise Alexander’s natural “gods-given” power, but it made him very popular with the people. The fabled son of Zeus had already begun to live up to his name. At the age of 20 he was crowned king of Macedonia, after his father’s assassination at his sister’s wedding. Along with the help of his mother Olympias he immediately established his kingdom by strengthening his armies to fight the bordering powers; plus sending a few relatives to the underworld in case they decided to overtake his reign. He did this by killing 25+ family members (wow, what a family guy). 

By the time he was 22 he had laid siege against King Darius II of Persia, conquering and adding the kingdom of Mede-Persia Babylon to his Macedonia. Three years later he entered Gaza, Egypt. In no time the Macedonian army and its powerful king had taken over the land of the river Nile. He founded a city and named it Alexandria, where he was later buried.

By the time he was 26, Alexander III had gained many titles- king of Macedonia, Pharaoh of Egypt, and Lord of Persia. He turned out to be one of the most successful military generals of all recorded time and history. He conquered more than 50 towns and renamed them after himself (by sticking his name Alexandria in front of the original name of the town), while founding 20 more that were also named after himself (like Alexandria in Egypt), and one town named after his prized horse Bucephalus, who was mortally wounded during the battle that claimed this land the town was founded upon (Battle of Hydaspes). His tactics were so effective and well thought out that they are still studied in military academies all over the world. 

Besides being a super powerful, super popular, and super hot general, Alexander was also a lover of knowledge. In all the towns he conquered and founded he set up libraries that were filled with texts written by Greek poets and philosophers, including the works of his tutor Aristotle. He acknowledged his teacher for his victories and triumphs by once saying:

“I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well.”

By living well he meant having 15 years of conquest without a single defeat. By living well he meant conquering nearly the entire known world to the Greeks then, which included Greece, Egypt, present day Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq and India. He acknowledged his father for bringing him into the world. But he thanked his teacher for all he was able to achieve as a general, as a king, and as a student.

Unfortunately, not all students have this mindset. When we achieve something great through our academic studies, the victor, the media, and family tend to shed the spotlight on the student without acknowledging the one who imparted that knowledge. Instead of giving them the credit they are due. Truth be told, not all teachers are great teachers. Some are worse than others. But if you have a teacher or tutor that tries their best to make sure you understand the subject; don’t hesitate to thank them for the things you have been able to accomplish with their help. 

This week kicks off the SSC and SSLC exams for years 12 and 13. It is a period of time where one’s ability to retain and relay information is tested. I wish the best of luck to those who are at war with pencils; pens and twink (don’t forget that lifesaver twink!!). I also give you a quiet reminder. 

Be thankful for those who teach you. 

For they are the steps that guide and push you towards greatness.

Take Alexander the Great’s word for it.

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