how tall was alexander the great

How Tall Was Alexander the Great? – Historical Figure’s Height

Alexander the Great is known for his military conquests and vast empire, but the height of this historical figure remains a mystery. While stories suggest he was unusually tall, conflicting information makes it difficult to determine his actual height. In this article, we will explore the evidence surrounding Alexander’s height and attempt to uncover the truth about this famous figure.

Key Takeaways:

  • Alexander the Great’s height continues to be a subject of debate and uncertainty.
  • Historical accounts describe him as “less than average height.”
  • Anthropological research suggests the average height of males during Alexander’s time was around 5’7″.
  • Alexander’s height falls within the range of the average height for his time.
  • His height did not diminish his military achievements and impact on world history.

The Influence of Height in Ancient Warfare

In ancient times, height played a unique role in warfare. Unlike modern warfare, battles were often fought at close quarters with close-combat weapons. While being tall may seem advantageous, it actually posed several disadvantages on the battlefield.

“Height in battle is both an advantage and a disadvantage. It is an advantage because a tall soldier can more easily strike the heads and shoulders of his enemies. But it is a disadvantage because a tall soldier is more conspicuous to the enemy archers and slingers and is thus more likely to be fatally injured. Also, his higher center of gravity makes him more unsteady, and he is more easily tripped up in the uneven ground.”

As stated by ancient military strategist Vegetius in his treatise “De Re Militari,” taller soldiers were more visible targets for ranged attackers and had a higher center of gravity, making them less stable during combat. This suggests that being tall may have been a liability in ancient warfare.

Advantages of Height in Warfare:

  • Ability to strike the heads and shoulders of enemies

Disadvantages of Height in Battle:

  • Increased visibility to ranged attackers
  • Higher center of gravity, leading to reduced stability

Table: Comparing Height in Ancient Warfare

Advantages Disadvantages
Ability to strike higher targets Increased visibility to ranged attackers
Higher center of gravity, leading to reduced stability

Overall, the influence of height in ancient warfare was a double-edged sword. While taller soldiers had the advantage of striking higher targets, they also faced greater risks due to their increased visibility and reduced stability. The strategy and tactics employed in ancient battles considered these factors, ensuring that height alone did not guarantee victory on the battlefield.

Historical Accounts of Alexander’s Height

To determine the height of Alexander the Great, we turn to historical accounts and ancient records that provide some insight into this intriguing question. Ancient historians like Plutarch described Alexander as “less than average height,” giving us a starting point for our investigation. However, it’s important to consider the average height of men during that time to gain a better understanding of Alexander’s stature.

Anthropological research and skeletal examinations of ancient Greek and Macedonian men from the same time period suggest that the average height of males was around 5’7″. Based on these accounts, it is believed that Alexander’s height was between 5’4″ and 5’5″.

Ancient Historical Accounts Alexander’s Height
Plutarch Less than average height
Ancient Greek and Macedonian men Average height around 5’7″
Estimation Around 5’4″ to 5’5″

While these records provide some clarity on Alexander’s height, it is important to note that ancient measurements and descriptions may not be as precise as modern standards. Additionally, conflicting information and varying perspectives make it difficult to determine his exact height with absolute certainty. Nonetheless, the historical accounts and anthropological research give us a reasonable estimation of Alexander the Great’s height.

Comparisons to Other Ancient Figures

To understand how Alexander the Great’s height compares to other ancient figures, it is important to consider the average height of men during that time period. Anthropological research and skeletal examinations provide insight into the height of ancient Greek men, while historical records shed light on the stature of ancient Persian rulers.

Average Height in Ancient Greece

According to anthropological examinations of ancient Greek skeletons, the average height of Greek men was around 5’7″. This data suggests that Alexander the Great, who stood between 5’4″ and 5’5″ based on historical accounts, was slightly shorter than the average Greek male.

Height of Ancient Persian Rulers

Ancient Persians were generally taller than Greeks, and some Persian rulers were known for their impressive stature. One notable example is King Porus, whom Alexander encountered during his conquest of India. King Porus was described as exceptionally tall, towering over the average man. While Alexander may have been shorter than certain Persian rulers, he was still within the range of the average height for men of his time.

To provide a visual comparison, the table below highlights the average heights of ancient Greek men, Alexander the Great, and notable Persian rulers:

Ancient Figure Average Height
Ancient Greek Men Approximately 5’7″
Alexander the Great Between 5’4″ and 5’5″
King Porus (Persian) Taller than average

By considering the average heights of ancient Greek men and the stature of Persian rulers, we can see that while Alexander the Great may not have been exceptionally tall, he was still within the range of what was considered average for his time.

height comparison

Influence of Aristotle on Alexander’s Achievements

Aristotle, a renowned Greek thinker, played a pivotal role in shaping Alexander the Great’s achievements. Serving as his tutor during his formative years, Aristotle instilled in Alexander a deep appreciation for knowledge and culture. The teachings of Aristotle had a profound impact on Alexander’s leadership style and influenced his diplomatic skills, ensuring that he valued the customs and traditions of the diverse cultures he encountered during his conquests.

