Debate Alexander the Great vs Julius Caesar: Who was the Greatest Commander in the Ancient World?

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Last year, British historian Simon Elliott published a book titled Alexander the Great versus Julius Caesar: Who was the Greatest Commander in the Ancient World?

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I haven't read the book, but in my opinion the question is very easily settled. Julius Caesar was vastly superior. He won more battles, fought against more varied armies (Pontus, Gauls, Germanic tribes, Egyptians, other Roman legions), and was more often outnumbered.

One of the ultimate test of leadership and military genius is when you fight people with the exact same training and equipment - in this case other Roman legions. Caesar did it several times during the Civil War.

He even defeated Pompey the Great, one of the greatest Roman generals (obviously after Caesar himself) at the Battle of Pharsalus (48 BCE) where Pompey's army outnumbered Caesar's 2 to 1. Caesar not only won, but suffered about 30 to 60 times less casualties and losses than Pompey. According to Wikipedia, Caesar lost 200–1,200 soldiers while Pompey's army had 6,000–15,000 killed and 24,000 captured.

Julius Caesar then went on to defeat the leaders of the Optimates party at the Battle of Thapsus (46 BCE). The Optimates had about 20,000 more legionaries and 10,000 more cavalry, yet Caesar won with 10x less losses. The next year he crushed Pompey's sons and allies at the Battle of Munda (45 BCE), where Caesar had 40,000 troops (8 legions) against Pompey's 70,000 (13 legions). Once again it was an easy victory for Caesar, who lost 1000 men against 30,000 for Pompey's sons.

Alexander the Great only defeated one great enemy: the Persian Empire. It may seem very impressive, but the Achaemenids were already on the wane and had lost the two Greco-Persian Wars due to the superiority in Greek military equipment (hoplites, phalanges, ships), training (more professional army) and strategy. Alexander's father had unified Macedonia and Greece for the first time and his untimely demised didn't leave him time to invade Persia himself, which left the task to Alexander. But whoever was in charge among the Greco-Macedonians would probably have defeated the Persians at that time.

Alexander's greatest victories were the Battle of Issus (333 BCE) and the Battle of Gaugamela (331 BCE). According to modern estimates Alexander had 37,000 troops at Issus, mostly heavy cavalry and heavy infantry, and fought against 50,000 to 60,000 Persians, who were mostly light infantry (+ 10,000 Greek mercenaries whose loyalty to the Persians was dubious at best). Almost 2 to 1, but well-trained heavy hoplites and heavy cavalry can easily defeat a bigger army of light infantry. Similar situation at Gaugamela, where 47,000 heavily armed Macedonians were against 50,000–120,000 lightly armed Persians. Easy victory, as it should be.

Alexander feared the Thracians and the Celts to the north of Macedonia and made sure to sign non-agression pacts with them before embarking on his campaign against Persia. The Celts actually defeated the Greco-Macedonians in 279 BCE only a few decades after Alexander's death (he would have been 76 years old had he lived longer), sacked Delphi and went on to establish an independent kingdom in Galatia (central Anatolia) after defeating the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire.

The Romans also waged several wars against the Macedonians and Seleucids and always won, showing that Roman legions were superior to Hellenistic armies.

Add to that that Julius Caesar also singlehandedly defeated all the Gallic tribes, while only an offshoot of Gauls (the future Galatians) had defeated the Macedonians and Seleucids. In fact Caesar's greatest victory is assuredly the Battle of Alesia, where he vanquished a grand coalition of some 328,000 to 470,000 Gauls on two fronts with only about 60,000 men (so outnumbered about 7 to 1).
 
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We would definitely have known how capable Caesar was as a military commander if he had survived to invade the Parthian Empire as he had planned in 44BC.
The Parthian horse archers had already defeated 2 Roman armies, those of Crassus and then Mark Antony.
 
We would definitely have known how capable Caesar was as a military commander if he had survived to invade the Parthian Empire as he had planned in 44BC.
The Parthian horse archers had already defeated 2 Roman armies, those of Crassus and then Mark Antony.

