Introduction: Why Alexander the Great and Sherlock Holmes?
Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character, but we speak about him as if he was alive – and he is truly alive in our hearts. But let’s suppose that Sherlock was real – if so, is or was there any personality similar to him? Of course there is no one absolutely identical to him, but there are some famous people who can be compared to the detective. This time we match Alexander the Great and Sherlock Holmes.
Alexander was the king of kings, while Holmes is regarded as the king of detectives.
Men who believed nothing is impossible
Muhammad Ali, Alexander the Great and Sherlock Holmes
The legendary Muhammad Ali said: “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they've been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It's an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It's a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” He also stated:” I don't have to be what you want me to be. I'm free to be what I want.” He really did not want to be what others wanted him to be, he wanted to be what he felt he is: Muhammad Ali. He was extremely successful, won his fights, became Olympic and world champion. Many people thought he had just a perfect buildup and lots of luck. It is rarely mentioned that Ali trained intensively and was very persistent. And when he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, he did not give up, though it was the most difficult struggle in his life; he endured his condition with dignity. With his stamina he made his life longer. Skepticals realized that he really meant his every word and spent his days sticking to his colours – his spirit was the making of him. Ali knew he had an effect on the world and this way he could achieve what he wanted. This was evident for Alexander the Great and for Sherlock Holmes as well. Their common characteristic is that they knew who they are and realized they can innovatively change the world. Anything was possible for them. Even when they were in a bad mood they were able to rise and face the obstacles. They knew they have to work hard for success.
Greater than the father
As Sherlock Holmes deemphasized his creator, the fantastic Conan Doyle, so diminished the achievements of Philip II of Macedon his son, Alexander the Great. Philip got together a barbaric little country and conquered areas belonging to the Greek Empire, what was an extraordinary success. He created the army which later helped his son to surmount the world. Conan Doyle built the base from which Sherlock Holmes started his triumphant journey through the world.
Philip II, Alexander's statue, Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes's statue
The relationship between Philip and his son worsened because the father feared that his successor imperils his reign, while Doyle felt the detective occupies him too much and he has no time to other ventures in literature. These problems were solved differently – Philip died and Conan continued to write detective stories. He was a very humane person with wonderful thoughts, deeds and writings, who well deserves to be treasured. But we have to remember that Alexander needed the actions of his father to be successful.
The peculiar hat and the question of responsibility
Everyone knows that Sherlock Holmes donned a deerstalker while investigating crimes in the country. Alexander the Great often decorated his helmet with feathers. These peculiar head-gears helped both heroes to mark out from the crowd and at the same time to signal their enemies that they have no fear to show themselves. The eccentric detective and the great conqueror dared to take responsibility for their deeds – both with actions and symbolically.
The master of logic, the king of his own profession
Alexander’s teacher was Aristotle, the greatest thinker of the world. Sherlock attended university and certainly learned a lot from his brother, Mycroft, who had fantastic abilities. Both men were curious, what is very important, because Albert Einstein told he became successful since he dared to be inquisitive. It is essential to be curious if you want to discover the world. Both Holmes and the great conqueror were committed to preserve and spread knowledge.
In addition, the king of Macedon and the great detective both were trained to get acquainted with their environment, to examine everything, to observe people, to deduce and to be able to make decisions – and, if it was necessary, they had to be flexible and highly adaptive. They learned that they must be attentive all the time and they cannot fully trust anybody. On many occasions they were forced to hide their emotions so we can say that the most famous tenant of Baker Street and the finest strategist of the world had excellent acting skills. According to historical sources Alexander often was short-tempered and lost his sense of reality at the end of his life, but today’s scientists think the cause of his altered manner was epilepsy. It is also a fact that he liked roistering what took its toll as well – while Holmes used drugs. Alexander pursued pleasures when he had no challenges. Sherlock turned to drugs having no new cases for a longer period and when his other activities – doing chemical experiments, keeping criminal records and playing violin – became boring for him. Alexander planned many cities as a hobby. For them work was the most important thing in life. They preferred living in the world of thinking and creating, sexuality and instincts were less important for them. Of course they paid attention to their instincts, but at the same time they could develop their mental capacities by making their own working conditions, controlling their anger, combining their observations with the facts they studied and tried out new things if it was necessary (Alexander’s warfare strategy is part of the curriculum in many military schools.). These men believed they can work for their welfare and it is their duty to help the world with the best of their abilities.
While Sherlock created a profession for himself, Alexander the Great inherited his but made it unique - no one built such a huge empire and used soldiers and devices like him. Before his time kings made countries; he created a realm. Sherlock Holmes was a reformer too. In the Victorian era criminal investigation was at its beginning. Conan Doyle’s detective used several branches of science and combined them with his observations, with collected information and with deductions – and exactly this makes him an outstanding sleuth. Crime solving was something that had to be done and it was despised; Conan’s hero made it a discipline. Holmes and Alexander turned into the most brilliant legends of their professions.