Aristotle’s emphasis on personal excellence and continuous self-improvement also left an indelible mark on Alexander. Under Aristotle’s guidance, Alexander developed a strong sense of ambition and an unwavering desire to achieve greatness. These qualities propelled him to strive for conquests and expand his empire, constantly pushing the boundaries of what was considered possible.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle

Unearthing the True Potential

Aristotle’s teachings not only helped shape Alexander’s character and ambitions but also provided him with a solid foundation in various fields of knowledge. From philosophy and ethics to politics and literature, Alexander absorbed a wealth of information under Aristotle’s tutelage. This comprehensive education enabled him to become a well-rounded leader, capable of making informed decisions and engaging in intellectual discourse with scholars and philosophers.

The influence of Aristotle was not confined to Alexander’s military conquests alone. It extended to his endeavors in architecture, city planning, and the fusion of different cultures. Inspired by his tutor’s emphasis on knowledge, Alexander embarked on a mission to establish numerous cities across his vast empire, each serving as a center for intellectual exchange and cultural integration.

Impact of Aristotle’s Teachings on Alexander Examples
Cultural Appreciation Alexander adopted the customs and traditions of conquered lands, encouraging the blending of Greek and local cultures.
Diplomatic Skills He utilized diplomacy to form alliances and ensure the stability of his empire.
Intellectual Curiosity Alexander actively sought out the knowledge and expertise of scholars, promoting intellectual growth.
City Planning He founded cities that fostered dialogue and cultural exchange, such as Alexandria in Egypt.

In summary, Aristotle’s teachings left an indelible imprint on Alexander the Great. The influence of his tutor shaped not only his military successes but also his commitment to cultural integration and intellectual growth. Aristotle’s impact on Alexander’s achievements is a testament to the profound impact education and mentorship can have on shaping the course of history.

Alexander’s Journey to Kingship

Alexander the Great’s path to becoming king of Macedonia was a tumultuous one, filled with challenges and obstacles. His journey to kingship began with a display of remarkable courage and leadership at a young age. As the son of King Philip II, Alexander tamed a wild horse named Bucephalus, capturing the attention and admiration of his father. This accomplishment earned him the trust and confidence of the Macedonian army and set the stage for his future rise to power.

However, tragedy struck when King Philip II was assassinated in 336 BCE. With his father’s untimely death, Alexander faced the immediate threat of rival claimants to the throne. He swiftly eliminated those who posed a challenge to his rule, securing his position as the rightful king of Macedonia.

Once firmly established as king, Alexander faced further challenges to his rule. Rebellions arose in various regions of his empire, as conquered peoples sought to regain their independence. However, Alexander’s strategic military genius and unmatched leadership allowed him to crush these rebellions and maintain control over his vast empire.

Alexander’s Path to Kingship: Key Events

  • Taming the wild horse Bucephalus, earning the respect of the Macedonian army.
  • Assassination of King Philip II, leading to rival claims to the throne.
  • Elimination of rival claimants and consolidation of power.
  • Suppression of rebellions against his rule.

Despite the challenges he faced, Alexander’s determination and military prowess allowed him to become one of history’s most iconic leaders. His journey to kingship set the stage for the ambitious conquests and far-reaching impact that would define his legacy.

Event Description
Taming of Bucephalus Alexander’s extraordinary feat of taming the wild horse, which impressed his father and solidified his reputation as a leader.
Assassination of King Philip II The unexpected death of Alexander’s father, leading to a succession crisis and rival claims to the throne.
Elimination of Rival Claimants Alexander’s swift actions to eliminate those who challenged his claim to the throne, securing his position as king.
Suppression of Rebellions Alexander’s successful military campaigns against rebellions throughout his empire, ensuring his rule remained unchallenged.

alexander the great's journey to kingship

Alexander’s Conquests and their Impact

Alexander the Great’s military campaigns were unparalleled in their scope and ambition. His conquests extended the borders of his empire across vast areas of northeast Africa and southwest Asia. In his quest for dominance, Alexander defeated powerful armies and established his rule over diverse regions and cultures, leaving a lasting impact on the world.

The extent of Alexander’s empire was truly remarkable. His conquests included the Persian Empire, Egypt, the Indus Valley, and parts of Central Asia. This vast territory brought together a diverse array of peoples and cultures under Alexander’s rule, fostering the exchange of ideas, trade, and the spread of Greek civilization.

Areas Conquered by Alexander the Great Extent of Alexander’s Empire
Persian Empire Expanded to include modern-day Iran, Iraq, and parts of Turkey
Egypt Integrated into the empire as a province, with Alexandria as its capital
Indus Valley Conquered and incorporated into the empire, establishing cities such as Taxila
Central Asia Conquered regions including Bactria and Sogdiana, spreading Hellenistic influence

Alexander’s conquests brought significant changes to the regions he conquered. He implemented policies that aimed to improve the cities and infrastructure of the conquered lands, promoting urbanization and cultural assimilation. He founded numerous cities, often named Alexandria, which became centers of Greek culture and trade.