Maybe, but in any case you cannot compare the military strength of the Parthian Empire with that of the Achaemenid Empire. Their armies were very different. The Parthians relied much more in cavalry, be it horse archers or cataphracts. The Macedonians defeated the Achaemenid Persians relatively easily, but their successors the Seleucids were also defeated relatively easily by the Parthians. I'm not sure that even Julius Caesar could have vanquished them with his legions (heavy infantry), as this type of army was really not well suited to fighting very mobile cavalry on the vast expanses of Mesopotamia and Iran.
 
I believe Caesar's invasion force was set to be about 60,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry.

I am sure he would have had a more competent and thoughtful campaign in mind than either Crassus or Antony.

Caesar always fought how he wanted not how the enemy wanted.

Cavalry is high maintenance and if Parthian fodder and other supplies could be cut off then Caesar had a chance of victory.

He would have to starve the enemy horses and curtail the supply of arrows to the Parthian mounted archers.
 
The later Roman Emperors Trajan and Lucius Verus both managed to defeat the Parthians who were certainly formidable but not invincible.
 
They lived in different times, so very different circumstances, unfortunately Caesar was killed because he was planning to fight Parthian Empire. Something which Crassus and his Roman legions failed.
 
Alexander successfully conquered the powerful Persian Empire despite being outnumbered, established a vast empire and spread Hellenistic culture across the known world, and in the process he never lost a battle.

Julius Caesar conquered Gaul and won the civil war. He faced political intrigue and shifting loyalties in the late Roman Republic from the beginning. He was not just a military leader but also a skilled politician. His conquests were closely tied to his political ambitions, and he played a significant role in the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire.
Through is political and administrative achievements, including significant reforms (like the roman calendar) Caesar's influence is still felt in modern times.

Alexander never encountered armies that were such in the sense that the Macedonian army was. Caesar fought against the barbarians and against other Romans. It's hard to say which of the two achieved more with scarcer means than the other.

I am giving my opinion not just based on the military aspects. While Alexander's achievements were impressive, his empire disintegrated shortly after his death. Caesar's legacy endured and led to the birth of the Roman Empire, which stood for centuries to come. Caesar's success in turning the tide of the Roman Republic and laying the foundations for the empire makes him perhaps the greatest of the two.

The Roman legion is also a superior tool of war than the macedonian phalanx.
The Roman legion's adaptability, mobility, and effectiveness in hand-to-hand combat gave it an advantage over the Macedonian phalanx. The phalanx, while effective in certain situations, had limitations in unfavorable terrain and in turning quickly.
The phalanx being a row of shoulder-to-shoulder infantry soldiers with long pikes, offers great cohesion, but with limited maneuverability and vulnerability in unfavorable terrain.

It is worth highlighting that Napoleon, the only one who can compare to the two (and Hannibal Barca too) thought that Alexander was the greatest.
https://www.businessinsider.in/defe...parte/slidelist/61707124.cms#slideid=61707115

This is also the opinion of this WatchMojo video

 
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One thing that contributed to Caesar's conquest of Gaul was the fact that the Gauls were all independent tribes with different interests. I can't really say at this time who was the superior.
 
The Celts actually defeated the Greco-Macedonians in 279 BCE only a few decades after Alexander's death (he would have been 76 years old had he lived longer), sacked Delphi and went on to establish an independent kingdom in Galatia (central Anatolia) after defeating the Hellenistic Seleucid Empire.
The Celts with Brennus indeed beat the Macedonians in one battle, after having his previous general Bolgios repelled at first.
After these expeditions returned, Brennus urged a united, and potentially lucrative, attack on Greece, led by himself and Acichorius. The army numbered 152,000 infantry and 24,400 cavalry.
They never managed to sack Delphi and were massacred by the aetolian league ( coalition of lot of greek polis) being attacked from both sides with boulders and also panic killing each in panic during a thunderstorm. There is a region near Delphi called Kokkalia ( meaning bones in greek) where you can still find bones of celts of this battle.
The result of his campaign, was that the few survivors fled to anatolia where Nikomedes I used them as mercenaries to take the throne from his brother in vithynia. They settled in central anatolia in a region named galatia ( from gala = milk in greek due to their white skin) after being displaced by antiochus I.



