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

Alexander the Great is one of the most extraordinary individuals in history. He became king of the fringe Greek kingdom of Macedonia in 336 BC at the age of just 20, and before his death twelve years later, had imposed Macedonian overlordship on Greece, destroyed the mighty Persian Empire and led an army deep into modern Afghanistan and to the Indian frontier.

At Opis he faced a mutiny by his Macedonian troops, angered that he wanted to send some of them home, while appearing to give preference to his new Asian subjects, and adopting many of their customs. Alexander dealt ruthlessly with the ringleaders, before (according to ‘The Anabasis’ by Roman historian Arrian) making a speech to his army in which he berated his troops for their disloyalty.

The speech, as it has reached us, was no doubt written by Arrian rather than Alexander. His actual words are now impossible to ascertain. But Arrian had access to eyewitness accounts which are now lost (principally Ptolemy and Nearchus), and modern historians generally agree that the speech was a real historical event, and that Arrian gives a good representation of its likely content.

Putting its (contested and debated) value as a historical source to one side, the scene – as it appears in Arrian – is a brilliantly written moment of high drama and emotion, in which Alexander first highlights his debt to his father Philip, before launching into a tirade in which he lists his own astounding achievements and qualities of leadership.

The speech has been abridged and edited by myself for this video.
You can read Arrian’s full version in English translation here:

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The most recent English translation of Arrian

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Comment (31)

  1. He liberated the enslaved (to the Persians) Greeks of the eastern shores of the Aegean Sea, fulfilling his father's vision. He destroyed – after just 3 battles – the world's mightiest empire until that day (the Persian Empire). He was a pupil of Aristotelis (who was a pupil of Platon, who in turn was a pupil of Socrates). His hero was Accilefs, the King of the Mirmidones. He lead his troops in battle. My first son will be named after him: Alexandros (which coincidentally in ancient Greek means "he who fights men". Alexandros; the last true King of the Greeks.

  2. My new idol; if you want something g just go for it; for me I want to be better than Michael and lebron because I know they both are kinda sensitive inside

  3. The two best and they ain’t even as good as they think! You have to live this country we call home

  4. This has the be like the 15th time ive seen this video. It makes me wonder what would've happened if he ever reached China.

  5. no, I understand your point of view on things, but what you don't realize is that you have ended up at the wrong place. Sheeps, like yourself, go over there… to your green pastures…

    surely, you are not home with us,

    Ali

  6. This really is just an amazing speech, Patrick Kennedys voice portrayal was quite believable, gritty and honest as expected of a king yet showing a hint of remorse for the wrongs his soldiers are addressing. The whole video was very well done.

  7. The Greatest Speech in history? This is someone's interpretation of what was said? And it starts with that voice…. Listen to me. If I have to come back here to your channel and tell you to change your title… or i need to block this channel. Your bold bet winning in this marketing sphere has yielded this much result. How do you feel? I dont want to see crap like this on my youtube feed again. Do I need to tell Youtube this? Who do I have to slap around here to get some sensibilities…. Alright Epic, you're off the hook, today. Only because youtube…can….my….ss. I'll come back for you though. Alright? Don't make me…

  8. Brings a tear from my eyes every time i hear this.Why cant nowadays commanders be like him?We really are missing leaders like him.

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