[FOUNTAIN]Alexander the not-so-Great

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[FOUNTAIN]Alexander the not-so-Great

The northwestern region of Pakistan, now well known as the possible hideout for remaining Taliban squads, is a cultural area shared by ancient occidental and oriental peoples.

In Chitral in the Hindukushi mountains exist the ancestors of a primitive pagan group named Kafir-Kalash, also known as "Wearers of Black Robes." Symbols of a cultural exchange between the East and the West, these people are the offspring of ancient Greeks. They still believe in Zeus, not in Allah, the god of Islam.

Legend says that some subordinates of Alexander the Great chose to stay here instead of marching back to Macedonia. Those who remained left behind a Greek lineage.

According to historians, Alexander and his men were busy conquering much of the world from 334 B.C through 324 B.C. Because the scope of this conquest is unprecedented in human history, many myths, legends and tales have eulogized Alexander's heroic battlefield feats and his great powers. The number of poems and songs praising Alexander reached more than 200 in the Middle Ages, and in the 20th century many of these paeans were turned into movies and plays.

It is rare to applaud a conqueror who subdued foreign tribes and heretics for more than 10 years, praising him as a generous, romantic and even kind-hearted hero. The glorious tributes, however, were mostly based on documents provided by Greek scholars and poets.

The trend of late has moved toward criticism of Alexander the Great. A new Alexander has emerged through documents found in Central Asia, archeological evidence unearthed in the Middle East, including Iraq, and some stories handed down within Alexander's old colonies.

Instead of nonstop praise for the great king, many historians, encouraged by newly found evidence and relics, have decided that ancient Greece was in reality an intruder in Asia.

Therefore, today's scholars believe that Alexander operated his empire and colonies solely based on politically incorrect concepts, such as colonialism, orientalism and racism.

The anthropologist Michael Wood says that historians no longer consider Alexander an outstanding hero. One-sided eulogies and testimonies for a leader that originate only from other people's histories are more and more becoming ignored and even obsolete.

The writer is an editorial writer of the Joongang Ilbo.

by Kim Seok-hwan

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