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Ancient Greek general Alexander the Great. Source: Andrew Zimmerman / Adobe Stock.

The Greatest Speech in History? Alexander the Great & The Opis Mutiny


Alexander the Great's achievements make him one of the most exceptional figures in history. He ascended to the throne of the small Greek kingdom of Macedonia at the age of just 20 in 336 BC. In the span of twelve years before his death, he established Macedonian overlordship on Greece, vanquished the mighty Persian Empire, and led his army into modern-day Afghanistan and the Indian frontier.

During his campaign, Alexander faced a mutiny by his Macedonian soldiers at the Babylonian city Opis. They were unhappy about his decision to send some of them back home while appearing to favor his new Asian subjects and adopting their customs. According to Roman historian Arrian's "The Anabasis," Alexander responded ruthlessly by dealing with the leaders before making a speech to his army in which he berated his troops for their disloyalty. Some say it is one of the greatest speeches in history.

Top image: Ancient Greek general Alexander the Great. Source: Andrew Zimmerman / Adobe Stock.

By Joanna Gillan



More romantic hokum.

We don’t know—can’t know—what Alexander or anyone else said before the age of mechanical or electronic recordings. Tradition be damned; I say this is made up nonsense.

Pete Wagner's picture

Like Shakespeare, just out of some writer’s mind? 

But on Alexander, the man, how much do we really know?  They say he died young, early 30’s.  But how?  Complications of surgery to relieve his Gordian Knot, ...which his men knew, had to be untangled/reconciled the age-old way: slowly, with diligence, and righteous intent?  

Nobody gets paid to tell the truth.

Joanna Gillan's picture


Joanna Gillan is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. 

Joanna completed a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) degree in Australia and published research in the field of Educational Psychology. She has a rich and varied career, ranging from teaching... Read More

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