 
Different periods and peoples they fought, European peoples were very warfare like and strong, although the propaganda tells exactly the opposite probably because of "Muh MENA pride wii", Julius Caesar had to fight with Celts, Germans, Proto Slavs and the Brittons and Britannic Celts, varied peoples, tactics, weapons, strength, not only this he had to deal with Illyrians and other MENA pirates as well with Greek rebels, Alexandros was defeated couple of times by the "Northern tribes" so mostly by the Dacians and probably Celts, I don't take in account the modern "historians" and "scientist" also anthropologist they all have an agenda and an big nose, Julius Caesar would have defeated the Parthians, they were Northern Iranic Semi Nomads, he certainly would have found an way to defeat them, so it goes definitely with Julius Caesar.
 
I believe Caesar's invasion force was set to be about 60,000 infantry and 10,000 cavalry.

I am sure he would have had a more competent and thoughtful campaign in mind than either Crassus or Antony.

Caesar always fought how he wanted not how the enemy wanted.

Cavalry is high maintenance and if Parthian fodder and other supplies could be cut off then Caesar had a chance of victory.

He would have to starve the enemy horses and curtail the supply of arrows to the Parthian mounted archers.

That's why the Germanic peoples defeated Romans in the end, because they stopped to play the "Roman game".
 
That's why the Germanic peoples defeated Romans in the end, because they stopped to play the "Roman game".
No the Germanic peoples defeated the Romans of the West because they had stopped fighting their own battles but the Romans of the east (Byzantines) defeated and destroyed Germanic tribes like the Vandals and Ostrogoths.
 
No the Germanic peoples defeated the Romans of the West because they had stopped fighting their own battles but the Romans of the east (Byzantines) defeated and destroyed Germanic tribes like the Vandals and Ostrogoths.
They did not destroyed the Vandals nor the Goths, Ostrogoths were the oriental component of the original Goths, still they survived and lived in Italia as well as Vandals lived in certain regions of Maghreb and even Spain, the Greeks lost a lot of battles during that period it would be the end of 400 AD and 500 AD, with Slavs or Avars, 17 settlements of the Roman-Greek times were destroyed alone in the balkans by the Slavs, the Germanics managed to conquer much of Europe and estabilished their power over the locals, it was Mittele Europa or Mediterranean, to me, it makes me smile how retards around internet glorify romanticism, Hollywood films are one thing, reality is another, and the Roman writers were often full of prejudice and hatred toward the peoples that defeated them, so they tried to minimalize all of their achievements, unreliable at all costs, even the Roman cost, the stories about Nerone, Caligula were so forced and untrue that it's laughable, it's like the modern press that shits on peoples they have resentment for, such as National Socialits etc, it reminds me of the Jewish paranoia.
 
They did not destroyed the Vandals nor the Goths, Ostrogoths were the oriental component of the original Goths, still they survived and lived in Italia as well as Vandals lived in certain regions of Maghreb and even Spain, the Greeks lost a lot of battles during that period it would be the end of 400 AD and 500 AD, with Slavs or Avars, 17 settlements of the Roman-Greek times were destroyed alone in the balkans by the Slavs, the Germanics managed to conquer much of Europe and estabilished their power over the locals, it was Mittele Europa or Mediterranean, to me, it makes me smile how retards around internet glorify romanticism, Hollywood films are one thing, reality is another, and the Roman writers were often full of prejudice and hatred toward the peoples that defeated them, so they tried to minimalize all of their achievements, unreliable at all costs, even the Roman cost, the stories about Nerone, Caligula were so forced and untrue that it's laughable, it's like the modern press that shits on peoples they have resentment for, such as National Socialits etc, it reminds me of the Jewish paranoia.
The Vandals and Ostrogoths disappeared as independent nations and the Slavs would not have conquered the Balkans without the leadership of the Mongolian Avars.
The East Germanic people like the Goths fled into the Roman Empire because they could not resist the Mongoloid Huns.