Both men were workaholics – their profession meant the most for them. When it was needed, they used tricks, but basically they played fair. Creating something was the greatest pleasure for them and they knew very well that their name will become more and more famous because of their successes gained in the field of their profession. They knew their abilities and it was clear for them how many efforts they made, what gave them self-confidence.
For this very reason some people may think our heroes were too arrogant and pretentious, but it is not true – they only knew their abilities. I watch lots of documentaries and read several biographical books but there were only two persons about whom these works stated that „they appreciated themselves and saw the world exactly as it is” – the two mentioned names were Sherlock Holmes, the best detective of the world and Alexander the Great, the most exceptional soldier of history. From the latter Peter Woodward made a thrilling documentary.
Peter Woodward: The True Story of Alexander the Great
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Many stories tell what a solid and muscular body Alexander had. He survived extremely serious injuries. He exercised from his early childhood, because he was marked out to be a conqueror. He knew his life will be dangerous, that is why he became a real well-set man. It was evident for Sherlock Holmes as well that danger is part of his profession, so he did exercises and learned different methods of self-defense. This proved to be very useful on many occasions, for example when he faced Professor Moriarty at Reichenbach Falls. Alexander had to use his mind, and not his body in one of his most memorable challenges. He looked on the knotted ox-cart of Midas (who untied the knot possessed Asia afterwards). Many people tried to solve the riddle, but they all saw a physical problem in it. Alexander realized that it is a logic game. The real question was what is needed to rule Asia. He knew the answer: brain and a sword (intellect and power). And with his sword he solved the problem of the Gordian Knot. Just like Sherlock, he was able to work out puzzles and problems that others found inexplicable.
After the death of Alexander his realm was divided to more than 20 kingdoms, hoping to be able to govern the smaller areas. It was evident that no man can stick together the huge realm what he created and reigned. Even Julius Caesar or Napoleon could only long for the success earned by the king of Macedon.
Sherlock Holmes is the king of detectives. Though there was his predecessor, C. Auguste Dupin, his „colleague”, the fantastic Poirot and lots of cops in television series, Holmes has the advantage of being a reformer - and what is more, he, the fictional character influenced criminology and forensic science. This is the reason why it is strange when the detective is placed into the modern age – one of his greatest merits is lost this way. It is like making a series with Alexander as a company manager or some other common profession. Of course I do not want to offend modern adaptations like BBC Sherlock or CBS Elementary, I saw both. I just wanted to remark that there are deeds that are great, wonderful and unique solely in a certain period. Holmes is the genius of geniuses in the Victorian era, while in modern setting he is only one of the many geniuses.
The symbol of hope, the global assembler of culture
Alexander strongly believed in gods and Sherlock Holmes also presumed that God exists. The conqueror gave the most wonder and hope to the world. He, who became the ruler of the world, judged people by their abilities and not by their origin, and pardoned them many times. Holmes had similar features. It is common in them too that regardless of their magnificent actions, those who are not familiar with their stories tend to see them as emotionless action heroes. The great king or the crime solving genius are the best proof of the fact that brain is not enough, you need emotions as well – though you have to take care of your thoughts and instincts to be yourself and to become valuable.
Alexander went to his crusade with a convoy of 40000-60000 soldiers. Astonishingly he was able to give hope for so many people for more than a decade while they were far from home and family, under brutal circumstances. These people and their leader were surrended by death – just like Sherlock in London. Yet they could give hope. (Recommended site: I believe in Sherlock Holmes )
Both heroes promised the hope of a new world: Alexander declared a realm with flourishing Greek culture and democracy. The tenants of Baker Street guaranteed that though there is poverty and many crimes committed in Whitechapel, there is also a detective who finds solutions to the problems, because problems can be cleared up with thinking. The followers of Alexander and Holmes began to believe that the future has good opportunities, that they began to tread on a better way where intelligence is the most important. The greatest ruler and the brightest detective are the glorious symbols of hope.
Alexander liked culture. He read a lot and kept the works of Homer besides his bed – according to some sources he ordered a kind of book-case made from gold for his favourites. Later his figure appeared on several monuments of the Seven Wonders of the World.
John Romer: The Seven Wonders Of The World
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Though Watson describes Holmes as unaccustomed to literature (A Study in Scarlet), he soon realizes that his friend knows literary works very well.
Philip’s son and the creature of Conan Doyle are the subjects of lots of artworks – books, movies, sculptures, paintings, songs and so on. Both characters found their way into the world of interactive games as well. Alexander is the hero of countless strategic and war games, while Sherlock inspired logic games. They inspired many artists in almost every field of art. These heroes globally assemble culture. Many nations are proud of them and their memories are immortal. These two men were legends. We can be sure that as long as men live on earth lots of wonderful artworks will be devoted to them.
Iron Maiden - Alexander The Great
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