And Alexander wept, seeing as he had no more worlds to conquer. That’s a quote from Hans Gruber in Die Hard, which is a very convoluted paraphrase from Plutarch’s essay collection Moralia. There’s plenty of truth in that unattributed quote from Mr. Gruber.

Alexander the Great’s death at 323 BC in Babylon marked the end of the most consequential military campaign in antiquity. He left behind an empire that stretched from Greece to India, planted the seeds of the Silk Road, and made Greek an international language across Eurasia, all in 13 short years. He became and remained the biggest celebrity in the ancient world, probably only replaced by Jesus a few centuries into the Christian era.
But what if he had not died as a young man? What if he had lived years or decades more? How much more influence could he have had? We have clues about Alexander’s plans for the future – and they come from Greek chroniclers Diodorus and Arrian, writing centuries after his death. They include conquering the Mediterranean coast all the way to the Pillars of Hercules (Rock of Gibraltar), building a tomb for his father Philp that would be as large as the Great Pyramid of Giza, and transplanting populations from Greece to Persia and vice versa to unite his domains through intermarriage.
To explore this hypothetical scenario is Anthony Everitt, author of “Alexander the Great: His Life and Mysterious Death.” We look at the life of the most influential person in the ancient world, and explore the ramifications of his life having even more influence.



In 327, Alexander journeyed 400 miles from Bactria into the Indus valley, toward what he thought was the end of the world. There he sided with petty kingdoms that wanted him as an ally against their enemies. Alexander hoped to advance to the Ganges River and make it his eastern border, but after a march of 100 miles his troops refused to go farther east. With his Macedonian troops, Alexander was still a leader by persuasion, as were warrior kings traditionally. Unable to persuade them to continue, and seeing what he thought were unfavorable omens, he and his men, in September 325, began their return to Babylon. They arrived in the spring of 323, and Alexander planned to make Babylon the capital of his great empire.
Alexander hoped that commerce would help tie his empire together. He decided to exploit new commercial possibilities and to make Babylon the center of an enhanced world commerce. Already his warring had created a new demand for iron. His conquest of Persian treasury had put more money into circulation, and his conquests had broken down trade barriers. Already he had stimulated economic activity by building new ports and by founding new cities and seventy military colonies in the conquered territories. Alexander began planning for the building of docks along the Euphrates at Babylon and for the clearing and dredging of the Euphrates River to the Persian Gulf. He planned to colonize the eastern shore of the Persian Gulf. And he planned to have Arabia circumnavigated and explored.
Alexander was laying plans to extend his conquests to Sicily and Italy – to unite more of the world under his rule. But a fortuity intervened. Alexander became ill. As he lay dying he was asked who was to be his successor. In keeping with what Peter Green describes as Alexander’s devotion to Homeric glory, “the strongest,” he is reported to have said, words that according to Green may or may not be historical. note7

ow it happened that Craterus, who was one of the leading men, had been sent ahead to Cilicia by Alexander with the soldiers discharged from the army, some 6,000 in number. At the same time he had received written instructions which the king had given him to carry out; but after the death of Alexander the successors decided not to implement what had been decided.
[18.4.2] For when Perdiccas found among the king’s memoranda plans for the completion of Hephaestion’s funeral monument, a very expensive project, as well as the king’s other numerous and ambitious plans, which involved enormous expenditure, he decided that it was most advantageous to have them canceled.
[18.4.3] So as not to give the impression that he was personally responsible for detracting from the king’s glory, he submitted the decision on the matter to the common assembly of the Macedonians.
[18.4.4-5] The following were the largest and most remarkable of the plans.
It was intended to build 1,000 warships larger than triremes in Phoenicia, Syria, Cilicia and Cyprus for the expedition against the Carthaginians and the other inhabitants of the coastal area of Africa, Iberia and the neighboring coasts as far as Sicily; to build a coastal road in Africa as far as the Pillars of Heracles, and, as required by such a large expedition, to build harbors and shipyards at suitable places;
to build six expensive temples at a cost of 315 ton silver each (the temples just mentioned were to be built at Delos, Delphi and Dodona, and in Macedonia there was to be a temple of Zeus at Dion, one of Artemis Tauropolus at Amphipolis, and at Cyrnus one of Athena);
in addition, to settle cities and transplant populations from Asia to Europe and vice versa from Europe to Asia, to bring the largest continents through intermarriage and ties of kinship to a common harmony and feeling of friendship.
Likewise there was to be built at Troy a temple of Athena which could never be excelled in size by any other.
A tomb for his father Philip was to be constructed which would be as large as the greatest pyramids in Egypt, which some reckon among the Seven Wonders of the World.
[18.4.6] When these plans had been read out, the Macedonians, although they approved highly of Alexander, nevertheless saw that the plans were extravagant and difficult to achieve, and they decided not to carry out any of those that have been mentioned.

1.Tell me about Alexander’s mental map of the world. Would his understandings of the world be informed by Herotodus, who went as far as Babylon?

2.How far east did he want to go?

3.Tell me about his plans next, as described by Diodorus, the Greek geographer who wrote in the first century BC. .

4.Why did he want to to build 1,000 warhships for an expedition against the Carthaginians and make coastal roads to the Pillar of Hercules and harbors and shipyards.

5.What about temples in Delos Delphi and Dodona.

6.What about his vast intermarriage plans and resettle people throughout Europe and Asia.

7.What about a gigantic temple of Athena at Troy. What does this symbolize to him, one who studied the Iliad under the tutelage of Aristotle himself?

8.Finally, tell me about plans for a tomb for his father Philip to rival the great pyramid of Giza.

9.Why didn’t the Macedonians want to accomplish this?

10.Why would he want to build docks on the Euphrates and dredge water out of the Euphrates to the Persian gulf.
11.Tell me about his plans – according to Arrian’s Anabasis — to colonize the Persian Gulf and build a fleet to attack the Arabs.
12.What about his plans to circumnavigate Arabia and Africa?
13.What were his conquest plans to siciliy and Italy?
14.Do you think these are true or part of the Alexander Romance myths?
15.Can you speculate on what would have happened had he lived much longer? Would he have merely left behind daughter states that collapsed in a few generations (as actually happened) or have consolidated his kingdom and created a sort of Roman Empire?
16.Of course much of our discussion is speculation, but what do these far reaching plans tell us about Alexander and his motivations?

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"If Alexander The Great Hadn’t Died, He Might Have Conquered Europe, Circumnavigated Africa, and Built His Own Silk Road" History on the Net
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