In the 11th century, the Eastern Roman Emperor Basil the Second (Bulgar-Slayer) reconquered the Balkans after defeating the Slavs there.
It was Turkish expansion that destroyed Byzantium and also made short work of South Slav independence in the Balkans.
 
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Different periods and peoples they fought, European peoples were very warfare like and strong, although the propaganda tells exactly the opposite probably because of "Muh MENA pride wii", Julius Caesar had to fight with Celts, Germans, Proto Slavs and the Brittons and Britannic Celts, varied peoples, tactics, weapons, strength, not only this he had to deal with Illyrians and other MENA pirates as well with Greek rebels, Alexandros was defeated couple of times by the "Northern tribes" so mostly by the Dacians and probably Celts, I don't take in account the modern "historians" and "scientist" also anthropologist they all have an agenda and an big nose, Julius Caesar would have defeated the Parthians, they were Northern Iranic Semi Nomads, he certainly would have found an way to defeat them, so it goes definitely with Julius Caesar.
I can assure you that alexander the great was never defeated once in his career as leader of his campaign. You might be refering to other macedonian leaders before him ( e.g his father Philip II might have made peace agreements with northern tribes) or after his death, but alexander is probably the only military leader who was undefeated in all his battles ( in which he was outnumbered in all of them).
 
The Vandals and Ostrogoths disappeared as independent nations and the Slavs would not have conquered the Balkans without the leadership of the Mongolian Avars.
The East Germanic people like the Goths fled into the Roman Empire because they could not resist the Mongoloid Huns.

In the 11th century, the Eastern Roman Emperor Basil the Second (Bulgar-Slayer) reconquered the Balkans after defeating the Slavs there.
It was Turkish expansion that destroyed Byzantium and also made short work of South Slav independence in the Balkans.

The Slavs not only conquered big chunks of the Balkans but also repopulated it, their effect stretched all the way to Greece. Meanwhile Ottoman didn't repopulate the Balkans because no one liked them and they were more interested in kidnapping children and taking them back to Turkey. Before Ottoman south Europe/Byzantine was the most civilized and advanced region of Europe, in 1900 we see that it fell way behind western and northern Europe because of the Ottoman and is now playing catching up
 
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The Slavs not only conquered big chunks of the Balkans but also repopulated it, their effect stretched all the way to Greece. Meanwhile Ottoman didn't repopulate the Balkans because no one liked them and they were more interested in kidnapping children and taking them back to Turkey. Before Ottoman south Europe/Byzantine was the most civilized and advanced region of Europe, in 1900 we see that it fell way behind western and northern Europe because of the Ottoman and is now playing catching up
I am not praising the Ottomans. Very far from it.
However, my point was that the Balkan Slavs were dominated at different times, in some areas or in most areas, by Avars, then Franks, then East Romans, then Ottomans, with Venice dominating a big stretch of the Adriatic coast.
 
Alexander. Julius Caesar Vs Phillip II of Macedon is closer
I tend to agree.
However, if Caesar had survived to take on the Parthian Empire (he was planning to march just a few days after the Ides Of March) and he had defeated them, I would have gone for Julius Caesar. The Parthian horse archers had decimated the Roman armies of both Crassus and Mark Antony.
 
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I am not praising the Ottomans. Very far from it.
However, my point was that the Balkan Slavs were dominated at different times, in some areas or in most areas, by Avars, then Franks, then East Romans, then Ottomans, with Venice dominating a big stretch of the Adriatic coast.

Not really, most Balkan/South Slavs had already settled within Byzantine by this point. The Avars conquered the east Slavs, some Germanic tribes, Daco-Romans etc -
 

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