“I would rather excel in the knowledge of what is excellent, than in the extent of my power and possessions.” – Alexander the Great

The impact of Alexander’s conquests extended beyond his lifetime. The Hellenistic period that followed his reign saw the spread of Greek language, arts, architecture, and philosophy throughout the conquered lands. This cultural diffusion shaped the development of future civilizations and left a lasting legacy in the areas conquered by Alexander the Great.

areas conquered by alexander the great

Alexander’s Marriages and Relationships

Throughout his life, Alexander the Great was involved in several marriages and relationships. These unions played a significant role in both his personal life and his political alliances. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key partnerships in Alexander’s life.

Roxana of Bactria

One of the most famous women in Alexander’s life was Roxana of Bactria. They first met when Alexander conquered Bactria, and he fell in love with her at first sight. Roxana was the daughter of a Bactrian noble, and her beauty captivated the young conqueror. Alexander married Roxana in 327 BC, in a lavish ceremony that solidified his connection to the conquered lands. Their marriage produced a son named Alexander IV.

Other Wives and Partners

Alexander’s other marriages and partnerships were predominantly political in nature, aimed at forging alliances and maintaining control over the vast empire he had built. He married daughters of powerful rulers, such as Stateira, the daughter of King Darius III, whom he wed after his conquest of Persia. He also had relationships with other women, including Barsine, the daughter of a Persian noble, and Parysatis, the sister of one of his wives.

Wife/Partner Connection
Roxana of Bactria Married in 327 BC, produced a son named Alexander IV
Stateira Daughter of King Darius III, married after the conquest of Persia
Barsine Daughter of a Persian noble, had a relationship with Alexander
Parysatis Sister of one of Alexander’s wives, involved in his personal life

Alexander’s marriages and relationships played a dual role in his life. They served as a means of forming alliances and securing political stability, while also allowing him to experience personal connections and romantic pursuits. These partnerships were an integral part of Alexander’s complex and fascinating life story.

The Mystery of Alexander’s Death

The death of Alexander the Great has captivated historians for centuries, leaving behind a trail of intriguing mysteries and unanswered questions. Despite his larger-than-life persona and numerous accomplishments, the exact cause of his death remains shrouded in uncertainty.

Historical accounts offer some clues but fail to provide a definitive answer. One theory suggests that Alexander may have succumbed to illness, possibly malaria or typhoid fever, which were prevalent during his time. Another possibility is that he was poisoned, as his symptoms reportedly resembled those of poisoning.

There are also theories surrounding possible battle injuries that might have led to his demise. Alexander’s military campaigns were marked by countless battles, and it is conceivable that he sustained lasting injuries that ultimately contributed to his death.

Despite the many theories, the truth about Alexander’s cause of death may never be fully known. The mysteries surrounding his demise continue to captivate the imaginations of historians and scholars, ensuring that the legend of Alexander the Great lives on.


How tall was Alexander the Great?

The exact height of Alexander the Great is uncertain, but historical accounts and anthropological research suggest that he was between 5’4″ and 5’5″, which was average height for males of his time.

What was the influence of height in ancient warfare?

In ancient warfare, being tall may have been a disadvantage. Taller soldiers were more visible and easier targets for ranged attackers. Their higher center of gravity also made them less stable in close-combat battles.

What do historical accounts say about Alexander’s height?

Ancient historians described Alexander as “less than average height.” Based on the average height of ancient Greek and Macedonian men from that time period, it is believed that Alexander was around 5’4″ to 5’5″.

How does Alexander’s height compare to other ancient figures?

Alexander’s height is within the range of the average height for ancient Greek and Macedonian men. While there were taller Persians, such as King Porus, Alexander’s height was not unusually short for his time.

What was the influence of Aristotle on Alexander’s achievements?

Aristotle, Alexander’s tutor, emphasized knowledge, culture, and personal excellence. His teachings shaped Alexander’s diplomatic skills and his pursuit of constant self-improvement. Aristotle influenced both Alexander’s role as a warrior and a diplomat.

How did Alexander become king?

After displaying leadership skills and gaining his father’s confidence, Alexander became king of Macedonia upon his father’s assassination. He had to eliminate rival claimants and quash rebellions to secure his rule.

What were the extent and impact of Alexander’s conquests?

Alexander’s conquests expanded his empire to include regions of northeast Africa and southwest Asia. He focused on improving the cities of the conquered lands and spread Greek civilization. His military successes had a significant impact on world history.

Who were Alexander’s wives and what were his relationships?

Alexander married several women, including the daughters of King Darius III. His most famous wife was Roxana of Bactria, whom he fell in love with at first sight. Roxana gave birth to their son, Alexander IV, after Alexander’s death.

What is the mystery surrounding Alexander’s death?

The exact cause of Alexander’s death remains unclear. Historical accounts suggest different theories, including illness, poisoning, or injuries sustained in battle. The details surrounding his death continue to intrigue historians and scholars.

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