Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Alexander the Great and Lord of the Rings

So I've recently been reading Tolkien's Lord of the Rings for the first time at the suggestion of a good friend.  It may be that I can find the Alexander in anything, no matter how mundane and seemingly not related, but I see some parallels between Frodo's quest and Alexander's life.

Frodo is sent on a quest inherited from an older relative--he must destroy a ring found by his uncle Bilbo.  Alexander somewhat inherited his invasion of Persia from his father Philip, though Alexander's vision for that invasion went far beyond Philip's.

Frodo must destroy a power that threatens to rule the world and to right great wrongs done in the past.  He must destroy a ring created by an evil power to enslave all the diverse peoples of Middle Earth.  In destroying it, he must right a past wrong committed by Isildur and his heirs.  Alexander left Macedonia and Greece behind to destroy the Persian Empire, the largest empire in the world at his time, an empire that had "enslaved" numerous peoples under its power.  He also set out to avenge great wrongs done to the temples of Greece as well as failed Greek attempts to overthrow the power of Persia.

But perhaps the greatest paralells I see are in the relationship of Frodo and Sam and Alexander and Hephaestion.  Though Frodo was the chosen Ring Bearer and was ultimately responsible for the outcome of the quest, he would not have been successful had it not been for friends, especially Sam.  It is Sam who puts all thought of himself, his safety, even his own life to the side to ensure that Frodo's quest is successful.  While I will never deny that Alexander achieved great things, I truly believe that what he accomplished was in large part due to Hephaestion's unfailing support and sacrifices.  Hephaestion set all his personal goals and needs aside for Alexander.  His life became about doing whatever he could to ensure that Alexander's desires came to fruition and his needs were met.  It was a committment that would cost Hephaestion everything in the end.

Anyway, just a few thoughts I've been kicking around.  I told you all that this Hephaestion book was never far from my mind!


  1. I think, on Alex T G death bed he passed on his signet ring ( symbolic ring of power) to his 2nd in command Perdicass.

    1. Hephaestion was Alexander's Chiliarch and officially second on command